Discover Castles Near Frankfurt ~ Fairytale Palaces by the Rhine 

Lydia Fulson

By: Lydia Fulson / Writer, Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Thrill Seeker, and Adventurer

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Welcome to Frankfurt! Located in the state of Hesse, Frankfurt is breathtaking. The largest and most popular city in the entire state, and its castles near or far do not disappoint. 

Frankfurt is surrounded by additional large cities that display beautiful castles as well. Many of Frankfurt's castles lie outside the city-rather than in the heart of it.

This city is jam-packed with entertainment, activities, bustling shops, and authentic restaurants. It's the perfect stop for tourists and travelers. Set the busyness and travel itinerary aside and take time to enjoy this remarkable city. During your stay, take a few day trips to see the wunderbar castles in the surrounding cities.

Marburg Castle: Castles in FrankfurtCan you spot a castle among that beautiful landscape?

Did you want to see German castles of the Middle Ages? If you're heading to Frankfurt, you're in luck!

This is a city to add to the bucket list. Take a stroll down the cobblestoned streets in the Altstadt (Old Town) and enjoy a good day of shopping and café visits before hopping on the next train to explore the fairytale castles.

Before we wander through the lovely chateaus near Frankfurt, let's have a quick …

 Castle Construction

Castle construction

Note that these castles are old and sometimes require construction and upkeep. Be sure to check the official castle websites or local tourist stops to stay updated and informed of any construction in the castle to avoid a scene like this. After a trip up the mountain to see Heidelberg Castle, I was met with a lovely sight of an excavator instead. Stay in the loop on castle construction to plan your castle trip around it!

List of the Best Castles near Frankfurt

Marburg Castle / Marburger Schloss

Distance from Frankfurt: 61 miles (98 kilometers)

Travel by car: 1 hour 18 minutes

Travel by transit (bus): 1 hour 30 minutes

Roughly an hour's drive from Frankfurt, here's a massive beauty that cannot go unrecognized. Marburg was built in the 11th century as a fortress, where many important meetings were held in its great halls.

Marburg Castle is surrounded by the 'city on a hill', with incredible Gothic churches sharing its landscape.

Marburg Castle hilltop viewAt least everyone will be on time for work! Get it? Because of the giant clock...

There are about 200 steps to get to the castle, which can be a bit of a hike for some, but not to worry. Driving up is possible and there's a small parking lot to use while you enjoy your adventure. Buses can also bring you to the castle as many tours offer this castle as part of their castle tour. 


When done observing the oohs and aahs outside, make way through the arches to the inside, where you'll be met with three museum choices. Three floors of the castle are dedicated to separate museums.

Marburg closeup view of the stunning architectureAn impeccable fortress
  • The first museum is dedicated to the arts of different periods, starting in the 12th century. If art suits your fancy, you'll find lots of it here: paintings, drawings, and lots of religious artistry.
  • On the second floor, visitors can see the old weaponry and swords that the knights of the era used in battle, as well as armor and shields. There is a grand tapestry on this floor that captivates its visitors. It's something that every visitor has loved and reviewed as something everyone has to see.
  • The third floor also holds exquisite tapestries telling captivating stories and their amazing workmanship is always admired. But that's not all. The third-floor museum also displays countless antique artifacts, such as pottery, furniture, clothing, and more. Intrigued?

Heidelberg Castle

Distance from Frankfurt: 57 miles (92 kilometers)

Travel by car: 1 hour 17 minutes

Travel by transit (bus): 1 hour 30 minutes

Constructed with red sandstone and surrounded by breathtaking greenery, Heidelberg is an incredible masterpiece that has been through and seen so many historical events throughout in its many lives. One might say, like a cat, this castle has nine lives.

See my 'Fun Fact' to find out why!

Heidelberg is one of the most beautiful castles near Frankfurt. Recognized for its remarkable Renaissance architecture, Heidelberg is hard to miss as it towers 260ft (79.25 meters) on a hilltop.

Several residents of great power lived in Heidelberg, such as Princess Palatine and the Winter King, Frederick V, who organized many floor plans for one of the rebuilding periods of the castle. He also assisted in modeling the great garden designed with plants that required level ground to grow properly, resulting in the mountain slope's conversion into a garden.

Heidelberg Castle near Frankfurt, up high overlooking the cityWhat a view! Shining bright like a diamond.

After undergoing numerous repairs, changes in ownership, and even destruction over the years, the castle can finally stand in peace

Now it's open for guided tours for intrigued history lovers like you to peruse and enjoy!

