With the so-called HEAG Airliner bus service visitors who would like to travel to and from Frankfurt International Airport have a quick and efficient option. The bus departs at Darmstadt’s main train station every half hour and drops off the passengers at Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 of Frankfurt International Airport. The bus ride takes approx. 30 min.
Please note that the earliest Airliner bus leaves at 4:21 (from Darmstadt) and 4:47 (from Frankfurt Airport) and the latest at 22:30 (from Darmstadt) and 23:06 (from Frankfurt Airport (status: October 2013).
Costs are 7,75 € (as of 2013) one way.
It is not allowed to take bicycles on board (which I recently have heard of).
Please also note that this bus service is for Frankfurt International Airport (code FRA) and not for Frankfurt Hahn Airport (code HHN). However, both airports are connected by another bus service.
For orientation, I have added photos of where the bus leaves from. Note that my photos are rather old. The colour of the bus has changed in the meantime, as I could see on the website. It is white-orange now. (Once I have the chance to take photos of the current bus, I’ll update)
Update, October 2013:
Website link is for the 2013 flyer.
Important note (and thanks to @J and @Kathy for reminding me): the flyer lists several categories for prices, but does not mention when they apply. It only states that category 4 is the one for Darmstadt, which I can confirm. The other categories might apply for stations south of Darmstadt, however it is nowhere mentioned on the flyer.
The website’s URL seems to be changed rather often (since I wrote this review firstly in 2008 the URL changed four times), and there is no automatic transfer to the current one. In case the link is dead, tell me please or search for “Heag mobibus Darmstadt airliner” in Google.
Open words to HEAG:
Although I doubt that they ever read this....
Please be so nice and don't change the links for your pdfs monthly. I have added the schedule for 2013 in March 2013, just to find out that the link is dead in November 2013.
Location of HEAG Airliner bus departure/arrival on Google Maps.
© Ingrid D., June 2006; update March 2011: website and price updates; October 2013: wording only.
Visitors to Darmstadt might consider purchasing the so-called “Darmstadt Card”. Since public transport within the zone “40” is included in this card it seems to be the best option for a relaxed visit and less hassle. No need to be caught in the strange and heavy traffic and no need to park the car in one of the overpriced parking garages.
As of 2013, the card is available for one or two days, for a fee of 6 Euro or 9 Euro. The card will provide free entry into Kunsthalle (art hall) and discounts for the other museums, swimming facilities and cinemas in town and suburbs. In addition it also includes 50% discount for e-bike rent. Public transport within zone “40” is included in the card: Darmstadt’s town centre and the towns of Pfungstadt, Griesheim, Ober-Ramstadt, Erzhausen, Eberstadt, Weiterstadt, Kranichstein and Messel:
Darmstadt town centre – streetcar lines
Darmstadt and surroundings, tariff maps
As a comparison: one single tram ticket is 1,80 Euro within the town centre only, and 2,70 Euro for e.g. Messel. So for the public transport options it is already worth the money.
The card is available at Darmstadt City Marketing, Luisenplatz. This however, is open Monday – Friday from 10:00 – 18:00, Saturday from 10:00 – 16:00 and closed on Sundays. Hence visitors who come to Darmstadt during Sundays only cannot make use of this card simply because they cannot purchase it due to Darmstadt City Marketing’s visitor-unfriendly opening hours. Sad thing.
© Ingrid D.: February 2006; update September 2013: wording only.
Darmstadt’s main train station was renovated and extended to the west some time ago. Hence several shops opened on this western exit, which is the one opposite of the city entrance.
The main facilities and shops are located in the eastern side facing the city and include:
Bahn ticket shop, Bahn information point, a small supermarket (with hefty prices and very unusual bottle sizes for water and other drinks! Don’t buy bottled drinks here because you might not be able to drop them elsewhere to get back your deposit), shops to buy coffee-to-go, sandwiches, pretzels and slices of pizza, a bookstore and a “snack bar point” with seating area but also to buy take-away food and drink.
The shops on the western side include:
pharmacy, bookstore (mostly magazines and newspapers), hairdresser, several snack restaurants (albeit it seems that some went out of business in the meantime because the western side is the less frequented one).
In between the entrances, on the elevated walkway between the tracks, are also several snack chains where one can buy pastries, coffee, sandwiches and fruit juices (however the prices seem to be higher than in the snack bars at the eastern entrance).
A multi-storey car park is located on the western side (at Europaplatz). BUT - in case you have to buy a long distance ticket (at the booth located in the eastern side), calculate a minimum 15 minutes to walk from the car park to the ticket booth, plus waiting time. Parking fee in this car park (as of October 2013): 1,50 per hour, maximum 12 Euro per day.
Ticket machines for the local transport (called RMV, Rhein-Main region) are located at the train tracks.
The trains leaving and arriving from/to Darmstadt are:
Regional trains (train code: RB, IR, RE; departure/arrival from various tracks),
S-Bahn to Frankfurt (train code: S; departure/arrival always from track 3),
ICE, IC and EC (the high speed intercity and European destination trains; departure/arrival from various tracks).
