Best Easy Day Trips from Frankfurt

Frankfurt is not an especially pretty city. If you find yourself trapped here, asking, “What can I do?” the best answer is to go somewhere else. I aim to give you a list of places to visit within roughly 60-90 minutes by regional train from Frankfurt Central Station. The destination needed to have a direct or otherwise easy train connection to qualify. Likewise, it also requires an old town with enough things to do to fill at least half of a day. 

Most of the locations here also appear in other guides, and for a good reason. Some of these places are simply spectacular. If you have already seen everything on this list, it may be time to consider my top day trips for adventurous tourists.


1. Heidelberg


This city is easily the best easy day trip from Frankfurt. Heidelberg survived destruction in WW2, leaving us with a spectacular and unique cityscape from the early Baroque period. Once the resplendent capital city of the Electoral Palatinate, the city was destroyed in 1697 by the French, and the capital was moved to the new city of Mannheim. The castle ruins, which rise above the city, tell the story of the city’s past as the center of the Renaissance and, later, the Romantic movement in the Upper Rhine. As a University town, the city has a lively local culture, and there is always something new to see or experience.

You can read more about Heidelberg in my guide here:

2. Marburg

Marburg takes the number two spot as a fairytale village in the dark forests of Northern Hessen. Like Heidelberg, Marburg is a major university town and was thus spared destruction in WW2. Marburg, though has a different vibe to it. You can think of the town as the birthplace of our modern fairytale. The Brothers Grimm worked and studied in Marburg during their careers, and our stereotypical half-timbered village adorned by an ancient castle is a trope that meets reality here. Whereas Heidelberg can feel overwhelmed by tourists, Marburg is slightly harder to get to and thus feels more authentic in many ways.


3. Fulda

Fulda continues the victory streak for University towns that were spared wartime annihilation. Universities give their host cities an outsized cultural diversity reflected in restaurants, breweries, and festivals. Fulda, a large village that could be described as a large university campus, benefits significantly from this effect. The town is full of life in an otherwise rural area. 

Add to this the centuries of local tradition that Fulda has cultivated, and it becomes a remarkable destination. The town served as the capital for a Catholic Prince-Abbot surrounded by predominantly protestant princes. The desire to protect its catholic identity means a host of traditions, from annual processions to unique feast-day sausages. It also resulted in a wealth of architectural heritage befitting a city three times its size. Overall, Fulda is a fantastic day trip from Frankfurt.

4. Rhine Cruise

Proximity to the UNESCO Middle-Rhine valley is the best reason to stay in Frankfurt. However, the region makes for a challenging day trip because there is so much to see and do there. You could fill a week of activities from the ancient Marksburg Castle to the romantic ruins of Rheinfels or the mighty fortress of Ehrenbreitstein. For those with only a day to spend, maybe the best option is to see everything from a distance. The cruises typically start in Rüdesheim and travel up to any of the small towns for castles along the Middle Rhine. You can take the cruise back down, visit some of the sights, and take the train back.

5. Limburg

Limburg offers true medieval drama to the curious tourist. Situated on a rock above the river Lahn deep in the forests of the Westerwald, the small town guards a minor river crossing. Limburg has some of Germany’s best-preserved urban medieval architecture, undisturbed for centuries by European conflict or economic development. By “Medieval,” I don’t mean a half-timbered house from the 19th century that looks “medieval” but rather entire ensembles of homes from the 13th and 14th centuries. Crowing the town is a unique Cathedral soaring above the rooftops. Built as a miniature imitation of the Cathedral in Laon, it tells of the precise moment when the Romanesque style transitioned into the Gothic. Though small, Limburg is one of Frankfurt’s most historically immersive day trips.

6. Büdingen

Where Limburg represents the Middle Ages, Büdingen shines a light on the dawn of the Renaissance in Germany. The town was one of the fortified residences of the Isenburg family, and even today, it retains most of its late Medieval wall. However, the town reached its apogee during the reformation, which saw the Protestant Isenburg family welcome waves of religious refugees from France and elsewhere. The cityscape is packed with half-timbered houses from the 16-18th centuries and offers an interesting insight into the world of reformation Europe. The main attraction is the castle, one of Germany’s best-preserved medieval residences. Though not as epic or dramatic as Castle Eltz, Büdingen rivals it with a complete inventory and preserved interiors (mainly from the 16th century). 

7. Mainz

Mainz is the only destination on this list that was annihilated in World War II. Indeed, it is a testament to its enduring beauty and lively culture that I consider it one of the best places to visit. Now Mainz is an actual city, so it’s best to look at a map before you leave. The small part of the old town is located behind the Cathedral, full of beautiful half-timbered houses and resplendent baroque churches. The Cathedral is one of Germany’s most inspiring, and the Gothic cloister is one of the most beautiful spots in the city. You can also walk around one of Germany’s only fully preserved urban citadels or check out several Roman ruins that scatter the city. 


However, the best thing to do is experience the city’s many wine bars. Mainz sits in the middle of Germany’s premiere wine region, and the alcoholic grape juice is embedded into the local culture. Even better, consider visiting on Saturday morning, during the weekend market, and join the hundreds of local residents for a morning glass of Riesling.

You can read more about Mainz in my guide here:

8. Seligenstadt

For a truly hidden gem, spend an afternoon checking out the town of Seligenstadt. Tucked away on the Bavarian border is a town built around an ancient monastery. According to legend, the Monks of Seligenstadt built their monastery at this location when a divine vision inspired them to abandon their halfway completed monastery further south (you can still visit the ruins of their first attempt in Michelstadt). The church is old enough to have been built partially out of Roman bricks salvaged from nearby ruins in the 9th century. Most of the monastic complex is well preserved, and you can tour the elaborate buildings and spaces that the monks once inhabited. 

The town is charming and features an immersive center full of half-timbered houses. You can also stop to see the ruins of a 12th-century castle in the center and drink beer from the local brewery. 


9. Oppenheim

The last village on this list is the small village of Oppenheim. The main draw to Oppenheim is the vibe. It’s a beautiful village on the Rhine amidst the rolling hills of the Palatinate. Known primarily for its many vineyards and the stained glass windows of its church, the town also has a beautiful old town adorned by the crumbling ruins of its once mighty castle. It has everything you could want from a destination in the Palatinate and makes for a good afternoon trip.


Return to the Wetterau


Crossroads of an Empire

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