- This article is an itinerary.
The Bergstraße (literally the "mountain road", alternate spelling: Bergstrasse) is the name of a mountainous theme route, and the area around it, stretching across the western edge of the Odenwald in southern Hesse and northern Baden-Württemberg, Germany.
The route mostly follows the modern B3 road (Bundesstraße 3), and goes almost straight from north to south at the spot where the Rhine lowlands meet the western edge of the Odenwald. (The Odenwald is a low mountain range lying mainly in Hesse with some parts in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria.)
The name, Bergstraße, comes from the road's route along the foot of the mountains, the Rhine lowlands once being too damp to build a road there.
The area extends from Darmstadt in the north to Heidelberg in the south. The Bergstraße used to include the towns of Leimen, Nussloch, and Wiesloch; however, that area south of Heidelberg lost its charm due to development, so that today Heidelberg is considered to be the end of the Bergstraße.)
There are vineyards along the Bergstraße because of a mild climate in the region. The Hessische Bergstraße (the portion of the Bergstraße in the Bundesland of Hesse) is one of 13 regions for quality wine in Germany.
The Bergstraße crosses 2 German states (Bundesländer): Hesse and Baden-Württemberg. The portion in Hesse (Hessische Bergstraße) runs from Darmstadt to Heppenheim and the portion in Baden (Badische Bergstraße) runs from Laudenbach to Heidelberg.
Cities and towns on the Bergstraße are, from north to south:
Although the Bergstraße (the road) does not pass through Lorsch and Ladenburg, the Bergstraße website considers them to be part of the Bergstraße region. Both towns are about five kilometers from the Bergstraße road.
- Michelstadt: classic Altstadt; 1 hour direct train trip from Darmstadt
- Worms: The Nibelung city; about 45-60 minutes by train from Bensheim
Frankfurt International Airport is only 30 km north of the Bergstraße. From there you can easily reach the Bergstraße by train with a change of train at the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, Mainz or Mannheim. There is 1 direct train per hour from the Frankfort airport to Darmstadt at the northern end of the Bergstraße.
Railway and and tram lines give easy access to all communities along the Bergstraße. The ICE trains serve Darmstadt, Heidelberg and Mannheim and also stop at Bensheim and Weinheim. There is a interurban tram line (Straßenbahn) between Weinheim and Heidelberg.
The Bergstraße (Bundesstraße B3) is well connected with the European highway network.
By regional public transportation
A railway line runs along the length of the Bergstraße from Darmstadt to Weinheim and Ladenburg. South of Weinheim, the railway no longer follows the Bergstraße (B3). However, there is an interurban tram line (Straßenbahn line number 5) that follows the Bergstraße south from Weinheim to Heidelberg serving the communities of Hirschberg, Schriesheim and Dossenheim. One can transfer between the railway and tram line 5 at the Weinheim Hauptbahnhof. Ticket vending machines at stops along the tram line accept only coins.
Lorsch is not quite on the north-south line paralleling the Bergstraße but on a line branching from it at Bensheim. Thus, one may need to change trains for Lorsch.
The website for the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Neckar(VRN)] website gives schedules usually with various fare options (including day tickets) for each train traveling between two stations or stops. This site is mostly in German, although schedules can be displayed in English.
Although the VRN site provides the schedules, it does not give prices for trains between Darmstadt and Zwingenberg. The website of the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund RMV) appears to provide pricing for regional trains from Darmstadt but often omits prices for places south of Zwingenberg. The RMV site has a fare enquiry; however, for day tickets it tends to promote the pricy Hessenticket rather than the more economical day tickets on the VRN site.
VRN Day Tickets
The VRN site offers day tickets with options for 1 person and for 2, 3, 4 or 5 persons travelling together; the more people, the more the ticket costs, but the less per person it costs. In addition, there are 3 price levels (Preisstufe) depending on how far you want to travel locally. To find out the fare price for single trip tickets (Einselfahrtschein) as well as day tickets (Tages-Karte), use the VRN site to display trains between the farthest points of travel. After the train schedule appears, click "Mehr"(more) in the Preis/Fare column. A pop-up box will display all the fare options and prices in German for the distance you are traveling. (To read the box, Einselfahrtschein means single trip ticket, Tages-Karte means day ticket, Erwachsene means adult, Kinder means children, "3-Tages-Karte means 3-day ticket.)
The VRN site also describes the conditions for day tickets (Tages-Karte) in German. Here is a partial translation:
- For a multi-person day ticket, all people must be traveling together.
- You must punch your ticket in a machine to make it valid on the day of travel. Exception: Tickets from the Deutsche Bahn (DB) fare dispensing machines are issued pre-punched or pre-date-stamped.
- After punching, the day ticket is valid until 3 am the following morning (or 6 am following a holiday).
- The day tickets come in 3 price levels: tickets for up to 3 zones, more expensive tickets covering up to 6 zones and tickets covering the network. Unless you purchase the network ticket, your ticket will limit your scope of travel.
- The day ticket is valid for all busses, trams (Straßenbahn), and RE/RB regional trains and S-Bahn trains. The ticket is not valid for IC trains.
- Up to 3 children under 6 years of age can travel free of charge if accompanied by a person with a valid VRN ticket.
Here are some of the sights along the Bergstraße listed from north to south:
- Eberstadt district of Darmstadt: Foritified castle Burg Frankenstein.
- Alsbach: Ruins of Schloss Alsbacher above the town.
- Zwingenberg: historical old town (Altstadt).
- Melibocus (Mountain near Zwingenberg and Bensheim): Mountaintop lookout tower.
- Naturschutzzentrum Bergstraße (between Lorsch, Bensheim und Heppenheim): wildlife preservation centre
- Lorsch: Benediktinerkloster (Benedictine closter), UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Bensheim: Altstadt; views of the Upper Rhine Plain.
- Heppenheim: Half-timbered buildings; the Starkenburg hilltop castle.
- Weinheim: historic half-timbered houses; Schloss (castle).
- Ladenburg: historic half-timbered old town; Roman finds.
- Schriesheim: Strahlenburg castle; pleasant town centre.
- Heidelberg: Lively Altstadt; castle overlooking the city.