10 AMAZING Things To Do In Kassel For An Incredible Trip [Don’t Miss Them]

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Nestled in the heart of Germany, Kassel is a treasure trove of cultural delights and natural wonders waiting to be discovered. In this article, we’re diving into the top 10 must-see attractions that make this city an unforgettable stop on your travel itinerary.

Kassel, often perceived as a quiet town, actually boasts an array of activities that can cater to any interest. From the grandeur of historical palaces and UNESCO World Heritage listed parks to the allure of avant-garde art exhibitions, Kassel is a place where the old and new converge seamlessly, creating a rich tapestry of experiences.

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As a traveler and storyteller, I’ve always found joy in uncovering the hidden gems of a city, and I’m excited to share with you the very best that Kassel has to offer. Kassel is often igrnored by tourists but it has some HUGE attractions that really need to be seen.

Whether you’re strolling through the lush gardens of Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe or delving into the imaginative world of the Brothers Grimm, every corner of Kassel offers a unique story. This story is made all the better by the fact that it’s off the usual tourist trail.

Join me as we explore together, from the well-trodden paths to the lesser-known nooks, the most wonderful activities that this enchanting city holds in store.

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A Brief History of Kassel

Kassel’s history stretches back over a millennium, with the city’s first documented mention dating to the year 913. Originally a small settlement, it grew in significance due to its position at the crossroads of important medieval trading routes.

By the 13th century, it became a significant urban center, and in the course of the Middle Ages, it was fortified with city walls and several watchtowers, remnants of which can still be seen today.

The city’s true ascent to prominence began when it became the capital of the Landgraviate of Hesse in 1567. Landgrave William IV, noted for his interest in astronomy, established the first permanent theater in Kassel in 1605 and the Orangerie, an elaborate Baroque garden, a century later.

But it was during the reign of Landgrave Charles (later Charles I, Elector of Hesse) that Kassel truly flourished. He commissioned the construction of the opulent Wilhelmshöhe Palace, which today stands as a testament to Kassel’s former grandeur.

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Kassel

The 18th and 19th centuries saw Kassel beset by Napoleonic wars and reorganization, eventually falling under Prussian control. Despite industrialization in the 19th century bringing economic growth, the city retained a strong cultural focus, with the Brothers Grimm working and living in Kassel for several years.

Kassel’s importance as a transportation hub also made it a target during World War II, and the city sustained significant damage. The post-war recovery rebuilt much of the city, but often in a modernist style, leaving few historical buildings intact.

Reinvention has been central to Kassel’s more recent history. In 1955, the city made a bold cultural splash with the inaugural documenta, a contemporary art exhibition now held every five years that has helped to reshape Kassel’s image as a hub of modern art.

With this renowned event and its World Heritage sites, including Wilhelmshöhe Park, Kassel has secured a place on the global cultural map, weaving its historical tapestry with threads of resilience and renewal.

The city’s rich history is not just preserved in its monuments and museums but is also embraced in the vibrant cultural life that defines modern Kassel.

Top 10 Incredible Things To Do In Kassel

1. Visit Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

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Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

Endorsed by UNESCO as a testament to humanity’s cultural achievements, Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe stands as one of the most extraordinary water-themed parks of its kind, meriting its World Heritage status. It’s the #1 absolute must-visit attraction in Kassel.

The vast expanse of Kassel’s hilltop paradise encompasses 560 hectares of meticulously designed landscape — a harmonious blend of nature’s splendor and human creativity. Visitors can revel in the intricacy of its terraced gardens and the grandeur of its water displays, which construct a theatrical narrative culminating in the grand fountain’s majestic eruption.

With its awe-inspiring design elements echoing the Baroque’s artistic visions and Romanticism’s naturalistic cues, the park embodies the era’s remarkable dialogue between art, technology, and natural beauty.

Every aspect, from cascading waterfalls to sculpted gardens, echoes a storied past that proudly illustrates the potent combination of nature and human ingenuity, solemnly promising to leave a lasting impression on all who travel through its historic pathways.

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Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

This park is home to the next three places to visit in Kassel on this list. It is BIG so exploring it can be overwhelming especially as there is a lack of information on this park in English. But don’t worry. It’s not so hard.

The first thing to know is that exploring the park is free. There are many paths through the park and you could hike one way to the top and another way to the bottom. However, this park is set on a hill so it’s much easier to take a bus up to the top and then walk down. It’s a long way.

The Herkules Monument (up next!) is at the top and Schloss Wilhelmshöhe towards the bottom. You can easily walk past Löwenburg Castle on your way down.

To get here, you can drive or take tram 1 from the Kassel center. This also goes past Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe train station.

Take tram 1 all the way to the end as it finishes at Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe. Once you exit the tram, walk to the road and then cross it. You’ll see a bus stop with a timetable. It is pictured below.

You can take bus 22 or 23 from here all the way to the top. When I visited, the first bus was at 10:57am, and it run half hourly until 1pm when it runs more frequently until around 5pm.

Taking the bus up to the Herkules Monument at Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe KasselPin
Taking the bus up to the Herkules Monument

My usual go-to, Google maps, did not have any of these services, and it can be hard to work out but with these instructions, you should be right.

