The Frankfurt Rhine-Main region offers sunshine, charm and history. There’s a lot to be said about this corner of Germany.
Frankfurt is a dynamic world-class city with more than 700,000 inhabitiants and every modern amenity to be found anywhere.
But within a one-hour circle, cobblestone street, winding romantic rivers, castles, art, and culinary treats abound. It’s just a short direct flight from Houston, and once in Germany, a fabulous adventure is waiting.
Frankfurt has much to offer - art galleries, museums, abundant green space and more – and a great way to see it is a cruise on the Primus Line down the Main River. For an hour, guests relax as the boat passes old world churches sitting next to modern apartment buildings. We scheduled a return trip on a Velo-taxi. (the Primus line boats do make round trips.) Our ‘driver’ or should I say peddler, whisked us past the crowds who gather at popular restaurants and bars along the river. Definitely an attention way to travel. Right outside the city, we spent a lovely day at an apple orchard, admiring the pastoral setting as blossoms drifted in the sunlight. Owner Andreas Schneider walked us through his family’s orchard and we listened happily as we sipped numerous samples of his Apfelwein. For less than $20, he provides a picnic lunch. Frankfort’s Sachenhausen is home to bars and cider houses along with new apartment buildings and retail. The Jumeirah Hotel was an incredible experience filled with original artwork, high tech rooms (use the provided iPad for free) and exquisite service.
Located just north of Frankfurt you will find Bad Homburg - a popular respite from the hustle and bustle of city life. Kings and princes used to flock to this spa town to regenerate and you too can relax like royalty when you visit the Kur-Royal Day Spa where guests can choose from 20 different massage packages. Built in a palace, the spa commands serenity and pleasure. After indulging in a massage of your choosing, visit their on-site restaurant for a tasty meal. The city has been the home of ‘healing waters’ for centuries.
Indulging continues in Hochheim; a wine town on the right bank of the Main River featuring timber-framed homes. Visit the region's only wine museum to learn about the basics of wine making and stop by the Baroque fresco church of St. Peter and Paul, that sits next to a vineyard, to take in the view. Admission to the Vinicultural Museum is approximately $2 U.S. and includes a glass of wine or Hochheim’s famous sparkling wine. Wine enthusiasts take note - the vintage Riesling found throughout town is a must-try. And at Hochheimer Reislingstuben, a 300-year-old restaurant, there’s no better way to enjoy a delicious meal than with a glass of Riesling from their 15th-century wine cellar. Hochheim is a popular tourist town, with many coming to see its half-timbered houses.
Rudescheim was the next stop on our tour where we hopped into cable cars to see the city from up above. Once at the top, walk to the bluff to see the Germania Monument and to take in breathtaking views of the river and vineyards below. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, enjoy lunch at Zwei Mohren where the herbs they use are hand-picked by the owner who forages for them. The bread and herb butter is worth the trip alone. Then it’s all aboard for a boat ride at Bingen Rudesheimer. You have seen the vineyards from the sky and now it’s time to see them from the water as you cruise the Rhine and admire the rows and rows of vines on the mountain slopes as well as the occasional castle. The cable car up the hill, the ride down the hill and the boat ride are called the Ring Ticket – one price for all three. In town, don’t miss Siegfreid’s Mechanisches Musikkabinett, a musical museum filled with antique, self playing instruments.
As you continue your journey, you will find the best breakfast and the most comfortable stay, at the Inter City Hotel in Darmstadt. Darmstadt, once the center of the Art Nouveau Movement, is home to the Mathildenhoehe, a former artist’s colony. The Colony refers both to a group of artists as well as to the buildings in which these artists lived and worked. The wedding tower, or Hochzeitsturm, designed by Joseph Maria Olbrich, is part of the Colony. Built by a grand duke as a monument to his second marriage, the entry has a renowned mosaic. The tower is filled with art and the top provides an excellent city view.
Once you have worked up an appetite, visit Restaurant Bockshaut - the oldest building in Darmstadt, built in 1580. Darmstadt is home to the Walspirale, a sprawling, seemingly Fred Flintstones-inspired apartment complex. The design, created in 2000 by designer Friedensreich Hundertwasser, complements the translated name of “Forest spiral” as trees grow form the roof while water features and landscaping playfully suggest the blending of man and nature. Must see to believe.
Continuing on, you will find Mickelstadt a short drive from Darmstadt. The town hall, surrounded by cobblestone streets, is worth a visit as is Zum Groenen Baum, the oldest restaurant in town. Zum Groenen Baum, a family-owned restaurant dating back more than three centuries, is the perfect spot to grab a beer and a bite to eat.
South of Michelstadt, in Odenwald, is Erbach, home to Erbach Castle and the German Ivory Museum. Cross the drawbridge to enter this 12th-century castle, home to a total of 12 kings. During the late 1700’s, the ivory trade arrived in Erbach which is why you will now find the German Ivory Museum here. At the museum, guests can anticipate seeing a wide variety of ivory, some of which dates back to the middle ages. The old town is filled with the famous German half-timbered homes, to be admired as you walk the cobblestone streets. Odenwalder Kunsttopferer is a pottery maker worth visiting. The business has been in the family since 1609, producing everyday dishware in traditional shapes and patterns, all from local clay. The Hotel Wappen Stube offers an authentic German experience with a marvelous breakfast buffet.
Also in Odenwald is Amorbach; famous for its healing waters. Not far outside the city center is the Gothic chapel Amorsbrunn. The creek that passes under Amorsbrunn was used during medieval times to gather holy water. You can see fingerprints in the rocks where hundreds of thousands have touched seeking healing. Nearby is Amorbach Abbey. While the monastery was dissolved in 1803, today it houses a variety of offices. The green and white reception hall, built in 1790, is stunning. The church is astounding. Its lively shape and colors were designed by master stucco plasterers and artists. The double pulpit from Wolfgang van der Auvera is one of the most famous masterpieces of the Rococo period. Take time to drink in the lush décor, the rare black floor to ceiling gate separating the church and the frescoes. After admiring the Abbey, head to Erlesbnisbahnhof Gleisl, former train station turned museum, hotel and restaurant, for great food and a variety of local beer and wine.
A last stop is Aschaffenburg, to visit the Johannisburg Castle and the Original Hamburger Fischmarkt. The castle was constructed in 1614 by Archbishop of Mainz and was used as his second residence. Today, visitors are invited to tour the castle and admire this Renaissance masterpiece. But before leaving Aschaffenburg, you must pay a visit to the Original Hamburger Fischmarkt. The fish market features a number of vendors as well as face painting, live music and crafts.
For more information on the Frankfurt Rhine-Main region, visit frankfurt-rhein-main.de/en/.