Although Frankfurt is a well-known city in Germany, it’s not a destination with endless attractions for tourists to spend days exploring. There are enough sights to keep you busy for one day in Frankfurt, but after that, you’ll want to start looking for other spots in the region.
The good news is that Frankfurt is centrally located within Germany, meaning that you can travel in any direction and find fun places to explore. The best places to visit from Frankfurt range from cute villages to big cities, and outlet malls to spa resorts. To help you plan your trip, here are some of the best day trips from Frankfurt.
How to Get Around
Although you can make many of these day trips with public transport, consider renting a car for the day to give yourself more flexibility and independence. With your own four wheels, you control your time and schedule; depending on how many people are in your group, renting a car might even work out to be cheaper than other forms of transportation. You can compare car rental deals and find the lowest prices at Rentalcars.com, an aggregation site that searches and displays prices and availability from hundreds of car rental companies so that you can get the best possible car for your budget.
Don’t want to drive or deal with the hassle of public transport? No worries! We’ve listed the best tour for each day trip (where available).
The romantic university town of Heidelberg is one of the most popular Frankfurt day trips, and with good reason. Start your visit in Heidelberg’s Marktplatz (marketplace), the main square in the Old Town, where you’ll find the Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spirit). Wandering its cobblestone lanes, you’ll see plenty of stunning historic buildings – including The Knight’s House, the city’s oldest building, which is now a hotel.
Next, head for the beautiful Neckar River, which has the town’s scenic Old Bridge across it. But the main attraction here is Heidelberg Castle, the immense ruin of a once-glorious Renaissance palace. Besides touring what remains of its striking interior, you can see the Heidelberg Tun – the world’s largest wine barrel – in its cellars. Of course, there’s also the opportunity to enjoy the fantastic views out over town from the castle.
Getting there: Frequent trains make the journey from Frankfurt to Heidelberg in roughly an hour. However, if you’d like to be shown around, a guided tour is the way to go.
One of the best side trips from Frankfurt is to the spa town of Baden-Baden. The old-fashioned spa resort lies in Germany’s legendary Black Forest and is a great place to unwind among grand surroundings.
Start out by walking into town along the Lichtentaler Allee, a leafy promenade with park views. Once in the heart of town, seek out the Kurhaus complex for its elegant colonnaded buildings, like the stunning Trinkhalle, which boasts an arcade with colorful frescoes. Right in the heart of town lies the extravagant Casino Baden-Baden, the oldest and possibly most lavish casino in Germany.
Other places to visit in Baden-Baden include the Fabergé Museum, which displays a collection of Fabergé eggs, and the Museum Frieder Burda, which is full of German modern art. Of course, you might just want to spend the rest of your time here in the luxurious thermal baths.
Getting there: There are regular trains from Frankfurt to Baden-Baden that take roughly an hour and a half.
It’s hard to resist the call of the Rhine Valley when you’re in Frankfurt. As one of the most popular day tours from Frankfurt, the Rhine Valley offers various ways for you to approach a visit. Perhaps you want to focus on the region’s world-famous wine and the vineyards covering the hillsides along the river. Maybe you want to visit some of the postcard-perfect villages along its banks, such as Bacharach and Rüdesheim, which are packed with beautiful half-timbered houses.
You can also admire the valley from panoramic viewpoints such as the iconic Lorelei rock. Of course, another way to see all of this is to enjoy a river cruise along the Rhine, taking in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed landscape.
Getting there: While it depends where in the Rhine Valley you hope to go, regular trains will take you to villages like Bacharach and Rüdesheim in a little over an hour. However, to experience more than one village, it’s best to visit the valley on an organized tour.
Germany is famous for its castles, and one of the best has to be Eltz Castle. Surely one of the best places to visit in Germany, Eltz Castle is both a beauty to look at and full of history and character. Built back in the 12th century, this medieval marvel has managed to stay in the same family for 33 generations.
You’ll probably recognize the castle from photos, thanks to its striking design and the stone road that leads up to the narrow rock it sits upon. It gets better: Once you’ve admired its exterior, you can tour the castle’s well-preserved interior to see the halls, furnishings, artwork, and weaponry.
After your tour, go for a hike up through the surrounding forest to enjoy the peaceful nature and score some more castle views from multiple vantage points.
