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, Frankfurt is very 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 cover everything from big cities to cute villages, and spa resorts to outlet malls. So here are some of the best day trips from Frankfurt to help you start planning your trip.
How to Get Around
Although many of the day trips mentioned below can be done by public transport, consider renting a car for the day to give yourself more flexibility and independence. Your own four wheels allow you to be in control of your time and schedule, and depending on how many people are in your group, renting a car might even work out cheaper than other forms of transportation. You can compare car rental deals and find the cheapest prices at Rentalcars.com, an aggregation site that searches and displays prices and availability from hundreds of car rental companies so that you can be sure of getting the best possible car for your budget
Don’t want to drive or deal with the hassle of public transport? No worries, we have 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, the main square in the old town where you’ll find the Heiliggeistkirche church. Wandering its cobblestone lanes you’ll see plenty of stunning historic buildings like the Knight’s House. Next, head for the beautiful Neckar river, which has the town’s scenic Old Bridge across it. The main attraction here though is Heidelberg Castle, an immense ruin of the once glorious Renaissance castle. Besides touring what remains of its striking interior, you can also see the Heidelberg Tun in its cellars which is the world’s largest wine barrel. Of course, there’s also the opportunity to enjoy the fantastic views out over town from the castle as well.
Getting there: To get from Frankfurt to Heidelberg there are frequent trains that make the journey in roughly an hour. However, if you’d like to be shown around, then visiting with a guided tour is the way to go.
One of the best side trips from Frankfurt is to the spa town of Baden-Baden. This 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 Baden-Baden Casino, the oldest and possibly most lavish casino in Germany. Besides spending the remainder of your time here at thermal baths, other places for you to visit include the Fabergé Museum with a collection of Faberge eggs, and the Museum Frieder Burda which is full of German modern art.
Getting there: There are regular trains traveling from Frankfurt to Baden-Baden that take roughly 1 ½ hours.
3. Rhine Valley
It’s hard to resist the call of the Rhine Valley while in Frankfurt. As one of the most popular day tours from Frankfurt, there are all sorts of ways you can approach a visit. Perhaps you want to focus on the region’s world-famous wine and the vineyards covering the hillsides along the river. Or maybe you want to visit some of the picture-perfect postcard villages like Bacharach and Rüdesheim that rest along its banks. These villages are packed with beautiful half-timbered houses. There are all also panoramic viewpoints – such as the iconic Lorelei rock, which let you admire the valley. Of course, another way to see all of this is to enjoy a river cruise along the Rhine and let the UNESCO World Heritage-listed landscape pass you by.
Getting there: While it depends where in the Rhine Valley you hope to go, there are regular trains that 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.
4. Eltz Castle
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. Even though the castle was 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 thanks to its striking design and the stone road that leads up to the narrow rock that it sits upon. But it gets better, once you’ve admired its exterior you can then take a tour of the castle and see its well-preserved interior. Visiting inside you’ll be able to see the halls, furnishings, artwork, and weaponry. Finally, go for a hike up through the surrounding forest to enjoy the peaceful nature and score some more castle views.
Getting there: Unfortunately, there are no trains that will get you from Frankfurt right to Eltz Castle, so driving is your best bet.
5. Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Probably Germany’s most famous stop along its 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 walk through on foot. Begin with the town’s Marktplatz, the central square on which you’ll see the impressive Old Town Hall and the detailed Marktplatz Fountain. Wandering past countless gorgeous buildings, head for Plönlein, where you’ll see 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 River Tauber and across to the town’s skyline, head for the Burggarten.
Getting there: While it requires several transfers, you can take the train from Frankfurt to Rothenburg in around 3 hours. To spend less time traveling and more time sightseeing, you may want to visit with a guided tour.
Hanau is easily one of the most interesting things to see in Germany outside of Frankfurt. This is because this pretty town just so happens to be where the Brothers Grimm, the famous fairy tale authors, were born. This connection isn’t hard to miss as there’s a large monument to the brothers right in the town’s main square. Also on the Marktplatz you’ll find plenty of pretty buildings surrounding its elegant New Town Hall. Another attraction to see in town is the Goldsmiths’ House and its traditional jewelry and workshop. Although it’s a little out from the center of town, Philippsruhe Castle is worth a visit if you can get there. Not only is it an attractive Baroque palace, but it’s also home to the Hanau Historical Museum that has exhibits on historical crafts and the Brothers Grimm.
Getting there: A very easy train trip from Frankfurt, frequent trains make the 15 minute journey from Frankfurt to Hanau.
