How do I get to a German castle hotel?
Efficient public transportation reaches nearly every castle hotel in Germany. Sometimes a train station will be located within walking distance of a hotel; sometimes you’ll need to catch a bus for the remaining few kilometers. With a rare exception, hotels are well signposted and easy to find. Consider a rail-and-drive package, zipping across the country by train and renting a car to tour the local countryside.
The tiny villages along both sides of the Rhine are served by frequent trains, as well as a few along the Neckar River. Keep in mind that many of these castles are on top of hills, requiring a taxi if you have luggage. Some hotels will pick you up at the station with advance notice.
In Germany, it is cheaper to purchase train tickets in advance. There is an enormous quantity of special fares and discounts, depending on when you travel, your age, etc. Often you’ll find deals where the first person pays full fare and the companion pays travels at half price.
If you live outside the European Union, a German Rail Pass is a good choice if you plan to cover a lot of distance. The pass is also good for free or discounted travel on certain routes operated by Deutsche Touring/Europabus, for example along the Romantic Road and the Castle Road. Free day trips on KD German Line steamers on the Rhine, Mosel, and Main rivers are also included. For more information on German rail, fares, and booking options, visit the official German Rail site.
Competition keeps rental car prices lower in Germany than in some of its neighboring countries. Also, unlike neighboring Switzerland and Austria, there is no charge to drive on the German Autobahns. A rental car is really the best way to reach the small towns and enjoy the special areas of natural beauty in the countryside. Driving in Germany is a breeze, but count on hard-to-find parking places and rush hour woes in the cities.
Do German drivers speed like bats out of hell? Yes! Autobahn drivers are a force of nature unto themselves; keep out of their way. As much an oxymoron as a German speeding ticket sounds, it is possible to be ticketed for driving too fast. Count on being pulled over on smaller, rural highways. Recently there has been discussion about imposing an “official” speed limit on the Autobahns for environmental reasons, but nothing has come of it.
If you are fit, Germany is a wonderful country to cycle in. Bike trails cross the country and often follow “themed” roads, such as the Romantic Road and the Castle Road. Since many of the castle hotels are down-to-earth, family-run businesses, proprietors don’t mind if you show up in a sweat. They’ll probably be genuinely interested in your endeavors.
Many rail stations in Germany rent bicycles that are fine to get around in locally, but you’ll need a better piece of equipment for any long distance cycling.