Use public transport to explore Palatinate Forest, German Wine Route

Use public transport to explore Palatinate Forest, German Wine Route

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

If you’re a nature lover lucky enough to live in the KMC, you surely appreciate your proximity to the Pfälzerwald, or Palatinate Forest, the largest contiguous forest area in all of Germany. If hiking is your pleasure, you’ve truly won the jackpot, for this pleasing green landscape of ancient trees, trickling streams and sandstone cliffs is crisscrossed by thousands of miles of walking and biking trails. With dozens of rustic locales serving hearty local specialties and Pfalz wines to the hungry masses, a day on the trail can be heavy on enjoyment and light on torment.

As any distance hiker knows, parking the car in a place where it will be safe and easy to return to can sometimes be a tricky business. In a country known for its well-developed public transportation networks, this problem is easily overcome. Here are some tricks and tips for strategically planning your next day out in the great outdoors:


The Palatina Bus network is something both hikers and wine lovers can appreciate. Ten different bus routes link up picture-perfect villages and natural beauty spots between Neustadt, Landau and Speyer. Such bus services facilitate one-way hikes, enabling you to park at a central point (or take the train or bus from your hometown the entire way), hitch a ride to a mountain peak and make your way downhill back to your vehicle.

For example, bus route 503 whisks hikers from the main train station in Neustadt an der Weinstraβe to the summit of the Kalmit, the highest peak in the Palatinate Forest. A short uphill walk leads to a scenic outlook and the Kalmithaus, a hiker’s rest serving drinks and food (subject to whatever COVID regulations might currently be in place). The bus operates on Sundays and public holidays between May 1 and Oct. 31. The first bus departs Neustadt at 10:08 a.m. and the last bus leaves the Kalmit summit at 4:48 p.m.


Since 2011, a total of 16 train stations in the Rhineland-Palatinate have been designated as Wanderbahnhöfe, train stations that are particularly convenient to walkers in that they are well integrated into local trail networks. Such stations within the Palatinate Forest are found in Hauenstein, Rodalben and Wilgartswiesen; those along the German Wine Road include Albersweiler, Maikammer-Kirrweiler and Mertesheim. The website provides links to each station and gives suggestions as to which marked trails are accessible from them.

A handy hiker’s resource

The Wanderportal-Pfalz is a wonderful compendium of suggested hikes, with sections devoted to not only trails but places to eat, overnight possibilities and tips for tourists. (The site is in German, but online translating tools mean that’s no problem in this day and age.) One section of their website is devoted to specific trails reachable by bus and train, with a map showing 10 proposed routes. By clicking on the trail number, you’ll find a detailed description of the route and the landmarks you’ll pass along the way.

Tour 6, for example, begins at the Dahn train station and ends at the Bruchweiler-Bärenbach train station. Along its 12-mile route, you’ll enjoy grandiose panoramic views and bizarre sandstone formations for which the Dahner Felsenland is famous.


If you’re planning to use public transportation throughout the day, a single-day ticket to the furthest point along your journey might make sense. If there’s more than one adult in the group, the single-day group ticket might be your wisest option. The public transportation network serving the greater Mannheim/Kaiserslautern area is the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Neckar; buying tickets for this network as opposed to the Rhineland-Pfalz day ticket will save you a few euros. For example, three friends who want to enjoy a full day of hiking by the aforementioned Kalmit on the German Wine Road could meet up at the Kaiserslautern main train station and travel throughout the day on the VRN Tages-Karte Netz ticket for a total of 29 euros. The Rhineland-Pfalz-Ticket, in contrast, costs 34 euros.

Additional resources for hikers and adventure-seekers

Pfälzer Weinsteig trail

Outdoor Active – The best hikes in the Palatinate Nature Reserve Park

UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Palatinate Forest

Pfalz day trip destinations

The best hikes of the Pfalz (PDF; German only)


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