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4 days in the Black Forest from Stuttgart. Train or car?

E D
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4 days in the Black Forest from Stuttgart. Train or car?

Hi there, my boyfriend and I (both 30) are planning a long weekend (over Easter) in the Black Forest. We are flying in/out of Stuttgart and can't work out if it is better to hire a car, or use the trains to get around? We would like to explore some of the picturesque towns and do a little bit of hiking. It's probably easier to stay in one place, but if we go via train what are the best towns to go to? And are the stations easily accessible? Suggestions or advice would be very helpful! Many thanks

Frankfurt, Germany
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1. Re: 4 days in the Black Forest from Stuttgart. Train or car?

As you only have a long weekend and want to see smaller towns, I'd recommend going by car. Public transport is good but during the easter holidays they will be on sunday schedule which means that you will end up waiting ages for the next train or bus to come.

Portland, Oregon
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2. Re: 4 days in the Black Forest from Stuttgart. Train or car?

With limited time - I would definitely drive. The roads are great and signage is good. Plus you can explore more of the "off the beaten path" places. IF you have an IPad or other device - "CityMaps2Go" is a great app. You can download maps of the places you want to visit - "pin" attractions/lodging - and then when you are traveling, the GPS will show where you are, without requiring any internet. Even works great on foot as well. IF you have time, I would also suggest visiting the Alsace region in France (e.g. the Vosge mountains, Colmar, Riquewihr, and the wine region)

Las Vegas, Nevada
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3. Re: 4 days in the Black Forest from Stuttgart. Train or car?

You can see and do a lot more if driving. Just get a good large scale map that should show hundreds of tourist attractions, all rural roads, and also scenic drives. There should be no need for backtracking then, and you should be able to come across some real "hidden gems" such as the drive to the Hexenlochmühle from Furtwangen and then on through Wildgutach, it doesn't get any more "Black Foresty" than this. Although not in the Black Forest, make sure to visit our favorite town in Germany, Tuebingen ( www.tuebingen.de ), which isn't too far south of the airport, and the delightful well-preserved medieval Bebenhausen Monastery (in www.schloesser-und-gaerten.de ) just to its north.

Edited: 1:18 pm, January 04, 2014
Paradise, California
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4. Re: 4 days in the Black Forest from Stuttgart. Train or car?

The advice you've gotten so far is a mix of fact and fiction, with some omission of facts as well. And you haven't really gotten your questions answered.

"We are flying in/out of Stuttgart and can't work out if it is better to hire a car, or use the trains to get around? We would like to explore some of the picturesque towns and do a little bit of hiking."

First of all, better in what way? Of course you can visit MORE places by car. There simply aren't as many km of train track as there are roads. But with just 4 days, can you reach ENOUGH of the best picturesque towns and enough good hiking areas to make for a nice trip? My answer is an absolute YES. Numerous train routes criss-cross the Black forest along picturesque routes and connect picturesque places. Have a look at the train routes in the link below and you'll find 17 different rail lines:

www.schwarzwald.com/karte/bahnlinien.gif

The #4 line between Offenburg and Villingen is the scenic Black Forest railway:

black-forest-travel.com/places-of-interest/b…

On this one line alone, you would have enough to keep you occupied for most of the 4 days. Of course you'd probably want to explore an offshoot line or two. Here are some links to great places you can easily visit on and close to this one line using the trains and your own feet.

Old walled town of Gengenbach: www.stadt-gengenbach.de/en/tourism/old-town/

Haslach, muraled and half-timbered buildings, fountains : http://www.black-forest-travel.com/haslach/

Vogtsbauernhof open air museum in Gutach (easy walk from Hausach or take the bus): black-forest-travel.com/places-of-interest/v…

Walled town of Villingen: tourismus-vs.de/en/…villingen.html

Schiltach, Wolfach (glass blowing) and Triberg: …blogspot.com/2013/12/black-forests-romantic…

Glass blowing: germanplaces.com/craftwork-wolfach/dorotheen…

Alpirsbach monastery, brewery: tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g562792-d355…

All the above towns are served by train (except for the Vogtsbauernhof in Gutach, where you'd walk or use the bus from Hausach.)

Trains along the Black Forest railway by the way, run on exactly the same schedule on Easter Sunday and the Tuesday after Easter. You won't "end up waiting ages for the next train or bus to come" if you stay in Gengenbach, for example, and travel to the other towns on this Route. You can check train schedules yourself here:

http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en

If "better" means affordable, then it's hard to beat "free." Stay in one of the 140 or so Konus towns and you'll get a Konus card which allows you free transport throughout your stay.

www.dreisamtal.de/en/service/konus.php…

Hiking is possible nearly everywhere. There are major pilgrimage routes you can explore, rive gorges, peaks...

"And are the stations easily accessible?"

Yes. The towns are small and the stations close by. Triberg's station involves a steep walk into town, however.

You could visit other areas of the Black Forest as well. (Strasbourg, FR is also very close.) Other owns I consider highlights include Calw, Dornstetten, and big-city Freiburg.

List of BF towns with description and photos:

www.black-forest-travel.com/map/list.html

You might have a look at Bavaria Ben's trip report which includes several BF destinations and was carried out by public transport:

bensbauernhof.com/germanybyrailandbus2011.ht…

Edited: 3:27 pm, January 04, 2014
Vienna, Virginia
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5. Re: 4 days in the Black Forest from Stuttgart. Train or car?