Getting there: Unfortunately, no trains will get you right to Eltz Castle from Frankfurt, so driving is your best bet.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Probably the most famous stop along Germany’s Romantic Road, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a tourist destination few will want to miss. With its well-preserved medieval center, Rothenburg is a delight to explore on foot.
Begin with the town’s Marktplatz, the central square where you’ll see the palatial Town Hall and the intricately carved St. Georgsbrunnen Fountain. As you wander past countless gorgeous buildings, head for Plönlein, the town’s iconic street corner often featured in postcards.
Rothenburg is surrounded by medieval town walls, and if you head to any one of its many imposing gates, you can climb up and take a walk along the walls. For views of vineyards leading down to the Tauber River and across to the town’s skyline, head for Burggarten (Castle Garden).
Getting there: While it requires several transfers, you can take the train from Frankfurt to Rothenburg in around three hours. To spend less time traveling and more time sightseeing, you may want to visit with a guided tour.
Book Tour to Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Hanau is easily one of the most interesting things to see in Germany outside of Frankfurt. This pretty town is where the Brothers Grimm, the famous fairy tale authors, were born. This connection is hard to miss, as there’s a large monument to the brothers right in the town’s main square.
You’ll find plenty of pretty buildings surrounding the elegant New Town Hall in the Marktplatz. One of the most interesting is the Goldsmiths’ House, a museum that displays traditional jewelry and an authentic goldsmith workshop.
Although it’s a little out from the center of town, Philippsruhe Castle is also worth a visit if you can get there. This attractive Baroque palace is home to the Hanau Historical Museum, which features exhibits on historical crafts and the Brothers Grimm.
Getting there: Hanau is an easy train trip from Frankfurt, with frequent trains making the 15-minute journey.
Another short trip from Frankfurt is the historic city of Mainz. Situated on the Rhine River, Mainz has a lengthy history that has helped it become a major regional center of culture. Bombing during World War II destroyed much of the city, but the Old Town survived, so this is a great place to start your visit. Here you’ll find market squares, half-timbered houses, and the magnificent Romanesque Mainz Cathedral.
It’s in the Old Town that you’ll also find a bevy of major museums, such as the Gutenberg Museum, which covers the history of printing, and the Museum of Ancient Seafaring. At the edge of the Old Town, you’ll see some preserved ancient Roman ruins, including the Roman Theatre. Mainz is also known as Germany’s wine capital, so it’d be a shame not to try at least one of its wine taverns while you’re there.
Getting there: Regular trains travel from Frankfurt to Mainz, with the trip taking just 40 minutes.
A trip over the French border to Strasbourg lets you add some variety to your time in Germany. With plenty to see in Strasbourg, start by making your way to the Gothic Cathedral of Notre-Dame (not to be confused with the medieval cathedral in Paris!), which is stunning inside and out. Be sure to take a trip up the cathedral’s tower for sweeping city views.
Strasbourg’s Old Town is set on the Grande Île, with a scenic waterfront surrounding a dense district of photogenic houses and moody alleys. The prettiest spot in Strasbourg is La Petite France, a neighborhood of waterways and half-timbered houses.
To learn more about Strasbourg and the surrounding Alsace region, visit the Alsatian Museum, or one of the various museums found inside Palais Rohan. Don’t miss the Cave Historique des Hospices Strasbourg, a historic wine cellar that’s the perfect setting for wine tasting.
Getting there: A few daily trains make the journey from Frankfurt to Strasbourg in just over two hours.
While you’ll find plenty of opportunities for shopping in Frankfurt, those looking for savings will want to visit Wertheim Village. This shopping village outside the city boasts more than 110 fashion and luxury boutiques that carry brands like Versace, Ralph Lauren, and Calvin Klein.
You’ll find a mix of German and international brands here, so it’s a great shopping destination if you want a special souvenir to take home. What’s more, the savings here reach up to 60%, so you’re unlikely to find better deals on your vacation!
In case you get tired from all this retail therapy, the village offers many places to eat, so you’ll have no problem making a day of it.
Getting there: With just one bus a day making the hour-and-a-half trip from Frankfurt to Wertheim Village, you may want to drive yourself to avoid being stuck to a fixed schedule.
