Germany must be of one the best countries to travel by train. Journeys are fast and comfortable, routes are scenic and the train stations are usually located in the center of the cities, just few steps away from main sights.
A while ago I discovered a huge part of Germany using only trains and up to now it’s one of the countries I know the best and the one that always bring good memories. From all the cities I visited here are my favourite ones and those I’d love to return to!
Table of contents
Best German cities to visit by train
As you might know thanks to my parents’ work once a year I could use a free train ticket in many European countries. Of course I used it, a lot, and that’s actually how I started travelling on my own and fell in love with solo travels.
And since Germany is so close and is such a diverse place it made me visit it very often, going to every corner of the country. The time goes by really fast as I’ve been discovering Germany 10 or so years ago! Guess it’s time to revisit all these cool German cities soon!!
No need to introduce the capital of Germany as probably everyone knows how incredible it is. I fell in love with it already during my first visit there in 2002 and I’m trying to return to Berlin as often as I can. Only this year I’ve been there three times and I know I will be one more for sure!
I know Berlin is not like the rest of Germany but I love it for the alternative vibe, cool neighbourhoods such as Prenzlauer Berg or Kreuzberg, amazing street art and recent history visible on every step! And I know I will keep returning there as each time I find something interesting, quirky and unique there!
How to get to Berlin by train: The capital is well connected with all major German cities as well as with surrounding countries. It takes 5 hours to get there from Warsaw, 4,5 hours from Prague, 6 hours from Munich, 4 hours from Frankfurt, 4,5 hours from Cologne and 1,5 hour from Hamburg.
One of the most beautiful cities in Germany yet still kind of underrated and doesn’t get as much fame as it should. Badly destroyed during Worl War II, now rebuilt and restored shines like a star.
Dresden is often called “Florence of the north” and “Baroque city” and is full of spectacular architecture such as churches and palaces. It enchants yet what we can see now is just a small part of its greatness before the destruction. I’ve been there twice and I still would love to go back and be even more under its charm!
How to get to Dresden by train: The city is located in east Germany, close to the border with Poland and Czech Republic. It takes 3.5 hours to get to Wrocław, 2,5 hours to Prague, 2 hours to Berlin and 1 hour to Leipzig
I was there just once and for few hours only but it was a beautiful autumn day and I really enjoyed wandering around the Old Town and admiring the views of the city from the castle. Nuremberg is such a beautiful city, the perfect-postcard place, just like I’ve always imagined southern Germany.
The city makes a perfect scenery for the winter wonderland and famous German Christmas markets must be amazing there! Even if I visited Nuremberg 10 years ago memories from this place are very vivid in my mind and I hope I will be able to return there soon!
How to get to Nuremberg by train: The city is located in Bavaria, 1h40min away from Munich, 2 hours from Frankfurt and 5 hours from Berlin.
A small Bavarian town right at the border with Austria, not too far from Munich. Every day it is visited by thousands of tourists from all over the world who want to see the famous fairytale-like Neuschwanstein Castle.
To be honest I was a little disappointed with the castle, it might be beautiful but it was just way too tiny! Fussen however was a really lovely town, this cute Alpine resort you see in the area. I really enjoyed it, especially the crystal-clear lake, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen!
How to get to Fussen by train: Regional trains to/from Munich depart every 2 hours, the journey takes 2 hours
For years this city was my dream destination, I finally visited it in 2005 and I wasn’t disappointed! Heidelberg is just amazing! Located in the valley of Neckar river is full of important monuments and buildings. There’s a castle overlooking the city, numerous churches, the town hall and a beautiful bridge.
The city is also famous for its main street, Hauptstrasse, one of the longest pedestrian walkways in the world and a home to glamourous 18th and 19th century buildings. Heidelberg is one of the few places that weren’t destroyed during the War.
I was there in autumn, the weather was just gorgeous and the city couldn’t be more perfect!
How to get to Heidelberg by train: It takes 45 minutes from Stuttgart, 50 minutes from Frankfurt and 2 hours 45 minutes from Cologne
Most people find Frankfurt boring since it’s the financial center of Europe and the city of skyscrapers. But beyond the modern architecture a very charming old town can be found. It dates back to 14th century and is full of beautiful, typical German colourful houses.
