Michelstadt’s town hall (Rathaus), a masterpiece of medieval timber-framed design.

Day trips from Frankfurt. Erbach and Michelstadt in Odenwald

Michelstadt, Erbach and Breuberg Castle. German Fairytale Cities

Welcome to the enchanting world of Erbach and Michelstadt, two fairytale towns nestled in the heart of the Odenwald region in Germany. If you’re seeking a blend of medieval charm, picturesque landscapes, and rich history, these towns offer an unforgettable journey through time. Join us as we explore the cobblestone streets, half-timbered houses, and captivating stories that make Erbach and Michelstadt true gems of the Odenwald.

If you are visiting Frankfurt and you are looking for some things to do outside of the city, then we have the perfect day trip for you. There are so many wonderful things to do near Frankfurt. The area of Odenwald, Hesse, is filled with the most picturesque fairytale German villages. Two of these German fairytale villages are Erbach and Michelstadt in Odenwald.

Michelstadt’s town hall (Rathaus), a masterpiece of medieval timber-framed design.

Michelstadt Odenwald – A Medieval Masterpiece

Michelstadt, one of the oldest towns in the Odenwald, is a quintessential medieval masterpiece that captivates visitors with its charming half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets, and rich history. Established over a thousand years ago, Michelstadt’s well-preserved architecture and vibrant market square offer a window into the past. The town’s iconic town hall (Rathaus), built in the 15th century, is a stunning example of half-timbered construction and is often regarded as one of the most beautiful town halls in Germany. Michelstadt Castle, surrounded by a picturesque moat, adds to the fairytale ambiance. The town’s ancient Einhards Basilica, dating back to the 9th century, showcases remarkable Carolingian architecture. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the historical old town, explore the lively market square, and indulge in local cuisine at traditional restaurants. Michelstadt’s unique blend of history, culture, and scenic beauty makes it a must-visit destination for those exploring the Odenwald region.

Michelstadt’s charming alleys with blooming flowers and medieval houses.

While on a recent trip to Frankfurt for treatment for Nicola’s Lyme disease, we were lucky enough to come across Michelstadt. Located about 45 minutes outside of Frankfurt, Michelstadt is a town so chocolate box perfect it almost doesn’t seem real. Michelstadt is one of the oldest settlements in inner Odenwald. Walking into the main square of Michelstadt is like stepping back in time. With adorable cobbled streets, water fountains straight from a storybook and gorgeous half-timbered houses, you would be forgiven for thinking that you were in an actual fairytale!

Woman wearing a floral top and jeans walking along the picturesque cobbled streets of Michelstadt in Odenwald Germany.

In the middle stands the most picturesque Rathaus that we have ever seen. It dates back to 1484 and still stands with its original timber facade. It is surrounded by historic half-timbered houses, and in front is a fountain straight out of a fairytale. We are not going to lie, we had a real Belle from Beauty and the Beast moment here!

Close-up of Michelstadt’s Rathaus with its intricate timber framing and historic details.
Michelstadt’s charming alleys with blooming flowers and medieval houses.

If you are a fan of fairytales, you simply need to visit this town. As the town is located within an hours drive from Frankfurt, it is the perfect day trip or overnighter from one of Germanys largest cities and tourist hubs. Michelstadt is also a great starting point to explore some of Germanys most adorable and romantic little towns. The best way to explore this region of Odenwald is to rent a camper van and drive from town to town.

The ornate Marktbrunnen (market fountain) was erected in 1575 and a statue of the archangel Michael stands on a column above the fountain. The image of the Rathaus of Michelstadt was used on the Deutsche Post stamp and you can easily see why. It is one of the prettiest, most fairytale-like buildings we have ever seen.

Quiet street in Michelstadt lined with well-preserved half-timbered houses.

You can easily explore the town centre of Michelstadt by foot. Scattered around this iconic Rathaus are restaurants and cafes, which are the idyllic place to take a long lunch and just sit and soak in this magic atmosphere.

Picturesque old town square in Michelstadt with traditional timber-framed houses.

While this village is pretty small, it is filled with quaint shops and gorgeous cafes to sit in and while away a few hours. The town also has its own brewery and a hotel where the famous German actress Jessica Schwarz grew up. There is plenty to do and if we had more time here, we would certainly be signing up for some cooking lessons at the Labsal cooking school.