View from Heidelberg castleThe breathtaking view of the city below Heidelberg : captured by yours truly.

~ Fun Fact ~ 

A lightning bolt destroyed the entire top part of the castle shortly after being built. After repairs and remodeling, the castle took significant damage due to wars and was left to sit as castle ruins until being repaired. Then, almost amusingly, was struck by ANOTHER lightning bolt, deeming it uninhabitable.

This castle holds something so unique that it can't go unmentioned. But we'll get to that!

The Heidelberg Funicular Railway is connected to the castle and runs daily. Relax and ride in style to visit the great fortress. Take the train up the mountainside to the train station located in the castle. Then enjoy a stroll through the vibrant inner courtyard under the terraces and towers.

Doesn't the ivy and overgrown plants climbing the castle walls remind you of an enchanted fairy tale?


Heidelberg ruins covered in overgrown ivy. Cool!So enchanting... Kind of spooky ... Totally cool!

The castle today is used as a lovely and lively venue for special events, weddings, tours, and wine tastings. Bask in the beautiful architecture as you walk down the grand halls of ornate and intricate decoration, especially in those stunning ceilings!

It's no secret why this has become such a popular wedding venue. The castle makes for the most breathtaking photos. But the best part?

A Hidden Secret

Heidelberg holds a fun secret: a 52,184-gallon one, to be exact. In the wine cellar, a 28-foot wide wine barrel with its own staircase and platform for photos on top brings hundreds of visitors every day.

Heidelbergs wine barrel in person!It'd take a pretty big wine glass to use all of that up

Climb the staircase to the top of the barrel for the photo opportunity of a lifetime. That platform was built as a dance floor! It is quite the climb to the top. It's even bigger than it looks. I'll admit, when I saw it, I had to take a minute to say "!". But when my new friends and I reached to top, we did a little dance to celebrate where we were.

Enjoy a cool glass of wine at the wine tasting, explore the cellars and the rest of the historic rooms of Heidelberg and take a train to see it all!

What a deserving castle to add to the list!

Mespelbrunn Castle

Distance from Frankfurt: 44 miles (71 kilometers)

Travel by car: 1 hour 10 minutes

Travel by transit (bus): 2 hours

Once a simple family home, the private residence was rebuilt by a son into an elegant, moated castle of beauty. A hidden gem!

Deep down in the Elsava valley and surrounded by lush Spessart forestry, its secluded location became the perfect place to avoid any destruction from the war.

Mespelbrunn Castle with its enchanting moatIt's a boat. It's a sub. Nope. Just a floating castle

Mespelbrunn is one castle in the small handful that hasn't been remodeled under different ownership, as it remained in the Echter families' ownership for generation after generation.

However, the castle was remodeled to give the architecture a more Renaissance look. That beautifully rounded tower is still the original tower from the 15th century.

The enchanting surrounding moat that the Echter son created gives the castle a floating illusion. It is picture-perfect! Mespelbrunn is such an original castle to visit and has certainly earned its spot on the list of best castles near Frankfurt to visit.


The quaint and relaxing location is unbeatable. Live that princess fantasy and rent the tower! That's right. Rent a room in that enchanting tower after you enjoy learning the fascinating valley history during the guided tour.

This isn't one of those medieval castles with huge, intimidating arches and pillars. When you leave Mespelbrunn, you'll leave with a romantic, cozy, and comforting feeling. The Echters wanted to keep the palace as homey as possible, and they achieved it.

If you look closely, as you enter the first room, the chapel, in the old stained-glass window is the Echter family tree. A beautiful memento and a reminder that not all castles are built on war and destruction.

Mespelbrunn Castle grounds with walking paths surroundingEnjoy a lovely stroll on these surrounding paths

To add to the fairytale feeling- a very popular book was inspired by Mespelbrunn. Can you guess what it is? Maybe by the tower?

It's Rapunzel! The tale of the princess trapped in the tower and saved by her one true love. The romantic tale's inspiration came to its authors, The Brothers Grimm, when they stayed at the castle with a view of the tower, giving them that 'lightbulb' idea!

~ Travel tip ~ 

Many places in Germany are closed or have short hours on Sundays, as it is a day of rest. So be sure to check ahead of time what the hours of the castles are and if you're able to visit them on a Sunday.

If not, take the day to kick back in your hotel and have a cup of hot coffee. Every traveler needs a good restful and relaxing break.

