14 hours to visit historic town near Frankfurt

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I have a 14 hour layover during the day next tuesday to see some of Germany. It is my husband's first time in Europe and I'd love to show him a small Germany city and maybe castles if that is possible. I am thinking about booking a hotel or bread and breakfast to also rest some since we will have been traveling for 14 hours. Is it possible to travel somewhere close to the frankfort airport by train so we wouldn't have the hastle of renting a car, or would car rental be highly recommended? Thanks for any suggestions.

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Take a train along the Rhine, and stay in one of the many towns along there. Ober-Wesel, St Goar or St. Goarshausen, Braubach, etc. Best castle is the Marksburg in Braubach.

 

If the Rhine doesn't appeal to you, then how about Idstein or Büdingen. Both are towns along the Fachwerk Route, but not touristy like Rothenburg o.d.t. Kronberg is a nice little town too with a castle built in the 1200's. All are easy to get to using trains.

 

Nice gasthouses and hotels in all of these towns.

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Without a doubt I would go to Wiesbaden. It's beautiful and it's about 45 minutes from Frankfurt and easy to reach by train.

 

If you're into authentic Thai cuisine, I highly recommend this restaurant. It's one of my favorites in Germany.

 

Alternatively, you may want to consider staying in Frankfurt, there's certainly enough to do and see in Frankfurt.

 

Here's the website for the trains in Germany www.bahn.de.

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Yes, with that time, stay in Frankfurt. Heidelberg's another good choice. It's probably the traditional "if you only see one classical German city" stop off: one hour by fast train from Frankfurt but then a bit of time into the centre.

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I second Heidelberg and with the limited time you have it is worth paying extra for the fast train. Beautiful place and compact enough to see the best of what it has to offer in a day. Haven't been to Wiesbaden yet but I have been told it is also beautiful, and it is also closer to Frankfurt than Heidelberg.

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Why are you wowing what I said about the restaurant? Do you think I should have posted about a German restaurant in Wiesbaden? Well, I don't know any German restaurants in Wiesbaden to recommend. I don't eat typical German food.

 

But I do know the Thai restaurant I recommended is amazing.

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LR, I would have to agree with Anthony. A woman who lives in Africa is bringing her husband to Germany (and Europe) for the first time and you offer (very nicely, I'd like to add) a Thai restaurant. Perhaps no recommendation might have be more helpful in this type of situation.

 

I've no doubt that your recommended restaurant is fantastic. But better to offer the recommendation to those of us who live here and not visitors who wish to experience Germany.

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Some great suggestions here.

 

Considering though the short time you have, 14hours including a night and then I would imagine an early flight the next morning, I will suggest Wiesbaden.

 

Wiesbaden is probably the most beautiful of the large city's in the Rhein Main area. (The Rhein Main is the commutable metro area surrounding Frankfurt and is made up of a number of larger cities and smaller towns and villages).

 

The good thing about Wiesbaden is that it is so easy to get to from the airport. There is a direct suburban train with regular service which takes between 35-40 minutes and no hassle of changes. Some of the other destinations suggestion require between an hour and 3 hours each way with several changes maybe - not so handy when you have luggage and this could cause problems the next morning.

 

The only downside is that there is no actual castle in central Wiesbaden. That said, the city has pretty much everything else that smacks and smells of Germany, without being a tourist trap like Heidelberg. (Not that I am dissing Heidelberg, as it is also an excellent option and includes a castle - it's just further away, requires a transfer and you will be surrounded by more tourists than locals)

 

The city center of Wiesbaden has plenty of historical buildings, narrow alleys, excellent shopping and beautiful surroundings. It is a spa town (hence the word "bad" in it's name) which means that you can visit one of the stunning, historical spas or sauna's to wind down from your journey. Though be prepared, as sauna's in Germany are fully naked and mixed sexes.

 

Well worth a visit is the Kurpark and surrounding green area's as are the narrow lanes around the main market square. The shops in this town are especially nice as it is quite a wealthy area and there is no shortage of places to eat or hotels.

