If you’re thinking about Frankfurt, you are likely thinking about skyscrapers and its big, international airport. Maybe you’re even thinking about its Old Town and its half-timbered houses, or Frankfurt delicacies like Apfelwein (a wine made from apples).
But did you know that close to Frankfurt, you can find forests and mountains? And did you ever hear about the traditional villages and castles nearby? Frankfurt might not come to your mind as a great hiking destination, but you can find some excellent trails in its surroundings.
One of those nearby walks is the Three Castle Hike, which you can easily do on a day trip from Frankfurt. It will allow you to see three castles in one day, explore the forests around Frankfurt and discover some of the cutest towns nearby.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about this hike.
The Three Castle Hike near Frankfurt
Where is the Three Castle Hike?
You can find the Three Castle Hike (called 3BurgenWeg in German) in the Taunus area, north of Frankfurt. Start in Kronberg, where you can visit your first castle, and then follow the trail through the forest.
The trek loops through the area and then ends up in Kronberg again, from where you can easily get back to Frankfurt.
In total, you will be hiking for 11 kilometres. While that doesn’t sound like much, we recommend that you expect to spend at least five to six hours. After all, you want to visit the castles along the way and enjoy the scenery without rushing through.
Try to arrive in Kronberg before noon, but ideally earlier, so you have the whole day at your disposal.
So how do you get to Kronberg? Take the S4 from the city centre and stay inside until the last stop. The S4 leaves from Hauptwache, Taunusanlage or the main station, all conveniently located in central Frankfurt. From here, it takes less than half an hour to reach Kronberg.
Detailed description of the hike
To make it easier for you to hike, we have put together a map with the trail. Google Maps doesn’t show all of the hiking trails, which is why it sometimes looks as if you’re going to walk through the forest randomly. But don’t worry. You will see signs along the way that will guide you, clearly marked with “3BurgenWeg”.
You can find Kronberg on the bottom right corner of the map, so that is where you’ll start your hike.
Part 1 – Kronberg and Kronberg Castle
Before you get started on the hike, take a moment to explore Kronberg. If you associate Germany with half-timbered houses, then you’re going to love this town. Kronberg survived the war quite well, which means that you can find lots of old buildings here.Do you want to see more traditional German architecture? Then don’t miss
After exploring the Old Town, head to the castle. Kronberg is home to two castles, Burg Kronberg and Schloss Kronberg. The latter is a palace hotel, so skip that one and explore Burg Kronberg instead. The castle dates back to the 12th century and stands on a hill. From up here, you have a great view of Kronberg and the valley below. On clear days, you can even see Burg Falkenstein, which is where you will be heading next.
While visiting the castle, don’t miss the gardens and the small forest behind the castle. You can take a quick walk in between the old trees, and with a bit of luck, you might even discover some forest animals.
Part 2 – Kronberg to Burg Falkenstein
From Kronberg, you now need to follow the trail to Burg Falkenstein. As we already said, you can find signs along the way, so you don’t get lost.
Shortly after we moved to Frankfurt, my boss told me that Kronberg was “where the rich people live”. Now, I don’t know how much money the inhabitants of Kronberg have, but you can definitely see some nice houses along the way.
The first part of the hike takes you through the town’s suburbs before you go into the forest. You’ll reach a small pavilion called “Viktoriatempel” along the way, which is a great stop for a short break. You’ll also walk past the old Jewish cemetery of Kronberg, before arriving in Falkenstein.
After crossing the cemetery of Falkenstein, don’t go into the village yet. Instead, turn left into the forest. Here, you can reach a viewpoint from where you can catch the first glance of Falkenstein Castle.
You need to cross the village to get to the castle. The climb up on the other side is steep but totally worth it for the views.
Even though the Falkenstein castle is not as old as Kronberg Castle (it dates back to the 14th century), it is in a much worse shape. Today, you can only see the outer walls and one of the towers. Nevertheless, these ruins are worth visiting as you have a fantastic view of Frankfurt’s skyline from here. On clear days, you will see the skyscrapers of the banking district rise at the horizon.If you want to see the highlights of Frankfurt, including the skyscrapers, we recommend going on a
From the 1400s on, by the way, Falkenstein Castle was home to a group of robber barons, who would conduct robberies from here. With its location on top of the hill, the castle was the perfect place from where they could plan their crimes!
