ECONOMY

Curiouser and curiouser: Frankfurt’s most fascinating bike routes

This article is part of a new cycling series from FT Globetrotter in which FT writers around the world recommend their favourite routes

The most annoying part about recreational cycling around Frankfurt is finding a nice way out of town.

While the environs of Germany’s banking capital — the Taunus mountains to the north-west, the northern Wetterau flatlands or the Odenwald peaks to the south — have a plethora of quiet roads and stunning vistas, getting there by bike is not always as straightforward as it should be. Frankfurt is wrapped in a dense network of trunk roads where cycling is sometimes illegal and almost always unpleasant. But it is not impossible.

It took me a while to work out the best ways of riding into and out of the city to enjoy some of its beautiful surroundings by bike. Below are some of my favourite medium-length routes, with GPS tracks included for you to follow along.

1. Hohe Strasse (55km)

  • Good for: Car-free riding

  • Not so good for: Café stops

  • FYI: You’ll be riding along an ancient trading route

  • GPS track

This is my most favourite route for cycling out of Frankfurt. It features a lot of variety as it offers several climbs and vistas of the Taunus mountains and Frankfurt’s skyline — plus there’s very little car traffic.

The ECB building, on the River Main
The ECB building, on the River Main © Getty Images
The route offers great views of the Frankfurt skyline from the Lohrberg mountain
The route offers great views of the Frankfurt skyline from the Lohrberg mountain © Getty Images/iStockphoto

After crossing the River Main at the beautiful ECB tower in the east and cutting through Frankfurt Ostbahnhof train station (most people ride through, but the legality of doing so is unclear, so do walk your bike), you will ride past Ostpark, a charming green space on a relatively quiet road that later turns into a car-free one.

This route then takes you through Bergen-Enkheim, where you’ll climb the Lohrberg mountain. It’s a steep yet short stretch to an altitude of 185 metres. If you are ready for a break, you can stop for a drink or rustic food at Lohrberg Schänke, a popular café that is nearly 100 years old and gives you a fantastic view of the skyline. Don’t drive there — on summer weekends, the narrow road can be chock-a-block with motorists.

The statue of the Brothers Grimm in their birthplace of Hanau
The statue of the Brothers Grimm in their birthplace of Hanau © Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach/Alamy
The riverside path is nicely paved, flat and well signposted
The riverside path is nicely paved, flat and well signposted © Nils Heck

A few kilometres on, you’ll reach the Hohe Strassean ancient trading route that in the Middle Ages connected Frankfurt with Leipzig and was part of the Via Regia. Don’t forget to stop and turn around to enjoy one of the best views of Frankfurt’s skyline.

After 23km, you leave the Hohe Strasse and head south towards Hanau, where the Grimm brothers — the first and best-known collectors of German and European fairy tales — were born. After crossing the Main again at the hydroelectric power plant in Kesselstadt (you’ll have to walk your bike again briefly), the riverside path — which is nicely paved, flat and well signposted — takes you back to Frankfurt. Some 5km before the end of the route, in Offenbach, you’ll ride past a lovely ice-cream parlour that is open year round. It would be rude not to stop for ice cream or waffles.

2. To Mainz and back (71km)

  • Good for: Easy navigation

  • Not so good for: Great vistas

  • FYI: You’ll pass the Opel car plant in Rüsselsheim, one of the oldest in Germany. Adam Opel started to manufacture sewing machines here in 1862, and the first motor vehicle was built in 1899

  • GPS track

Globetrotter cycling map showing route from Schaumainkai, Frankfurt to Mainz and back

On the way out of the city, this route uses the most straightforward and popular arterial cycling route in Frankfurt: the bike path along the Main. Navigation is straightforward but make sure not to get lost in Schwanheim: you can’t ride right by the river here due to a large chemical factory, so pay extra attention. Further along the route, in Raunheim, you’ll ride over Olhafenbrücke, an award-winning bridge that was built for cyclists and pedestrians in 2014 and crosses an oil-tanker port. With its odd shape and distinct circular ramp, it’s certainly an eye-catching landmark.

The striking Olhafen Bridge was built for cyclists and pedestrians
The striking Olhafen Bridge was built for cyclists and pedestrians © Zoonar/Alamy
Sample a local beer at the Kransand kiosk
Sample a local beer at the Kransand kiosk

In Mainz, where the Main enters the Rhine, you can enjoy a drink by the riverside and watch the city centre across the water. My favourite place is the Kransand kiosk, which serves local craft beers.

You can either take the same route back or follow the GPS track I’ve included, which for the most part runs along quiet, agricultural roads towards Frankfurt.

What I like about this route is that it connects two iconic German rivers, as well as two of the region’s most important cities — and it is pancake flat and hence a really easy ride.