Just a short trip from Frankfurt you’ll find the historic city of Mainz. Situated on the River Rhine, Mainz has a lengthy history which has helped it become a major regional center of culture. Much of the city was destroyed by bombing during WWII, but the Old Town survived, making it a great place to start your visit. There you’ll find market squares, half-timbered houses, and the magnificent Romanesque Mainz Cathedral. It’s in the Old Town that you’ll find a bevy of major museums, such as the Gutenberg Museum which covers the history of printing and the Museum of Ancient Navigation. On the edge of the Old Town you’ll see some of the city’s preserved ancient Roman ruins like the Roman Theatre. Mainz is also known as Germany’s wine capital, so it’d be wrong to miss out on trying 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.
Across the border in France, a trip over 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 masterful Gothic Cathedral of Notre-Dame. Stunning both inside and out, be sure to take a trip up the Cathedral tower for sweeping city views. Strasbourg’s Old Quarter is set on the Grande Île, with a scenic waterfront surrounding a dense district of photogenic houses and moody alleys. The prettiest place to be in Strasbourg is La Petit France, a neighborhood of waterways and half-timbered houses. To learn more about Strasbourg and the surrounding Alsace region, visit the Alsatian Museum, or any of the other museums which can be found inside Palais Rohan. Finally, there’s the Cave Historique des Hospices Strasbourg, a historic wine cellar that’s the perfect setting for wine-tasting.
Getting there: There are a few daily trains that make the journey from Frankfurt to Strasbourg in just over 2 hours.
9. Wertheim Village
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 include brands like Versace, Ralph Lauren, and Calvin Klein. You’ll find a mix of German and international brands here, making it a great choice if you want a special souvenir to take home. What’s more, with savings that reach up to 60%, visiting the outlets here could actually save you money in the long run. If 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 1 ⅓ hour trip from Frankfurt to Wertheim Village, you may want to drive yourself to avoid being stuck to a fixed schedule.
Although it may not be 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. There you’ll spot plenty of enchanting half-timbered houses as you meander the cobblestone alleys and stairways coming off its main market square. Watching over all of this is Landgrafen Palace, Marburg’s grand hilltop castle that hosts a museum and offers unparalleled views of town. Marburg is probably best known for its university, which means you’ll find plenty of bars and cafes around town. But the university also gives Marburg a Brothers Grimm connection, as they studied there. There’s even a special trail through town dedicated to the brothers which is 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 1 hour journey.
Sitting just across the river from Mainz, Wiesbaden is one of the oldest spa towns in the country. Before heading to the spas, begin your time in the town at the Marktplatz, a square full of impressive buildings like the New Town Hall, Wiesbaden City Palace, and the 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 all the thermal baths and saunas around town to visit, with many located in the Aukammtal spa district. One of the most prominent venues is the Kaiser Friedrich Baths that have operated since 1913, while the Opel Baths up on Neroberg hill 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 fantastic walled town that’s close to Frankfurt, look no further than the captivating town of Büdingen. To reach its superb old town you’ll first need to pass through the serious fortifications that have defended Büdingen since the 15th century. Once you’re through, make your way to its main market place which showcases the town’s well-preserved half-timbered buildings. There 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, Schloss Büdingen. This medieval castle 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 option for getting to Büdingen from Frankfurt is to drive.
13. Frankenstein Castle
Yes, it’s possible to visit a castle in Germany that likely inspired the famous monster tale of Frankenstein. Author of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, visited this part of Germany two years before publishing her story that shares the castle’s name. Visiting the ruins of Frankenstein Castle, it’s easy to see why this hilltop castle may have inspired the author. All manner of spooky tales surround the castle, including one of an alchemist Johann Konrad Dippel who is said to have done some pretty unhinged experiments in his day. Not a lot remains of the castle, but it is still possible to climb one of its towers for views of the surrounding area. The castle also has a restaurant where you can refuel and which 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 2 hours to get there.
Found where the Moselle river meets the Rhine, the city of Koblenz is a common stop for those on river cruises. However, Koblenz is more than just a convenient rest stop and is worth visiting in its own right. While the center of town has a few nice churches and squares, it’s best to head towards the riverfront for landmarks like the Basilica of St. Castor and 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 cable car across the water to the imposing Ehrenbreitstein Fortress that you’ll likely already have noticed. There you’ll find several museums, not to mention plenty of fortifications to clamber over in search of views.
Getting there: Regular trains travel from Frankfurt to Koblenz, with the journey taking between 1 ½ and 2 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 to quite recently, Felsenmeer was treated as a stone quarry but is now rightly recognized as a nature park. Besides seeing these huge rock flows and jumping about on them, there are various hiking routes that criss-cross the rocks and take you into the surrounding forest. It’s basically one big playground for those who enjoy the outdoors.
Getting there: The only way to reach this remote destination from Frankfurt is to drive yourself 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 list of options, but at least now you have a solid starting point for deciding where to go.