We just returned from a 10 day trip of doing exactly what you are planning on doing. I'd highly recommend driving over the train. We started in Frankfurt and drove up through Bingen & Koblenz to see the Castles along Rte 9 and the Rhine and then went south towards Basel, over to Munich and back up through Stuttgart. Driving offers so much more flexibility. Sure public transport is super efficient in Germany but it is only point A to point B. And, sure, you see the countyside while whizzing by at 200 KPH but you can't stop on a whim and check out something of interest along the way . We wouldn't have been able to see half the things we did had we been limited to the train. Furthermore, driving in Germany for an American is itself an attraction. Germany is a motoring nation. Auto rental is reasonable, the road infrastructure is immaculate and extensive, and services along the way make American rest stops look like jokes. Intercity travel on the Autobahn is much quicker than in the states. It's not uncommon to be able to cruise at 110mph. There are negatives. We rented a small Mercedes wagon that required premium @ about $7 per gallon. Parking at hotels averaged around 20 Euros per night and driving in the older center city can be a challenge. A good GPS (Mercedes GPS and route guidance was outstanding) was invaluable.

Paradise, California
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6. Re: 4 days in the Black Forest from Stuttgart. Train or car?

"We just returned from a 10 day trip of doing exactly what you are planning on doing. I'd highly recommend driving over the train. "

Good to hear your enjoyed your stay, COZZ.

COZZ's perspective on driving is a common one. For some, driving is joy, an end in and of itself. Those people should probably drive wherever they go (although they often drive way too much and see much too little of Germany on foot.) For others, trains do not mean inflexibility, but freedom - freedom from the rigors of driving, navigating, parking (pricey too,) and stopping for gas and potty breaks. Trains mean the freedom to read, nap, stretch, people-watch, or even strike up a chat with some real German folks, and of course to really enjoy the scenery unencumbered while you're moving along. And trains mean no contracts or sleazy rental agents, no traffic slow-downs, and no desperate need to turn down that second or third Hefeweizen before you leave that excellent pub and head down the road. And in fact, trains are not just A to B. If you 're heading from Gengenbach to Villingen, for example, and you spot lovely Hornberg from the train, well, you can just get off if you want. Your Konus card or your daypass or your railpass will still work when you get back on one hour later (or less) to continue your trip after a look around.

Cozz, I sort of suspect you're recommending cars over trains without much train experience in these areas - right? (If you're really in the Black Forest, or visiting the Middle Rhine Valley, there's no way your train is doing 200!) Germany really is as much a train country as a car country. The system is more extensive and efficient - overall and in the areas mentioned - than in just about any other country in the world. If you find train travel in Germany less than desirable, there's really no system anywhere that will please you.

There are of course some drawbacks for trains as well - a major one is that your choice of accommodations is constrained by access to the local rail station. Staying at a castle or a farm in the hinterlands can be tricky, and if that's important to you, then you'll likely want a car to get there. And there is a genuine "learning curve" as well with trains - timetables, tickets, rail lines, etc. In the end it really comes down mostly to personal preference. But that's something that's hard to decide for most people who have scarce experience with an excellent train system.

Edited: 11:49 pm, January 07, 2014
Vienna, Virginia
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7. Re: 4 days in the Black Forest from Stuttgart. Train or car?

Wow, thanks for your observations Russ from Paradise, CA! Actually, I'm very familiar with the public transportation infrastructure in Germany, and throughout western Europe for that matter, as we did a stint in Landstuhl a few years ago and routinely availed ourselves of Germany's excellent rail system. However, when we just wanted to go out and "explore" for a day or a weekend, which is what the o.p. indicated that their goal was, I can't think of a single instance in the 4 years we were there where we said "let's hop on a RB and explore around a little today". We love the flexibility and versatility driving allows. My underlying message to folks is that they shouldn't not consider driving as an option. It's just as convenient if not more so than in the states, especially with a good gps with route guidance I guess we're just car people. :-)

Las Vegas, Nevada
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8. Re: 4 days in the Black Forest from Stuttgart. Train or car?

I have to wonder if Russ has a car at home for getting about. I imagine he does as he would find it extremely convenient if he can drive. In Germany for more rural areas, use a car, for urban areas in Germany the excellent frequent public transportation that is the best choice.

Paradise, California
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9. Re: 4 days in the Black Forest from Stuttgart. Train or car?

Coz writes, "However, when we just wanted to go out and "explore" for a day or a weekend, which is what the o.p. indicated that their goal was, I can't think of a single instance in the 4 years we were there where we said "let's hop on a RB and explore around a little today".

Here's what the OP really said about their goals:

"We would like to explore some of the picturesque towns..."

My take on this comment:: their goal is to identify some picturesque towns, go to them, and then explore them - in other words, explore TOWNS, probably on foot - NOT to just head out with no goals at all, wander about the countryside, and see what turns up. That's what people who love to drive do.

Inchicore, Dublin...
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10. Re: 4 days in the Black Forest from Stuttgart. Train or car?

Hi,

very kind from Russ to defend the German Railway system. But in your case I definitely recommend the car. I just remember a hiking tour in a region close to the black forest. We arrived at our destination at 6.30pm on a Saturday and were lucky to get the last bus at 7pm. As car drivers we would have liked to eat a snack in the restaurant nearby, but we couldn't. At the next city we had to wait for another 1/2 hour to catch the next train, which was a stop train and took us another hour for approx. 50km. By car it would have been half the time. Hence as you want to visit the rural areas, I recommend the car.

Holger