The German town of Kassel is probably not the first place you will think of for a nice city trip. But if you stumbled upon this blog, chances are that Kassel is already on your radar. And rightly so, because this city has all the ingredients for an original city trip. For example, count on walking for hours and then not through historic streets, but through green parks and forests with fairytale castles, a temple here, a waterfall there. Just in town! In this blog we give you all the essential tips for your city trip to Kassel, such as the best places to eat and the most beautiful sights in Kassel.
Why is a city trip to Kassel a must?
The city is very different from other cities, because here do not count on a historic center with picturesque streets. During the Second World War, the historic center of the city with its beautiful half-timbered houses was swept away. Everything was rebuilt after the war, so there are few historical buildings to be found in the city. The street scene reminded us a bit of our own – also rebuilt after the war – Rotterdam. That may sound a bit moody, but that is absolutely not Kassel.
Kassel is also called a fairytale city. And where you normally associate that with a fairytale center, this city gives a different interpretation to this concept. Kassel is known as a particularly green city with huge city parks where you can walk for hours. In one park you will find a castle and waterfalls, while the other park has a flower island and wide lands. Where the fairytale association is perhaps strongest is the connection with the Brothers Grimm. The two brothers come from Kassel and not only wrote dictionaries here, but also bundled local folktales into what are now the most famous fairy tales in the world.
Where is Kassel located?
The city is located in the heart of Germany in the federal state, right between the more famous cities of Frankfurt, Dortmund, Hanover and Leipzig. Kassel is less than a four hour drive from Utrecht. Ideal if you are looking for a surprising destination for a weekend away, because you are there in no time.
Kassel is also easily accessible by train from the Netherlands and other parts of Europe. There is no direct connection, so you will have to transfer at least once.
Spend the night in Kassel
Although the sights of Kassel seem to be quite far apart, it is really only the Bergpark Willemshöhe and the highlights there that lie outside the city. The rest of all the nice sights can be found in the center of the city. That is the place where you want to look for a place to sleep in Kassel.
The best options in the center are Hotel Tiffany near the train station with nice, bright rooms and Renthof Kassel with the most cozy and attractive rooms. Here you will find one overview of the best hotels in Kassel .
But do you also think it’s fine to sleep a little outside the city? Then you will find a very nice nature house in the green . The tiny house for three people stands on a meadow where alpacas graze part of the year, has an outdoor shower and terrace overlooking a stream. If you like a walk, you can walk 4.5 kilometers to Bergpark Willemshöhe or walk in the immediate vicinity in a nature reserve.
Food & Drink in Kassel
Kassel may not be bursting with hip hotspots, but more and more nice tents are being added. We ate delicious Indian for next to nothing in Kassel, enjoyed the African cuisine, ordered hip fries and more. As vegetarians, we thought it was great that there were a striking number of vegetarian and vegan options on the menus. We found these to be the best hotspots in Kassel for food and drinks:
- Kollektivcafé Kurbad for a nice place by the water
- Burger Boss for the hippest burgers in Kassel
- Waikiki Poké Bowl for a healthy pokebowl
- Dean & David for nice healthy lunches
- #BERTS friterie for hip ‘loaded fries’
- Namaste for delicious Indian food for little
- Enchilada Kassel for Mexican
- Mama Africa for great African food
The most beautiful sights of Kassel
#1 Street art
Kassel is full of the most beautiful street art, but most of the tips for Kassel don’t mention that. We slept on the northern edge of the center and came across a beautiful mural on every street corner. And then of course no ugly graffiti, but really beautiful murals by famous graffiti artists. Most of the street in Kassel can be found in Kassel Nordstadt, just north of the center and near the train station. Recommended are the work with Snow White (Schneewittchen, in the Hollandische Strasse), the graphic work of Tobias Hahn (Ascend, in the Rothenditmolderstrasse) and the endearing Stephen Hawkings Goldfish (in the Moritzstrasse).
#2 Schloss and Bergpark Willemshöhe
The big highlight that you cannot miss, but which you have to leave the center for, is the Willemshöhe mountain park. The name already reveals that this is one of the parks of Kassel and that it is a hilly area. So don’t expect neat little lawns, but a natural landscape park for the noble family Hessen-Kassel who lived at Schloss Wilhelmshöhe. Construction started in the seventeenth century and eventually took 150 years. The result is so beautiful that the park was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2013. Water is an important element in this. There are waterfalls, ponds, cascades and fountains scattered throughout the Bergpark. Willemshöhe Castle has withstood the times a little less well. It was badly damaged in World War II and although it has been restored, it has not been completely restored to its former state. It is now used as an art museum.
#3 The Hercules Monument
Whoever visits Willemshöhe will not only find the park itself beautiful, but will also be impressed by the Hercules Monument. This monument is the highest point of the Bergpark, where you can walk through the water cascades. Count on more than 500 steps up. You may have the best view of the monument from below. But from above again over the city. This monument was built in the park as early as the seventeenth century.
