Despite being the fifth-largest city in Germany, Frankfurt is not exactly a major tourist destination. This doesn’t mean that the vibrant metropolis is not worth visiting. Frankfurt is also a great base for anyone wanting to explore the beautiful state of Hesse. There are plenty of charming old towns and medieval castles near the city, while the closest forest lies just half an hour away from the centre.
You don’t need more than two days to cover Frankfurt’s main highlights. So if you want to go on a wee adventure just outside the city, like travelling along Germany’s Romantic road and strolling through twisting streets with half-timbered houses, check out these beautiful places near Frankfurt.
Love cycling? Explore Frankfurt on a bike tour – or rent a bike – with Baja Bikes.
1. Burg Eltz
The medieval castle of Burg Eltz looks like it’s been plucked out of a fairy tale. Nestled among the sprawling green hills and forests of the Eltz Valley, the castle dates back to the early 12th century and is privately owned by a branch of the same family that built it. Some of the rooms in the castle are open to the public, where you can see the building’s well-preserved frescoes and original furnishings.
If you’re up for a bit of hiking, walk down the footpath from the lower car park instead of taking the shuttle bus that drops you right in front of the castle. The path winds around the unspoilt Eltzbach Valley and through the protected Eltz Forest. It also offers a sweeping view of the fairytale-like castle and its surroundings.
Want to have a memorable trip to Burg Eltz? Check out this Eltz Castle tour from Frankfurt (dinner included).
Situated on the banks of the Lahn River, the old town of Limburg is one of the best preserved historic sites in western Germany. The town’s main attractions include Römer 2-4-6; the oldest free-standing house in Germany, the colourful, seven-towered cathedral of Dom St Georg, and the Werner-Senger-Haus; a 13th century building which houses one of the oldest restaurants in the country.
Limburg is a joy to explore on foot. Some of the town’s gorgeous, half-timbered buildings have been converted into artisan gift shops, cheerful cafes and traditional German pubs.
Thinking of spending a couple of days in Limburg? Check out these amazing Limburg hotels & apartments.
The mountain range of Taunus is a popular nature getaway among local city dwellers. Surrounded by the river valleys of the Rhine, Main and Lahn rivers, Taunus offers many scenic walking trails through dense pine forests and along rolling green hills. The tallest peak in the range is Großer Feldberg at 878 metres above sea level.
Taunus is also known for its geothermal springs and mineral waters, with many spa towns and resorts dotting the area. Some of the most famous spa towns located in Taunus include Bad Ems, Bad Homburg and Königstein.
This idyllic city in southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg is home to the oldest university in Germany. Located on the banks of the Neckar River, Heidelberg is a popular tourist destination due to its magnificent hilltop castle and the well-preserved baroque buildings of the Old Town. It is also one of the few cities in Germany that escaped bombing in WWII.
The city’s star attraction is the Renaissance castle, which hosts a wealth of architectural styles, as well as the world’s largest wine cask. Heidelberg also boasts a rich literary history and a thriving cultural scene. In 2014, it was named a UNESCO City of Literature.
If you want to immerse yourself in the history of this marvellous city, I highly recommend booking a walking tour of Heidelberg. You could also combine your trip to Heidelberg with a River Rhine cruise and a wine-tasting session with dinner.
If you want to experience authentic Germany, head to the picturesque medieval centre of Michelstadt in southern Hesse. Despite being a small town, Michelstadt is a treasure trove of architectural gems. Its stunning 15th-century town hall is one of the most significant timber-framed buildings in Germany. Other historic structures include a Frankish medieval castle complex known as Kellerei, an 18th-century synagogue and Jewish museum, and the remains of a Roman bathhouse.
Michelstadt is even more beautiful in December, when the town’s historic centre hosts one of the country’s most magical Christmas markets.
Want to spend a night in this magical place? Check out this gorgeous hotel in Michelstadt.
This post contains affiliate links. This means that I may receive a commission on any purchases made through the links in the post at no extra cost to you.