 

You won't get lost or confused on the train, as all trains that go to Wiesbaden will have that written clearly at the front of the train and on the sign boards. Likewise, getting back to the airport is just as easy the next morning. Just make sure you use the same S-bahn (S8 or S9) as that stops at the airport.

 

You won't be disappointed in Wiesbaden, unless an actual castle is a must.

 

If you do choose Heidelberg, plan the journey a bit more, as it could be a bit confusing on changing trains, platforms etc when it's your first time. Heidelberg has an excellent ruined castle (with an entry fee) though the opening times may not be suitable for your timeframe. I believe the castle closes at 6pm or near and doesn't open until 10am. This is likely the same for many of the other places with castles.

 

Some links:

Wiesbaden panoramas: http://www.skyline-panorama.de/panorama-wiesbaden.htm

Wiesbaden wiki: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiesbaden (German site, but with lots of photos. Switch to the English site from the left pane if you need)

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The only downside is that there is no actual castle in central Wiesbaden.

You won't be disappointed in Wiesbaden, unless an actual castle is a must.

 

I see you like Wiesbaden too. Yes, I think it's the best choice and she definitely won't be disappointed.

 

There are two palaces in Wiesbaden that's really nice. The Gothic Church in the city centre and the church high in the hills of Wiesbaden are beautiful.

 

If she wants to see "castles" there's certainly enough time in that layover to take a quick train trip along the Rhine to see the castles.

 

I agree, Wiesbaden hands down!

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^^If I understand correctly, that 14hours includes a night in a hotel, so waking hours may not be enough to also take in the Rhein towns, especially with the transport times involved.

 

But maybe I misunderstood.

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Wow! I am so glad I asked for suggestions. I really appreciate everyone's time in helping us have a wonderful time on our layover! We arrive in Frankfort at 8:45 AM from America and depart at 10:45 PM for Africa. My husband is Brazilian, I am American, and we are volunteer relief workers at an orphanage in Mozambique!

It sounds like Wiesbaden may be the simplest and nicest place to go considering the increased travel to other places. However, just wondering also about the train ride along the Rhine. Is that a pretty trip and how lengthy? Would you suggest doing this above Wiesbaden or possibly take a train ride from Wiesbaden along the Rhine? Or just stay in Wiesbaden? I love European architecture and quaint towns. A castle is not a must! My favorite city in Europe to date is Brugge. I found the architecture stunning.

We will have luggage with us. Do you have a suggestion of a place to stay or should we just find a place when arrive? We won't be spending the night but will want a place to put our luggage and possibly rest.

Don't worry - we'll be eating German! I'm pregnant and Thai would be much too spicy anyway!

 

Thanks again!

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There is luggage storage at the airport by arrival hall B-1. Cost is 4-5 euro per bag, depending on how long they keep it, 7 hours and under is 4 euro, more than 7 hours is 5 euro.

 

If you just have a day layover, then there is no reason why you couldn't ride the train up to Koblenz on one side of the river and ride it back to the airport on the other. This lets you see lots of castles, the Rhine, all the little towns and beautiful scenery. Just make sure you leave sufficient time to be back at the airport in time for your next flight.

 

If you just want to see a city rather than ride up the Rhine, Mainz would be my pick over Wiesbaden. It has the Mainzer Dom which is a cathedral that is about 1000 years old and one of my favorite churches in Germany as it is very massive and Romanesque, St. Stephens which has the gorgeous Chagall windows, Roman ruins - including a temple ruin to Isis, and a nice little old town area to walk around in.

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Actually, you could do both Mainz and Wiesbaden. Mainz is a 10minute train ride across the river from Wiesbaden, and you also have direct trains back to the airport on the S-bahn.

 

In my opinion, Mainz is nowhere near as attractive as Wiesbaden, though this could be because it is more working class, gritty and much of the history has been bombed in the war. But it is still a fascinating city and yes, the Cathedral really is around a 1000years old and very large. Mainz was once a Roman city though little of that is evident these days. It was also the home of Gutenberg who invested the printing press (from a Western perspective) and this is celebrated in Mainz.

