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!     


Ernst May architecture and a lovely day out

The ernst-may-haus

Within the Frankfurt travel zone a little north of Frankfurt is an area known as Römerstadt (take U-bahn U1 or U9 to Römerstadt). Today, it is known as a 1920's housing project conceived and planned by Ernst May. Centuries ago, it was a an area of Roman activity. With an original 'ernst-may-haus' to visit and offering some beautiful countryside along the path of the river Nidda, the Römerstadt makes for a great day out. It's also accessible via several cycle routes. (I've added notes below)

First port of call is the ernst-may-haus (Im Burgfeld 136), run and maintained by the Ernst May Society. Directions to the house are well signposted from the Römerstadt U-bahn station. The ernst-may-haus is a sample house which re-creates the original interior and features of Ernst May's concepts and has a very informative video, in English, about his ideas and planning for the New Frankfurt, as it was called. Other exhibits are in German however, one can still enjoy the aesthetics and ideas which went into creating this 1920's home. In the house is an original kitchen, designed by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, a bathroom, a cellar and bedrooms. Rooms are decorated in the original colours from 1928 to give authenticity to Ernst May's vision.

Once you leave the ernst-may-haus, you'll notice how the housing on every street conforms to the Ernst May principles, front lawns, back gardens, flat roofs and long terraces of identical buildings. Next you'll notice the amazing amount of greenery and nature incorporated into this residential project.

Nearby walks

My recommendation is that after you have visited the mayhaus, you walk back along the street, Im Burgfeld, towards the U-bahn, but instead of going into the station keep walking down the street (Hadrianstraße). Eventually, on the left you'll reach a road called "An der Ringmauer", walk beyond this street and take the next left which is a pathway leading you around the back of the housing and along the Schrebergartens. (Schrebergartens are small allotment gardens) The individuality of the Schrebergartens themselves are are pretty sight in the summer and the other unavoidable view are the imposing boundary walls, to the left as you walk, jutting out like battlements. Walk up upon one and capture some great Frankfurt skyline views.Find a path that takes you through the Schrebergartens and to the banks of the river Nidda. Suddenly you are transported away from housing and into the heart of the country-side with large green vistas and nature all around. Head toward the small bridge signposted as, "Am Bubeloch" and enjoy the views. For a pleasant walk, cross the bridge and walk down stream, in under 2km you reach another bridge where you can cross over, explore Steinbech (a small water inlet) and then walk back up towards Römerstadt. An alternative walk from "Am Bubeloch" is not to cross the bridge but to follow the bank of the river Nidda upstream for 3.5km and you will reach the old Bonames airfield which is today a nature reserve and has the excellent Tower Cafe, serving lunches and home-made cakes. (From The Tower Cafe it is possible to walk into town and catch the U2 or U9 trains at the Kalbach station.)

To incorporate a walk along the river, on route back to Frankfurt, turn left at Am Bubeloch and follow the river path upstream. The path will eventually take you up onto a road bridge. Turn right onto the bridge and cross the Nidda river. Turn right onto Niedwiesenstraße and then left onto Am Brückengarten. Turn left at the T-junction, at the end of Am Brückengarten, and you'll see some steps leading up. Follow the steps up and you'll find yourself on a busy road (Am Weißen Stein). Turn left and you'll see the S-bahn station Eschersheim. Turn right and follow the road down toward the U-bahn stop called Weißer Stein. This stop is served by the U1, U2, U3 and U8 trams. For a treat head to the Lido ice cream cafe, just behind the U-bahn stop. They make the ice cream on-site and the quality is top notch.

For cyclists

The cycle along the Nidda river, from Frankfurt heading north east is lovely. There is a small bridge at Am Bubeloch allowing you to cross over into Römerstadt where upon the Schrebergartens and Ernst May housing is directly ahead of you. Turn left at Am Bubeloch and follow the Nidda downstream and under the road bridge. The ernst-may-haus is across the fields heading north away from the river. After visiting Römerstadt head back to the river turn left and follow the Nidda upstream to Bonames and it's old airfield to rest and grab a bite to eat at the fabulous Tower Cafe.

