Are you in Frankfurt and have an extra day? After you explored the city, we recommend you to go on a day trip. One of the towns nearby that we love is Bad Homburg. You can easily spend 1 day in Bad Homburg without getting bored, strolling through the gardens and exploring the castle.
We lived in Frankfurt for two years before we finally visited Bad Homburg for the first time and I regret that we didn’t go earlier. It’s the perfect day trip! Back at the beginning of the 20th century, this spa town attracted visitors from all over the world. The Thai King loved the gardens so much that he gifted two pavilions to Bad Homburg!
These days, you’ll mostly run into local tourists. As we found little information in English about this beautiful town, here are the best things to do in Bad Homburg on your day trip:
1 day in Bad Homburg itinerary
Start your day by walking along Dorotheenstraße (Dorotheen Street). While Dorotheenstraße isn’t Bad Homburg’s main street, you can find a few historical buildings here that are worth checking out.
Start at the Eastern end of the street and walk until you reach house number 36, also known as the Hölderlinhaus. The German poet Friedrich Hölderlin lived here for two years back in the 18th century. Today, it houses an apartment that the city of Bad Homburg gives out for free to researchers who want to study Hölderlin and his works.
Further down the road, you will come past three churches. The first one is called Marienkirche (St. Mary’s Church). The altars inside are supposed to be worth seeing. Unfortunately, when we went, the church was closed for visitors. But if you have the chance, go inside and let us know how you like it.
The second church is not very recognisable as a church. Back in the 17th century, the landgrave of the region invited French Huguenots to come and live in Bad Homburg. They followed his invitation and settled down in Dorotheenstraße, where they soon built their own church – the Jakobskirche (St Jacob’s Church). The Huguenots used that church for a few decades, but as they quickly integrated into the local community, they soon stopped going there.
Eventually, the church turned into a gym. Not what we would have expected from a church, but it’s undoubtedly a unique outcome.
#2 Church of the Redeemer
At the end of Dorotheenstraße, you will find the Church of the Redeemer. St Mary’s Church is beautiful, but I found the Church of the Redeemer even more impressive. Take a look inside. Some people have compared this church with the Hagia Sophia, due to the marble ceiling and the golden mosaics. We’ll leave it up to you to decide if this comparison holds true.
Check out the cross at the altar. The empress Auguste Viktoria originally wanted to send it to the Church of the Redeemer in Israel, but then decided to leave it in Bad Homburg instead.
#3 Landgraves’ Castle
Next to the Church of the Redeemer, you can find an entrance to the Landgraves’ Castle Park. From here, you can go straight through into the castle.
We recommend you turn right before doing so, to take a look at the Orangerie. Would you have expected that many citrus trees in Germany? We also loved the succulents and the view into the different greenhouses.
After you’ve enjoyed this part of the gardens, you should go into the castle. You will need to join a tour, which is unfortunately only available in German (unless you’re visiting with more than ten people, in which case you can reserve an English tour ahead). But it is still a great way of seeing the rooms inside the castle. You can also climb to the top of the White Tower, from where you have a fantastic view.
Did you know that the Landgraves of Bad Homburg built the castle, but the German emperors later turned it into their summer residence? Emperor Wilhelm II loved coming here with his family.
#4 Landgraves’ Castle Park
From the Castle courtyard, you can already see the Castle Park. After having explored the castle, you should walk down into the gardens. This is a great place to go for a stroll. We especially loved the lake. If you walk around it, you have a beautiful view of the castle from below.
The garden was first mentioned in the 15th century, although we’re sure that it looked very different back then. Today, it resembles an English landscaped garden.
Make sure not to miss the orchards, which you can find at the very back of the garden.
Hexenturm translates to Witch Tower, even though this tower has nothing to do with witches or any kind of magic. Its original name was Hessenturm (Tower of Hesse), but it eventually changed into the name it has today.
Walk up here to enjoy your view of the Old Town. From the bridge, you can already see some traditional German architecture. We suggest that you go down and then head north to enjoy some of the traditional architecture.
#6 Haus der Altstadt and the Old Town
On your way to the “House of the Old Town”, you will come past some of the oldest buildings in Bad Homburg. One of them, at the address of Rind’sche Stiftsstraße 16, even dates back to 1505.