Part 3 – Falkenstein Castle to Königstein
You can enjoy lots of great views in the whole area, and as you cross the forest to get to Königstein, you will come past another viewpoint called Hildablick.
Enjoy the view before starting your descent towards Königstein. This town is worth visiting not just for its castle but also for its cute Old Town. Just like in Kronberg, you can find lots of half-timbered houses here.
If you need a break, this is the perfect location. In Königstein, you can choose between multiple restaurants and cafes, where you can sit down and enjoy a drink and a snack.
After refreshing yourself, climb up to Königstein Castle. You will need to pay a small entrance fee to get into the castle, but it is well worth it.
Königstein Castle is not as well preserved as the one in Kronberg, but it is in a better shape than Falkenstein Castle. You can well recognise the shape of the former castle, its outer walls and the buildings inside.
The castle itself likely dates back to the 12th century, although researchers have found traces of an earlier settlement from the 10th century. It played a significant role in the 14th century when its owners protected the trade routes between Cologne and Frankfurt.
Eventually, the castle fell into disrepair. But it wasn’t the wars or an attempt at blowing it up that damaged the castle most. No, the citizens of Königstein were responsible, as they stole stones in the 1700s to get building materials for their own houses. That means that some of the oldest houses you walked past earlier were built with rocks from the castle!
After visiting the castle, don’t walk back the same way you came from. We recommend that you go through the Kurpark instead, a beautiful park just next to the castle.
Part 4 – Königstein to Kronberg
It’s time to leave Königstein behind and go back to Kronberg. You need to follow the main road for a short while until you turn right into the forest.
The path takes you past the Opel Zoo, one of the biggest zoos in the area. If you have enough time, you could go inside for a visit. You can also find a fantastic steak restaurant here. The prices might be steep, but it is a great place to visit on special occasions.
The zoo, by the way, also offers guided tours. I once did one with my colleagues from work and really enjoyed it, as our guide was extremely knowledgeable about the animals.
Following the path outside the zoo, you will eventually get back to Kronberg, where you started from. If you didn’t take a break in Königstein, you now have time to sit down in a cafe and enjoy a drink. Otherwise, you can catch an S-Bahn back to Frankfurt from here.
What to take on the Three Castle Hike
As the Three Castle Hike takes you through multiple towns and across well-maintained paths, you don’t need any special equipment. We recommend taking comfortable walking shoes (if you have hiking boots, great, otherwise, trainers are fine). You should also pack enough water and a few snacks.
You can find signs along the way that will guide you. Nevertheless, we recommend downloading a map of the area, so you don’t get lost. We’ve integrated a map further up, which you can download or take a screenshot of before leaving. We also love maps.me if we go somewhere where we’re not sure we have cell phone reception.Besides maps.me, we have lots more recommendations for
When to go
While you can do this hike at any time of the year, the best time is from spring to autumn.
In winter, you can expect rain or even snow, which makes the paths slippery. Plus, the trees will be without leaves so that the scenery won’t be as nice. Therefore, we highly recommend avoiding this season if you can.
Late spring and early autumn are ideal, as you can expect warm weather. That way, you can feel comfortable throughout the hike. Summer is a hit or miss. Some days are perfect for outdoor activities, while others will be so hot that you’re better off visiting a museum with air-conditioning or looking for a pool.
We hope we could inspire you to leave Frankfurt and explore the nearby area. You can find lots of fantastic places to visit in the Taunus area, but this hike is what we recommend if you want to see the highlights in one day.
If you’re visiting Frankfurt, we have many more resources that will help you plan your trip. As we live here, we have done all the research for you, and we’re always happy to answer your questions. So check out the following articles:
- The best things to do in Frankfurt
- How to spend one day in Frankfurt
- Go on a self-guided walking tour of Frankfurt
- Visit Bad Homburg, a cute spa town just next to Frankfurt
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