3. Wetterau (52km)

Globetrotter cycling map showing route from Alte Brücke, Frankfurt to Wetterau and back

The first 15km of this route are identical to the first one. However, for this bike ride, you leave the Hohe Strasse earlier and head towards the Taunus mountains. (Don’t worry, you will only look at them and won’t have to climb them — yet.)

An uncharacteristically scenic stretch of the Wetterau route with views towards the Taunus hills
An uncharacteristically scenic stretch of the Wetterau route with views towards the Taunus hills © Bastian Gnuchwitz/Alamy
The 52km ride is great for exercise on quiet roads
The 52km ride is great for exercise on quiet roads © Panther Media/Alamy

This undulating loop with few traffic lights throughout the southern stretches of Wetterau — the flatlands between the Taunus and the Vogelsberg hills — is a good workout. With nearly 400 metres of elevation gained on 52km of riding, the route will get your heart rate up.

This isn’t a ride for scenic touring as it comes with few, if any, touristic highlights. It is more for exercise on quiet or traffic-free roads and some little climbs.

4. Taunus mountains (82km)

  • Good for: Hill lovers

  • Not so good for: Those looking for a gentle ride

  • FYI: The Grosser Feldberg is the highest mountain near Frankfurt and the second highest in the state of Hesse

  • GPS track

Globetrotter cycling map showing route from Schaumainkai, Frankfurt to the Taunus Mountains

From downtown Frankfurt, the Taunus are the nearest mountains. The southern hills are relatively densely populated — the area is a popular domicile for bankers, lawyers and other well-off professionals who work in Frankfurt. Unfortunately, this means that most of the main roads into the Taunus are busy with car and motorbike traffic.

Curiouser and curiouser: Frankfurt’s most fascinating bike routes
The village of Schmitten from the Grosser Feldberg © Getty Images
Curiouser and curiouser: Frankfurt’s most fascinating bike routes
The Taunus mountains are the ideal destination for hill-loving cyclists © Getty Images/iStockphoto

By far the best cycling option into the area is a road that leads to the second-largest ammunition depot of Germany’s armed forces, in Köppern. Cars are not permitted on this road, and the climb is not too steep. The route brings you to Schmitten, a village in the Taunus where you can stop for refreshments.

On weekends, I suggest the café in the Hotel Kurhaus Ochs, a cosy spot for cake and coffee. Otherwise, you can refuel at the Rewe supermarket on Seelenberger Strasse. You won’t regret taking a breather here as you’ll quickly approach Grosser Feldberg afterwards. At 880 metres, this is the second-highest mountain in the state of Hesse. For the most part, you’ll be using another quiet back road so you won’t be bothered by traffic on the way up. However, the gradients between Schmitten and Oberreifenberg are very steep — be prepared to push your bike.

Curiouser and curiouser: Frankfurt’s most fascinating bike routes
Riding here is tough, but beautiful © Getty Images
Curiouser and curiouser: Frankfurt’s most fascinating bike routes
The marketplace in Oberursel, where you should grab a beer to celebrate an amazing climb © Birgit Reitz-Hofmann/Alamy

The ascent to Grosser Feldberg is not an easy climb either. You’ll be rewarded with stunning views — and an amazing descent into the town of Oberursel. Unfortunately, here there are no alternatives to the main road, which is relatively busy, but it will be over quickly. With more than 1,300 metres of climbing over 82km, this is a relatively tough ride.

5. Odenwald (82km)

  • Good for: A lovely day out

  • Not so good for: A quick ride in the afternoon

  • FYI: You’ll be cycling close to the eastern frontier of the Roman empire — some of its watchtowers, such as the one in Vielbrunn, have been rebuilt

  • GPS track

Globetrotter cycling map showing route from Darmstadt to the Odenwald mountains

After a while, one does become tired of cycling the same routes in an out of Frankfurt over and over again. Jumping on a train for half an hour or so is an easy way to increase the options for scenic cycling.

The university town of Darmstadt makes for a good starting point on the route
The university town of Darmstadt makes for a good starting point on the route © Getty Images/iStockphoto
From Darmstadt it’s a short hop to the beautiful Odenwald
From Darmstadt it’s a short hop to the beautiful Odenwald © agefotostock/Alamy

One obvious starting point is Darmstadt, a university town about 35km south of Frankfurt and well connected with quick local trains (which don’t charge extra for bike transport).

From downtown Darmstadt, it is some 10km into the Odenwald, a beautiful wooded area. This route gives you a first taste of the region, which further to the south feels more remote — and more hilly.

Maps by Liz Faunce

Do you have a favourite cycling route in Frankfurt? Share it in the comments

For more stories like this, visit ft.com/globetrotter, or follow FT Globetrotter on Instagram at @FTGlobetrotter



Most Related Links :
todayuknews Governmental News Finance News

Source link

Back to top button
Native News Post