I really liked the contrast of old and new as in Frankfurt it harmonizes pretty well. And the skyline of the city seen from the bank of Main river is pretty spectacular too!
How to get to Frankfurt by train: The city is very well connected with the rest of Germany – Hamburg is less than 4 hours away, Stuttgart 1,5 hour away, Cologne 1 hour away, Munich 3.5 hours away and Berlin 4 hours away. It’s easy to travel abroad too – it takes less than 4 hours to Paris, 4 hours to Amsterdam, the same to Zurich.
OK, the city may not be the most exciting ever but it’s a perfect base to explore the surrounding area. And this is extremely beautiful and interesting especially for wine lovers. The Rhine Valley and Moselle Valley are just stunning, with mild hills rolling down to the rivers, full of picturesque wineyards and ruins of old castles.
The best way to explore it is by train – the railway line goes along both rivers and so you can admire spectacular views from the window – I did it couple of times and I consider these among the most scenic train journeys I’ve ever done!
How to get to Koblenz by train: The city is located 1.5 hour away from Frankfurt or 2.5 hours away from Stuttgart
Again, it might not be the most spectacular German city but I really liked it! I remember Aachen very well from the history lessons so when I was (fairly) nearby I went there for the daytrip just to see what the whole hype was about.
It was a surprisingly nice city and the cathedral, one of the most important pilgrimage places in Middle Ages and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a truly amazing building and a wonderful example of occidental architecture!
How to get to Aachen by train: The city is located less than 1 hour away from Cologne. It also has direct connection with Brussels (1 hour) and Paris (2.5 hours)
I love arriving to Cologne by train! As soon as I step outside of the train station I feel overwhelmed by the cathedral, probably the most spectacular one I’ve ever seen (I never can decide between this one and the one in Milan). It’s pure beauty and leaves me speechless every time!
Once together with friends we were crazy enough to climb the tower – no one warned us it’s 509 stairs to the top so it was a huge challenge but so worth it as the view over the city is incredible.
Another of my fave Cologne activities is to cross the pedestrian-railway bridge to the other side of Rhine river. Not only I’m always excited to be so close to trains passing by (this feeling never gets old) but also the view from the opposite bank is really lovely – with the old town and the cathedral dominating the skyline!
How to get to Cologne by train: The city is an important hub of west Germany with lots of connections all over country – Hamburg is 4 hours away, Frankfurt 1 hour away, Munchen 5 hours away, Stuttgart 2 hours away and Berlin 4.5 hours away. There’re also many international connections, including Amsterdam (less than 3 hours), Paris (3 hours) via Brussels (less than 2 hours) and even Warsaw (13 hours)
I’ve been twice to Hamburg and I feel it’s not enough. The city surprised me as I expected a dull place dominated by the harbour. And it’s true the city lies on water but it’s such a cool place with young, alternative vibe, lots of green spaces and beautiful Hanseatic architecture.
Right now it’s like I have a crush on Hamburg but I feel I could fall in love with it big time if only I give it a proper chance! Therefore I really hope to spend there more than just couple of hours, the sooner the better! I would especially love to check the (apparently) exceptional Hamburg cafes scene.
How to get to Hamburg by train: It’s a really quick and comfortable ride from Berlin as it takes only 1 hour 40 minutes to travel between these two cities. Cologne is 4 hours away, Frankfurt is 3 hours 40 minutes away and Bremen is 1 hour away. From Hamburg you can also go to Copenhagen (less than 5 hours) which up to now is the weirdest train journey of my life as the train goes into the ferry and part of the journey on the sea! So much fun and the duty free is open!
I could go on and on with this post as there’re so many great German cities I’ve been to, it was really difficult to limit myself to only 10. And train travel is always a pleasure there! It also doesn’t have to be as expensive as you can use Interrail or Eurail in Germany for more affordable train travel!
Pictures that were not taken by me were used here under Creative Commons licence.
If you enjoyed that post why don't you share it with your friends? That would mean so much to me! Also be sure to join 27.000+ fellow travelers and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, G+ or Instagram for travel updates and even more pictures! If you don't want to miss new posts sign up to my newsletter or follow on Bloglovin!