Itching to get out of town, but low on funds after the holidays? Or maybe you want to break in that new camera or get to know your area. Whatever the reason, a day trip may be just the ticket. Wiesbaden is centrally located within Germany, so you can easily see another city, state or country in a day and be back by nighttime. There are too many great cities and sights to list, but here are seven great trips to get you started.
1. Cologne (Köln)
Situated on the Rhine River, this 2,000-year-old city is perfect for picture taking, strolling or visiting a unique museum. At just 173 kilometers from Wiesbaden, if traffic is favorable, you can drive here in less than two hours — or better yet, take the train.
The Cologne Cathedral (Dom) is one of the first things you’ll see if you arrive at the central station (Hauptbahnhof). You’ll want to have your camera ready. This High Gothic cathedral, for which the foundation was laid in 1248, is a stunning piece of history and architecture. The two towers were completed in the 1860s and 70s. The cathedral was damaged by more than 80 bombs during WWII, and after restoration was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996.
The Chocolate Museum (Schokoladen Museum), with its glass façade, is a perfect place to enjoy a view of the Rhine on a cold day while learning about the history and production of the sweet treat and even sampling some. If sweets are not your thing, stop by the Mustard Museum (Kölner Senfmuseum) nearby.
Other sites to visit here include the Cologne Zoo; The Odysseum, The Botanical Gardens, the National Socialism Documentation Center; and the Koln Triangle.
Got kids? A visit to Parc Merveilleux in Bettembourg, Luxembourg, will take up most of your day. The 212 kilometer drive takes about two-and-a-half hours. Wander through a fairy tale garden forest on a paved walkway (perfect for strollers, scooters and balance bikes) and discover unique play areas and zoo animals around every turn. You’ll see monkeys, crocodiles, rabbits, dingoes and peacocks, just to name a few.
If you have any energy left after a day at the park, consider having dinner in Luxembourg City, just 14 kilometers away.
Make time to visit the Luxembourg American Cemetery just outside the city and pay respects to the more than 5,000 Soldiers buried there, including Gen. George S. Patton.
It would be a shame to live so close to this major German city and only see the airport! There is something for everyone in the city of Frankfurt and it will only take about 35 minutes to drive the 35 kilometers. If the weather is bad, you could spend the entire day in museums. Visit the former home of the famous German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe at the Goethe House and the Goethe Museum right next door. If you have kids, they’ll enjoy seeing dinosaur bones at the Senckenberg Natural History Museum or have an interactive experience at the Kinder Museum, experimenting with printing and typesetting (in English).
Other attractions include the Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art and The Old Opera House, and the red sandstone Gothic style St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral, which stands out in the city’s downtown area.
During a quick trip to Hanau just east of Frankfurt you can see the 18th century baroque palace Scholss Philipsruhe and walk its expansive courtyard, on your way to pay a visit to the Brothers Grimm monument.
At the Wilhelmsbad State Park and spa complex, you’ll enjoy lots of walking space and beautiful scenery, including a devils bridge and pyramid — the perfect place for a picnic.
If you have time, visit the Fasanerie, the Hessen Doll Museum and the Prehistoric Museum.
The castle along the Neckar River in Heidelberg is the main attraction. Park in the city and walk to the castle or take the funicular railway, which goes even further than the castle for spectacular views. Heidelberg is 95 kilometers from Wiesbaden or about an hour’s drive.
6. Pedestrian suspension bridge
Wear comfortable shoes if you go to the Geierlay Suspension Bridge (Hängeseilbrücke) in Mörsdorf. It can be a mile walk just to get to the bridge, depending on where you park. But the view is worth it. Visitors can go both directions on the bridge or just one way and then return to their car on one of the marked trails. There is no cost to cross the bridge, but you may have to pay for parking. The bridge can get crowded on weekends and German holidays.
7. Strasbourg, France
This border city, the capital of the Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine region is 210 kilometers from Wiesbaden, or just under two and a half hours by car. But you won’t want to drive once you get there. Find a place to park your car and you’ll get the most of this city by exploring on foot or by using the ubiquitous light rail. Without spending any money, you can see the futuristic-looking central station (Gare de Strasbourg), the towering Notre Dame Cathedral, and take photos in the iconic La Petite France area, with its flower-lined river crossings and half-timber houses.