Cycle along the Nidda river

The Nidda river originates to the east in Vogelsberg and runs downstream to joins the River Main at Frankfurt-Höchst. The river arcs around the north of Frankfurt and has an excellent cycle path offering a gentle, almost no gradient, cycle ride with lots of varied and interesting sights along the way.

The cycle path is accessible from many points around Frankfurt, and you can cycle along the river bank for as far, or as little, as you like. One option is to cycle in one direction and travel back on the S-bahn train. S-bahn stops along the way: Bad Vilbel, Frankfurt-Berkersheim, Frankfurt-Eschersheim, Frankfurt-Rödelheim, Frankfurt-Nied and Frankfurt-Höchst.

From Höchst to Bad Vibel (about 23km)

Whether you start or finish your cycle ride in Höchst, the old town is worth a look around. The old castle is impossible to miss and at the heart of the pretty medieval town square. However, the cycle path is on the Schwanheim side of the river, so you will need to catch the small ferry boat (approx. 1€ fare) to cross over to the Höchst side.

Heading upstream along the Nidda and on the right bank, away from Höchst, the next place you'll come across is Schwanheim. Those of you with an interest geology might want to detour to the Schwanheim dunes, an area of sandy deposits in stark contrast to the usual flora and fauna found in the these parts. Schwanheim is very small but has a local historical museum and a children's zoo open on the weekends.

Continue along the cycle path and past the Grill'sche Weg Nied, where there is a small lake and a picnic spot for grilling. Just beyond Nied you pass under the motorway bridges (which are very low, so duck down as you cycle under!) After the bridges are numerous Schrebergartens to your left, and signs and pathways pointing to various Gaststätte. All the Gaststätte offer hearty food and refreshment, Haus Biegwald, and Gaststätte für Jedermann to name but two. You'll also see a few of the gardens have bee hives and one even offers honey for sale.

Next, the path leads you through Solmspark, a park with beautiful, soaring, trees and then onto the well maintained Brentanopark. On the left bank of the river, opposite Brentanopark is the pretty Petrihaus, a former place of 'retreat' for the Brentano family and saved from demolition in 1999.

At the end of Brentanopark, the cycle path takes you onto a bridge and across to the leftbank of the river. If you stop on the bridge, you might catch sight of the coypu who populate the Nidda. The local Gaststätte at the bridge has a biergarten and terrace overlooking the river (and has Weizenbier for 3,20€). However, if Indian food is what you are craving then cycle on for another kilometre to find Restaurant Nidda, with a terrace overlooking the river and serving plates of delicious Indian cuisine.

The next section of the river offers open fields and meadows, a real feel of escaping the city but it's not long before you discover yet another urban point of interest along the Nidda - Römerstadt! On the left bank, as you continue to cycle upstream, you'll spot some more Schrebergartens and a large fortress like wall. Beyond this wall is Römerstadt, a former Roman settlement and better known today as an area of 1930's housing designed by the architect Ernst May. The Ernst May Haus is open to the public, but check opening times.

After Römerstadt, use one of the bridges to cross over to the right bank and continue on your journey. In 5km you reach the old Bonames airfield, an area of conservation. The airfield itself is on the left bank. The old runway and air traffic control tower are still there along side the excellent Tower Cafe. If you are cycling through on a Sunday morning, the Fire Engine Museum is also open from 09:30 to 12:30.

The final stretch of this cycle ride takes you back along the right river bank through bucolic scenery and onto Bad Vibel. A small town famed for it's natural water source. It has a cute little old town, a pretty park and is rightly proud of it's Burgfestspiele, an old castle converted to an outdoor concert venue. It also has a quite a few ice-cream cafes, Eiscafe Milano is one of my favourites, and after that long cycle ride you deserve a treat, right!     


Frankfurt day trips - Lohrberg by bus or bike

Lohrberg is 7km north east from Frankfurt city centre and is accessible by bus, car or bike (travel details are at the end of this post). It offers one of the best views of the Frankfurt skyline but that's not it's only attraction, Lohrberg is also renown for it's vineyard and orchard. With two cafes offering local food and refreshment lots of Frankfurters head up to Lohrberg to enjoy a relaxing day and be at one with nature. It's free to wander around the orchard which is maintained and cultivated in harmony with the local wildlife. While you wander around you are certain to stumble across chickens, bee-hives and small garden plots offering information about how different habitats benefit different animal species.

View of Frankfurt skyline from Lohrberg (Photo copyright © by Anne Noble)

View of Frankfurt skyline from Lohrberg (Photo copyright © by Anne Noble)

Having enjoyed the orchard, take time to relax with other visitors (many arriving on their bikes) at MainÄppelHaus, a small cafe selling apple juice produced from the orchard's apples. This Sunday, 18th September 2016, the MainÄppelHaus is hosting an Äpplerfest offering fun for all ages. If you have more of an appetite, head over to the Lohrberg-Schänke for a plate of traditional Frankfurt food and take in the skyline view while you eat.

Orchard at the MainÄppelHaus, Lohrberg (Photo copyright © by Anne Noble)

Orchard at the MainÄppelHaus, Lohrberg (Photo copyright © by Anne Noble)

After Lohrberg head into Bad Vilbel, a town renown for it's mineral water. It's local Hassia brand appears on many a restaurant table across Germany. The Kurpark has lots of interesting features to explore and has a map to download listing the key sites to visit. In addition there is the Milano ice-cream parlour, to be found at Niddapl. 1, 61118 Bad Vilbel

Only a couple of kilometres further on from Bad Vilbel is Dottenfelderhof, a small organic farm open from Monday to Saturday. At the farm you can visit cows, pigs and chickens and afterwards relax for coffee and home-made cake at their cafe. On-site is a small shop, full of organic produce and, depending on the time of year, you might be lucky to "pick-your-own" flowers from one of the nearby meadows.

Piglets at the Dottenfelderhof, near Frankfurt (Photo copyright © by Anne Noble)

Piglets at the Dottenfelderhof, near Frankfurt (Photo copyright © by Anne Noble)

Getting there

Cyclists from Frankfurt can enjoy a lovely cycle heading out to Lohrberg and Bad Vibel by following the Nidda river from Frankfurt in an easterly direction. The river meanders through gentle country side and a special highlight on the way is the Tower Cafe at the old Bonames airfield.

By public transport, take bus 30 to the bus stop Heiligenstock, or bus 43 to the bus stop Budge-Heim and a short walk will bring you to Lohrberg. Both journeys are included in the Frankfurt travel zone. Be aware however, that Bad Vilbel is out the travel zone and a supplement will need to be paid. 

There is a car park at Lohrberg with plenty of spaces on Friedrich-Heyer Weg.