There are Some Amazing Things to Do in Aschaffenburg, Germany!
Let’s get this out of the way first: we have NEVER put “wanderlusty” in a title before but HONESTLY, this post warrants its usage. Aschaffenburg, Germany is easily one of the most picturesque places we’ve ever visited – and we’ve been to the fabled Sighisoara, Romania! You’ll see why we used the title we did below, trust us.
We had an amazing time Aschaffenburg, Germany. The beautiful German city is full of Bavarian charm with lots of beautiful architecture, massive castle, restaurants, hotels, churches, and more! While the population of Aschaffenburg is only around 70,000, the city is a little hub where old town Germany meets modern life. You should definitely brush up on your German phrases before visiting!
Lisa was actually born and raised in the region so this visit was extra special to us. So, if you’re traveling through Germany, grab a map and forget TripAdvisor – your Aschaffenburg must-see list is right here! Oh, and if you are looking for more “hidden gems” in Germany, you can check out our posts oncastle-rich Coburg, wine-country Würzburg, thermal bath town Aachen, or medieval Bamberg!
Where is Aschaffenburg?
Aschaffenburg is a town in the northeastern part of Bavaria, at the border to Hessen, in an administrative region called Lower Franconia. In fact, it is close to Frankfurt am Main and as such it is considered part of the metropolitan region of Frankfurt/Rhine-Main. The river that runs through the city, the Main, also runs through Frankfurt, Würzburg, and touches the gorgeous city of Wiesbaden and Mainz!
How to Get to Aschaffenburg
As mentioned, Aschaffenburg is kind of close to Frankfurt am Main which makes it easy to get to and from since the public transport connections are great.
Aschaffenburg should be pretty easy to reach by train since it is a stop on many ICE routes heading north or south. As such, you should not have a problem finding either a direct connection to Aschaffenburg or taking a train to Frankfurt am Main and then taking a regional train to Aschaffenburg. The train station is conveniently located in the north end of the city centre north of the river Main.
As we generally recommend, try booking your ticket in advance if you plan on using ICE trains as otherwise it can get expensive. You can use the DB Website to plan your train journey and find a route that works for you.
It is definitely easier to reach Aschaffenburg by train than it is by bus. This is not to say that there are no long-distance buses at all but they are just not that frequent since Aschaffenburg is a smaller town.
However, we do know that there are Flixbus connections with buses stopping in Aschaffenburg. So depending on where you are coming from taking the bus can be an option. You can search for bus routes on the Flixbus website.
A Brief History Lesson of Aschaffenburg
Aschaffenburg might be a smaller town but it has a long, fascinating, and sometimes dark, history. Original settlements in the area were founded back in the Stone Age. Over the years, the Romans had a base there, as did many other groups like the Franks. The town saw a change from Gothic architecture to Renaissance in the 17th century with various royals and their families relocating to the city for its beauty.
In World War II, the town was heavily bombed by the Allied forces and extensive reconstruction had to be done on several big buildings – including the Johannisburg Palace. German forces fought hard to not lose the city in late 1945, causing even greater destruction than towns close by. More recently, Aschaffenburg was voted by its people to have the highest quality of life scores in all of Germany! People really love their town – and we can see why.
Where to Stay in Aschaffenburg
If you want to make your day trip to Aschaffenburg into an overnighter or a weekend trip, there are plenty of places to stay. The smaller hotels are scattered around the more modern pedestrian mall and the cobblestone old town areas. We passed a bunch of them and they were just a door and a small sign.
If you want to check out hotels in Aschaffenburg, you can explore hotel deals here. In fact, if you want to stay at the hotel shown in the photo, you can check out the Hotel Dalberg here! We didn’t stay there – we slept in Frankfurt in a great hostel for this trip – but staying in Aschaffenburg would have also worked!
Things to Do in Aschaffenburg
As we mentioned above, there is actually a surprising amount of things to do and see in Aschaffenburg to keep you busy for a day or two. We didn’t get a chance to see everything the city has to offer.
