People often want to know from us our recommendations on day trips by train. Using low-cost rail is one of the biggest perks of living in Germany, but using it for the first time can be overwhelming. Sometimes, it could be flustering just trying to pick a destination.
People are fascinated with rail transport for many reasons. To many Americans, it is something they’ve just never done before. If you are like me, you like the idea of being able to make a day trip and enjoy a few drinks along the way (check out our Five Christmas Market trip).
For this post, I will recommend my top five day trips by train. All of these trips can be done via regional train, meaning you won’t have to purchase an ICE train ticket. The benefit of taking a regional train (S-Bahn, RE, RB) is that they are low cost, you can purchase an all day ticket, and they don’t require a seat reservation. A family of four (two adults, two children 14 and younger) can ride regional transport to any of these locations and back for under €30. For some of these, you can do several in one day using the same ticket. I’ll make sure to let you know how early the train leaves, returns, and frequency on a Saturday. Los geht’s!
Trier is listed first because it is our #1 choice for taking a day trip by train! A visit to Germany’s Oldest City is a must visit and extremely easy to get to by train. If you are new to the area or just looking to impress your visitors with Germany’s train travel, Trier is the perfect day trip for you. With stops in Kaiserslautern and Landstuhl, the RE and RB travels directly to Trier. This trip will quickly build your confidence in train travel. The best part is that almost all journeys to Trier do not require a transfer.
A family of four can travel round trip for €29 by purchasing a Rheinland-Pfalz Ticket through the DB Navigator App or at the train station. On Saturdays, trains depart Kaiserslautern hourly beginning around 6:30am, and the last return train from Trier is usually around 8:30pm. For under a two-hour train ride, you can spend all day exploring one of Germany’s most popular tourist destinations!
Once in Trier, stop at the tourist center right next to the Porta Nigra, a well-preserved Roman city gate dating back to the 2nd Century. Stroll along the city through the Marktbrunnen and to Saint Peter’s Cathedral. Continue to walk through the city and see many former Roman baths, the birthplace of Karl Marx, and the Römerbrücke, the oldest bridge in Germany. Our favorite part about Trier is stopping into the pubs and Biergartens tucked throughout the city!
Second on our list is perhaps the most romantic city in Germany, Heidelberg. Spending a day in this lovely city just captures your breath everywhere you look. It’s an easy hour and a half trip, but depending on when you leave Kaiserslautern, you may need to make a quick train transfer in Mannheim.
I’m always amazed that people drive to Heidelberg, when it is just as fast and easy to get to the Heidelberg Altstadt by train. The best part is not having to navigate parking in a new city! A family of four can travel round trip from the Kaiserslautern HBF to Heidelberg-Altstadt for €24 total on a Saturday. The S-Bahn and RE depart Kaiserslautern every half hour starting about 7:30am, and the last return trip is just before midnight! Get there by purchasing a Tages-Karte using the DB Navigator App, the VRN App, or at the train station.
There’s so much to see and do in this historic city! My favorite thing to do is to sign up for a “Free Walking Tour” in English to get a 2-hour guided tour by a freelancer (tips encouraged). Don’t forget to check out Karl-Theodor-Brücke (The Old Bridge), an 18th Century sandstone bridge, before taking a stroll along Philosophenweg. Check out the Altstadt and visit Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spirit). Most of all, don’t forget to walk (or take a trolley) up the hill to Heidelberg Castle! It is worth paying for a tour. Heidelberg is beautiful and a must visit!
With so many incredible places nearby, I feel like Worms is one of the most underrated day trips from Kaiserslautern. You can see all about our train trip to Worms last summer by clicking here. You can easily access the Reformation City by train. Once you get there, you’ll feel like you’re walking through a living history book as you walk the steps of Martin Luther during the 1521 Diet of Worms.
The trip to Worms is only an hour and a half, and on Saturdays, there are plenty of trains departing Kaiserslautern beginning at 7am and returning just before midnight. A family of four can travel round trip for €24 total by purchasing a Tages-Karte on the DB Navigator App, VRN App, or in the train station. The only downside to this trip is the short transfer on the S-Bahn or RE at Mannheim or Schifferstadt.
While in Worms, follow the very well marked signs that take you through Martin Luther’s stay in city. See what it was like as he entered St. Peter’s Cathedral and labeled a heretic. Check out the smaller Magnuskirche, known as the oldest Lutheran church, and follow the signs to the Luther monument erected in the city. Other things to see include Europe’s oldest Jewish Cemetery, and the old forts and city wall scattered throughout the city. If you love history, Worms is the day trip for you!
#4 Bad Kreuznach
Fourth is a place you probably haven’t heard of unless you are looking for it, but one of my favorite charming villages close to Kaiserslautern. Bad Kreuznach is a great trip if you just want an easy train trip to wander around a pleasant river village.
On a Saturday, you can take the RE or RB from the Kaiserslautern HBF as early as just before 5:30am, with returns almost hourly until midnight. It is under an hour ride, and a family of four can travel using the €29 Rheinland-Pfalz Ticket on the DB Navigator App or purchasing a ticket in the train station. The train brings you right into the town, leaving you with an under 10 minute walk to the main sights.
The city is most known for the Alte Nahebrücke (old Nahe Bridge), which is one of very few bridges in the world that has buildings constructed on it. While there, stroll down the buzzing Mannheimer Straße and Kreuz Straße, visit Kornmarkt Square, stop by Little Venice (Klein Venedig), wander the walking zone of Burgbrunnen, and check out the 14th Century St. Nikolaus Catholic Church. If you want to know more about Bad Kreuznach, check out our visit to the village here!
Our final train trip recommendation is Bingen am Rhein. This bustling village is among our favorite Rhine River villages, because it gives you so much access to the river! For just over an hour train ride, Bingen is your perfect destination for your Rhine River getaway.
On Saturdays, the RE and RB depart Kaiserslautern almost hourly from just after 6am, with return trips running until 8pm. A family of four can make a round trip for only €29 by purchasing a Rheinland-Pfalz Ticket on the DB Navigator App or at the train station.
Bingen am Rhein is popular for travelers looking to catch one of the many Rhine River cruise lines that depart from the village. Since the Rhine is known for endless bike paths, take your bike with you and spend a day riding along the river. For a few Euro, you can hop on the ferry that moves cars and people to Rüdesheim every few minutes. Hang around the village’s many restaurants and parks that line the Rhine for a relaxing visit. You can also check out the 15th Century Basilica of St. Martin, or visit during one of its many festivals. The most popular is Winzerfest, which is known as the longest festival on the Rhine!
I hope we inspired you to take a day trip by train while you are here. None of these trips require planning ahead of time, and purchasing a ticket on the DB Navigator App is very easy. These trips are also easy enough to get your feet wet and quickly build your confidence. Before you know it, you’ll be taking long and complex trips like this one, and this one too! Happy travels!