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What is the cheapest way to travel from Bremen or Hamburg (Germany) to Lyon (France) and return. The time is end of August.

I am looking for plane/train/bus possibilities and duration of travel can be 1-2 days. Specifically, is there a connection with multiple transits with Ryan Air, may be some bus or train in between?

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2 Answers 2

The Deutsche Bahn has an offer they call "Europa Spezial" and they offer it to all neighboring countries. The interesting thing about this offer is that the price depends on how far in advance you book, and where in Germany you leave from, but that how far you travel in to the country of destination does not matter. So if you decide to use this offer breaking the journey abroad and continuing on a domestic ticket isn't really the best option. However for France DB only offers this on trains that originate in Germany. This is not a problem here.

The cheapest I see for a "Europe Spezial Frankreich" for Bremen - Lyon is 39,.- euro. This is when booked near the booking horizon. I used September 4th as a test date, and got this price for a solution involving 2 changes, a trip duration of a bit over 10 hours, and travel all in IC, ICE or TGV. That would be my choice.

If you book closer to your date of travel prices go up, but are still often a good deal.

What is also a very good deal with the DB Europa Spezial is traveling in first class. The 2nd class specials sell out faster than the 1st class. That means that often the price difference between both is not that big. For example, looking at Aug. 20th I see a 2nd class price of 79,- and a first class offer of 89,-. For me spending 10 hours in first class as opposed to 2nd class would certainly be worth the extra 10 euros...

So in conclusion I think that best value option for ground transport would be train, booked on www.bahn.de, as much in advance as possible. You can book this up to three months in advance.

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Eurolines has a daily bus from Hamburg via Bremen to Lyon and back, but even with advance purchase the price for a weekday in late August is a stiff 88€ each way (lack of competition?). And it's an 18 hour trip.

By train (you can check schedules and book tickets for segments starting or ending in Germany on the German railways website), a trip by day takes about 11 hours. The cheapest fare I can get DB to cough up is 79€ outward and 119€ return, and SNCF is worse, but there's probably something way cheaper by choosing the right combination of bookings from DB and from SNCF (it's often cheaper to buy domestic segments in their country, and you should shop around for international segments). There's also the option of a night train to either Paris or Basel followed by another train. Nonrefundable advance fares on these routes are often a lot cheaper than the full price.

Rome2Rio suggests various flights, starting at 148€ with an overnight stopover in Amsterdam on the outbound trip and 161€ with a fast connection in Paris each way.

Continuing with Rome2Rio, going via Paris, I found no better than about 160€ with a flight to Paris and a bus (Eurolines, cheaper from their website than R2R's offer) to Lyon. Lille, Brussels, Amsterdam, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Geneva make even worse connections.

I'd be very surprised if what I found couldn't be beaten by the right choice of vendors or stopover. So consider this answer as a baseline for public transport pricing. I used Monday 2014-08-25 and Thursday 2014-08-28 as reference dates.

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