“You’re moving to Frankfurt? Aw, poor you..” A Cyclists’ Guide to Frankfurt am Main and beyond.
An exclusive playground for bankers, high-rises and boredom? I don’t think so. Try again: cake, white wine, pork chops, beer, and cycling − lots of cycling
Tell someone you’re moving to Frankfurt and you’ll probably be met with the same well-meaning response: “aw, poor you.” To be honest, I felt the same skepticism before moving there. But after having lived, worked and cycled in so many places across the globe, I can proudly confirm that Frankfurt’’s charm far outweighs its reputation, and its offerings are far more substantial than many are initially led to believe.
It is a little-known fact that some of the oldest Riesling vineyards in Germany are located just 40 km from Frankfurt. The area known as the Rheingau starts to the west of Frankfurt and stretches along the River Rhine from Wiesbaden to Lorch. In terms of cycling terrain, it’s ideal as it offers flat sections along the river with steep climbs that take you up and onto the rolling fields.
I’d suggest catching a 40-minute train to Wiesbaden or any of the villages further along the line like Eltville or Rüdesheim. Bikes can travel for free and your own ticket will only cost around € 9. Another option is to load your bike into the car and you7rsquolll find plenty of climbing, wineries and beautiful views beyond Wiesbaden within about 40 minutes.
There is a route starting from Frankfurt that heads over the flats that I described in the first part of the ASSOS guide to Frankfurt. This route is also the most direct way to Wiesbaden (see ride file ‘The Wine No1’). However, sometimes it’s worth relying on your car or the train for this early part of the journey so that you’re fresh when you hit the climbs and retain some energy for those pit-stops at ancient monasteries and vineyards.
The three routes going westwards from Wiesbaden are all linked in order to create various combinations. The smallest loop starts with a climb up a roughly paved route in the forest (see ride file ‘The Wine No2’). The vineyards and forest areas are also the perfect terrain for your cyclo-cross bike, which allows you to venture directly along some of the vineyard paths. Don’t worry though; there are plenty of tarmac paths for road bikes too.
The Schloss Johannisberg and Schloss Vollrads vineyards are two must−visit locations while out riding, as they are the oldest and second oldest Riesling wineries in the world. Schloss Johannisberg has an excellent restaurant with a terrace that’s perfect for summer, and a conservatory that’s lovely for admiring the views in winter. One of the larger former monasteries is Kloster Eberbach, which you’ll find towards the top of the sloping vineyards and it serves delicious, traditional German cuisine.
With so many boats crossing the Rhine, there7rsquo;s no reason not to take in the steep climbs on the opposite side of the river. Not far from the famous Lorelei castles, you’ll find the Günderodehaus Filmhaus with stunning views over the Rhine and some of the best kaffee und kuchen around. The 18th-century villages with little railways look like they’re straight out of a Märklin model landscape.
The big and medium loops head through the scenic Wispertal. (see ride files ‘The Wine No.2 / No.3’) Keep your eyes peeled for castle ruins as well as the hidden Haus Rheinberg and neighbouring Alte Villa Wispertal. Insider tip: this place has excellent cakes but it is only open on Sundays.
The City of Frankfurt am Main is a fairly small place compared to some cities. But despite its small proportions and population, it is one of the few cities in Europe that has a decent tower block skyline (using the word skyscrapers would be overdone…).
The best thing about living in FfM it that it is compact, connected, close to nature and has a very high quality of life. And if that’s not enough, I should probably mention it has a major international airport that’s only a 15-minute taxi ride away.
ASSOS is opening its store in the heart of the city next to the Alte Oper. This place is steeped in history, boasting the largest number of museums in any city in Germany. Its name hails from the Franconians, who built a fort to protect this place. Goethe was also born here, so if you want versing on coffee and cake go to Café Optiz which is next to his birthplace. It’s also where you’ll find the only record store selling CDs that I can think of. The River Main stretches all the way into Bamberg in Bavaria (a highly disputed geographical topic...) before going even further east.
Although it’s known for finance (home to the Deutsche and European Central bank headquarters), the place is actually very low key. For the best views of its skyline, I’d suggest heading to Main Cafe (my favorite watering hole from spring till autumn) or riding to the Camberger Strasse railway bridge. If you’ve got time to kill at Main Café I recommend downloading a flight tracker app; you will be surprised at how busy the sky really is.
Besides picking your favorite “Trinkhalle”, going for a piece of real German Kuchen is a must. Just a stone’s throw from the new ASSOS store is Café Laumer, where it doesn’t get any more traditional or better than this.
The local poison is Apfelwein. For more substantial offerings aside from the notorious green sauce dish or Handkäse for your main dish, you’ve got to try Frankfurt’s Ribschen (pork chop) which comes in two versions: boiled or grilled. Pure protein.
Frankfurt is located at one of the busiest intersections of the German Autobahn infrastructure. But that doesn’t mean there are speed limits. Drive for an hour and you’ll get really far − think about these insider tips when picking your rides: Make your way to Ashaffenburg by car for a ride through Löwenstein’scher Park. If you’re starting from FfM, ride to the dam buster’s Edersee near Kassel in the north for a serious day out. Train connections will get you back to FfM for very reasonable prices.
If you still aren’t convinced, just check out the heat map on Strava for the Frankfurt area. And that’s without giving an insight to the area south of Frankfurt with the even more oxymoronic Darmstadt. With a respectable nod to the Odenwald, any cyclist can get lost in these empty roads and rolling hills all the way to Heidelberg or − if you’re think big, what’s stopping you heading to the Swiss Alps?