Frankfurt–one of the more popular cities in Germany. This is why when people ask me where I’m from, instead of saying Hanau, I simply say, “oh, it’s about 45 minutes from Frankfurt” and they immediately get an idea of where I’m talking about.
My entire maternal side of the family is from the Southwestern part of Germany. We’re scattered around in places like Klein-Auheim, Steinheim and Alzenau. This past winter I finally made it back home for Christmas–bringing my boyfriend along for the ride for his first out-of-country experience–and it was an absolute treat to be back with my family during this particular time of the year. Of course, coming back home means visiting all the places I grew up around, but it also gives me the chance to venture a little farther out and scope out some new cities.
I wanted to share some of these places with you all today. All of these places are within driving distance. So, the next time you find yourself in Frankfurt take the time to check out these gorgeous places–you won’t regret it!
Hanau–my hometown. This town is about a half an hour drive from Frankfurt and is a part of the state of Hesse. If you’re there in December before Christmas, definitely check out the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) in the marktplatz (market place) right in front of the Brothers Grimm monument. There, you can get your fill of “Äppler,” or Apfelwein–a drink that the state of Hesse is famous for–Currywurst, gebrannte Mandeln (roasted almonds), and gingerbread hearts. You can also take the Nostalgie Riesenrad for a spin for a gorgeous aerial view of the market!
If you’re there during the summer, don’t fret. The town square is just as beautiful and houses an adorable Saturday farmers market every week. There, you can get the freshest fruit, veggies and flowers your heart desires while enjoying a nice cup of coffee right across the street at the Märchencafé.
About an hour away from Frankfurt, this trip to Heidelberg consisted of, yes, another Christmas market and a grand tour of the old Heidelberg Castle. Around since the 17th century, this majestic, old castle has so many gorgeous views to offer, especially if you’re doing the tour while the sun is setting.
- Köln (Cologne)
Home of the Kölsch beer, Cologne is another very popular city in Germany. This was the farthest city we went to during this trip–it is about two hour car ride there from Frankfurt. The views, food and atmosphere made it all worth it.
First off, you’ll end up having to pass across the famous Hohenzollern bridge filled with love locks dating back to four decades ago. It’s hard not to be blown away by the amount of locks on that bridge. All the stories of each of those couples and how those locks came from all around the world is a thought that always seems to take my breath away. We were even able to put our own lock on the bridge this time.
Of course, arguably the most famous thing to visit in Cologne is the Kölner Dom, the Gothic-style cathedral resting right in the center of the city. Even if you’re not an architecture buff, this building will leave you gawking at it for a good 10 minutes before walking in to the most beautiful scenery of stained glass windows and extremely old sculptures and altars. No matter how many times I visit the cathedral I can never get over how detailed every inch of the cathedral is and how much time it must have taken them to create it all–they still continue to renovate it to this day.
There’s also another Christmas market right outside of the cathedral where you can drink deliciously warm Glühwein to your heart’s content.
About a 35 minute drive from Frankfurt, Aschaffenburg is home to yet another gorgeous and very old castle, Schloss Johannisburg. I definitely recommend visiting this adorable city and checking out the castle museum when you get there. If you go during the winter, there is another Christmas market located right in front of the giant castle where you can fill up on some delicious Christstollen, Flammkuchen and loads of Bavarian beer!
About a 35 minute drive to Frankfurt, Alzenau is a little town in the city of Aschaffenburg where my mother is from. Though it’s a small town, it definitely deserves to be visited. Plus, you’ll really get the German experience here since it usually isn’t packed with tourists. This past visit we stopped at this gorgeous church, St. Justinus, and stopped at an adorable restaurant called Gasthaus Dörsthof. The inside of the church was absolutely stunning and I couldn’t believe the detail on everything. What I thought was really cool about this particular church was the little one-person balcony on the front left side that allowed for the priest to sermonize the crowd instead of only standing at the front of the church the entire time. The balcony was beautifully detailed and adorned with gold and silver accents.
Next stop is Miltenberg, about an hour drive from Frankfurt. This quiet little town in Bavaria has views for days and will give you your fill of adorable old German townhouses, for sure. We ended up visiting the day after Christmas, so of course all the shops were closed. If you happen to be there another time though, there’s a shopping strip down a row of old German style buildings. We were also able to walk to the notorious Gasthaus Zum Riesen, one of the oldest hotels in Germany.
Overlooking the rest of the town is a monastery called Kloster Engelberg, where you can feast on delicious food while enjoying some of the monastery’s locally made wine, beer and liquors. Not to mention, the views from the monastery were no less than breathtaking.
About a little under an hour and a half drive from Frankfurt, Würzburg is a huge city full of so much history–it’s impossible to see it all in one day. If you do decide to visit Würzburg, definitely plan a weekend trip.
Since we were a bit pressed on time with our vacation, we had to prioritize the sightseeing during our day trip to Würzburg. What we decided on consisted of visiting the Marienberg Fortress, a huge castle overlooking the city dating back to the 15th century. You can do a guided tour of the castle (which I highly recommend!) that will take you back in time as you learn about the history of this historical fortress and see all the gorgeous architecture and decorations.
Another really cool place to check out here is the famous Alte Mainbrücke, an old bridge connecting the castle to the rest of the city. The bridge has statues of 12 Saints along both sides and also provides a great view of the castle.
This is by far my favorite place because it holds so much sentimental value in my heart. This tiny town is only about a half an hour away from Frankfurt. It has a small food market every Saturday where you can buy food and drinks from the local stores. There are also plenty of shopping opportunities. The local stores are so adorable and have the cutest things.
This town is right along the Main river that splits Bavaria from Hesse and if you go in the summer, you’ll see plenty of people walking and riding bikes along the river. There are also plenty of delicious ice cream shops along the river that are always packed during the hot summers.
There’s also a little petting zoo in front of the Klostergarten that’s open almost all year round, so don’t forget to say hi and feed the sweet little goats, chicken and sheep!
Next time you’re near Frankfurt, be sure to check these places out for some authentic German experiences. Comment below if you’ve ever been to any of the places listed!