We did, however, cover most of the main spots and found a few gems that you should check out, too! Also, keep in mind that many of these things are in the old town but the main city has lots of shops and cafes as well!
Get Blown Away by Johannisburg Palace
If you are heading to Aschaffenburg, you might be aware that they have a giant castle! Johannisburg Palace, made of that unmistakable red sandstone, is the most significant of the Renaissance buildings in all of Germany. Built between 1605 and 1614, the palace today is open to the public as it houses various art collections, era-decorated residential rooms, and a chapel.
Oddly enough, inside the Palace you will find the world’s largest collection of architectural models made from cork. Yeah, seriously. You can find a mini cork replica of the Roman Colosseum, among other famous buildings! If you want to check it out when you are there, you can learn more about Johannisburg Palace at the official website.
Hike Through the Palace Park
Once you’re done at Johannisburg Palace, head for the river and you’ll be greeted by a variety of paths and green space. This is the Palace Park, which runs all the way to the Pompeiianum. Just being in nature was great – there are trails and bridges that criss-cross all over the place.
You can even walk on the old medieval town wall in places! We found a bridge which we loved taking photos on. The whole area is beautifully landscaped with gardens and flowers around just about every turn.
You can choose to stay along the river’s edge or you can take the high paths to head for the cute little white building. The “breakfast temple” as it’s called is a neo-classical building that is completely empty but super pretty to see. You don’t expect a little white building to pop up among the green walking trails. When you get there, the views are just fabulous.
See The Pompeiianium
As you continue walking along the river from the “breakfast temple”, you’ll find signs that point you to the Pompeiianum. You should go and check it out! The beautiful Roman villa was built for King Ludwig I in the 1840s.
The colourful building was inspired by the villas excavated in Pompeii and apparently it is the only one of its kind int he whole world! The building was badly damaged during World War II but has since been restored. Today, it houses artwork and various exhibitions.
We walked around the building – the grounds are well-kept and feature a Mediterranean-style section of a garden designed in the mid-19th century. There were many people just resting on benches in the sunshine – and since the villa is located on top of a hill the views looking back towards the centre of town are gorgeous. We got some great photos wandering around the autumn colours, flowers, small statues, and vines!
Visit the Basilica of St. Peter and Alexander
Rolling right along with historic pieces to Aschaffenburg, you’ll find the Basilica of St. Peter and Alexander located near the Rathaus. While the current church was built in the 12th and 13th centuries, the original temple on the ground was founded in the 10th – the year 982, in fact! Another fun fact: It’s the only church in the world to be dedicated to both of these saints.
We actually went inside – we usually aren’t a huge fan of churches but it was open and super old looking so we decided to have a look. We are glad we did. We learnt that the architecture is actually a weird mix of a bunch of styles from the 12th century through to the 17th – and it shows in the look of the exterior. It’s also beautiful inside, complete with a massive marble sculpture in the corner and a 10th-century Ottonian crucifix (that’s old!).
Explore History in the Stiftsmuseum
Known as a “medieval treasure chamber”, the Stiftsmuseum is a Middle Ages era museum and a great place to dive into the past. It’s located under the church, is technically a Treasury, and serves as a time capsule into life in Medieval times. In the museum, you’ll find plenty of artifacts like the work of goldsmiths, as well as examples of manuscripts, textiles, and paintings.
Admission is cheap so it’s worth checking out if you want to see some well-preserved Aschaffenburg history. You can learn more about prices and opening hours here.
Address: Stiftsplatz 1 a, 63739 Aschaffenburg
Walk Through Theatreplatz Square
Getting its name from the Municipal Theatre which it shares the space with, Theatreplatz Square is located in the old town and tucked away near the Basilica mentioned above. The trees chosen for the square are to extend the feel of Mediterranean charm into Bavarian Germany.
The theatre itself was built in 1811 but, like most things in Aschaffenburg, suffered extensive damage during the war. The theatre has since been restored (and updated with modern glass paneling) and still features one the most stunning neoclassical auditoriums in Germany’s.
