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DISCOVERY GERMANY

Nine of the best day trips from Frankfurt with the €9 ticket

If you want to explore the area around Frankfurt this summer, there are plenty of destinations you can reach in under two hours. 

Visitors climb over the large rocks of the Felsenmeer.
Visitors climb over the large rocks of the Felsenmeer. The rocky landscape is a popular destination for excursions in the Vorderer Odenwald mountain range. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

Germany’s €9 monthly ticket, which launched in June, is also available throughout the whole of July and August. It can be used on all local transport across the country, as well as on regional trains. 

If you’re based in Frankfurt, or heading there on holiday, these destinations can all be reached on regional transport in under two hours, making them an ideal day or weekend getaway. 

READ ALSO: €9 for 90: Everything you need to know about Germany’s cheap travel deal

1. Heidelberg

People sit in front of the Old Bridge at the Neckar river in Heidelberg.

People sit in front of the Old Bridge at the Neckar river in Heidelberg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Uwe Anspach

With its arched Old Bridge and castle on the hill, it’s no wonder Heidelberg is known as one of Germany’s most romantic destinations. The castle, which dates back to the 13th century, was even immortalised by English romantic painter William Turner in a famous painting from the mid-19th century. 

Stroll the winding gothic streets, pay a visit to Germany’s oldest university and visit have a coffee in the historic centre which still bears witness to the medieval layout of the city.

To get to Heidelberg, take the RB68 direct from Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof to Heidelberg Hauptbahnhof in 1 hour and 40 minutes.

READ ALSO: Is Frankfurt a good place for foreigners to live?

2. Hessenpark

Historic half-timbered houses and an old fountain in the market square of Hessenpark, a popular excursion destination in the Taunus region.

Historic half-timbered houses and an old fountain in the market square of Hessenpark, a popular excursion destination in the Taunus region. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Arne Dedert

Take a step back in time in this fascinating open-air museum. With over 100 reconstructed historic buildings across 160 acres, the park gives visitors a close-up look at 400 years of rural life in Hesse. 

Amongst the highlights are the market place which boasts buildings from the whole state of Hesse; a 15th-century church and an austere school room from the turn of the 20th century.

With lively demonstrations of crafts and agriculture, exhibitions, colourful markets, the museum theatre and themed tours, a trip to Hessenpark makes a great day out for all of the family. 

To get there, take the RB15 from Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof to Wehrheim Bahnhof and from there, hop on the 63 bus to Neu-Anspach-Anspach Hessenpark. In total it should take you 1 hour and 15 minutes.

3. Darmstadt

A man walks through the Mathildenhöhe UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A man walks through the Mathildenhöhe UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

A day trip to Darmstadt is a must for art and architecture lovers, as Hessen’s fourth-biggest metropolis is home to some particularly interesting cultural sights. 

The former artists’ colony on Mathildenhöhe, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of the most important Art Nouveau sights in Germany and the Wedding Tower and the wacky ‘Waldspirale’ (forest spiral) are well worth a visit.

Also on Mathildenhöhe is the richly decorated Russian Chapel where one of the sisters of Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig married Nicholas II, the last Russian Tsar. 

You need only half an hour to reach Darmstadt, with a direct ride on the S3 from Frankfurt (Main) South station.

READ ALSO: Less traffic, more ticket sales: How the €9 ticket is impacting Germany 

4. Königstein (Taunus)

The Königstein castle ruins are a landmark of the Hochtaunus town and are among the largest castle ruins in Germany.

The Königstein castle ruins are a landmark. They are among the largest castle ruins in Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Andreas Arnold

At an altitude of around 300 metres on the wooded slopes of the Taunus lies the health spa town of Königstein. 

Königstein has been a climatic health resort since 1935, thanks to the purity of the air in the region and is home to various health clinics. 

Daytrippers can soak up the tranquillity in the parks or in the picturesque city centre.

The ruins of Königstein Castle, which date back to the first half of the 12th century, are also well worth a visit. 

There are several routes to get you to Königstein from Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof in under 50 minutes, the fastest being the S5 to Oberursel, followed by the X26 bus to Königstein.

