Now we’re in Berlin, I often think back on the amazing month we spent getting here! We travelled through Germany for five weeks with a German rail pass from ACP Rail, visiting a ton of places along the way.
The pass gave us five days of travel over the month, and we visited Munich, Dachau, Regensburg, Nuremberg, Bonn, Cologne, Dresden, Bremen, Hamburg, Berlin and Leipzig. Sometimes we just had a few hours in a city, other times we stayed for almost a week! By the end, we were convinced we had made a great choice with the German rail pass. So, how can you make the most of your German rail pass?
Make travel days busy days
The ACP German Rail Pass gives you unlimited kilometres of travel on the days you use it. So use a lot of kilometres! Each travel day is an opportunity to visit half a dozen towns along the way. For example, between Munich and Nuremberg, we spent a few sobering hours at the Dachau concentration camp before a picnic lunch on the train, and a fun afternoon exploring Regensburg (home of the Thurn and Taxis family, if you’re a board gamer!).
Squeeze in extra stops for lunch or exploration – a few hours is enough to enjoy the sights.
Don’t carry your stuff around
I know what you’re thinking: If I jump off the train, I need to carry all my stuff! But Germany has a great system of luggage lockers: it’s often just €3-7 (size dependent) to store your luggage in the station.
There’s no need to wheel your bags around or lug that backpack between sights when you’re on one of these exploration missions: just lock and leave for the price of a coffee or two. Bahn.de has a listing of stations with luggage storage.
A week or two into your trip, you might be suffering from museum fatigue. While Germany has a rich supply of historical spots, be sure to balance history and culture with your other interests. Beer garden, anyone?
I’m also a hiking fan, and we made the most of the opportunities in Dresden. An hour or so outside the city is the Sächsische Schweiz national park. Also known as Saxon Switzerland, it has nice forests and stunning views along the river valley.
Recharge as needed
A lot goes into a month of travel, and it can take a lot out of you. Make sure to take a few virtual Sundays where you relax and do little. Kick around the accommodation, go for a quiet lunch, sit in a café or wirtshaus with a book. I like to have a few virtual Sundays every week if I can!
Think outside the box (and with an eye on your budget)
Your German Rail Pass will do you a lot of good, but what happens when you want another day’s travel? Or want to do a little day trip somewhere? In this case, it pays to plan a little ahead. Most German states have a state-wide daycard which includes transport on regional trains and other public transport, like buses and trams. This will be slower than an ICE or Sprinter, but fills gaps admirably.
Do epic stuff
If it’s the trip of a lifetime, you’d better make it feel like one! We mixed our own cologne in Cologne and walked away with a sweet souvenir each. We ate gingerbread in the city that invented the stuff. We stayed a few nights in a palatial mansion. We stayed a few nights with a car in our third-floor room. We saw the homes of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and more. Did food tours that blew our minds. And met a ton of great people right across the country.