There is also a sundial in the square which is actually one of Europe’s largest. This is great if you need the time – but you need to know how to read shadow and the granite lines in the ground! Have a look for yourself!
Wander the Aschaffenburg Old Town
If you walk between the main palace (Johannisburg Palace) and the Rathaus, you’ll walk a narrow street of traditionally decorated houses and in their classic timber style. This is the old town of Aschaffenburg, and it’s beautiful.
In fact, many of the things in this post are located here or very close by. Aside from sights and attractions, there are lots of little shops and restaurants along the way should you fancy a beer or a bite to eat.
We wandered in and out of the side streets, just following our eyes and the camera lens. We had no plan – all we had was a rough sense of direction. The old town isn’t huge so it’s hard to get lost but the winding streets can be confusing if you lose your bearings! We had no idea how gorgeous the Bavarian-style buildings would be when we first arrived but we feel so lucky to have checked them out!
Discover the Museum of Jewish History and Culture
If you are into museums, the Museum of Jewish History and Culture should be on your list. The building itself is a former Rabbi house and these days it is used to document the Jewish community which once called Aschaffenburg home.
The city had one of the largest communities in Bavaria before the early 1900s. Aschaffenburg actually had a synagogue which was burned down in the 1938 “Night of Broken Glass”. Today, trees have been planted where it once stood.
The museum actually shows a virtual reconstruction of the synagogue and talks about the building history. The Jewish community influenced many aspects of the town’s culture and history before being essentially driven out. If you want to visit the Museum of Jewish History and Culture, you can learn more here.
Address: Treibgasse 20, 63739 Aschaffenburg
Relax in Schöntal Park + Beguine Abbey
Located in the city’s centre but more to the northeast, Schöntal Park offered us a beautiful space to wander around. Once you’re in the ground, you lose the city completely. We walked around the park a few times enjoying the ponds, the trees, the animals, and the fresh air. Honestly, this was a great park. The grounds, like Schönbusch, were inspired by the English-style landscape and remodeled in 1777.
One of the highlights was seeing the ruins of Beguine Abbey perched in the middle of its lake. The top towers were crumbling yet filled with – we kid you not – peacocks! The area around the ruins is very romantic, as well given the green trees and landscaped paths.
Stroll Through Schönbusch Park and Palace
Schönbusch takes its claim to fame as being Bavaria’s oldest English-style landscaped park. Established in 1775, the park and the Royal Palace were designed to ensure views all the way to Johannisburg Palace. Everything about the Palace is meant to showcase life in the 18th century – from the furnishings to the decor.
You can get to the park by following the “Kleine Schönbuschallee” which is an avenue of lime trees over 2 kilometres long. This green pathway connects the park with the centre of town. This is good because the park grounds aren’t close to the other things in the old town of Aschaffenburg!
Eat a Traditional Bavarian Meal at Brauhaus Schlappeseppel
If you want to have a Bavarian meal in a very authentic Bavarian restaurant that is not touristy at all, go to Brauhaus Schlappeseppel. Aschaffenburg is not really a touristy town, so this place is as authentic as they come. Lisa would know since she grew up in the area eating local Franconian dishes.
We had Wurstsalat and Handkäse and their local beers made on the spot. Lisa’s meal reminded her of growing up attending family gatherings because she ate Handkäse as a kid in the family home! They also have a small museum – it’s one room but you can learn about beer making in Bavaria and – let’s be serious – Bavaria is an epicenter of German beer culture.
Overall, we had a great meal and we would totally recommend a visit if you are in Aschaffenburg. You can even sit outside if the weather is nice. Your experience of exploring the town can always be made better after you’ve had a Bavarian beer in hand! You can check out their official website for the menu – but it’s in German!
Address: Schlossgasse 28, 63739 Aschaffenburg
And there you have it – 11 things that you should probably do while in Aschaffenburg. In the end, we had a great time exploring the city, and we think that most people would, too! It’s a place where there is something that suits all different interests. If you end up going, let us know what you think of the city. We’d love to hear it!
As always, Happy Bavaria Waddlin’