Frankfurt’s central location on the German map surely played a part in its development into one of the world’s biggest transport hubs and financial capitals. Lucky for the culture vultures out there, its location has also made it a fantastic city to plan day trips around. From a 30-minute train ride to explore the medieval market squares in Mainz to a two-hour drive for a wander around Chochem Castle, here are our top picks for day trips out of Frankfurt.
This 2,000-year-old city, located about two hours’ drive or an hour by train from Frankfurt, is known for its Gothic architecture, such as the stunning Cologne Cathedral (below), on the banks of the Rhine River. Visitors must see the Museum Ludwig, home to Picasso artworks and other masterpieces, and check out the colourful architecture in the city’s Old Town. Local dishes to try include Himmel und Erde (black pudding with fried onions, mashed potato and applesauce) and Halve Hahn (rye bread and gouda cheese served with pickles).
Still around after dark? Experience a traditional brewery (try Kölsch at Peters Brauhaus), and take in the nightlife scene on Zülpicher Strasse or in the Friesenplatz area.
For those who love to get out and be at one with nature, Cochem, two hours’ drive from Frankfurt, is the place for a fulfilling day trip. The lush greenery here makes it a picturesque and romantic place for couples to enjoy long walks as it’s situated between excellent hiking spots in Eifel and Hunsrück. Plus, the striking Reichsburg Cochem castle looming over the Moselle river makes it postcard-perfect. Many visitors go to Cochem to see the Baroque-style town hall and to browse the markets.
Approximately 45 minutes’ drive or 30 minutes via train, Mainz is the ideal day trip for history buffs. It’s home to The Gutenberg Museum, which honours Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press; two bibles typed in the 15th century by Gutenberg are kept in the archives. Other attractions include the Mainz Cathedral (below), which stands out among the skyline’s other buildings with its Romanesque style, and St Christoph’s Church, which is famous for its beautiful stained glass windows. With its history as a wine-growing area, you’ll want to enjoy the local drop while in town.
Trier, Germany’s oldest city, on the banks of the Mosel river, is a two-and-a-half hours’ drive or 45 minutes by train from Frankfurt. This is where you’ll find Karl Marx House museum. It was in this house that the German philosopher and father of communism was born in 1818. It showcases his important writings on socialism and tells the story of his life. The city is also popular for its Roman history. Think Roman baths, an amphitheatre, and the preserved Porta Nigra stone gate. The Cathedral of Trier is just one of many stunning churches you can visit.
5. Rhine Valley
Less than a two-hour drive or two-and-a-half-hour train ride from Frankfurt is the scenic Rhine Valley. Hop on a steam boat for one of the best ways to see the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as vineyards and medieval towns. The river winds all the way from Switzerland to the North Sea and would require days to cover but a day trip is enough to explore the German part. Just make sure you see the famous Loreley Rock – it’s associated with a local legend of a beautiful maiden who threw herself into the Rhine in despair over a faithless lover, and was transformed into a siren who lured fishermen to destruction.
With its Gothic look, it’s no wonder this university town was once described as a “medieval fairy tale” by Russian poet Boris Pasternak. Marburg is home to the St Elizabeth’s Church, held to be a model for the architecture of Cologne Cathedral, and Philipps-Universität Marburg, the first Protestant university in the world. It’s a great town to explore on foot as it’s filled with small shops, cafes and bars. The Marburger Schloss (Marburg Castle), with its stunning halls, has a museum and often hosts concerts. It’s an hour and 20 minutes by car, or an hour by rail.
Please check the establishments’ respective websites for guidelines before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.
– TEXT BY LEAH SIMPSON
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.