5. Wiesbaden

The Kurpark in Wiesbaden.

The gorgeous Kurpark in Wiesbaden. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Hannes P Albert

​​Nestled in a beautiful valley between the Rhine and the mountains of the Taunus lies Hesse’s capital Wiesbaden. 

There are plenty of things to see on a day trip to the city, including the English-style landscaped garden of the Kurpark, the neo-Gothic Market Church on Schlossplatz and the Hessian State Museum.

Those who fancy trying their luck should pay a visit to the Casino Wiesbaden – one of Germany’s oldest casinos in the former wine salon of the Kurhaus. 

Wiesbaden is also known for its thermal baths and no trip is complete without a hot tub and sauna visit. 

READ ALSO: Weekend Wanderlust – Getting my feet wet in. Wiesbaden

You only need around 50 minutes to reach Wiesbaden from Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof with the S1 or S9 to Wiesbaden central station.

6. Felsenmeer

Hundreds of visitors climb over the rocks of the Felsenmeer , which is a popular attraction in the Odenwald.

Hundreds of visitors climb over the rocks of the Felsenmeer , which is a popular attraction in the Odenwald. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

Around 60 kilometres south of Frankfurt is a true natural wonder that will delight nature lovers of all ages. 

The Felsenmeer, which literally translates as ‘rock sea’ is a mass of boulders across Felsberg in Oldenwald. The rocks are hundreds of millions of years old, and at the information centre at the foot of the hill, you’ll find all the geological, historical and practical information you need to make the most of a hike through the sea of rocks. 

At the top of the hill, you can reward your exertions with a tasty snack at the kiosk on the summit. 

A trip to the Felsenmeer will take you around an hour and 40 minutes with the RB82 from Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof to Reinheim Bahnhof, followed by the M02 bus to Reichenbach, Felsenmeer.

7. Limburg (Lahn)

A view of the Lahn river and the cathedral in Limburg.

A view of the Lahn river and the cathedral in Limburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Frey

A visit to Limburg in the west of Hesse, is a bit like travelling back in time to the Middle Ages. There are dreamy castles, palaces, charming half-timbered houses and ancient legends swirling around the city’s cobbled streets.

A particularly visit-worthy ancient relic is the imposing St. Lubentius Basilica. Perched on an outcrop of limestone rocks on the west bank of the Lahn river, it was the region’s most important church until the 13th century.

You can reach Limburg in just over an hour with the RE20 from Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof.

8. Mainz

A glass of wine stands on a table near the cathedral in Mainz during the Johannisnacht festival in 2019 held in honour of Johannes Gutenberg.

A glass of wine stands on a table near the cathedral in Mainz during the Johannisnacht festival in 2019 held in honour of Johannes Gutenberg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Andreas Arnold

A short train ride away from Frankfurt, you’ll find the city of Mainz on the Rhine River. Known as Germany’s wine capital, there’s plenty to explore in the cobblestone streets of the Altstadt. Mainz has a steep history after being founded by the Romans.

For more than 1,000 years, the city’s skyline has been dominated by the cathedral.

We’d also recommend checking out the the Gutenberg Museum – one of the oldest museums of printing in the world. And of course, make sure to visit a little wine bar – known as a Weinstube.

Get to Mainz by taking the RE4 from Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof.  It takes just over 30 minutes. 

READ ALSO: Nine of the best day trips from Munich with the €9 ticket

9. Walldorfer See

People enjoy a dip in the Badesee Walldorf.

People enjoy a dip in the Badesee Walldorf. Photo: picture alliance / Daniel Reinhardt/dpa

What better way to cool off this summer than to head to a lake? The beautiful Walldorfer See, south of Frankfurt, is known for being a little less busy and calmer than the nearby Langener See, which is the biggest lake in the region. 

On the southern shore at the entrance is the large sandy beach which has a snack bar, toilets, plus a beach volleyball and barbecue area. You can also explore the forest around. 

Keep in mind that the lake is near the airport so you will also see some planes overhead (which might be fun, especially if you have kids with you!). 