Wurzburg Palace / Würzburger Residenz

Distance from Frankfurt: 75 miles (120 kilometers)

Travel by car: 1 hour 21 minutes

Travel by transit (bus): 1 hour 40 minutes

Considered the “largest parsonage in Europe” by the famous Napoleon- (A shorter 'person'-age in Europe) Ha, get it? … Anyway…

Wurzburg is a work of art found along Germany's romantic road. The Prince Bishop of Wurzburg decided to build the palace, as the one he lived in was 'too small' for his high position as the monarch. He needed a palace that measured up to his high status in society.

His relatives dove in to help with planning and the execution to make the ultimate fortress of royal status. And an ultimate fortress it is indeed!

Würzburg Palace and beautiful gardensI say Napoleon had very good taste in his stays.

In the early 18th century, Napoleon chose to stay at this very palace of baroque beauty every time he stopped for business in Würzburg.

Over years of many add-ons and renovations, in 1921, the palace was finally opened to the public.

Sadly, in 1945, during World War II, an air raid took out the majority of the castle. The ceilings and floors were wooden and the fires and bombs that struck the rooftops caused the wood to completely go up in flames. Only a handful of rooms survived the raid, and it cost twenty million to repair the palace back to what it once was.

~ historic Fact ~ 

The declaration of war against Prussia was signed here by Napoleon in 1806.


Built in Rococo and Baroque styles with neoclassical architecture, the Würzburg Palace is a sight to see. The building style, art, and wunderbar gardens manicured to perfection were recognized and, in 1981, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Wurzburg gardens walking path with a tunnel of treesThe perfect wedding photo destination???

The grand double staircase is a bold white color with intricate carvings and stunning detailed statues on the banisters. Don't forget to always look up! The ceilings are hand-painted with beautiful art. The walls of the popular white hall are designed with remarkable plaster work, gold trimmed doorways, and the wooden floors, restored, are more beautiful than ever, laid in a plaid pattern.

The palace chapel features spiraled black, white, and red marble pillars with ornate gold detailing and floral murals above. White angel statues sit above the pillars beside dangling crystal chandeliers.

Be sure to visit the famous Imperial Hall to see its incredible gold details from the ceiling down to the gold star details in the tile work on the floor.

Castle Steinau

Distance from Frankfurt: 43 miles (69 kilometers)

Travel by car: 1 hour

Travel by transit (bus): 2 hours 40 minutes

Not all castles have to be ornate and fancy to be recognized! Steinau is proof of that. This 15th-century classic-style castle is where the Brothers Grimm, creators of the famous Hansel and Gretel fairy tale, lived some years of their childhood. Isn't that neat

The fairy tale writers grew up in fairy tale castles of their own. Built by incorporating existing medieval castle buildings, and in the 16th century being extended again, it was given that fun shape. It's surrounded by a 16-foot-deep moat and a handsome baroque-style tower.

Castle SteinauThe pentagon palace! Well, you can't see it now ...

As you mosey over the moat bridge to the welcoming archway, you'll feel like you're living a fairytale. If you love historic buildings or, simply, history itself, you'll love visiting Steinau on your journey through German castles.


From up above, the castle is in the shape of a pentagon.

Castle Steinau in the shape of a pentagonThere it is! A perfect pentagon!

Tastefully decorated with lovely exposed beams and a museum inside, it depicts the life of the Brothers Grimm and the other previous owners and famous folk who lived here. Explore the original furnishings and artwork of Steinau, including copies of the Grimm's writings, notes, and stories of theirs, as well as other local authors of the time.

Take a leisurely stroll through the spacious inner courtyard and castle grounds to unwind before venturing to your next castle!

Reichsburg Castle / Cochem Castle

Distance from Frankfurt: 105 miles (170 kilometers)

Travel by car: 2 hours 5 minutes

Travel by transit (bus): 2 hours 49 minutes


Towering on a hilltop surrounded by cookie-cutter timbered houses, Reichsburg is an 11th-century fairytale.

Destroyed by the French in 1689, but you can't keep a good thing down! The hilltop of crumbled ruins was brought to life again by a very well-off businessman who wanted to create a new castle as a snazzy summer residence for his family. He bought the castle in 1868 … well, what was left of it, and got to work.

That poor castle sat in ruins for 180 years before someone took on the task of bringing its beauty back for us all to enjoy. Now stands strong and tall, the mighty Reichsburg.

