Hesse is a state, or Bundesland, in the central western part of Germany. The capital is Wiesbaden and the largest city is Frankfurt am Main. Until 1871 and the formation of the German Reich, Hesse was an independent country ruled by the Grand Duke. Due to post-Second World War divisions, the modern-day state does not correspond exactly with the former Grand Duchy. Hesse borders the German states of Lower Saxony, Thuringia, Bavaria, Baden-Wurttemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, and North Rhine-Westphalia.
Travellers to Hesse can fly to Frankfurt from many international and European destinations, as well as catch a train to Frankfurt or Wiesbaden from inter-European cities and within Germany. Transport within Hesse is possible without a car, as the German rail network is extensive and most small towns have a station. For remote hiking or sightseeing, you can catch a bus or arrange your own transportation.
Budget hostel accommodation in Hesse can be found in the major cities of Frankfurt am Main and Wiesbaden; for hostel accommodation in a smaller town, look for the words “Jugend” and “Herberge” or “Jugendherberge,” as those translate directly to “youth hostel.” Consider a guesthouse (“gasthaus”) in smaller towns, or even a bed and breakfast. Traditional backpacker hostels are hard to find outside of major cities.
Once you have your accommodation sorted, you can explore this diverse region. Hesse is mainly covered in forest and has numerous small mountain ranges, so outdoor enthusiasts will find excellent hiking trails and outdoor activities. Several of Germany’s main rivers run through Hesse and it is possible to take river cruises or canoe and kayak along them. The Rhine River, which runs through the southern part of the state, has strategically placed castles on its hillsides. Many of these are now open to the public for tours and are well-preserved examples of medieval architecture in Germany. One of Central Europe’s most important megalithic monuments is in Hesse. It is known as the Zueschen tomb, and dates to the late 4th century BCE. It is concrete evidence of prehistoric settlements in Central Europe; the Zueschen tomb is near Fritzlar, in the central part of the state, and has many other megaliths nearby. Later civilisations include the Celts, Romans, Franks, and the Saxons.
With such a long history, and plenty of outdoor pursuits, you will enjoy whatever you choose to do in Hesse!
Hi, I'm Jakob Lombardi,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Hesse hostels. Welcome.