Train track numbers: 3 – 13 (track 3 is located at the eastern side, facing the city; track 13 is located at the western side).
Bicycle station: outside of the train station (to the eastern side).
Map of Darmstadt train station
Luggage lockers: located in the eastern side, opposite of Bahn ticket shop (see map link above, look for “Schließfach”, the German term for luggage lockers)
Location of Darmstadt Train Station, city entrance (eastern one) on Google Maps.
© Ingrid D.: March 2011; update October 2013: wording only.
During the day there are up to six trains an hour from Frankfurt to Darmstadt. Two of these are the local S-Bahn trains that stop at every station, and the rest are regional or InterCity trains.
Darmstadt no longer has a direct train connection to Paris, since the new high-speed ICEs take a somewhat shorter route directly from Frankfurt to Mannheim.
Second photo: Tracks at the Darmstadt main station.
49°52'20.81" North; 8°37'46.74" East
Darmstadt is served by a number of fine regional cycling routes, most of which manage to get you in and out of town in ways that avoid the worst automobile streets.
The folks in this first photo are coming into Darmstadt from the south, from the direction of Pfungstadt and Bensheim.
Second photo: Here we have two of the many bicycle route signs: routes 17 and R8 going south, and route 20 going towards the center of Darmstadt.
Unlike its large backward neighbor Frankfurt am Main, Darmstadt is one of the many German cities that has a Bicycle Station directly adjoining the main railway station.
For 1 Euro per day, 10 Euros per month or 40 Euros per year you can park your bicycle here, in a dry and safe place, while going off somewhere on the train.
For 7.50 Euros per day you can also rent a bicycle here, and there is a repair shop on the premises.
The Bicycle Station is open from 5:30 in the morning until 23:00 at night.
Second photo: Entrance to the bicycle station.
Third photo: Bicycles for rent.
On the left side of the station,
next to the restaurant "Fürstenbahnhof".
49°52'19.04" North; 8°37'50.48" East
In addition to its overblown infrastructure for motor vehicles, Darmstadt has also managed to find room for an extensive network of bicycle lanes.
Local cyclists are quick to point out gaps and flaws in the network, and they are of course perfectly right to campaign for improvements. On the whole, though, the bicycle lanes are quite serviceable, and I certainly wouldn't want to discourage anyone from cycling in Darmstadt.
I don't have any figures, but my impression is that bicycle use in Darmstadt is increasing from year to year.
Of course Darmstadt has an active chapter of the General German Bicycle Club (ADFC).
Second, third and fourth photos: Cyclists in the Schlosspark, near the castle.
Darmstadt is right next to the huge train and transport hub of Frankfurt (about 40 minutes), so it is extremely easy to get to. In addition to that it is a major hub in its own right, and has direct train connections to cities all over the country and abroad. From Darmstadt Hbf you can get trains to cities including Hamburg, Rostock, Munich, Salzburg and Paris.
For a city that is so close to Frankfurt Airport the locals are currently fighting over a proposed extension, it is surprisingly badly connected to its nearby noise polluter. You can drive there in about 15 minutes, but there are no direct trains, only a bus service from the station that runs every half hour throughout the day. This compares quite poorly to the connections in Mainz and Wiesbaden. Still, Frankfurt Airport is second only to Heathrow in terms of European airports, so Darmstadt still has excellent air connections to cities all over the globe.
If you have an experienced autobond driver or one who likes to drive fast driving from town to town on the autobonds is the best and fastest way. Below is a picture of what it looks like out the car window. You'll be driving and there are trees all around but when you come up to a valley it takes only a brief moment before you have gone past it.
Having a small German car makes it easier to drive down the narrow German streets, but be careful on the autobonds. If you go in winter make sure you have good tires when visiting the castles. The roads getting to the castles are very curvy roads and narrow. Then when you add snow and ice it makes it a treacherous journey without the proper tires and a small vehicle.
The best way to come here is by train or airplane. Airport Frankfurt/Main is not too far (appr. 35 km). From Frankfurt you have very godd possibilities to go by train to Darmstadt takes you in worst about 30 minutes.
Busses and Cabletrain. for going out of Darmstadt is having a Car better.
Darmstadt is part of the RMV transport system that includes Frankfurt. The core transport hubs in the centre are fantastically well organised. The information on display in locations like Luisenplatz and the main station is all digital, thorough and constantly updated. It's an easy system to navigate. And as it's a long walk from the station to anything interesting, and a long haul up the hill to the main attraction of the artist colony, you'll be well off investing in a ticket.
Darmstadt lies in the centre of the Rhine-Main region. It can be reached by road via the federal road B3 and the autobahns A5 and A67.
Since many of Darmstadt's side roads are very tiny one barely find any parking spots (unless one has a very tiny vehicle too). Also the local parking houses are - guess what - tiny too!
This is the main building of the railway station. It is actually nice railway station, I think newer and cleaner then others I saw in Germany