As my tests ended mid-January and I only had to be back in Portugal at the beginning of February, I went to Frankfurt to spend two weeks during the winter season with Thomas. As I am a confessed snow freak and because it is not very common to have snow in Frankfurt, we had planned a winter getaway to the Bavarian city of Füssen, at the foothills of the Alps, to combine snow and crossing a visit to the stupendous castle of Neuschwanstein out of our bucket list (check our post here).
However, on the weekend before our trip to Bavaria, Thomas had heard from some coworkers that there was snow forecast on a mountain range near Frankfurt. Needless to say that when he suggested a day trip to go there, I had agreed before he even finished his sentence, right after he said the word "snow". Because there's one thing that makes the Taunus mountains extra special: how easy it is to get there from Frankfurt! In this post, we give you all the information you need to reach this place as well as a list of things to see and do there!
The Taunus is an 80-kilometer mountain range located north of Frankfurt in the Hessen region. Hessen is a region with particularly low range mountains (compared to the mountains in Bavaria for instance) covered with dense forests. The Taunus is bordered by the valleys of the Rhine, the Main and the Lahn rivers and is part of the Rhine Mountains.
The average altitude of the Taunus mountains is 460 meters(1.500 feet), which is relatively low, but the highest and most famous mountain in this mountain range is called Großer Feldberg and culminates at 879.5 meters (2.887 feet). The proximity of Großer Feldberg with the bustling city of Frankfurt makes it a famous destination for locals all year round to escape the noise of the city and recharge their batteries.
There are two nature parks in the Taunus Mountains. The Taunus Nature Park, the park located around Großer Feldberg, is the second largest nature reserve of the Hessen region. As it is located on the highest part of the mountain range, it provides with the most spectacular views. Whether in summer or winter, the Taunus mountains have plenty to offer.
HOW TO GET TO THE TAUNUS?
As mentioned in the opening paragraph of this post, what makes the Taunus mountains special is its proximity with Frankfurt and its ease of access! Indeed, if you are traveling from Frankfurt or live there but do not own a car, you can reach Großer Feldberg by subway and by bus. First, take the U3 subway line in the direction of Oberursel Hohemark and go to the last stop. This stop will leave you right at the foot of the Taunus and at a bus stop where you can take line 57 that will take you to the top. Before hopping in the bus, you can check the Taunus Information Center if you need any further information about what to do in the surroundings, they will be happy to help you.
The whole trip takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes and you can get a subway ticket for 5.30 EUR which covers all means of transportation for a whole day (including buses). If you are going in a group, there is the possibility to purchase a group-ticket for up to 5 people for 11.30 EUR.
Last but not least, if you are going there to experience the snow, we recommend checking the snow forecast before you go. The weather can indeed be capricious and unpredictable. Webcams can help you get an idea of the real-time snow conditions in the area.
WHAT TO DO THERE?
1. DO SOME OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
During the summer months, popular outdoor activities include hiking, cycling and climbing. The Taunus Nature Park being equipped with an extensive trail system, it is easy for hiking. There are indeed 210 hiking trails with a total length of approximately 1.200 kilometers. It is also possible for cyclists to enjoy the many marked bicycle paths that pass through different areas of the mountain range. However, if you're looking for something exceptional, you can hop on a hot air balloon and discover the Taunus mountains from the air. It is also important to note that during the warmer months, different kind of facilities are available for visitors: from campsites to barbecue facilities.
During the winter months, popular outdoor activities include hiking, tobogganing and cross country skiing. As for us, we only went there to see how the mountains and forests look like when covered in snow. We must admit that we were not disappointed at all by the place, it even felt like walking right into Narnia!
Click here to check the Taunus brochure in order to know more about all the possible activities. For more information, you can also go to the Taunus Information Center which is located in Oberursel. An interactive exhibition is available all year round for visitors which explains all the characteristics of the area.
2. TRY SOME LOCAL DISHES
If all the above-mentioned activities have made you hungry, you'll find plenty of traditional and rustic restaurants offering homemade regional food. For instance, after hiking the whole day around Großer Feldberg, we recommend you to make a stop at the Feldberghaus Restaurant, which for us felt like the cherry on the top. The restaurant is located near the bus stop at the summit. It is a restaurant with an alpine décor serving German traditional food while enjoying the incredible views from the mountain top. We advise you to order the delicious vegetarian Flammkuche, a homemade pizza-like pastry with melted raclette cheese.
3. VISIT SOME HISTORIC SITES
The Taunus Mountains are not only a place for outdoor enthusiasts, but the region can also be enjoyed by history buffs as it is also home to many historical sites: from Roman and Celtic ruins to impressive palaces and castles. You can for instance visit the medieval town of Königstein which is home to one of the largest castle ruins in Germany: Burg Königstein. The quiet town of Oberursel is also a medieval place in which it is pleasant to stroll around. Finally, we also advise you to visit the Kronberg Castle (Berg Kronberg), its tower offers a spectacular view of the Frankfurt skyline.
WHAT WENT WRONG
If, like us, you are traveling by public transportation on a snowy winter day, please read what follows. The day we went there it snowed all day, it wasn't a snowstorm but enough to cover the roads. Apparently, there was a problem with the machinery company's staff who take care of cleaning the roads and as a result, the bus company stopped the bus traffic for safety reasons but without any warning. We stayed almost one hour at the bus stop clueless about why the bus was not coming, then decided to walk back to the top to check out what was going on and get a bit warmer at the restaurant. We were told about the bus traffic problem and we started to look for other possibilities, however, cab companies told us that it would take 2 hours for them to pick us up at the top due to the limitation of driving through the snow. Luckily, the owner of the restaurant was kind enough to give us a ride on his way home. In short, if you don't want to experience what happened to us, we advise you, if it snows on the day you go to the Taunus, to be very careful with the bus traffic!
And now it's your turn to let us know your impressions, thoughts and also tips to visit the Taunus Mountains near Frankfurt. We look forward to reading your comments in the section below.