Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

For 3 travelers in Germany, is rental car cheaper than train?

For 3 travelers in Germany, is rental car cheaper than train?

Apr 22nd, 2010, 08:29 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 153
For 3 travelers in Germany, is rental car cheaper than train?

I am trying to evaluate whether renting a car might be cheaper than train travel for 3 people. Our 2 week intinerary involves getting from Frankfurt, to Mosel area, then to Berlin, then down to Munich, then Bavaria, then winding up in Salzburg and Vienna. We are spending 2-3 days in each area.

It would seem that a mix of train and car might make sense. I assume not having a car in Munich is a good idea, and the long trips to and from Berlin would be nice to take by train. And I am told by very reliable sources that Mosel is easily navigated through train, bike and boat, which all sounds great. What about the Bavaria area? We want to get to Friedrichshafen for the Zeppelin, to the Ludwig castles, to the luge, and around. Do we do better in a car for this area? If so, are we better of picking it up in Munich and dropping in Berchtesgaden/Salzburg or what?

Your opinions and suggestions on the car v. train dilemma are much appreciated!
TravelTrio is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2010, 10:48 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 17,549
Which castles in Bavaraia, specifically? The three usuals or are you also including the palace at Herrenchiemsee?
You CAN do Neuschwanstein, Linderhof, and Hohenschwangau by a combination of train and public bus BUT for getting around that area which involves a certain amount of east-west movement I think that is where you might want to consider renting the car.

I also totally agree that having a car IN Munich is more trouble than it is worth considering parking, etc., since Munich has an excellent public transport system.
Dukey is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2010, 11:53 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 12,188
Keep in mind that special tickets like the Bayern ticket allow up to 5 people to travel together for a very cheap price. I think this would work for Bavaria and Salzburg. I think there are other tickets in other regions that are similar.

For the long-distance train travel, keep in mind that you can get rates as low as 29 Euros or so per person on www.bahn.de if you book far enough in advance. So Munich to Berlin could be done for that price. Munich to Vienna, and probably Salzburg to Vienna can be done similarly cheaply.

I haven't explored this area in depth, but my gut feeling is that a car will indeed be helpful part of the time. Just ensure that you know about the cheapest train options for those times you do want to use the train.
WillTravel is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2010, 12:31 AM
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 1,005
Travelwise, a mix would make the most sense.

For the Mosel area, a car is not necessary, but convenient. For the long distance from the Mosel to Berlin, I would recommend the train. In Berlin, a car is a hindrance. From Berlin to München, I would take the train. In München, car is a hindrance again. In order to see the castles in upper Bavaria, a car is very recommendable. From Salzburg to Wien, you can again take the train.

Costwise, the question is more difficult to answer. If you get Sparpreis tickets, the train will be cheaper (advance orders required), at least for the long distances. If you buy regular fare tickets, car will be cheaper (but think of overnight parking fees in cities!). Costwise, a mix of train and rental car won't be bad either.
Echnaton is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2010, 12:41 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,703
Hi TravelTrio,

I think there are some other considerations besides simple cost or speed.

I love trains; I think they are far more fun that driving. You get to enjoy a gourmet picnic while the scenery slips by your window; you can also read, nap, chat, listen to music, etc. And don't forget that using trains gives you the opportunity to meet more locals or at least to observe residents as they come and go, as they shop, as they visit together, etc.

Yesterday was Earth Day, eh? Trains are also more green. You can enjoy your time here and then be happy with yourselves that you left the Bavarian Alps as clean and pretty as they were when you arrived! Cool, eh?

Ok, I live in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and I do have a motive for trying to convince folks to use public transport. I myself do not have a car and enjoy the slower, more active lifestyle. (Today was bicycling through the Friday market to buy olives, cheese, vegetables . . .yaaay!)

Anyway, have fun!

swandav2000 is online now  
Apr 23rd, 2010, 01:26 AM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 7,768
The mix of the different transport means looks sensible.
Nevertheless, your itinerary is still quite ambitious.

I'd rent a car from FRA airport (surcharges for airport rentals apply, there are ways to get around that when you rent from nearby locations)

Keep car for your Mosel destinations.

Taking the train from the Mosel region to Berlin is a bit of a trek. An alternative would be to drop the car at Frankfurt-Hahn airport. It's not even remotely close to the "real" Frankfurt airport, but a 20 minute drive from the famous central Mosel towns like Zell or Traben-Trarbach. There are usually 3 flights/day to Berlin with low-cost carrier Ryanair, also in the evening. Please read carefully Ryanair's restrictions on checked luggage and carry-ons, and related costs. If you were flying this May, you'd get fares of under €20, incl all fees&taxes and 1 checked bag.

Berlin-Munich is an easy, though bit lengthy train ride. Check the saver fares (Sparpreis) at bahn.de
It's not always a very scenic ride, but it has some nice vistas, esp. between Leipzig and Nuremberg.

You definetely don't want or need a car to explore Munich.

If you just wanted to explore the King Ludwig castles, a mix of trains and buses would also do the job. But including Friedrichshafen and Berchtesgaden/Salzburg would make it too complicated for me to juggle around with public transport. You can take the (direct) train from Munich to Lindau (close to Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance) and rent a car from there if you don't feel like driving out of Munich.
Drop car in Berchtesgaden or Freilassing to avoid cross-border fees.

Then train again for that Salzburg to Vienna leg of your trip.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2010, 05:30 AM
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 555
Agree with much of the above--it depends on what you want out of your vacation time. I would definitely use a car on the Mosel and in southern Bavaria. You can get to most places by public transport--eventually. It's the loss of time getting to and from smaller and more out-of-the way places that would keep me from using public transport on the Mosel and in southern Bavaria. We are "off the beaten track" people--so while we do like to visit the popular spots that generally have good access by public transport, we also like to get to less accessible spots, and we enjoy just stopping someplace when it piques our interest. A car works better for this.

But if you only want to go from city to city and aren't interested in stopping in between, then public transport is great. We have had vacations in Europe entirely by rental car, entirely by public transport, and with a mix of the two. It just depended on where we wanted to go, time of year, and what we wanted to experience on that particular trip.
Paul1950 is offline  
Apr 26th, 2010, 04:58 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,834
I agree with Paul1950.
padams421 is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:45 AM.