As the most important financial and economic hub in Germany, Frankfurt is a bustling city that is mostly visited by business travelers. But it’s also home to the largest airport in the country, meaning that quite a few tourists end up using Frankfurt as a jumping-off point for exploring other areas around Germany. Thankfully, Frankfurt is centrally located, meaning you can visit the many fascinating sights and cities by public transportation or car.
Interested in seeing historical half-timbered houses in the countryside? How about a relaxing day in a soothing thermal hot spring? You can even cross the border to visit France! With so much to see in just a short distance, Frankfurt is an excellent spot for exploring some of the most beautiful places in Germany.
With some of the most picturesque destinations in Germany located within 2-hours of Frankfurt, it might be difficult to choose where you want to go on a day trip. City dwellers are spoiled for choice when it comes to charming, historic towns.
What is the Best Day Trip from Frankfurt?
Heidelberg, Hanau, and Rothenburg ob der Tauber are just a few must-see places to explore near Frankfurt. If you’d rather spend the day doing something relaxing, then you can head to a nearby spa town like Baden-Baden or Wiesbaden for some well-deserved me-time.
But that’s just a sampling of what you can see, as Frankfurt has many other delightful places you can visit during your trip. In this article, I’ll share a couple of the best day trips that you can make while staying in Frankfurt.
Located just an hour from Frankfurt, the romantic town of Heidelberg is easy to reach by train or car.
This vibrant university town is dominated by the Heidelberg Castle, a once-prominent Renaissance palace that was home to the German monarch.
The castle, along with the rest of the city, was mostly spared from WWII bombings, making it a great destination to see preserved medieval architecture.
Take time to stroll through the old town, which is dotted with cobblestone squares, Baroque churches, and world-class museums.
Make sure to take a photo on the Old Bridge along the Neckar River for fantastic views of the castle and city.
If you’re visiting with a loved one, you can fasten an engraved lock on the bridge to symbolize your long-lasting love!
Need a break from the chaos of the city? Then visit Baden-Baden, Germany’s most iconic spa town, just 1.5 hours away from Frankfurt.
Located in the beautiful Black Forest region, Baden-Baden is renowned for its hot springs and thermal baths (after all, Baden means bathing in German!). Spend a day at Friedrichsbad or Spa Caracalla, and you’ll feel your troubles melt away almost instantly.
Baden-Baden isn’t just for spa-goers because the city also caters to hikers, climbers, and golfers.
You can also spend a few hours walking through the charming old town, visiting the Kurhaus complex’s colonnaded buildings or marveling at the delicate art pieces at the Fabergé Museum.
If Baden-Baden is too far of a day trip for you, then you can also visit the nearby spa town of Wiesbaden (it’s only 50 minutes by train).
The hot springs here were originally used by the Romans, although legendary figures like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Richard Wagner, and Johannes Brahm were also known to frequent the thermal baths every now and then.
After a few hours of the healing waters, you can visit one of the many attractions in the old town. There are historic churches (St. Elizabeth’s, St. Bonifatius), beautiful squares (Marktplatz, Schlossplatz), and even a royal palace that is now the home of the Hessian State Parliament.
The picturesque town of Hanau is ripped right from the pages of a fairytale – literally! That’s because it’s the birthplace and hometown of authors Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm (of the Brothers Grimm).
Walking past the colorful half-timbered houses and Baroque gardens and soaking in the lively atmosphere of the public markets and squares will give you the feeling of walking in their footsteps.
While the town itself is small, there are a few fascinating sights in the countryside that are also worth visiting.
Most notable is Schloss Philippsruhe, a Baroque palace from the 18th century.
Here you can see the Hanau Historical Museum, which features its own exhibit on the Brothers Grimm. The trip from Frankfurt to Hanau is just 30 minutes by car or 15 minutes by train.
With a prime location on the Rhine River 40 minutes from Frankfurt, Mainz is arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the area.
Although much of the city was bombed and rebuilt during WWII, the old town is littered with stunning architectural gems, including the Romanqesue Mainz Cathedral, the Gothic Stephanskirche church, and the colorful Gutenberg Museum.
The city is also famous for its public squares, many of which are situated around the Cathedral.
Market Square is the largest of them all and a popular gathering place for tourists and visitors. Make sure to stop by on a Tuesday, Friday, or Saturday to shop at their local food and farmer’s market.
If you want to tick off another country on your Eurotrip, make the 2-hour journey across the border to Strasbourg, the capital of the Alsace region of France.
Not only will you get to indulge in gourmet French cuisine (the city’s specialty is foie gras), but you’ll also be treated to stunning medieval architecture as you walk around the UNESCO-designated Petite France district.
For sightseeing, you won’t want to miss (nor can’t miss) the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg, which is considered to be one of the finest works of Rayonnant Gothic architecture.
Other highlights include the Barrage Vauban bridge, the Parc de l’Orangerie gardens, and the museums in the Palais des Rohan.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
The postcard-famous town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Rothenburg for short) is one of the most famous stops along southern Germany’s Romantic Road.
Although it’s small in size, the charming medieval center is packed with awe-inspiring architecture, from the grand Town Hall in Markt Square to the crooked half-timbered buildings lining the streets.
Rothenburg is also one of the three remaining towns in Germany with a fully intact city wall system (which you’re free to walk).
And if you’re seeking that iconic photo-op of the yellow house at the fork in the road, it’s on Plönlein Square between the two streets of Kobolzeller Steige and Spitalgasse.
Getting to Rothenburg is possible with public transportation, although it takes around 3 hours between all the transfers.
To make the most of your time, you’re better off driving or going with a tour group.
While Frankfurt is one of the largest cities in Germany, it’s not really the most appealing for tourists seeking a memorable and action-packed vacation.
If you find yourself in town for a few days, then it’s highly recommended to book a few day trips to other parts of the country
And due to Frankfurt’s central location in the middle of Germany, you won’t have to go far to see stunning castles, historic old cities, or picturesque landscapes.