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Pulled off a four-day trip in Germany for €9

Going to Bavaria for less than 10 Euros.

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This summer, train travel in Germany is getting a major boost: A new 9-Euro-Ticket hop-on, hop-off program has been introduced by officials. Travelers can take advantage of a new one-month fare on all local and regional trains and buses in Germany, as part of a government plan to ease the burden of rising energy costs. Even though popular Intercity Express trains are not included in the unlimited ticket, you can still travel across the country for only €9 until the end of August, when the offer for the year expires.

Before the end of July, I booked a ticket to travel along Germany’s Romantic Road, which consists of quaint medieval towns and the foothills of the Bavarian Alps. These are the details of my four-day journey, which cost me only €9.

Timeframe: June 1, 2022 to August 31, 2022 for 9-Euro Tickets. One ticket can be used for any number of journeys in a calendar month by the same person (from 0:00 on 1st of the month until 24:00 on the last day of the month). All public transportation, including regional buses and trains, is covered by this ticket (2nd class). Not valid on high-speed, intercity IC, ICE, or EC trains or some long-distance or privately operated long-distance or privately operated buses and trains (e.g., FlixBus or FlixTrain). To purchase: On-line, through transport apps like MVV (for Munich) or BVG (for Berlin), or through station ticket machines are all options for purchasing the €9 ticket. Paper tickets, like all 9-Euro-Tickets, must be signed and are not transferable.

Getting to Rothenburg ob der Tauber from Munich on Day 1

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On a Tuesday, just before 8 a.m., I boarded a nearly empty train in Munich. Following the wry advice on the train’s information screens to not “bring your double-bass” on-board during the 9-Euro-Ticket season, I’ve packed light—my backpack fits comfortably overhead. A few complaints about Ausflüglers, the German word for daytrippers, are heard in a more crowded carriage after changing at Treuchtlingen. However, everyone on board behaves impeccably. In the distance, I see a freight train full of Audis and distant churches with cupolas resembling onion bulbs.

I’m in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, 124 miles northwest of Munich, by the end of the day. The view from the top of the town hall tower, surrounded by half-timbered houses with red roofs and 14th-century walls, is breathtaking after a Schneeball, a local pastry with nougat flavorings. Tilman Riemenschneider’s 500-year-old wood carvings are on display in St. James’ Church. A walk around the walls and a pub dinner of Käsespätzle, a fresh Bavarian pasta dish with cheese and crispy onions, awaits me afterward.

To get there, here are the instructions: the RB16 to Nürnberg, changing to the RB80 to Würzburg Hbf, stopping at Treuchtlingen (1h57 minutes), then the RB82 to Rothenburg ob der Tauber (1h6 minutes), and finally the RB82 back to München Hbf (1h57 minutes) (15 mins).

From Rothenburg ob der Tauber to Dinkelsbühl and Nördlingen on the second day.

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The next day, I’m on a bus bound for Dinkelsbühl, a town some two hours south of here, passing run-down farmhouses and meticulously manicured front lawns. It was the Munich School painters who “rediscovered” Dinkelsbühl 200 years after it was nearly destroyed during the Thirty Years’ War on the museum’s top floor. A local bookseller tells me that while Dinkelsbühl is now a well-known stop on the Romantic Road, the defunct train line that connected Dinkelsbühl to Rothenburg and Nördlingen will require more than the 9-Euro-Ticket to make up for. The new bus service is spotty (I had to take two buses to get here), but I’ve found it to be fast and dependable despite the fact that it’s not as luxurious as the trains were.

Staying at a hotel Restaurant Alter Keller in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany €60 for a single room; €72 for a double; €10 for breakfast. Nördlingen’s Wengers Brettl Weinstube is the place to be. From €60 for a single room to €97 for a double room, breakfast is included. Hotels in Augsburg include the Gasthaus Wangerhof. From €70 for a single room to €80 for a double, breakfast is included.

To the south, I catch a bus to Nördlingen, which is about an hour away. Nördlingen is a crater formed by an asteroid impact that occurred 14 million years ago, and a panel commemorating those burned at the stake here during the 16th-century “witch craze” is located at Hexenfelsen, a dolomite block unearthed after the impact. I return to town for a hearty meal of Maultaschen, ravioli-like parcels stuffed with fried vegetables.

To get there, here are the instructions: Take the 807 bus from Rothenburg Schlachthof to Dombühl Bahnhof and get off at Dombühl Lindenstr; cross the street and take the 813 bus to Dinkelsbühl Gymnasium and get off at Dinkelsbühl ZOB Schwedenwiese (43 mins). Nördlingen Brettermarkt can be reached by taking the 501 bus from Dinkelsbühl ZOB and getting off at Nördlingen Bussteig 8. (44 mins).

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Augsburg to Nördlingen is the third leg of the journey.

My next stop is Augsburg, one of Germany’s oldest cities, after a night in Nördlingen. This 16th-century Hercules Fountain is now a popular hangout spot right next to a row of buzzy cocktail bars in Augsburg’s city center. Bert Brecht’s birthplace is out of my reach because I arrive too late to enter the Fuggerei, Europe’s oldest social housing complex, despite my best efforts. Still time for a Drunken Monkey Schwaerzla (Black Stout) and a falafel wrap before the train to my guesthouse in quiet Inningen, a few stops away.

To get there, here are the instructions: Take the RB89 from Nördlingen to Donauwörth (32 minutes), then change to the RE8 towards Munich Hbf and get off at Augsburg (56 minutes) (30 mins).

Munich to Füssen and back to Augsburg on Day 4

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On the next day, we take a two-hour train ride from Munich to Füssen, in the south. A passenger notices a falcon perched atop a field of corn. We all cross the aisle to gaze out the train windows at the rugged Alps poking through the mist rising from grey-green forests at Seeg. Despite the ominous weather forecast, I decide to hike up into the foothills of Füssen. You can get a better deal if you visit Neuschwanstein Castle first, which was built to the eccentric tastes of King Ludwig II, and buy a combo-ticket for the Museum of the Bavarian Kings. In the midst of a rainstorm, I dash back to town to catch the train to Munich, but I’m already looking forward to returning for the castles.

To get there, here are the instructions: To get to Füssen, take the RB77 from Augsburg’s main train station (2hrs). Take the RB68 from Füssen to Munich Hbf (2hrs 14 mins).

In Munich, I eat at the Viktualienmarkt and relax on the riverbanks of the Isar during a laid-back weekend. As I glided down the Flaucher section of the river, I contemplated how this may be my favorite mode of transportation in all of Bavaria. But the 9-Euro-train Ticket’s travel comes in a close second.

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