 

There is also a small Altstadt where you find some narrow streets and Alleys, though I always found Wiesbaden's to be nicer.

 

I have often mixed the two in, within a single day as they are so close, yet so different from each other. Both are State Capitals and so in different states, but just on the opposite side of the Rhein from each other. I guess it is slightly similar to Minneapolis/St Paul, where two cities and distinctive downtowns are so close to each other.

 

If you do this, I would suggest Wiesbaden first (approx 35-40min on S-bahn), then the 10minute hop to Mainz, after which you only need 27minutes back to the airport.

 

Regarding trains up the Rhein river, yes, this is a very interesting and scenic route. There are train lines on either side of the river (which is both great for traveling for views, and a downside that the rail lines ruin the scenic route ;O) The trains are not especially fast though and you would have to be careful about getting back to the airport. There maybe delays and you will likely have to change at Wiesbaden.

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I completely second the advice to go to Wiesbaden. 14 hours are just too short to visit places like Cologne, Würzburg or Heidelberg in between two intercontinental flights. Mainz is also an option. Very heavily bombed during the war but far more important historically than Wiesbaden. Therefore Mainz cathedral is one of the most important cathedrals in Germany.

 

As to where to stay for a rest and to leave your luggage this obviously depends on your budget. The most convenient option is to take a room at the Sheraton Hotel Frankfurt Airport ( http://www.sheratonfrankfurtairport.com ) which is directly connected to Terminal 1. It's pricey, though.

As an alternative you might take a room at Motel One Wiesbaden ( http://www.motel-one.com/de/hotels/hotels-wiesbaden.html ). It is a new and well maintained hotel right at the Wiesbaden main railway station where you arrive with the S-Bahn.

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LR, I would have to agree with Anthony. A woman who lives in Africa is bringing her husband to Germany (and Europe) for the first time and you offer (very nicely, I'd like to add) a Thai restaurant. Perhaps no recommendation might have be more helpful in this type of situation.

 

I've no doubt that your recommended restaurant is fantastic. But better to offer the recommendation to those of us who live here and not visitors who wish to experience Germany.

 

Well I appreciate the restaurant recommendation, LR, as I'm also looking for cutesy towns to kill a day in the Frankfurt area before flying out of FRA next week. It may seem ridiculous to others, but people shouldn't assume what one would want to eat I guess...while passing through Madrid after 2 weeks in Morocco my friends and I wanted nothing more than a great Thai restaurant (and we found a pretty good one, but only after lots of searching) . No guilt about not eating Spanish food on our one evening there, sometimes you just need some white rice and fish sauce/curry/lemongrass/coconut milk laden deliciousness. Although we had all been in Spain before. But anyway, my top food recommendation for people going to Paris (even first timers) is a falafel place, is that so wrong? It's incredibly delicious. I always appreciate an enthusiastic recommendation for an excellent place even if it's not what tourists would normally eat there...

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Great! I am leaving in a few hours to start my trip. I will let you know how our time in Germany is. I am now really looking forward to it! One more question, though, is it worth stopping in Mainz is we get there at 5 or 6 at night and have dinner? Do you know if the cathedral would still be open then?

 

Thanks!

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The Cathedral closes at 6.30 pm (4 pm on Saturdays). It is also nice to take a walk down to the waterside along the Rhine.

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I wonder why all the Rhine-Mainers seem to be so fascinated with Wiesbaden? It does not have any historic significance, a historic Old Town or anything like that. Other than the Altes Rathaus it's composed of fugly 1840s to 1910s pseudo-historist neo-romantic buildings. Maybe it's because both Frankfurt and Mainz, nevermind the rest of Rhine-Main, have even less historic architecture remaining and are for the most part even uglier?

 

Mainz over Wiesbaden any day. Darmstadt over Wiesbaden any day. Hell, Dreieich-Dreieichenhain over Wiesbaden any day.

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