Get there on the S7 or RE70 from Frankfurt Haubtbahnof, and then jump off at Walldorf (Hess), and get the the 67 or 68 bus in the direction of Frankfurt airport to Mörfelden-Walldorf-Egerländer Straße. It’s then an 18 minute walk to the Badestelle Walldorfer See.

With reporting by Rachel Loxton

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FRANKFURT

Frankfurt ranked ‘second worst city for expats’ in new international survey

Frankfurt snagged the title of the second worst city in the world for expats to live in a new survey from InterNations. Does it deserve the title?

Frankfurt ranked 'second worst city for expats' in new international survey

In a survey released Tuesday by Munich-based InterNations, Frankfurt was ranked 49 out of 50 in the ‘Expat City Ranking 2022’, with only Johannesburg, South Africa trailing behind. 

Germany’s bustling financial capital, home to 790,000 people, was also placed last in the Expat Essentials Index. While no German city in the survey performed well in this category, Frankfurt ranked especially low, coming in 47th in the Digital Life category, 46th in Language, 45th in Admin Topics and 43rd in Housing. 

More than one in three people surveyed were unhappy with the availability of administrative services offered online (39 percent vs. 21 percent of global respondents) and the possibilities for paying with card instead of cash (37 percent vs. eight percent globally).

“The lack of clear instructions is insane when it comes to admin topics like taxes, TV license fees, or citizenship,” one French resident of Frankfurt told InterNations. 

READ ALSO: ‘A mega city on a smaller scale’: An insider’s guide to Frankfurt

Tell us what you think of life in Frankfurt. Does it deserve to be ranked so low?

 

Too high costs

Most expats surveyed found housing in Frankfurt to be too expensive (70 percent were unhappy vs. 43 percent globally) and simply too hard to come by (61 percent vs. 27 percent globally). 

A full 38 percent of Frankfurt-based expats surveyed worked in a senior or specialist position (versus 29 percent globally) and 23 percent earned between $75,000 to $100,000, versus 11 percent globally.

Yet Frankfurt was still the only German city to land in the bottom ten of the “Personal Finance Index”, which assesses how well expats can live in a city based on their own resources and the cost of living. 

More than half of the respondents found living costs to be too high (51 percent versus 35 percent globally).

The façade of the Römer, Frankfurt's historic city hall, is not lit up to save energy.

The façade of the Römer, Frankfurt’s historic city hall. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

Not easy to make friends in Frankfurt

Similarly to all German cities featured in the survey, respondents lamented how difficult it is to make friends in Germany’s financial capital, with 55 percent unhappy versus 37 percent globally.

Only 36 percent said they are satisfied with their social life (vs. 56 percent globally), with 30 percent find it difficult to get used to the local culture (vs. 19 percent globally). 

More than three in ten respondents (31 percent) said they lacked a personal support network in Frankfurt, compared to 24 percent globally. The city also ranked second to last for leisure options.

Of all German cities surveyed, Berlin came in the highest for overall quality of life (31st place), followed by Düsseldorf (33rd), Munich (38th), Hamburg (45th), and Frankfurt (48th).

No German city made it to the top ten cities for expats to live in. First place went to Valencia, Spain, and the only city in the German-speaking world to make the list was Basel, Switzerland, which came in at seventh place. 

A total of 11,970 expats worldwide took part in the annual survey from expat networking and resource group InterNations, over 50 of whom live in Frankfurt.

Is Frankfurt really all that bad?

Respondents of a Local Germany survey from this past summer reached a different consensus about Frankfurt, describing it as an international city with a small-town feel.

Richard Davison, 45, who lives in the Sachsenhausen area of Frankfurt, said: “In my opinion, Frankfurt is a special city as it is very international. As people come for work, it seems that it is very welcoming as many people are new, or have not lived in the city for a long time.

READ ALSO: Is Frankfurt a good place for foreigners to live?

The city even came in seventh place in a 2022 ranking by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) due to its lively hospitality sector, strong jobs scene and abundant surrounding nature.

It’s also commonly considered a city worth visiting, and has made it to the New York Times‘ annual 52 Places to Go list a few times in recent years.

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