Discover the variety the Main River has to offer. History, culture, and cuisine together make for an unforgettable vacation.
The journey along the Main River starts with a grandiose beginning in Wiesbaden. At the center of this elegant city is the historic health resort. It is not only a feast for the eyes, but it may bring you luck if you decide to visit its casino, one of the most beautiful casinos in all of Europe. Next door, the theater colonnade stretches for 129m and is the longest columned hall in Europe.
The first encounter with the Main River will be in the city of Mainz. It is here, where after a winding course of 500km, the Main River flows into the Rhine. The thousand year-old cathedral of Mainz is the perfect background for the confluence. Going upstream from Mainz, you travel through the Hessian Lower Main Region into the “Main Metropolis” of Frankfurt. Frankfurt is a banking center that offers the most impressive skyline of any German city. Frankfurt also offers a wide variety of cultural treasures of European significance, such as the museums along the riverfront.
The Main River passes by the Isenburg Castle in Offenburg am Main and then through Hanau, the birthplace of the brothers Grimm. From here, the river flows through a lowland plain and reaches Franconia and the city of Aschaffenburg, aka the “Bavarian Nice.” The well known fairytale forests of the Spessart and Odenwald forests border the river until you reach the vineyards along the steep hillsides on both sides of the river. This is where the grapes for the famous Franconian wines grow. The wine has shaped the unique, truly Franconian atmosphere of wine towns, such as Miltenberg and Klingenberg am Main.
The Tauber River flows into the Main River near Wertheim, and then it is not far to Lohr am Main and Gemünden am Main. Wine as far as the eye can see. Wine towns such as Karlstadt and Veitshöcheim welcome visitors and get them primed for the “wine capital” Würzburg, the center of the Franconian Wine Country. A visit to the vinotheque at the “House of Franconian Wine” will give you a taste of the incredible variety and quality of Franconian wines. Along its course, the Main River winds and meanders its way through the countryside. The tightest loop is at the “Mainschleife” in Volkach.
The wine town Volkach is a prime example of typical Franconian architecture. It is characterized by half-timbered houses, steeply pitched roofs and crow-stepped gables. Further upstream, the number of vineyards starts to decline slowly until you reach Schweinfurt, the former “Free City” and another highlight of the trip. Many of Schweinfurt’s buildings attest to the days when the citizens of this city had to answer to nobody other than the emperor himself. Also well represented is the 19th century: The Museum Georg Schäfer houses the most important private collection of 19th century art from the German speaking countries.
Past the vineyards, you now reach the low mountain ranges along the river. Downstream are the Hassberge Mountains and the town of Hassberg - an area filled with mysterious castles. To the right, there is the Steigerwald Forest and the exciting town of Bamberg with its glorious, medieval past as imperial residence and its well-deserved reputation for excellent beer.
The Main River lazily approaches the Upper Main Valley/ Coburger Land. Before reaching the basket-making town of Lichtenfels, your breath will be taken away by the Baroque-era monastery Banz and the famous pilgrimage church Vierzehnheiligen. For rest and relaxation, the Upper Main Thermal Springs in Bad Staffelstein offer healing waters from the warmest and most powerful hot springs in the state of Bavaria.
At the Castle Steinenhausen near the town of Melkenhofen, the Main River bifurcates into two tributaries: The Red Main and the White Main River. You can follow either one to its respective spring.
The tour along the Red Main River leads straight into the music city of Bayreuth. Here, the annual music festival brings Richard Wagner’s operas to life. If you follow the White Main River, you soon reach Kulmbach. The Plassenburg Castle sits high atop this city, where beer is a main attraction. A visit to the Bavarian Brewery Museum is a must. Of course, if you like beer, you will also enjoy a visit to the Brewery and Cooperage Museum of the Maisel Brewery in Bayreuth.
The last kilometers following either tributary will take you through more beautiful countryside. The origins of the Main River are also the end of this tour. The Red Main River originates near Creußen in the Franconian Switzerland; the White Main River starts in Bischofsgrün in the Fichtelgebirge Mountains.