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The ultimate autumn train trip: Denmark and Germany 

Discover Europe's autumn leaves and harvest festivals with a 7-day Global Pass

 

On this route, you'll take in the beauty of fall in Denmark using the ‘Lokaltog’ train lines near Copenhagen, recently included as part of the Eurail Pass network. Discover regal Hillerød and the coastal towns of Gilleleje and Rørvig on your journey across North Zealand and beyond. 

 

Then, you'll travel south through Berlin, Leipzig, Munich, and Ludwigsburg and revel in the excitement of Germany's harvest festival season. We’ll spoil the surprise: Oktoberfest isn’t the only celebration worth visiting on an autumn trip to Germany.

 

Unlock Europe and go one stop further with a 7-day Global Pass

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1. Copenhagen, Denmark

Nyhavn in Copenhagen

Why it's worth visiting 

In addition to its many world-class restaurants, shops, and museums, this capital city embodies the spirit of hygge, a Danish word that conveys the feeling of coziness we crave when autumn sets in and the weather turns colder. 

 

What to do:

  • Indulge your sweet tooth by taking a baking class and learning the art of Danish pastry-making from a chef. The best part? You get to devour all your creations. 
  • Explore the city by renting a bike and heading down the Harbour Circle, a 13-kilometer cycle path that takes you from the iconic, brightly-colored buildings at Nyhavn to the hip Christianshavn islands, known for their cafes, canals, and restaurants. 
  • Meet locals at Absalon, a former church-turned-community house, where you may end up eating dinner with nearly 200 other people. Linger after dinner to enjoy activities such as music bingo, table tennis, and even lino printing!

Train from Copenhagen to Hillerød

Travel time: 38 minutes, no transfers

 

2. Hillerød, Denmark

Why it's worth visiting: 

From Copenhagen, travel north and uncover Danish history at Hillerød, a favorite royal holiday destination for over four centuries. 

 

What to do:

  • Spend a day exploring the romantic Frederiksborg Castle, the largest Renaissance castle in the Nordics. Its lavish interiors and dreamy gardens will transport you into a fairytale of your own.
  • Experience more royal history at the Par Force Hunting Landscape, once designed to showcase the king's hunting prowess. Today, the Deer Park is the perfect place for a quiet walk after a long day of shopping at the Hillerød city center.
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, start your day by hiking or cycling through Gribskov, one of Denmark’s largest forests, filled with giant trees and rich wildlife. 
Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød, Denmark

Train from Hillerød to Gilleleje

Travel time: 30 minutes, no transfers

 

3. Gilleleje, Denmark

The harbour in Gilleleje, Denmark

Why it's worth visiting 

Gilleleje’s harbor, one of the largest industrial ports in North Zealand, is an active commercial and cultural center. It’s the perfect place to enjoy some wine near the water and chat with locals. 

 

What to do: 

  • After a brisk walk along the Gilleleje Veststrand, a beach located just a short walk from the train station, rest up with a visit to Kulturhavn Gilleleje. The community space, home to a library, restaurant, exhibition area and more, is a good place to sip coffee among local residents and experience day-to-day life in Gilleleje. 
  • Visit the busy Gilleleje Harbor and get ready to eat your heart out! Apart from the many restaurants with outdoor seating options, you can also buy seafood directly from a fishmonger to make your own delicious meal.
  • Discover how this small harbor city played a vital part in helping 1,300 Jewish refugees escape to Sweden during Denmark’s occupation by Germany at the Museum Nordsjælland’s exhibition on the October 1943 rescue operation.

Train from Gilleleje to Hundested Havn.

Travel time: 1 hour and 39 minutes, with 1 transfer

 

Ferry from Hundested Havn to Rørvig.

Travel time: 30 minutes

Note: the ferry is not included as part of the Pass

 

4. Rørvig, Denmark

Why it's worth visiting

Cross the Ise Fjord, a narrow arm of the sea, to reach the waterside town of Rørvig – picturesque views guaranteed!