Over the next centuries, visitors to Bad Homburg focused on the “New Town” and the spas, and the Old Town fell into disrepair. The government had to buy many of the ancient houses as the owners moved away and could not keep up with the renovation costs. This went so far that, in the 1960s, the government suggested bulldozing all of those half-timbered houses to create space for new apartment buildings.
That was when the inhabitants of Bad Homburg started protesting – and won. After massive renovation efforts, which lasted until 2005, you can now enjoy walking through this charming neighbourhood of Bad Homburg.
After enjoying the Old Town, go to Louisenstraße (Louisen street) and enjoy the pedestrian zone. This street is the heart of the New Town, which we already mentioned above, and you will find some baroque houses along the way. Louisenstraße is also a great place to grab a bite to eat. Enjoy an ice cream or sit down in one of the many cafes and restaurants.
We found two buildings worth mentioning. The first one is the Marktlauben, that beautiful half-timbered house at the market square. The market used to take place in the streets, which, as traffic grew, became more and more inconvenient. That’s why the city created a new market square, the one you can see today. They also decided that the market should take place in a building with open arcades. As you can see, not much remains of that open style today. Eventually, shops moved in and closed the front of the building.
The second building you should check out is the former post office. It is the only building in the area that survived a bomb attack during WW II, and it shows. While you can now find the post office in a different location, this building is still beautiful.
Your last stop today is the Kurpark, which translates to spa park. As we already mentioned, Bad Homburg is a spa town, which was very popular at the beginning of the 20th century. The park is big, and you can spend a long time strolling around the gardens, which is why we have identified a few highlights that you should check out.
The Thai Salas
We were fascinated by those Thai salas. If you look at our photos, it’s hard to believe that we took them in the middle of Germany. King Chulalongkorn of Siam gifted one of them to Bad Homburg when he came for a visit in 1907. The second Thai sala arrived precisely a hundred years later, in 2007, as a gift from King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit.
This building got its name from Emperor Wilhelm I, and even though it used to be a public spa even back then, the emperor had his own private bathing area in here. These days, it houses the Kur Royal Spa. If you only have one day, you won’t have enough time to enjoy bathing and sweating in saunas. But if you have more time, you should consider coming back for a day full of wellness and relaxation.
You can find many fountains and wells in this park, but the Elisabethenbrunnen is the biggest and most beautiful one we came across. Bad Homburg became famous thanks to the water of this well. A German chemist even went so far as to say: “It would be hard to find a mineral water in Germany with the same richness of active ingredients as the Elisabethenbrunnen in Homburg.” On top of this well, you can see a temple with the statue of the Greek goddess of Health, Hygeia.
Make sure to visit this beautiful Russian orthodox church before leaving the park. When Bad Homburg became more and more popular with Russians in the late 1800s, a Russian privy councillor convinced the mayor of Bad Homburg to build an Orthodox church here. Unfortunately, the church was closed when we visited, but we imagine that it’s as beautiful on the inside as on the outside.
Getting to Bad Homburg
You can quickly get to Bad Homburg by train from Frankfurt. Take the train S5 from Konstablerwache or Hauptbahnhof and get off at the stop “Bad Homburg v.d.H. Bahnhof”. Trains come fairly regularly, but you can also check the schedule online.
If you’re coming from the airport, you need to get to Frankfurt central station first. Take the S8 or S9 and change to the S5 at the central station.
Bad Homburg is small enough that you can walk everywhere. Also, walking will allow you to take in the whole town and enjoy its atmosphere properly.
When to visit Bad Homburg
You can enjoy Bad Homburg at any time of the year. We recommend coming in shoulder season, late spring or early autumn, to enjoy the park without all the crowds you can encounter in summer. But even if you’re in Germany in winter, Bad Homburg is worth a visit. If you come in December, you will find a Christmas market in the castle courtyard which you shouldn’t miss.
As you can see, Bad Homburg has a lot to offer and is worth a day trip from Frankfurt. As it is so well connected by public transport, you could even consider basing yourself in one of the hotels here while exploring the region.
Have you been here? Leave us a comment. We’d love to hear from you!
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