The German central city of Frankfurt, located on the Main River, is often referred to as a gateway to Europe, but in fact a great deal happens in the city itself.
It is a charming place to wander around, with its impressive Gothic architecture and futuristic skyline, and there are plenty of museums and galleries to spark interest.
As Germany’s business and transportation hub, Frankfurt is also a diverse city, with everyone, from wealthy bankers to dropout students populating its streets.
This is a very interesting destination to visit, and there are also some great options for day trips available further afield, due to its great location.
Without a doubt one of the most beautiful cities in Germany, Heidelberg is a great option for a day trip, with the ruins of the impressive castle and its prestigious university.
Drive along the Nakar River to reach the city, and once there allow yourself plenty of time to wander among its beautiful buildings, which span historical periods from the Renaissance to the Gothic.
From the castle you can experience some fantastic views from the terrace, and spot one of the largest wine barrels in the world.
The city center is also full of gems: the Knights’ House, the old bridge and the Holy Spirit Church are all intriguing.
In addition, the crowded paths with half-timbered houses are a spectacle in themselves.
The Rhine Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s easy to see why.
The valley is surrounded by perfect villages with postcards, and laden with castles in the highest density in the world, the valley is an amazing place to spend the day.
A boat tour is a great option, as you will get to see all its glory from the serenity of the water.
If it is summer, you can take the cable car down to the valley, before having lunch on the banks of the river.
There are also some excellent wine options available – try the Brodsheim Tavern.
3. Wertheim Village
If you’re thinking of shopping, Wertheim is the only place to do it from Frankfurt.
More than 110 luxury boutiques populate the area, including Versace, Tommy and Ralph Lauren – and this is a great way to save a bunch on top brands.
Just an hour away from the city, this is a truly pampering place to visit: spend time strolling the shops, eating at the on-site institutions, and hoping to return home satisfied with your purchases.
With savings of up to 60% it just might be the best trip you take.
The well-preserved medieval town of Rothenburg is a very popular place to visit from Frankfurt.
On your way there you will pass the romantic road, which is worth the trip in itself, and once you reach Rothenburg you will certainly not be disappointed.
Take a guided tour around the historic center, and learn about the intricacies of its history, from the wooden houses, to the church, the town hall and the spiers of the city gates.
You can also visit the intriguing Criminal Museum.
5. Ever Castle
Elts Castle, perched on the Moselle River, is an impressive sight, rising from among the trees with its spiers and turrets.
Over 850 years of history await you in the perfectly preserved historic site, and much of the furniture is also original.
Inside you can explore the castle’s various rooms, including the medieval kitchen and the Knights’ Hall, as well as all the weapons, armor, hanging and paintings that line the walls.
In the treasury you will find greater intrigue, in over 500 valuable works of art.
6. Neuschwanstein Castle
A fairytale castle like no other, Neuschwanstein Castle is on the bucket list of many people, so it is a wonderful place to visit from Frankfurt.
This 19th-century Romanesque revival castle, perched on a hill near the village of Hohenswangau, is visited by more than 1.3 million people a year.
It was originally commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a homage to Richard Wagner, and paid for the use of his fortune.
This is truly an impressive site, and is also considered to be the inspiration behind the Disney movie, Sleeping Beauty.
7. Baden-Baden and the Black Forest
So good that they called it twice, the spa town of Baden-Baden is only a 90-minute drive from Frankfurt along the river.
The main attraction here is of course a dip in its therapeutic thermal springs, whether in the cheaper public baths or from a more exclusive resort location.
There is also plenty to explore on foot, from boutique shops to the castle-like Korhaus, which dates back to the 19th century.
While you are here, it will be retarded on your part to miss the opportunity to explore the stunning Black Forest, one of Germany’s main highlights.
The rolling hills and its dense forest are scattered in picturesque villages, and there are plenty of options for hiking in the area, including a trip to the highest waterfall in Germany.
The picturesque Old Town of Hanau is located just 20 km from the center of Frankfurt, making it an easy place for a day trip.
Not only is it laden with beautiful buildings, it also has a great claim to fame, being the birthplace of the Grimm brothers, the authors of many well-known legends.
If you can, book your visit similar to the Living Brothers Festival.
Apart from the connection in the legends, there is a market, the new and impressive town hall, and the goldsmith’s house with some amazing jewelry on display.
If you run out of things to do, there is also a Baroque palace located just a few miles from the city, where the Hanau Historical Museum is located.
The rich historic city of Mainz is located on the west bank of the Rhine, just 44 kilometers from Frankfurt.
This cathedral city has a whole host of attractions to explore, including some excellent museums, and of course, its impressive cathedral.
The cathedral began to be built in 975 AD, although many of the tombs were added in the 11th century, and it towers over the city with its six spiers.
Important museums include the Central Roman-German Museum and the Museum of Ancient Navigation, which houses full-scale replicas of Roman ships.
Located right on the other side of the Black Forest is the perfect opportunity to spend the day in another country: France.
Strasbourg is the capital of Alsace, and its old quarter is beautifully dotted with half-timbered buildings and cobbled streets.
The city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Strasbourg is also a very cosmopolitan city, which is also the location of the headquarters of the European Parliament, and is also home to many excellent cuisine options.
La Petite France, also known as Strasbourg, is a canal city, meaning you can take the opportunity to hop on a boat and explore through the water.
11. Schloss Bodingen
Bodingen Old Town is more than a pleasant place to spend the day, with plenty of historical attractions to whet your appetite.
Even the city walls themselves date back to the 15th century.
Stroll to the market, where you will see the old town hall from the late Gothic period, which also houses an excellent museum to explore the folk traditions of the area.
The nearby Schloss Bodingen is well worth a visit.
Built in the 13th century it also hosts a museum and a Gothic chapel.
For something a little different from quaint houses and gothic architecture, a trip to Darmstadt is a great option.
Art Nouveau is the subject of many buildings here, and it’s definitely clear from the moment you walk its quiet streets.
In 1899 the Grand Duke Ernest Ludwig established an artists’ colony in Darmstadt, in the impressive Mathildenhöhe.
There are piles of art exhibits around the city, and you can visit a number of museums around the city.
For a good view, climb the Hochzeitsturm.
Another option for a spa-based day trip, if one has not really been enough for you, is the beautiful town of Wiesbaden.
You can spend the day jumping from bath to bath quite easily, though if you feel like working on your indulgence, you can climb the nearby Nirberg Hill, which has Opal Baths sitting at the top.
Start the day from the market square, from where you can wander in almost every direction and find a suitable relaxation.
The Pillar Fountain is perhaps the best known, but there is also the Aukammtal district, the Kochbrunnen and the Kaiser Friedrich baths.
14. Frankenstein Castle
Spoiler alert: This castle is exactly what it sounds like.
The English writer Mary Shelley visited the area in 1814, and this castle is thought to be part of what inspired Frankenstein’s Gothic story, published two years after her visit.
It has an excellent haunted history, with stories ranging from ghosts, witches to mad alchemists, all of whom are supposed to have lived in the place for centuries.
More than 750 years old, and starting to crumble, this is a fascinating place to visit.
The second largest city in Bavaria is definitely worth a stop on your route around Frankfurt.
Its long history begins in the Middle Ages, but today it is mostly spoken of because of its importance in the Nazi regime.
You can explore this side of its history at the Documentation Center, but if you want to get away from this tragic era, there is the castle to visit, nightlife and cuisine to sample, and if you schedule your visit for the right time of year, some fantastic Christmas markets to explore.
Where to stay: The best hotels in Frankfurt, Germany
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