Michelstadt’s lively market square with local shops and cafes.
Charming half-timbered houses lining a street in Michelstadt, Odenwald.

Other buildings worth visiting are the Alte Hof-Apotheke, the old apothecary, which is a half-timbered structure built in 1557. The ground floor of this building is made out of red sandstone. The town also boasts a synagogue and a late Gothic church or Stadtkirche, that is so beautiful inside.

Gothic red sandstone church in Michelstadt, a german fairytale village.

From the car park, before entering the Altstadt or old town, the remains of the old city wall with a gate and a defensive tower are visible. These are best seen from a park between Braunstraße and Kellereibergstraße.

Multiple images of a woman exploring the German town of Michelstadt.
View of Michelstadt’s medieval town centre.
Diebsturm in Michelstadt, Germany

Michelstadt is one of the oldest settlements in the inner Oldenwald. The castle grew out of a Frankish baronial estate which was then built into a refugee for the local inhabitants.  Michelstadt is a town, housed within city walls, that still stand to this day. In the 17th century, the first houses were built outside the protective walls and a large farming community was established. The completion of a railway to Darmstadt brought a strong economic boom for Michelstadt but still this town has never lost its original charm.

Woman with red hair walking through the city walls of Michelstadt.
Remnants of the moate that used to surround the medieval walls of Michelstadt Castle.

Key Attractions in Michelstadt:

  1. Michelstadt Town Hall (Rathaus):
    • What to Expect: This iconic town hall is a masterpiece of half-timbered architecture dating back to the 15th century. Its unique design and intricately carved wooden beams make it one of the most photographed buildings in Germany.
    • Tip: Visit early in the morning or late afternoon for the best lighting conditions for photography.
  2. Michelstadt Castle (Burg Michelstadt):
    • What to Expect: A small but charming castle surrounded by a moat, offering a glimpse into the town’s medieval past.
    • Tip: Explore the castle grounds and enjoy the beautiful gardens that add to its fairytale allure.
  3. Market Square (Marktplatz):
    • What to Expect: The vibrant heart of Michelstadt, lined with beautiful half-timbered houses, quaint shops, and cosy cafés.
    • Tip: Perfect for people-watching and enjoying local delicacies. Visit during market days for a lively atmosphere.
  4. Einhards Basilica:
    • What to Expect: This ancient basilica, built in the 9th century, is a remarkable example of Carolingian architecture and stands as a testament to Michelstadt’s historical and cultural heritage.
    • Tip: Allow time to explore the interior and learn about its historical significance.
Timber framed buildings at Michelstadt Castle.
Historic building of Michelstadt Castle.

Where to Eat in Michelstadt:

  • Historisches Odenwald-Gasthaus Zum Grünen Baum:
    • What to Expect: A cosy 17th century inn offering a mix of traditional and contemporary German cuisine.
    • Recommendations: Seasonal dishes and local wines are highly recommended.
    • Tip: Book a table in advance, as it’s popular with both locals and tourists.
  • Café Siefert:
    • What to Expect: Known for its delectable pastries and cakes, this café is a must-visit for anyone with a sweet tooth.
    • Recommendations: Try their award-winning cakes while enjoying views of the picturesque town square.
    • Tip: Ideal for an afternoon tea break.
  • Forsthaus Eulbach:
    • What to Expect: Right next to the English Gardens, this restaurant has a fantastic beer garden and is nestled in the forest.
    • Recommendations: Try their famous Schnitzel with Pfungstadter Lager.
    • Tip: Reservation recommended.

Best times to visit Michelstadt Germany


Directly translated into Bee market, this festival happens at Whitsun in May. It was started by former mayor Hasenzahl in 1954 and is the perfect summer festival. The Bienenmarkt, or Bee Market, in Michelstadt is a beloved annual tradition that draws locals and visitors alike to celebrate the town’s rich beekeeping heritage. Held during late spring, this vibrant festival transforms the picturesque town centre into a lively fairground filled with stalls offering honey products, artisanal crafts, and local delicacies. The Bienenmarkt features traditional music, lively parades, and funfair rides, creating a festive atmosphere for all ages. It’s a perfect opportunity to experience the local culture, sample regional treats, and enjoy the warm hospitality of Michelstadt’s residents. Here you will be able to release your inner child, eating candy floss as you make your way through the many fairgrounds that are brought into this area during this time.

