Saarbrücken

Saarbrücken is the capital city of Saarland, one of the federal states of Germany. At 200 000 inhabitants, it is at the lower end of Germany's long Grossstaedte (large city) list, and is perhaps the least prominent state capital, at least from the tourist's point of view. That said, Saarbrücken has an impressive history of over a 1000 years, with its predecessors dating back to ancient Roman Empire. It does not only possess architectural heritage to prove that, but it is also picturesquely located over the bends of the river Saar, serving as the gateway to this underrated region of Germany.

Understand

Alte Brücke over the river Saar

Saarbrücken has been a primarily industrial city since coal extraction started in the first half of the 18th century. The steel industry developed on that base and up to today Saarbrücken has many plants manufacturing various metal products and components. Automotive components in general are another mainstay of the local economy, supplying many of the leading automakers all over Europe. In more recent decades, Saarbrücken has also developed into a robust hub for software production, employing thousands of local workers. For those reasons, Saarbrücken, while not popular as a tourist destination, sees a sizeable business-related visitor traffic, and due to its small size and location in a densely-populated area, it also has one of the proportionally largest commuter workforces, measured tens of thousands of workers.

Get in

Saarbrücken Airport - compact but full-fledged

By plane

Saarbrücken Airport

Saarbrücken Airport (IATA: SCN) is an international airport and is located 15 km to the city center. Regional bus R10 travels once an hour from the airport to the main railway station and takes 28 minutes. A single ticket costs €2.30.

Apart from flights to holiday destinations, the airport has only four, albeit frequently-operated, connections. The shortest - and most often the cheapest - is the Luxair flight to Luxembourg Findel Airport, code-shared with Lufthansa. It is one of Europe's shortest flights, lasting just 30 minutes over just 100 kms. The price is accordingly reasonably low. Some of the Luxair planes continue from Saarbrücken to Hamburg and Berlin-Tegel and back. You can connect to selected European destinations of Luxair from Luxembourg, but there are no options to continue your Luxair flight from Saarbrücken via Berlin or Hamburg on another airline. Luxair, although an affiliate of Lufthansa, is not a Star Alliance member and the Luxembourg airport has no intercontinental connections.

The other option is the frequent airberlin connection, also to Berlin-Tegel, from where they offer connections all over Europe at much more reasonable prices than Lufthansa. Berlin is also one of the intercontinental hubs for the airline, so you can combining their flight to Saarbrücken with an intercontinental flight. The general rule is that destinations to the west of Saarbrücken are operated cheaper and more conveniently by Luxair, while those the east by airberlin. That said, flying to Luxembourg on Luxair or any other airline and travelling the remaning 79 kms by bus is perhaps the cheapest way.

Frankfurt Airport

Lufthansa provides a shuttle between Saarbrücken Dudweiler Bus Station and Frankfurt Airport, which is their largest hub for European and intercontinental flights. The shuttle is actually bookable as a Lufthansa flight (destination code for Dudweiler Bus Station is SDA), earns Miles&More participants miles and counts as a flight stretch, and can be combined with most Lufthansa flights to/out of Frankfurt. SDA appears as an available destination only when booking directly with Lufthansa. The flight numbers for the bus shuttles are LH348x-LH349x and there are multiple shuttles at different times of the day. The bus journey lasts around 2 hours and costs EUR 27 one way when booked on its own, and as a part of a connecting flight it usually incurs minimal price hike vs. flights to Frankfurt only.

Zweibrücken Airport

Another close airport is the Zweibrücken Airport in Rhineland-Palatinate, which can be reached from the main station twice a day by a direct bus #199. It takes 45 minutes. During the day it can also be reached by taking a train to Homburg and from there bus R7. This will take 1.5 hours. As of 2014, Zweibrücken Airport is only used by short-haul holiday charter flights, so the airport is not of much use to travellers except for holidaymakers from the area.

Frankfurt-Hahn Airport

The so-called Frankfurt Hahn Airport in Hahn, likewise in Rhineland-Palatinate, is yet another close airport. There are no direct connections from this airport to Saarbrücken. One of the possibilities you have is to take the Airport Shuttle Mosel (RegioLinie 750) from the general bus station 500 meters from the airport to Bullay and switch to the regional train to Saarbrücken.

By car

Autobahn A6, near the France border. About 2 hours from Mannheim.

Saarbrücken's Hauptbahnhof (main train station) was renamed "Eurobahnhof" due to its key location on the important railway line between Germany and France

By train

Saarbrücken is a station on the Paris-Frankfurt high-speed route, served by the superfast ICE and TGV trains of Deutsche Bahn and SNCF (French Railways), respectively. There are 5 such trains a day in each direction calling at Saarbrucken, and you can purchase tickets on all of them both from DB and SNCF, as they operate under a mutual ticketing agreement. The journey to Paris is actually shorter (1h50mins) than to Frankfurt (2h30mins).

Frankfurt can also be reached by regular, regional trains, which take not much longer than the ICE (2h50mins), but often aren't any cheaper either. The benefit of those is that there is at least one train per hour, even at nighttime, between Saarbrucken and Frankfurt. Other important difference is that ICEs don't stop at Frankfurt Airport, while the regional trains do.

Other destinations with direct express trains to Saarbrücken include Stuttgart (2.5h), Ulm (3.5h), Munich (4.5h) and Salzburg in Austria (6.5h) and some minor stations on that line. Regional trains calling in Saarbrücken can carry obviously carry you around Saarland, but they also reach out to many cities of Rhineland-Palatinate, as well as Lorraine in France (including Metz). Travelling to other destinations generally requires changing trains in Mannheim, Frankfurt or Paris for long-distance express trains or night trains, or procuring a more intricate combination of small stretches from one of the more minor stations closer to Saarbrücken.

By bus

CFL, Luxembourg's railway company, offers a bus connection between Luxembourg Gare (railway station) and Saarbrücken Busbahnhof (bus terminal). Multiple buses a day are coordinated with trains from Luxembourg to Brussels and from Saarbrücken to Mannheim and Frankfurt, as the other city does not have a direct connection with those destinations - thus the bus bridges the gap in the railway network. One-way ticket costs EUR 9 as of 2014, the journey takes 1h15mins, consult the brochure for exact times.

By tram

Between Saarbrücken in Germany and Sarreguemines in France, both of which are served by good domestic train connections, you can take a ride on the Saarbahn, a border-crossing tramway which is a part of Saarland's public transportation system. The journey takes approximately 30 minutes and in 2010 the ticket (to be bought at a machine, present also at the station of Sarreguemines) cost 4,60 €.

The Saarbahn is Saarbrücken's tramway

Get around

Saarbrücken has an excellent public transport system. It has city buses and a tram line.

Saarbrücken Town Hall

See

Saarbrücken Castle
Ludwigskirche
Völklingen ironworks

Do

Music and Performing Arts

Festivals

Hiking

Buy

Europa-Gallerie

Eat

A Saarlandish specialty is Schwenker, a steak prepared on a special grill where the grilling rack is swung by the cook over a fire. It is often served at festivals and Beergärten.

Budget

Midrange

Splurge

Modern architecture in the Hafenstrasse

Drink

The main town square (St. Johanner Market) and the Nauwieser Quarter feature many bars and restaurants.

A ship on the river Saar

Sleep

Go next


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, March 28, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.