Frankfurt is (of course!) an amazing city, but you don’t have to be here long before you start wondering where you can get to for the weekend. Whether you are making sure that you get the most out of your time living in Germany, or if you have been here for years and need an idea to impress some visiting relatives (or just trying to get them off your couch), we all need a novel idea of where to go for the weekend. So here are a few ideas:
The definition of a day trip will depend partly on your access to a car but of course any of these locations can also turn in to a nice overnight stay if you aren’t pressed for time or money.
Most people are aware of the Taunus area so I am grouping these all together. You can’t go too far wrong and in most cases you can use either the S-Bahn or U-Bahn to get to the nearest spots. The most notable towns are Bad Homburg, Oberursel, Kronberg and Königstein are all safe bets for an easy day trip. They all have nice old town centres, walking opportunities in well maintained parks, castles (except Oberursel), and some thermal spas.
Limburg is a great little town about one hour drive or train towards Cologne, right beside the A3 for easy access. The town centre is very old fashioned with narrow cobbled streets winding up round a small hill towards a castle on top. Picturesque, walkable for all ages, plenty of restaurants and good in any weather.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber in the other direction is only a day trip if you have a car (nearly 2 hours drive). The old town is still housed inside city walls and in a staple tourist destination. Surrounded by beautiful forests and a centre that is protected from development, they have done a great job at preserving the place. Biggest downside is the coach loads of tourists that sometimes arrive. But if you book ahead for a restaurant and hotel, this can be a really memorable visit.
Kassel and the Wilhelmshöhe Bergpark (which I have used for the main picture) is a breathtaking destination. The castle and statue of Hercules rises to the west of the city and affords amazing views. The walk up through the woods is equally stunning in pretty much any season, although my favourite is Autumn. Both driving and train is nearly 2 hours, so it is probably more comfortable with an overnight stay but it is a direct easy route.
Hessenpark is a more local location just over the hills into the Taunus, but really only accessible by car. It is an open air museum and suitable for all ages and all weather. There are a few different places to eat and the the village is a nice place to have a wander and explore. The drive is only about 45 minutes so the trip can be a comfortable half day.
Heidelberg is one of these destinations that is recommended to everyone due to its dramatic castle on the hill. The ruins overlook the river and valley as it stretches past the old town. Heidelberg is only one hour by train and a little longer by car. Its the sort of place you should really go at least once while you are here. The city is fairly big though with many places to eat out in both the new and old town. It won’t give you the small quaint german village vibe…
Eltville/Rüdesheim are similar places at different distances. I wrote about winetasting in Rüdesheim a while ago and this sums up why people head out this way. Both places are well known winery locations on the Rhein in direction Wiesbaden. Eltville is even manageable by bike, car or train for a day trip, but Rüdesheim is a little far for a daytrip by bike. They are quintessential wine making towns full of wineries and restaurants. Plenty of options for walking on river or strolling through picturesque little lanes. Rüdesheim is definitely the nicer location but it is an hour drive and a little longer by train.
Heading a little further up the Rhein is a great idea. As the river turns northwards after Bingen, The valley walls rise stepper and are dotted with castles, vinyards and cute little wine-making villages. You could pick any of them but if you are willing to do an 90 minute drive then head to Loreley and the Rheinfels Castle. This is an imposing fortified castle (now ruined) that dominated the valley and controlled all of the river trading. Loreley sits on both sides of the river but crossing is only by boat (car ferry) approximately every 20 minutes. Google maps will show you many view points to head for and wine-tasting destinations. Plenty to do here!
A last idea for a day trip to get completely away from the city is in direction Schotten. This is a nice enough town but the real gems are two different options one a lake with hiking and water sports (Nidda Stausee) and the other is a hill (Bilstein) with an amazing view of the surrounding forests. Both are only really accessible by car but well worth the one hour drive. There are some amenities, but I recommend taking everything you need to eat/drink and some good walking shoes if you are going up Bilstein. You just have to check out the photos on instagram for motivation!
Pretty much all of these locations deserve a blog post in its own right, but let’s see if I can get back to every location for some up to date local intel. If you have any additional ideas feel free to drop them into the comments below!