Willkommen züruck to another blog post! While I have tried to focus most of my blog posts up to this point on things other than traveling, I do want to talk about some of the places I have traveled in Europe during my time here, and specifically to highlight some of the places that are a few hours from Mannheim, but I would recommend going to for future study abroad students.
From Mannheim, thanks to its connections with major rail lines going all over Germany, it is very possible to travel all over Germany and Europe for that matter, quickly and comfortably. While the high-speed trains aren’t exactly cheap, there are ways to get less expensive fares such as buying your tickets in advance to get saver fares, or by getting a BahnCard 25 or 50, which saves you 25% or 50% off of the posted fares. Deutsche Bahn offers what they call a Probe Bahn card, which is a trial version of the discount card that is good for 4 months, which is perfect for doing a semester abroad. I got the Bahn Card Probe 50, which will basically pay for itself, as it was 95 Euros. 50% off of my fare to Paris back in September was a total round trip price of 151 Euros, so you can see that by saving another 151 Euros off the full, non-discounted, the card paid for itself.
With that in mind, Paris is definitely a place to visit especially if you have a long weekend with either Fridays or Mondays off classes. The train ride from Mannheim takes about 3/3.5 hours and can be done with either TGV or ICE from Mannheim direct with no transfers. TGV and ICE share the services, so for example, I bought the ticket with Deutsche Bahn, which was perfectly valid on the French TGV that I took on the way there, and people had tickets from SNCF (French national train company) on the ICE I took on the way back.
While Paris isn’t terribly far, there are also a whole bunch of places to visit within Germany that you can use ICE to get to and save money on them if you have a Bahn Card. Generally, the farther the trip, the more it will cost, so Berlin for example won’t be cheap, but you can get it much more affordable with the Bahn Card. Berlin is certainly well worth a visit, as there are tons of things to do there, and you can certainly find something that interests you, whether it be history, art, music, entertainment, etc. The 5 hour train ride isn’t too bad either, as the ICE trains are quite comfortable.
Munich is another famous German city that is a must-see, especially to get some insights into some famous German cultural attractions such as Oktoberfest and the automotive industry, as Munich is the location of the BMW Welt, BMW Museum, Headquarters, and Factory. Munich is about 3 hours by train.
There are a number of other German cities that are really worth visiting as well, many of which are within a couple hours of Mannheim by train, including Stuttgart with its Mercedes-Benz and Porsche museums, Frankfurt, with a typical German altstadt but also modern skyscrapers, Cologne with its waterfront on the Rhine and the enormous Cathedral, and Dusseldorf, another city situated right on the Rhine River with a typical German old city.. With ICE, Stuttgart and Frankfurt are just a half hour ride away; Cologne and Dusseldorf about 1.5 hours and 2 hours respectively.
After all of that, if you have time to visit Hamburg, this is also a great city in Northern Germany important for its role as a major port, about 4.5 hours or so via ICE.
While it is important to study while you’re abroad, I hope that some of these suggestions will be useful in planning some trips to other cities, as this is one of the many fun aspects of studying abroad, and really helps you get a deeper understanding of your host country.
Attached: a picture from Cologne.