Rhine/Mossel & Strasbourg day trips from Frankfurt

Greetings fellow travelers! This will be min and my husbands first trip to Germany and France. We will be staying in Frankfurt for a few nights in late September and taking day trips which brings me to a load of questions!! Frankfurt > Rhine and/or Mossel 1- We would like to see Rheinfels Castle and Burg Eltz. Can these both be done in one day? 2- there are too many transportation options! What is the best way to get around? Car? Train? Boat? Hike or taxi to castles? Tour bus? We generally like to move at our own pace and have the ability to be spontaneous. We want to see the countryside in addition to the castles and not have too much transportation stress. Frankfurt > Strasbourg and Black Forrest **we would also like to see the Diersheim area because we can trace my husbands family back there for over 400 years! 1- what's the best way to get between these locations? Car? Train? Tour bus? So I guess most of my questions revolve around the best method of transportation for day trips in Germany. More questions to come once that's decided. Thank you in advance!
Amy

Posted by Russ
Paradise
1760 posts

Amy: Burg Eltz is a 45-minute walk each way from Moselkern station. Where's Moselkern? On the local trains, it's a 3+ hour train ride from Frankfurt - again, each way. Then there's the tour - close to one hour. Rheinfels is on the way to Moselkern, but that will require at least a 2-hour stopover in St. Goar. Even if you squeezed this into one day, you'll have little chance to see the old world villages in the area, to visit a winery, take a river cruise, or to have a meal somewhere. So Frankfurt has serious limitations as a base for travel to the Mosel River and Burg Eltz. Is there some reason you can't spend a night in Cochem (gorgeous town near Burg Eltz) or in St. Goar? If not, a more relaxing day would take you to Rheinfels and the neighboring Rhine villages instead. For short river cruise, take the train to Bingen (1 hour, the best place to start,) cruise north from there to St. Goar (cruise is about 1.5 hours.) See Rheinfels, then start your return to Frankfurt, making 1-2-hour stops in Oberwesel and Bacharach, wonderful old villages with half-timbered buildings (Bacharach) and old town walls and towers (Oberwesel.) Another option would be to catch a tour of Marksburg Castle, which IMO rivals Burg Eltz. It's in Braubach on the Rhine, south of Koblenz, 2 hours by train from Frankfurt. After that, take the train 20 minutes south to St. Goarshausen and cross the river by ferry (runs all day long) to St. Goar. See Rheinfels (or not,) then return to Frankfurt with stops in Oberwesel and/or Bacharach. MARKSBURG CASTLE

Posted by Amy
Farmland, Indiana, USA
22 posts

Russ, Thank you so much for your reply! We will be in Europe for a total of 9 non flying days. We are determined to stay/sleep in only 3 places. In Germany we really want to 1 day - see some awesome castles, a 2nd day - go down to the area my husbands family is from (Diersheim right across the river from Strasbourg) and a 3rd day - probably Cologne but open to suggestions. Should our base camp be somewhere other than Frankfurt? I like your two suggestions for a more leisurely day trip! We do not do well when we have to move every or every other day. It's just not the right style of travel for us. After Germany, Amsterdam and area for 3 days and Paris for 3 days. Any help or suggestions are welcome! :)

Posted by Tim
Wyckoff, NJ, USA
673 posts

My wife and I also like to stay in one place for three days. It might be helpful to know why you are starting in Frankfurt. You don't mention the attractions right near there that informed your decision. One reason I mention that is the last two times we went to Germany on United, it cost us next to nothing to end up (via partner Lufthansa) in Leipzig and in Cologne the same day as our transatlantic flight. You are doing a lot of traveling during your stay. Is this your first trip to the "continent", as opposed to, say, the United Kingdom? Three days in Amsterdam are enough, but three days in Paris is a pretty skimpy allocation - especially if you like to take day trips. While it's true that Strasbourg seems nearby, most people include it on an Alsace-oriented trip. There really is a lot to see in Eastern France. The Black Forest is not quite as "nearby". Rick's rule #87: "Assume you'll return". Another idea: Both the Rhine/Mosel and the Black Forest are heavily discussed here. Use the search box at top right, and you'll get a large number of useful posts.

Posted by Russ
Paradise
1760 posts

"In Germany we really want to 1 day - see some awesome castles, a 2nd day - go down to the area my husbands family is from (Diersheim right across the river from Strasbourg) and a 3rd day - probably Cologne but open to suggestions. Should our base camp be somewhere other than Frankfurt?" IF you use one base - yes. I normally travel "base camp" style too and take advantage of inexpensive train daypass options. But your destinations are fairly spread out and don't lend themselves very well to this strategy. If I were doing your trip, I'd spend 3 nights in 2 separate locations, given the train time required between your destinations. For a one-base stay, the only base that makes sense for Diersheim and the Rhine is somewhere roughly in the middle - not Frankfurt. Speyer is a lovely town that would work satisfactorily - but it's still 2-2.5+ hours each way for those daytrips by public transport. If you're OK with that, your cost will probably be somewhere between 50€ and 80€ for two persons total for those two daytrips. Fare from FRA to Speyer might be around 35€ for two with local trains. If you want help with ticket options, post the exact dates you'll be in this area. Car travel will work too - you could stay in Speyer or nearby in the Pfalz/Weinstrasse area around Landau or Neustadt an der Weinstrasse and do your daytrips by car. That will be easier than driving in/out of major cities like Frankfurt! It will cost more than by train, I imagine. The other issue is driving immediately after a long overnight flight, when you might be jet-lagged and drowsy, in a totally new environment. If Cologne is on your radar, it would make sense to see it on your way to Amsterdam. Stow bags in a train station locker there for several hours and enjoy your time, then arrive in A'dam in the evening.

Posted by Amy
Farmland, Indiana, USA
22 posts

Russ & Tim, Thank you for your honest opinions. After reassessing, we've decided against going from Frankfurt to a Strasbourg for a day trip. We will still stay/sleep in Frankfurt. We like the option to see Marksburg > St. Goar and Rheinfels. I would love to see Bacharach too. Also a relaxing boat ride up or down the Rhine sounds appealing in the middle of all of the walking. For this scenario do you suggest a train from Frankfurt to Braubach and then a boat upstream to St. Goar and again to Bacharach?? We will be visiting Cologne on our way to Amsterdam. So, we have a third day in Germany. What should we do? Mosel? Is Rothenburg a day trip away from Frankfurt? Amsterdam is more like 2 days. We will take an early high speed train to Paris giving us more like 3.5 days there... It's not enough but we'll be back! ;) Thank you so much for your help!! Amy