Darmstadt is a city in Hesse, Germany with a population of 149.000, located in the south of Frankfurt.


Prior to World War I, Darmstadt was the capital of the Grand Duchy of Hesse. The Grand Dukes used to live in what is now the Schloß Marktplatz. It is also the birthplace of the last Empress of Russia, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna Romanova, who was born Prinzessin Victoria Alix Helena Louise Beatrice von Hessen und bei Rhein. Sadly, much of the old town was destroyed in carpet bombing by the Allies during World War II, and most of what is still standing was reconstructed after the war. Darmstadt also lost its status as the capital of Hesse after the war, the honour now lying with the nearby city of Wiesbaden.

The popular recreational drug Ecstasy was first synthesised in Darmstadt in 1912 by a chemist known as Anton Kollisch while he was working for the pharmaceutical company Merck. The element Darmstadtium, element 110 on the Periodic Table, is named after the city. Perhaps as many as 11 atoms of this short half-life element have been synthesized to date.

If you speak German, the name might sound peculiar to you as the word "Darm" means "intestine" in German, though - as locals are quick to point out - the etymology of the name has nothing to do with intestines large or small.

The Darmstadt Marketing tourist office is located on the corner of the Luisenplatz.

Get in

By train

Trains connect Darmstadt to surrounding cities, including Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Mannheim, Mainz, and Aschaffenburg. Some ICE trains stop at the Darmstadt train station. The S3 S-Bahn line connects Darmstadt and Frankfurt.

For trips from or to the northwest (e.g. Köln, Düsseldorf, Amsterdam) the quickest route is sometimes via Frankfurt Airport, where you can change between ICE trains on the Frankfurt-Köln line and the Airliner bus to or from Darmstadt.

By plane

Darmstadt is located about 20 minutes by road from Frankfurt Airport. For those continuing their journey to Darmstadt by public transport, the Darmstadt Airport Shuttle bus service (AirLiner) is far more convenient than the train. It runs every 30 to 60 minutes between 4AM and 11PM and costs €7.60/€5.95 for adults/children. Buy your ticket from the bus driver. The AirLiner ticket is also valid for connecting transport around Darmstadt (RMV zones 40xx).

The AirLiner stops at both terminals of the airport. Look for bay 14 across the street from terminal 1. At terminal 2 the stop is right in front of the terminal. You can download a leaflet with the schedule from the website of HEAG Mobibus.

On its way to Darmstadt Hauptbahnhof the bus stops at Mina-Rees-Straße and Heinrich-Hertz-Straße. In the opposite direction the bus goes directly from the station to the airport.

By car

The freeways A5 and A67 go by to the eastern end of Darmstadt. Follow the signs to Darmstadt/Griesheim onto the very short A672, which merges into the B26 towards Darmstadt. Expect a traffic jam here in the morning.

You can also reach Darmstadt via the B3 and B26 main roads. The B3 runs in north-south direction, connecting Darmstadt with Frankfurt in the north and Heidelberg in the south. It runs largely parallel to the A5 freeway. The B26 runs east-west and is the main connection to Aschaffenburg.

The inner city is a system of tunnels and one-way roads for passing traffic. This can be a bit confusing.

Get around

Darmstadt's public transport is part of the greater Rhine Main area network Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV). Darmstadt and its surroundings are designted as tariff area 40. This area is further subdivided into several zones numbered 40xx, Darmstadt city is zone 4001. Fares vary depending on the number of zones touched.

Tram lines are marked by single-digit numbers. The tram network extends from Darmstadt-Arheilgen in the north to Darmstadt-Eberstadt in the south and beyond to Seeheim-Jugenheim and Alsbach, from Griesheim in the west to Darmstadt-Kranichstein in the northeast. Lines 3, 5, 7/8, and 9 constitute the core network. Lines 1, 2, 4, and 6 reinforce the core network during rush hours. Line 6 is an express line, it skips some of the intermediate stops on its route between Eberstadt and Merck.

Single or double letters mark local bus lines. Main bus lines have single-letter designations and often share routes stops with trams in the inner city. In the evening hours most tram and bus lines operate with a frequency of 30 minutes. At minutes :15 and :45 meet at Luisenplatz for connections. The last of these central transfer stops is at 0:15, except for Fridays and Saturdays with two additional rounds at 1:15 and 2:15.

Overland lines to surrounding towns and villages have three- or four-digit numbers, or two-digit numbers preceded by the letter K. Most of these lines stop at Hauptbahnhof and other stops that they pass on their way through the city.

Besides Hauptbahnhof, several train stops are scattered throughout the city: Wixhausen and Arheilgen in the north serviced by the S3 S-Bahn line, Darmstadt-Süd and Darmstadt-Eberstadt in the south where Regionalbahn trains to and from Heidelberg stop, Darmstadt Nordbahnhof and Darmstadt-Kranichstein on the line to Aschaffenburg, and Darmstadt Ostbahnhof and Darmstadt TU-Lichtwiese on the line to Erbach(Odenwald).

For schedules and fares see the website of RMV.

When buying a ticket from a vending machine at a tram or bus stop, you need to specify a destination. The machine has a chart giving numeric codes for a variety of destinations. If you plan to travel only in the central part of Darmstadt, then enter the destination code for Stadtmitte (city centre).

For 2-5 people traveling together for multiple trips within a day, a group day ticket (Gruppentageskarte) is probably the economic choice.


Russian Chapel on Mathildenhöhe

Darmstadt is famous for its Jugendstil (art nouveau) buildings. Many of the buildings survived the massive destruction of Darmstadt in September 1944.



Mathildenhöhe, an Art Nouveau colony in Darmstadt


Festivals and regular events






Darmstadt has several breweries, as well as a large amount of smaller taverns.


Hesse's national drink, apple cider (Apfelwein, or, in the local dialect, "Äbbelwoi"), is very popular here too. It is available in pure form, or blended with sparkling water ("sauer gespritzt") or lemonade ("süß gespritzt"). Foreigners not used to the unusual taste (it is much more sour and less sweet than the cider common in other countries) might want to try the version blended with lemonade first.

Äbbelwoi Kneipen

Bier gardens



Darmstadt is a popular alternative for business travellers if trade fairs in Frankfurt result in overbooked hotels. Therefore trade fairs in Frankfurt have a high impact on fluctuating price levels. Try Neu-Isenburg or Dreieich if hotels in Darmstadt are booked out already

Go next

Fossilized perch, Messel Pit

If you are planning a day trip by rail to a town/city served by the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV) network such as Michelstadt or Mainz, you can buy a day ticket from a ticket vending machine at a Darmstadt tram stop, and that ticket will include local tram/bus rides to/from the railway station at both ends as well as the train trips. The tram ticket machine allows you to select your destination city. For 2-5 people traveling together on a day trip within the RMV network, a group day ticket (Gruppentageskarte) can be particularly economical.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, September 25, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.