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The area between Cologne and Heidelberg

I will be visiting the area that stretches roughly between Cologne and Heidelberg for a combination of genealogy and tourism. I'm flying into Frankfurt and I will be in Germany for 8 nights, and I will rent a car for the entire trip. With a fairly limited geographical scope, I'm having difficulty deciding where to book my hotels, and how many different cities to sleep in. For the tourism part, I would like to visit Aachen, Cologne, the St. Goar/Bacharach Rhine area, the wine area around Trier, and if possible, Heidelberg and Baden-Baden. My genealogy will take me to some towns near Mainz, Worms and Darmstadt. Any suggestions on how many times I should change hotels and where to stay, given that I would rather be somewhere picturesque rather than urban?

Posted by
12040 posts

Baden-Baden is kind of an outlier, and most of us are considerably less impressed with it than the proprietor of this website. If you're looking for the spa experience, you can get it in Bad Dürkheim (near Worms and Heidelberg), Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler (near St. Goar), Aachen, or Wiesbaden.

Which towns specifically are you visiting for geneology in that region? I lived there for several years and know it like the back of my hand. I think Darmstadt is an under-rated city, but admittedly, it isn't what most people envision when the travel to Germany. If you're looking for a nice smaller town for lodging, consider Heppenheim, Bensheim, Weinheim, Heidelberg, Speyer or one of the scenic towns on the Neckar River between Heidelberg and Bad Wimpfen. Worms may have a long history, but most of the city is modern (got smashed in WWII) and not all that attractive, for the most part. If you want to stay in the gorgeous Odenwald mountain region (you'll see the western edge of these mountains- they run roughly parallel to the Rhine on the east side, from Darmstadt to just south of Heidelberg), look into Lindenfels or Michelstadt. On the eastern edge, Miltenberg is a gorgeous little town, but kind of a long drive from your area of interest. Overall, the Kürpfalz (the historic name for this region of the Upper Rhine) is beautiful just about anywhere you go. I can't believe most English-language guide books completely ignore it, considering how close it is to Frankfurt and the famous Mittelrhein.

Also, if you're only interested in the wine around Trier, realize that both sides of the Rhine from Basel to Köln are pretty much chock -full of vineyards. There's plenty in the area of your research.

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks for the info Tom. The towns associated with my genealogy are: Groß-Umstadt, Lindau, Weiterstadt, Richen, Gabsheim, Langen, Nieder-Modau, Zwingenberg, Darmstadt, Rodau, Wörrstadt, and a little farther away, Wittlich.

Ideally I would love to stay somewhere like Bacharach, Bingen or St. Goar but I can't tell if those are just slightly too far away to be hopping over to the towns associated with my family. Also, would Heidelberg or Trier be a day-trip from those Rhine River towns? Or is it too far?

I'm happy to give up Baden-Baden from my itinerary. It was at the bottom of the list as a place to see if I found myself with some extra time.

Posted by
12040 posts

Since the main focus of your geneology trip seems to be farther south, there's not much point in staying on the Mittelrhein (Bacharach, St. Goar, etc).

Going through your list:

Groß-Umstadt- I don't remember anything about this town, but looking on the map, I must have passed through once or twice. I think it sits on the flat plain of the Main river valley, north of the Odenwald mountains. The town may have a castle, or at least, one is visible from the vicinity. Not too far away (into the Odenwald) is the town of Breuberg, which has a perfectly preserved castle. Close by, the town of Höchst im Odenwald is also pretty nice, if nothing spectacular.

Weiterstadt- A modern suburb of Darmstadt. Lots of big box stores.

Richen: Don't remember it, but right by Groß-Umstadt.

Gabsheim: Never visited, but right smack in the largest wine-producing region in all of Germany. Alzey just to the south has a nice Schloss.

Langen- don't know anything about it.

Nieder-Modau: I've driven through, but can't picture it. Deep within the beautiful Odenwald mountain region. There's an attractive Schloss in nearby Fischbachtal, that you can see for miles. If headed in this direction, don't miss Michelstadt, Erbach and Lindenfels.

Zwingenberg: Close to where I lived, I know this town well. Look up on the mountain behind the town, and you'll see the ruin of Schloss Auerbach, which merits a quick visit. It's a pretty little town along the Bergstraße, an ancient Roman trading route that now runs through several attractive wine growing towns. I think you would do well to base yourself in either Heppenheim, Bensheim or Weinheim as you explore the region.

Darmstadt: See my previous comments.

Rodau: See Nieder-Modau

Wörrstadt: See Gabsheim.

Wittlich: Don't know it.

Lindau: You didn't mean Lindenfels, or Landau, did you? These two are both in the general vicinity, but Lindau is the well-known island town on the Bodensee in the SW corcer of Bavaria. Kind of a far out-lier for your list.

Posted by
20437 posts

Wittlich is between Cochem and Trier, just west of the Mosel River.
There are two other Lindau's, also outliers. One northeast of Goettingen, and the other east of Magdeburg.

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks again for the info about each of those towns Tom. It's very helpful. After scoping it out, it looks like Heppenheim will be the best fit for me for lodging. I may still stay a night or two on the Mittelrhein just for the scenery, and because I think it might be a bit more convenient for the Mosel Valley. Not quite sure about that yet though.

I did mean Lindau (on the Bodensee) when I sent that, I just didn't mean to include it in that last. I am aware that those ancestors were from another area, I just got carried away listing towns.

Thanks again.