ICE Train Excursions from FRA to Limburg, Cologne (Köln), and Heidelberg
Inter-City-Express (ICE) trains allow transit passengers with long stopovers at Frankfurt International Airport (FRA), Germany, to visit Limburg, Cologne (Köln), and Heidelberg on day trips.
Transit passengers on short stop-overs at Frankfurt International Airport (FRA), usually head for Frankfurt am Main downtown, Mainz, or Wiesbaden. However, fast long-distance and Intercity-Express (ICE) trains allow passengers with longer stopovers to visit Limburg, Cologne (Köln), and Heidelberg. Many ICE trains stop directly at Frankfurt Airport making detours via the Hauptbahnhof unnecessary.
Check Deutsche Bahn train times and buy tickets online from German Railways to save time. Tickets bought online or from vending machines are around €2 cheaper than at ticket windows. Tickets are no longer sold on trains.
ICE Trains at Frankfurt International Airport (FRA)
Two railway stations are located directly at Frankfurt Airport: the Regionalbahnhof for regional and S-Bahn trains is the closer to the terminal while long-distance trains such as the Intercity-Express (ICE) depart from the adjacent Fernbahnhof.
By ICE Train from Frankfurt Airport to Cologne / Köln
For well over a thousand years, Cologne was the largest city in Germany. It lost that position at the end of the nineteenth century to Berlin and several other cities are now more populous. Cologne suffered severe damage during the Second World War but is still a very interesting city to visit even on a fast day trip from Frankfurt Airport.
The best-known site in Cologne is the huge Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral), the largest Gothic church in the world. It is conveniently located right next to the Hauptbahnhof (Main Train Station). It took 600 years to complete the Cologne Cathedral but in the end it was worth the effort. The art-filled interior is the third largest church in the world while the massive High Gothic western façade is the largest bar none.
Cologne has a further 12 Romanesque churches. Numerous museums ranging from Roman and local history to chocolate production and excellent art add to this city’s appeal. Lastly, there is Kölsch – the famously refreshing locally brewed beer served in small 200-ml (6.8-oz) glasses.
- Up to three ICE trains per hour connect Frankfurt Airport and Cologne / Köln Hauptbahnhof in just less than an hour. (The occasional train taking more than two hours goes through the Rhine Valley, worth doing at least one way, if time allows.)
By Train from Frankfurt Airport (FRA) to Limburg an der Lahn
Limburg an der Lahn is a great excursion for transit passengers looking for a romantic old town experience.
Limburg has one of the best-preserved medieval-look old town centers in Germany. Half-timbered houses abound in the narrow and steep streets of this historic old town. The cathedral (Dom) on the hill is in its authentic 13th-century colors inside and out. A castle, medieval bridge, and romantic cafés and restaurants enhance the pleasant ensemble.
By ICE train, Limburg is a mere 20 minutes from Frankfurt Airport’s Fernbahnhof. ICE trains stop at Limburg-Süd station – a 5-minute bus ride from the old town. Double check schedules – not all ICE trains to Cologne (Köln) stop at Limburg and waiting times for the bus can easily add an additional half an hour or more to the travel time. Taxis do the 5-minute run to the old town for around €15 – if no taxis are waiting at Limburg-Süd, dial the Taxi Zentrale 06431/3000.
Limburg can be reached cheaper on local trains via Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof or Wiesbaden but the excursion then requires 90 minutes to two hours traveling time in each direction. Local trains stop at Limburg (Lahn) station right next to the old town.
- See also Transportation to Limburg an der Lahn for more details on getting to Limburg fast and cheap.
Frankfurt Airport to Heidelberg
The university town Heidelberg is one of Germany’s most popular destinations with foreign tourists. As famous as the university is the Heidelberg castle ruins that tower over the old town and Neckar River. Heidelberg’s old town shows a remarkable conformity of style – during the late 17th-century, the French destroyed Heidelberg three times and the city rebuilt Baroque rather than medieval.
- Heidelberg can be reached frequently in less than an hour from Frankfurt Airport – take an ICE to Mannheim change there to a local S-Bahn train. Local trains via Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof are cheaper but need more than 90 minutes from Frankfurt Airport to Heidelberg. Heidelberg can also be reached on the Lufhansa Airport shuttle bus.
Online German Railways Schedules
German Railways (Deutsche Bahn (DB)) schedules can be checked online in English while tickets for long-distance trains may also be bought and print at home. Use the abbreviation FRA as departure station for Frankfurt Airport, F for Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, and K for Cologne. Note that Limburg (Lahn) station is in Limburg but used by local trains while Limburg (Süd) is used by ICE trains and outside the town.
German train tickets are cheaper if bought online or from platform vending machines (English available). Buy train tickets before boarding or risk huge surcharges or on many trains outright fines.
On shorter stopovers, Frankfurt am Main downtown, Mainz, and Wiesbaden are within minutes from Frankfurt Airport on cheap, local trains. These cities have great museums, pedestrian zones in the old town, parks, monuments, shops, restaurants, and cafés far more interesting than whiling away the hours at the airport.