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.

What to do on a Sunday - visit Schwanheim

Updated 21.042018

Schwanheim is a small Frankfurt suburb, easily reached travelling on the number 12 tram or by taking the number 51 or 62 bus. The town is included within the Frankfurt transportation zone so travelcards are valid, or a single ticket costs 2,90€. Schwanheim might be small but it has plenty of family attractions for a day out. As you alight from the tram, the first thing you will notice is the VGF Transport museum at the tram stop, open on Sundays from 10:00 until 17:00. It houses a variety of old time trams and vehicles, old signalling equipment and ticketing machines and is a great place for enthusiasts and children.

Entrance to the Transport Museum in Schwanheim next to the no. 12 tram stop. (Photo copyright © 2016 by Anne Noble)

Entrance to the Transport Museum in Schwanheim next to the no. 12 tram stop. (Photo copyright © 2016 by Anne Noble)

Almost next door to the VGF museum is the Kobelt Zoo, *season opening 1st May 2018 it's a small petting zoo with free entry and open at the weekends (and public holidays) for the summer season until 30th September. Walk around the corner from the VGF museum onto Schwanheimer Bahnstraße and the zoo is on your left. Opening times are Saturdays from 14:00 until 19:00 and Sunday from 10:00 until 19:00. The zoo houses a few donkey's, rabbits, snakes and goats, to name but a few species,  and it's small and accessible. They have a cafe selling refreshments and cakes in case you are in need of a break. The zoo is dependent on donations so give generously on your way out as I'm sure you'll be impressed by the variety of animals and birds to see and the charming, relaxed setting.

REfreshments at the Kobelt Zoo.  (Photo copyright © 2016 by Anne Noble)

REfreshments at the Kobelt Zoo.  (Photo copyright © 2016 by Anne Noble)

After visiting the zoo another local venue within a 5 minute walk is the Heimatmuseum, located at Alt Schwanheim 6. Normal opening hours are 14:00 to 16:00 on Sundays and entry is free. Information throughout the museum is written in German but it houses many interesting artefacts and there is plenty to see and enjoy given Schwanheim's rich history since 880, when the town was first officially recorded. 

Entrance to the Heimatmuseum, Alt Schwanheim 6. (Photo copyright © 2016 by Anne Noble)

Entrance to the Heimatmuseum, Alt Schwanheim 6. (Photo copyright © 2016 by Anne Noble)

When heading back to the tram after your day out don't miss out on an ice-cream from Eissalon Riviera, located at Alt Schwanheim 40. Either pick up an ice-cream to take away or sit down and relax whilst tucking into an ice-cream sundae. Family run, this ice-cream cafe is renown as one of the best in Frankfurt.

Eissalon Riviera, Alt schwanheim 40. (Photo copyright © 2016 by Anne Noble)

Eissalon Riviera, Alt schwanheim 40. (Photo copyright © 2016 by Anne Noble)

Another attraction in Schwanheim for the kids is the Waldspielpark, the Forest Playground. With water features, table tennis tables and mini golf it's an ideal way for kids to let off steam. The entrance is on Schwanheimer Bahnstraße, almost opposite the Kobalt Zoo entrance.

Special note for cyclists

It's a pleasant cycle ride from Frankfurt to Schwanheim. Simply follow the path along the southern bank of the River Main. When you reach the huge locks on the river, you are not far from Schwanheim town centre. Go beyond the locks and to the left you will see a collection of Schrebegartens (garden plots) and a sign proudly announcing "Zum Nussbaum", follow the path and you'll be at a classic Hessiche restaurant. Run by Polish nationals, the restaurant serves a delightful mix of traditional German and Polish fare. After refreshment at Zum Nussbaum, carry on heading west along the river path and within 300 metres you will see a bridge to the left which will take you up and over the busy road and into the heart of Schwanheim.          

Path along the River Main, close to "Zum NussBaum" (Photo copyright © 2016 by Anne Noble)

Path along the River Main, close to "Zum NussBaum" (Photo copyright © 2016 by Anne Noble)