A blue wooden door with a heart shape cut out from it.

Christmas in Michelstadt

Christmas is when Michelstadt truly comes alive.  The historic half-timber facades of the houses and Rathaus are the worthy setting for more than 100 wooden market stalls glistening with fairy lights. The magical nativity scene with life-sized figures, the 7 metre high Christmas pyramid, a group of angels and the big colourful wooden musical box conjure up a festival atmosphere.

Father Christmas comes regularly to visit the children. In the castle’s wine tasting hall, sculptors, wood carvers and carpenters demonstrate their craft. Even the toy museum opens its doors wide, to the joy of both adult and child visitors alike. Advent music, Christmas concerts and the sound of trumpets lend everything a reflective, festive note. This is certainly the most magical time of year to visit.

Michelstadt’s town square beautifully decorated with twinkling Christmas lights and festive market stalls.
Michelstadt’s iconic town hall (Rathaus) illuminated with festive lights during the Christmas season.
Charming half-timbered houses in Michelstadt adorned with holiday decorations and snow.
A bustling scene of the Christmas market in Michelstadt with visitors enjoying the holiday atmosphere.

If you would like to read more about the German Christmas Markets we have a complete guide on the Christmas Markets of Hamburg.

How to get to Michelstadt

The best way to get to Michelstadt is either by car or by train. You can get there easily from both Frankfurt or Darmstadt, with trains running roughly every hour from the Darmstadt Hauptbahnhof. The trip takes roughly 45mins to 1 hour. Michelstadt, like Darmstadt, is within the public transportation network of the Rhein-Main-Vekehrsverbund (RMV). If travelling in a group of 2-5 people it will be more economical to buy a group day ticket (Gruppentageskarte) than buying a single trip.

Woman wearing a floral top and jeans in the fairytale village of Michelstadt.
Quiet street in Michelstadt lined with well-preserved half-timbered houses.
Close-up of Michelstadt’s Rathaus with its intricate timber framing and historic details.

If you are flying into Frankfurt make sure you check out our guides on getting from Frankfurt Airport to the city centre and how to spend one day in Frankfurt. If you are exploring more of the area we also have a guide on spending one day in Heidelberg.

Are you ready to visit Michelstadt?

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The fairytale village of Erbach

Erbach borders the town of Michelstadt so you would be forgiven for thinking of them as one town. In fact a merger of both towns was suggested but was blocked in November 2007 by a referendum. Erbach itself is over 900 years old. When you visit Erbach, you’ll find yourself stepping back in time as you explore this charming town. Start your adventure at the magnificent Erbach Palace, where guided tours reveal a stunning collection of ivory carvings and antique artifacts. As you stroll through the historical old town, you’ll admire the beautifully preserved half-timbered houses and quaint squares. Don’t miss the Ivory Museum, where intricate sculptures showcase the town’s rich tradition of ivory craftsmanship. Afterward, take a leisurely walk in the lush Odenwald forest surrounding Erbach, perfect for nature enthusiasts. Finally, indulge in local cuisine at Gasthaus Zum Hirsch, savouring regional specialties in a cosy setting.

Traditional half-timbered houses in the heart of Erbach.

Erbach is a town that exudes historical charm with its origins dating back to the 12th century. Its medieval architecture, quaint alleys, and serene ambiance make it a perfect destination for travellers seeking an authentic experience. The most notable building in Erbach is the Castle of the Counts of Erbach, which is still inhabited by the Count of Erbach today. The antique collections at the castle have remained almost unchanged since Count Franz I’s time (1754–1823) and a memorial to Count Franz I stands outside the castle.

Erbach Palace’s ornate façade with intricate details.

The Counts’ love for hunting is also clearly visible, with two large stag sculptures adorning the front grounds of the castle. Visits to the Count’s collections in Erbach Palace and the Schöllenbach Altarpiece in the Hubertus Chapel, as well as the workbench, are only possible with a guided tour. Even if you decide not to book a tour, just walking around the orangery and grounds outside makes for a lovely afternoon.

Stag statue outside the castle in Erbach Odenwald.

Crossing the bridge of the small river, Mümling, into the medieval cobble streets, leads to some gorgeous gardens and cafes to just sit and take it all in. Lustgarten, a central historical garden, is filled with trees and the most beautiful flowers and is the perfect place to relax.  The walk along the river with its beautiful timber framed houses is a lovely way to just get out of the bigger cities and unwind.