 

What to do: 

  • Walk along the coast from the harbor to the old town center to see the many colorful houses and shop from local specialty stores. 
  • Stroll by the wide Rørvig Strand sand dunes, naturally formed many centuries ago. While you’re there, don’t miss the red-and-white-striped lifeguard tower that was once showcased at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. 
  • Feeling inspired by the city’s fishermen? Fish for your very own catch at the Korshage Reef – sea trout can be caught in the spring, summer, and autumn.
Sunset at the harbour in Rørvig, Denmark

Ferry from Rørvig to Hundested Havn

Travel time: 30 minutes

Note: the ferry is not included as part of the Pass

 

Train back to Copenhagen

Travel time: 1 hour and 48 minutes, with 1 transfer

 

Night train to Berlin

Travel time: 9 hours and 58 minutes, with 1 transfer

Note: seat reservations required

 

5. Berlin, Germany

An aerial shot of Berlin, Germany

Why it's worth visiting

There’s plenty of nature to experience in big city Berlin. Soak in the sight of changing leaves and brisk autumn air on a journey through the German capital’s parks, cafes, and outdoor markets. 

 

What to do:

  • Need a new jacket to keep you warm on your travels? Spend a Sunday afternoon shopping for clothing, books, and beyond at Berlin’s famous flea markets
  • Autumn is wild mushroom season in Germany, when foragers will hunt the country’s forests for a taste of the season’s bounty. To participate safely – after all, some mushrooms are poisonous – join a guided tour led by an expert forager. 
  • Slow down with a time-honored Sunday tradition: enjoying kaffee und kuchen (coffee and cake) in a cozy Berlin cafe. Concierge Coffee, a speciality coffee shop with locations in Kreuzberg and Schöneberg, is a hip place to start.

Train from Berlin to Leipzig

Travel time: 1 hour and 6 minutes, no transfers

 

6. Leipzig, Germany 

Why it's worth visiting

Under 200 kilometers from Berlin – and less frequently visited compared to its northern neighbor – Leipzig offers travelers a vast and varied art scene. 

 

What to do:

  • Leipzig’s “Music Trail” offers a unique journey across the city, taking you to sites such as the Leipzig Opera and St. Thomas Church, the resting place of Johann Sebastian Bach. 
  • Once the largest cotton spinning mill in Europe, the Spinnerei Art Centre now houses over 100 artists' studios. Pop by for a guided tour and browse the open studios – who knows, you may leave with a few prints you can use to start a gallery wall at home. 
  • At this point in your journey, you may need a fresh set of clothes. Luckily, Leipzig has the perfect place for you: 360° WaschBar. The cafe-laundromat allows travelers to savor a coffee and a chat with a fellow WaschBar patron while their clothes wash and tumble dry. 
Bach Monument outside St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany

Train from Leipzig to Munich

Travel time: 3 hours and 29 minutes, no transfers

 

7. Munich, Germany

Autumn leaves in Munich's English Garden

Why it's worth visiting

Oktoberfest, Munich’s world-famous autumn festival, will run from September 16 to October 3, 2023. If you’re in town during the festivities, take time to step off the beaten track and experience a new side of the city. 

 

What to do:

  • After experiencing Oktoberfest, escape the crowds on a visit to the English Garden, Munich's largest park. Famous for its size – and the surfers that take on the infamous Eisbach waves within the park – the English Garden is an ideal place to spot autumn leaves. 
  • Feeling a chill? Warm up on a visit to one of Munich’s saunas. Fans of history and architecture will especially love Müller'sches Volksbad, the first indoor pool in Munich, preserved in the Art Nouveau style. 
  • Don’t leave Munich without sampling the sourdough bread at Hofpfisterei, a bakery with locations across the city. On a visit to Hofpfisterei, you’ll taste history – the bakery’s roots date back to the 1300s.

Train from Munich to Ludwigsburg

Travel time: 2 hours and 30 minutes, with 1 transfer

 

8. Ludwigsburg, Germany 

Why it's worth visiting

Many smaller cities and towns in Germany host their own versions of Oktoberfest – minus the crowds of Munich’s mega-celebration. But nowhere else pulls off an autumn festival quite like Ludwigsburg, located just above Stuttgart in Baden-Württemberg. 

 

What to do:

  • The Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival, said to be the “world's largest pumpkin exhibition", will run from August 25 to December 3, 2023. Festivities include a pumpkin weighing competition, giant pumpkin carving events, and even a “pumpkin regatta,” where paddlers use hollowed-out pumpkins as canoes. 
  • Called the “Versailles of Swabia", Ludwigsburg Palace offers travelers an eye-popping glimpse of Baroque extravagance and history – with a fraction of the crowds that flock to the French destination.  
  • The castle views continue at Domäne Monrepos – but this time, you’ll admire the castle’s rococo architecture from the water. From mid-March through mid-October, visitors can rent boats to explore the waters around the 18th-century wonder.
View of the Monrepos Palace in Ludwigsburg

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