The cascades to the Hercules Monument are series of cascades over 350 meters, with a huge waterfall at the end. The falls were constructed artificially and still function with the technology of the time, which pumps water up to the Hercules Monument. They are only on for an hour a few times a week, so check carefully when that is. At the top of those cascades is an octagonal base topped by a pyramid topped by a bronze statue of Hercules. In total it is 70.5 meters high, so it is certainly an impressive sight.
Tip: if you don’t feel like climbing all the way up, it’s good to know that there is also a parking lot at the top and you can just drive up.
#4 The Town Hall and the Aschrottbrunnen
The Rathaus of Kassel is one of the few historic buildings in the city. The town hall was also badly hit during the Second World War and it burned down completely. What you see today is a restored and simplified version. The Aschrottbrunnen lie in front of the town hall and were originally given as a gift by the wealthy industrialist Sigismund Aschrott. Due to its Jewish background, the fountain was destroyed in World War II. In 1987 a monument was designed in memory of this. A fountain the same size as the original is now built underground as a negative. If you stand on the grates, you can see the sunken fountain below you through the grates.
#5 Lowenburg Castle
Löwenburg Castle in Bergpark Willemshöhe may appear to be centuries old, but was actually built around the year 1800 as a ruin. The architecture is somewhat reminiscent of medieval knight’s castles, but it has never really been a fortress. These kind of fake ruins were a trend in Europe for a while and can be found in more places in castle parks.
Inside you can see a better reflection of the century in which it was built in the form of Baroque interiors. With the castle ruins, Elector Willem I of Hesse-Kassel wanted to add a romantic element to his gigantic Bergpark and at the same time emphasize the historical status of his centuries-old family tree. But it mainly built the castle for his mistress Karoline. While the monarch officially lived with his wife and family in Willemshöhe Palace, Löwenburg was its private counterpart where Karoline lived. Although the monarch once kidnapped her and made her his mistress against her will, the two had a relationship for years and had no fewer than thirteen children. After his death he was buried in the castle chapel.
#6 Museum Fridericianum
Kassel is really a museum city with dozens of museums with something for everyone. Lovers of modern art should put Museum Fridericianum on their wish list. The museum building dates from the eighteenth century and was once home to the art collection of the Counts of Hesse. This made it one of the first public museums in the world. The historical collection has now made way for contemporary art. There are changing exhibitions in the museum. Once every five years, the Fridericianum is the center of the 100-day art festival ‘documenta’. Since 1955, this festival has been organized every five years in honor of contemporary art.
#7 Park Karlsaue
In addition to the Bergpark outside the city, there is also a huge landscape park right next to the center. This Park Karlsaue was built on a grand scale with many ponds, canals and other water features. It is one of the largest city parks in Europe. The design is based on three axes that fan out from a large park in the north to the south: two canals with a wide avenue in between. The wide avenue eventually leads to a pond with an island with a kind of Roman temple in it. A little further south you will find the flower island of Siebenbergen. You pay entrance to get to the island. At the bridge to the island is a small restaurant, where you can sit in loungers by the water.
From the strictly geometrically designed Karlsaue you can cross the Gärtnerplatzbrücke to the much less sleekly designed park. Here runs the River Fulda and you will find winding paths, lakes and a popular city beach.
#8 The Orangerie
In the north of Park Karlsaue, so close to the center, is the most impressive structure of the park: the Orangerie. This beautiful building was built between 1703 and 1711 near the old city palace of the Landgrave of Hesse. In the style of a baroque palace, the count built an orangery 140 meters wide after the French example. It was the summer palace of the family. The long galleries were used as a ballroom in the summer, but in the winter the tropical plants from the park were placed here to survive the harsh German winters. The summer palace has suffered a lot from failed restoration attempts and later also the Second World War. After the ruins were used for a long time as an exhibition space, the Orangerie was restored to its full glory in the 1970s. There is now a restaurant in the palace.
#9 The Market Hall of Kassel
In the center of Kassel, the Markthal is one of the places where mainly locals come, but which you should definitely visit as a tourist. In the well-thought-out hall you will find numerous stalls and stands with local products. You can of course take the regional products with you as a souvenir, but you can also sit down at various stands for a nice lunch. Also, take a walk upstairs. Not because you can eat well there, but you have the most beautiful view of the Markthal through the large roof dome and open view downwards.
#10 Grimm World
The most visited museum in Kassel is arguably Grimm World. The name already hints at what to expect here, as the museum is dedicated to the work of the Brothers Grimm. Both the lives of the brothers and their famous fairy tales are told in the museum. The displays in which the brothers’ fairy tales come to life are especially popular.