Though not especially well known among tourists, the university town of Marburg delights those who visit. Begin your explorations of Marburg with Oberstadt, the town’s hillside historical center. You’ll spot plenty of enchanting half-timbered houses as you meander the cobblestone alleys and stairways coming off its main market square. Overlooking all of this is Landgrafen Palace, Marburg’s grand hilltop castle that hosts a museum and offers unparalleled views of the town.
Marburg is probably best known for its university, which means you’ll find plenty of bars and cafes around town. The university also gives Marburg a Brothers Grimm connection, as the famous duo studied there. There’s even a special trail through town dedicated to the brothers, dotted with sculptures related to their stories.
Getting there: To reach Marburg from Frankfurt, you can take one of the regular trains that make the one-hour journey.
Sitting just across the river from Mainz, Wiesbaden is one of the oldest spa towns in Germany. Before heading to the spas, spend some time at the Marktplatz, home to impressive buildings like the New Town Hall, Wiesbaden City Palace, and Market Church. A short walk away, you’ll find Kurhausplatz, a large square with fountains bordered by elegant colonnades and the striking Kurhaus.
Of course, there are also thermal baths and saunas to visit all around town, many in the Aukammtal spa district. One of the most prominent venues is the Kaiser Friedrich Baths, which have been in operation since 1913. The Opel Baths up in the Neroberg hills are also quite popular.
Getting there: Getting from Frankfurt to Wiesbaden is easy, thanks to the frequent trains that get you there in around 50 minutes.
For a captivating walled town close to Frankfurt, look no further than Büdingen. To reach its superb Old Town, you’ll need to pass through the serious fortifications that have defended Büdingen since the 15th century.
Once you’re through, make your way to the main Marktplatz, which showcases the town’s well-preserved half-timbered buildings. Here you’ll also find the Old Town Hall, which now hosts a museum highlighting regional folk traditions.
Elsewhere in town, among the fairytale streets, you’ll come across the lovely St. Mary’s Church and, best of all, Büdingen Castle. This medieval stronghold is the highlight of the town, and while it now hosts a hotel, you can still visit its museum and take tours to see its chapel and frescoes.
Getting there: With no public transport options, your best bet for getting to Büdingen from Frankfurt is to drive.
Yes, it’s possible to visit a castle in Germany that likely inspired the famous monster tale of Frankenstein. Author Mary Shelley visited this part of Germany two years before publishing her story that shares the castle’s name.
A visit to the ruins of this hilltop castle makes it easy to see how the fortress could have inspired Shelley. All manner of spooky tales surround the castle, including ones of alchemist Johann Konrad Dippel, who is rumored to have done some pretty unhinged experiments in his day.
Not a lot remains of the castle, but you can still climb one of its towers for views of the surrounding area. The castle also has a restaurant that hosts special themed parties in the weeks around Halloween.
Getting there: To reach Frankenstein Castle from Frankfurt, first take the frequent train to Darmstadt. From there, it’s a tram ride to the village of Malchen and then a walk up to the castle. Still, it should only take around two hours to get there.
Found where the Moselle River meets the Rhine, Koblenz is a common stop on river cruises. However, this city is more than just a convenient rest stop; it’s a worthy destination in its own right.
While the town center has a few nice churches and squares, it’s best to head for the riverfront to see landmarks like the Basilica of St. Castor and the Electoral Palace. Next, make your way to the German Corner, the point where the Rhine and Moselle converge, which is marked by a monument to William the Great.
Venturing across the Rhine, take the river cable car to the imposing Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, which you’ll likely have noticed already. Here you’ll find several museums, not to mention plenty of fortifications to clamber over in search of majestic views.
Getting there: Regular trains travel from Frankfurt to Koblenz, with the journey ranging from an hour and a half to two hours.
If you’re aching to get away from civilization, one of your best options is the sea of rocks known as Felsenmeer. Formed by tectonic movements and erosion, Felsenmeer is home to many rock flows that look like rivers full of huge boulders.
From the time of the Romans onward, Felsenmeer was treated as a stone quarry, but it’s now rightly recognized as a nature park. Besides jumping about on those huge rock flows, you can take various hiking routes that crisscross the rocks and lead you into the surrounding forest. It’s basically one big playground for outdoor enthusiasts.
Getting there: The only way to reach this remote destination from Frankfurt is to drive there.
These are just some of the places surrounding Frankfurt that you’ll want to consider for day trips when visiting the city. There’s really no end to your options, but at least now you have a solid starting point for deciding where to go in your spare time!
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