Reichsburg view of the city. A hilltop masterpieceFeast your eyes on this hilltop masterpiece!

~ Fun Fact ~ 

It seems this was a popular year for castle ruins to be rebuilt. When Reichsburg was being rebuilt, so was the fairy tale Neuschwanstein castle, one of the biggest castles and one of the most visited castles in Europe, built by king Ludwig II of Bavaria!


Cochem was rebuilt with a neo-Gothic style instead of keeping its old architectural style. The castle endured many incredible changes which, sadly, the businessman genius builder did not live to see finished. His son continued the renovations and dedicated it to his father, who was a lover of the arts, by filling Reichsburg with exquisite and expensive artwork.

Reichsburg up close in personal to see the old architecture and design

Sadly, a lot of it was destroyed in the war, as the castle was taken over and turned into a law school, a majority of artworks were taken as well. But nowadays, the castle is in better hands and is well respected by all of its visitors.

It's a bit of a walk to the top of the hill, but you can drive it or take a shuttle to the top! Get dropped off at the door like royalty ;)

Its dazzling towers and lookout points around the wall provide the opportunity to see the panoramic view of the Moselle River valley below. This view cannot be missed, especially during the stunning fall season. Bask in the captivating colors as you wander the cobblestoned pathways and learn the amazing history of those who once roamed those very paths!

Reichsburg view of inner courtyardA view like this is worth the drive.

Just one more pic to show off it's incredible presence ...

Schloss Johannisburg / Johannisburg Palace

Distance from Frankfurt: 40 miles (63 kilometers)

Travel by car: 1 hour

Travel by transit (bus): 1 hour 40 minutes

This unique palace is hard to miss, especially with those remarkable towers!

The palace, which dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries, stands tall and bright in color, right on the edge of the River Main. Johannisburg is one of the top palaces on the 'must see' list.

It served as a lovely home for the archbishops, not as a fortress used for battle. Roosting on the terrace over the relaxing water makes for the perfect day trip opportunity. Boat rides are offered along the Main and will take you for a romantic ride past the castle.

Johannisburg waterfront view of the riverWhat a color! Certainly a standout castle!

Or, get a full view of the palace architecture with a lovely bike ride around on the paved paths. These walking and biking paths run from the palace all the way down along the water's edge. The palace gardens are also something to rave about. Take a bit of time before going inside to stroll through the grounds and gardens and enjoy some nature.


Johannisburg was built out of pure red sandstone and almost shaped in a perfectly symmetrical square. Its unique design and mesmerizing beauty attract visitors from all over Germany and the world.

Its standout Renaissance architecture is what sets it apart from the others. While it was popular in its time to build with red sandstone, it's not often seen in castles and palaces anymore. Many built in the later centuries are revamped with different materials.

Johannesburg pink stone color closeup!I mean, how bright and dashing is that? Remarkable architecture

Take a guided or self-guided tour and step into the past. Inside, many collections display fine artworks and art from local artisans. The palace complex has four wings decorated in an elegant neoclassical style. From the furnishings, to the flooring and paintings, this palace really takes you on a journey through the past. The coolest part? Inside one of the collections, you can find models of famous structures, like the Roman Colosseum, made entirely of cork! Check out the intricate details!

A relaxing boat ride, a romantic stroll through castle gardens, and a sandstone palace full of rich antiquities? Now that makes for an awesome day trip.

Time to start planning! But wait. Is it your first time trying to plan and get the most out of your castle visit?

Have a look at our travel tips to make your travels a little easier.

~ Travel tip ~ 

There's no better place to start than contacting a tour guide! Start by finding a reputable guide that offers tours of the right castles that piqued your interest. Perhaps some beauties on this list? There's a castle out there for everybody!

Don't be afraid to ask them any questions you may have about the history, surrounding area, architecture, or anything out of curiosity. Guides are always willing to answer to the best of their abilities and give an incredible experience in the castle.

It's time to add Frankfurt to the bucket list! See these extravagant castles, palaces, and fortresses standing mighty and beautiful right in front of your eyes. There's only so much that can be said about a place online before one wants to dive through the screen and be in that very destination. Frankfurt's nearby castles are no exception.

What is Frankfurt known for?

Frankfurt is known for having the biggest airport in Germany! It even has its own mall.

When is the best time to go to Frankfurt for castle touring?

The best time to go to Frankfurt for castle touring is in the heart of summer. A comfortable warmth, but not too hot.