Erbach’s historical old town with a river and beautiful timber-framed houses.

Erbach Ivory

Erbach was probably most famous for ivory carving. While real ivory is no longer used, it is still a huge craft in this area, with many ivory carvers still living here. They also are proud to have the German Ivory Museum. In early 2006, the museum was modernised and extended. Other ivory museums in this region are the privately owned Ivory Museum Michelstadt, and the church-owned Ivory Museum Walldürn.

The rooftop to Erbach Palace, showcasing its Baroque architecture.

Key Attractions in Erbach:

  1. Erbach Palace (Schloss Erbach):
    • What to Expect: This stunning Baroque palace, home to the Counts of Erbach-Erbach, houses an impressive collection of ivory carvings, antique weapons, and rare artifacts. Guided tours provide insights into the noble family’s history and the craftsmanship behind the artifacts.
    • Tip: Allocate at least 1-2 hours for the tour to fully appreciate the intricate details of the collections.
  2. Ivory Museum (Deutsches Elfenbeinmuseum):
    • What to Expect: Renowned for its tradition of ivory carving, the museum showcases delicate sculptures, intricate jewellery, and beautifully crafted objects spanning several centuries.
    • Tip: The museum is adjacent to the palace, making it easy to visit both attractions in one trip.
  3. Historical Old Town:
    • What to Expect: Wander through well-preserved half-timbered houses, charming squares, and historical landmarks such as the Church of St. Sophia.
    • Tip: Take a leisurely stroll to fully soak in the medieval ambiance and stop by local shops for unique souvenirs.
  4. Odenwald Forest:
    • What to Expect: Surrounding Erbach is the lush Odenwald forest, perfect for hiking or cycling. Discover hidden streams, scenic trails, and experience the tranquility of nature.
    • Tip: Bring comfortable walking shoes and a camera to capture the stunning landscapes.
  5. Happiness Tour:
    • What to Expect: This one is for the kids. Enjoy a guided tour in the workshop to create your very own dream globe – take it with you!
    • Tip: Begin the tour with a cup of coffee & cake or muffin
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Erbach’s historical old town with beautiful timber-framed houses.

Where to Eat in Erbach:

  • Gasthaus Zum Hirsch:
    • What to Expect: A traditional German restaurant offering a cosy atmosphere and a menu featuring regional specialties.
    • Recommendations: Try their hearty sausages, schnitzels, and delicious apple strudel.
    • Tip: Make a reservation in advance, especially during weekends and peak tourist seasons.
  • Erbacher Brauhaus:
    • What to Expect: A traditional German brewery serving traditional German cuisine.
    • Recommendations: The view from the beer garden overlooking a small river is really special.
    • Tip: Make sure to try one of their craft beers.

The Enchanting Odenwald: A Hidden Gem of Germany

The Odenwald is a breathtakingly beautiful region in southwestern Germany, nestled between the Rhine, Main, and Neckar rivers. This verdant expanse is characterized by rolling hills, dense forests, and charming villages that seem to have been lifted straight out of a fairytale. The Odenwald offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and historical intrigue, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Visitors can explore an extensive network of hiking and biking trails that wind through ancient woodlands and picturesque meadows, leading to historic castles, medieval ruins, and quaint market towns like Erbach and Michelstadt. In addition to its stunning landscapes, the Odenwald is renowned for its thermal spas, traditional festivals, and hearty regional cuisine. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a deep dive into Germany’s rich cultural heritage, the Odenwald promises an unforgettable experience.

Hiking trail in Odenwald with panoramic views of Michelstadt.
Scenic Odenwald forest.

Exploring the Odenwald Region

The Odenwald region itself is a treasure trove of natural beauty, history, and cultural experiences. Here are some activities and attractions to make the most of your visit:

Things to Do in the Odenwald:

  • Hiking and Nature Walks:
    • What to Expect: The Odenwald is crisscrossed with numerous hiking trails catering to all levels of fitness.
    • Recommendations: Popular routes include the Nibelungensteig and the Alemannenweg, both offering stunning views and diverse landscapes.
    • Tip: Pack a picnic and enjoy a meal amidst nature.
  • Visit Burg Frankenstein:
    • What to Expect: Perched on a hilltop, Burg Frankenstein is a medieval castle with a fascinating history, famously associated with the legend of Frankenstein’s monster.
    • Tip: Visit during Halloween for spooky events and a unique experience. If you love Halloween, then check out our guide on the number 1 Halloween destination.
  • Thermal Spas:
    • What to Expect: After a day of exploring, unwind at one of the Odenwald’s thermal spas. The soothing waters and serene surroundings provide the perfect relaxation experience.
    • Recommendations: Michelstadt’s Odenwald-Therme is a popular choice.
    • Tip: Check for any seasonal offers or discounts.

