Day trips by public transport from Frankfurt, Germany

Probably we will be staying in Frankfurt a full week in early October. (Would rather leave bags in hotel there and take day trips.) The one exception might be Munich if it is worth the time and $ on the train. After reading through the 2013 RS Germany book, we are thinking of Trier, Koln, Nurnberg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
U-tube videos of Heidelberg make it look appealing but RS comments are discouraging. He is usually spot-on. Advice? Suggestions for bus or train transport? We do NOT want to drive. Thanks!

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10572 posts

"U-tube videos of Heidelberg make it look appealing but RS comments are discouraging. He is usually spot-on." Except for large portions of his Germany book... Many of us are baffled at his description of Heidelberg, because you could much better apply his words to Rothenburg odT, Bacharach, or some of the other tourist-swamped fun houses that he highly recommends than Heidelberg. It's a beautiful, lively university town, filled with history, but living comfortably in the modern wolrd. Yes, it gets it's share of foreign visitors, but at any given time, these are dwarfed by the 150,000 people who live there permanently and the 31,000 students who reside there seasonally. So, what Rick Steves saw that apparently every other guidebook author didn't... I don't know. Perhaps he hasn't visited in decades and is mistaking it in his memory for nearby Mannheim, which most definately is NOT a conventionally beautiful city? So, I give you permission to ignore Mr. Steves on this issue and see Heidelberg for yourself. Munich is a little too far for a satisfying daytrip. Although I do think Rothenburg is attractive, it isn't nearly as unique as Mr. Steves touts (other than the hoardes of tour buses that invade daily) and it's a little inconvenient to reach from Frankfurt. If you want the same kind of ambience much closer to Frankfurt (and without all the tour buses and trinket shops), look up Büdigen (like Rothenburg, nearly completely enclosed in it's medieval wall), Seligenstadt, Idstein and Miltenburg. All lie along commuter rail lines from Frankfurt. If you have a spirit of adventure, you can hike into the mountains above Miltenburg to see the remains of the Roman Limes watchtowers. Although I admit, these are far from the most interesting Roman ruins in Europe, or even Germany. (cont)

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
13034 posts

There is not much in the way of long range bus transportation in Germany - mostly short, regional routes. For longer trips you need to use the trains. Look up schedules on the German Rail (Bahn) website. There is a high-speed ICE line between Frankfurt and Köln. It takes about an hour and a half. Definitely good for a day trip. You could also take the train down to the Middle Rhine. Bacharach takes 1h19m, St Goar 1½ hr. I wouldn't dismiss Heidelberg (1 hr) so quickly. It's certainly more worth seeing than some of Rick's recommendations. I'm sure Jo can suggest some other short day trips from Frankfurt. However, for the other places you are thinking about, you'll spend more time traveling than actually there. Take along a small overnight bag and use it for the longer trips, leaving you main bags at the hotel or train station and spending the night.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10572 posts

You can also see most of the justly famous Mittelrhein by rail from Frankfurt, with plenty of time to stop in a few of the scenic towns. When I have visitors from the US, I like to top off a day of visiting the Rhine with dinner at one of the restaurants in Rüdesheim. Yes, Rüdesheim may be a tourist magnet... but it is a very attractive town, and it has at least one unique feature to justify dinner here. Many of the restaurants feature live performances of the distinctly northern European style of pop music known as "Schlager". Some Germans hide their head in shame at the very word, others revel in it's somewhat cheesy asthetics. Despite my better judgement, I've kind of grown to love it... Other random towns that I like in the area- Bad Homburg, Limburg an der Lahn, Marburg (a STUNNINGLY beautiful university town), Wetzlar, Köngistein im Taunus, Kronberg im Taunus, Bad Nauheim and Butzbach, and of course, the twin Rhine cities of Mainz and Weisbaden. Finally, if you are unaware of the website, get all your information on German rail travel straight from the source, the Deutsche Bahn website. And wait until Lee from Colorado chimes in, because he seems to know more about how Germany's regional discount passes work than anyone else in the western hemisphere... EDIT: Looks like Lee has already joined the conversation. Jo from Frankfurt should be along soon as well.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
5421 posts

You already have good answers from Tom and Lee. My favorite towns to visit are listed, Büdingen, Bad Homburg, Kronberg, Idstein Heidelberg, and Seligenstadt. Add to those, Mainz, Wiesbaden, Michelstadt, Munzberg, Kiedrich, Aschaffenburg, Gelnhausen, Worms, Eppstein, & Würzburg. While in Frankfurt, I would also go to Hoechst. I haven't needed a car in 26 years and get along just fine visiting all of these small towns with the train. If you like Roman stuff, Bad Homburg with the Saalburg is great. Mainz also has a lot of ruins. Check out the Isis Temple. Trier is just a bit far for a day trip. Not sure I would go all the way to Cologne either. As far as cathedrals go, the one in Mainz is awe inspiring, but different. Look up some you tube videos for all of these towns. See what appeals to you.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
11890 posts

More votes for Büdigen (I'd never heard of it until Jo took me there - fabulous; Seligenstadt, Idstein (another one introduced by Jo, we loved it so much we checked out of our hotel in suburban Frankfurt-am-Main and spent a night within the walls) and Heidelberg to which we have returned repeatedly. We too have followed Rick Steves for decades but his gun misfired about Heidelberg. I don't know why he doesn't see all the positive feedback about Frankfurt-a-M and Heidelberg and revisit them and give them a proper review in the Book. The same off-hand condemnation about Heidelberg has been in the Book since I first started reading them - undeserved in my opinion.