Practical Tips for Visiting Erbach and Michelstadt

  • Getting There:
    • By Car: Erbach and Michelstadt are easily accessible by car, with well-maintained roads connecting them to major cities like Frankfurt and Heidelberg.
    • By Train: Alternatively, you can take a train to Erbach and use local transportation to explore the region.
    • Tip: Consider renting a car for greater flexibility and convenience. We recommend Discover Cars for getting the best rate on car rental.
  • Best Time to Visit:
    • Spring and Summer: Pleasant weather and lush landscapes make these seasons ideal for visiting.
    • Autumn: Offers vibrant foliage and a unique charm.
    • Tip: Check local event calendars for festivals and special events that may enhance your visit.
  • Accommodation:

Breuberg and Breuberg Castle: A Historic Jewel

Nestled in the picturesque Odenwald region, Breuberg is a charming town best known for its imposing Breuberg Castle, one of the best-preserved and most significant medieval castles in Germany. The castle, perched on a hilltop, dates back to the 12th century and offers a fascinating glimpse into the region’s feudal past. Visitors to Breuberg Castle can explore its impressive fortifications, towers, and residential quarters, all of which showcase a blend of Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance architectural styles. The castle’s museum houses a diverse collection of artifacts, including medieval weapons, tools, and everyday items, providing a comprehensive view of life in a medieval stronghold. The surrounding town of Breuberg is equally enchanting, with its scenic landscapes, traditional half-timbered houses, and tranquil atmosphere. Whether you’re wandering through the town’s historic streets or enjoying panoramic views from the castle’s ramparts, Breuberg and its majestic castle offer an unforgettable journey into Germany’s rich history and heritage.

Breuberg castle in Odenwald.

If you can tear yourself away from the Frankenstein Castle in nearby Mühltal, we highly recommend that you visit Breuberg Castle in the town that bears it’s name. Breuberg is only about 15-20 minutes away from Michelstadt so these can all be visited on the same day.

Breuberg Castle Germany.

Overlooking the town from its magnificent hilltop perch, Breuberg castle is one of Germany’s best-preserved castles. From the 14th century, the castle was expanded many times, making it a journey through the building styles of the last 850 years.

Woman in a floral top admiring the view from Breuberg Castle.

There is a beautiful courtyard restaurant and museum. The current owner, The Count of Hesse, has also transformed the castle into a youth hostel, so it is so wonderful to see the groups of kids using the castle as their playground. Imagine getting to wake up in this beautiful castle with your friends and spend the day exploring, all for the basic hostel price.

Multiple images of Breuberg Castle in Germany.

Erbach and Michelstadt are true fairytale towns that captivate the imagination and offer an unforgettable travel experience. From exploring historic castles and strolling through medieval streets to indulging in delicious local cuisine and enjoying the natural beauty of the Odenwald, these towns have something for everyone. Whether you’re a history buff, nature enthusiast, or simply looking for a charming getaway, Erbach and Michelstadt are sure to enchant you. So, pack your bags and get ready to step into a storybook world in the heart of Germany’s enchanting Odenwald region.

If you are looking for more fairytale villages to visit in Germany, check out Postcards from Tina’s blog.

About us

We are Nicola and Ronan Lavin experts in finding unique accommodation all over the world. Voted as the Top 6 Travel Bloggers in Ireland by Stellar Magazine and the Top 10 Travel Influencers in Ireland by readers of the Irish Independent, we are dedicated to helping you find authentic and immersive travel experiences to help you plan your perfect vacation.

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Images of Michelstadt Odenwald with text overlay Must-See Attractions in Erbach and Michelstadt, Odenwald.
Images of Erbach and Michelstadt in Odenwald with text overlay Erbach and Michelstadt: Fairytale Towns of Odenwald.
Images of the Rathaus in Michelstadt with text overlay A Guide to Erbach and Michelstadt in the Odenwald Forest.