You can also take the bus back down, but I recommend you walk down if you can.

Where the bus drops you is a ticket center. If you want to enter the following attractions, buy your ticket here. It cost only 6 euros for an adult when I visited which gives you entry to Herkules Monument, Löwenburg Castle and Schloss Wilhelmshöhe. You can’t buy a ticket at the Herkules Monument so make sure you buy it here first.

There are many paths around the park. I found the signs not that helpful but Google maps helped me navigate.

2. Marvel at the Herkules Monument

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Herkules Monument

The impressive Herkules Monument, crowning Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, is a colossal homage to the Greek demi-god known for his strength and far-reaching mythical feats. This grand statue, cast in copper, stands atop an octagonal stone base, offering visitors breathtaking panoramic views of Kassel and beyond. It was erected between 1707 and 1717.

An emblem of the city’s identity, the Hercules monument connects land and sky. Inside, a staircase winds up, permitting those who climb an encounter with the spirit of European baroque monumental architecture.

The Herculean effort it takes to reach the top is handsomely rewarded with vistas that stretch into the horizon, memorable for every traveler seeking not just a view, but an unparalleled experience. You can see all of the Bergpark and Kassel laid out in front of you.

A ticket here includes entry to Schloss Wilhelmshöhe and Löwenburg Castle.

3. Wander through Schloss Wilhelmshöhe

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Schloss Wilhelmshöhe

At the foot of Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe resides Schloss Wilhelmshöhe, not just another palace but a repository of cultural treasures. This splendid neoclassical structure, once home to Kaiser Wilhelm II, now serves as a proud beacon of the region’s artistic heritage.

Inside, it houses the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, a gallery teeming with masterpieces by illustrious European painters. Among them, Rembrandt and Rubens’ works take center stage, inviting art connoisseurs and novices alike to wander through the corridors of time and delight in the conversation between art and its observers.

In fact, this palace is home to arguably one of Germany’s best art collections.

The Weißenstein Wing is the oldest part of the palace and dates back to 1790. It was not damaged during WWII and is still home to original furnishings and artwork.

There is a cafe here and lockers to store your bag.

A visit here is well and truly worth it.

4. Step back in time at Löwenburg Castle

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Löwenburg Castle

Löwenburg Castle—designed to look like the romantic ruins of a medieval knight’s fortress—is a fantastical creation of the late 18th century. Located above Wilhelmshöhe Castle, it is also in Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe.

Imposing yet whimsical, it captures the imagination with its towers, battlements, and a disguised modern structure within. Visitors stepping into its bounds are transported to medieval times; the castle’s interior houses authentically recreated living quarters complete with period furniture, tapestries, and armory.

As tourists wind their way through its halls, they will encounter the emblematic suits of armor and weapons, conjuring visions of chivalric romance and feudal life. The castle not only serves as a reminder of the past’s complexities but also celebrates the era’s artistry and storytelling, making it an essential stop for those looking to journey through history’s many layers.

Note that you can only go inside this castle on a tour. This runs every hour on the hour and it’s recommended to book it at the time you buy your ticket. You can find more information here.

5. Admire the Orangerie in Karlsaue Park

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Orangerie

Standing majestically in the sprawling Karlsaue Park is the Orangerie, a striking Baroque castle which is different to what you may expect given the name. It was built at the start of the 18th century and, during winter, orange trees and other plants were kept inside here.

Today, it is home to the Astronomy and Physical Cabinet and Hesse’s largest planetarium. This is a collection reflecting humanity’s long-standing fascination with the cosmos and physics. Visitors can see the brilliance of early scientific instruments and astronomic models that charted humankind’s understanding of the heavens.

In summer, restaurants call the castle terrace’s home. It’s quite a striking building and the surrounding idyllic gardens provide a peaceful environment where one can ponder the universe’s wonders or simply enjoy a sunny afternoon.

6. Discover local history at the Museum für Sepulkralkultur

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Museum für Sepulkralkultur

The Museum für Sepulkralkultur is an extraordinary institution that offers visitors a profound look into the cultural aspects of death and mourning. Unparalleled in Europe, it examines the somber but important facets of human existence through a variety of lenses, from artistic to sociological.

By exploring artifacts, funerary art, and monuments, you can gain insight into the evolving attitudes towards death, bereavement, and remembrance. It’s a space that invites reflection on a topic that is universal yet often untouched, providing a richer understanding of cultural diversity and commonality when it comes to honoring those who have passed.

This museum demands a place on any Kassel itinerary for its thoughtful presentation and its ability to connect visitors deeply with the human experience. It’s located next to Grimmwelt (coming up) so it’s easy to visit these together.

7. Stroll along the Fulda River

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Karlsaue Park next to the Fulda River

Kassel’s Fulda River is a ribbon of tranquility that courses through the city, offering a picturesque route for leisurely strolls. Edged by lush green paths, it cuts through the urban landscape, providing a natural sanctuary from the city buzz.

Those looking to unwind can find pockets of peace as they watch the gentle waters flow, perhaps catching sight of local wildlife or kayakers navigating the currents.

The Fulda is also a nexus for community life, often lined with cafes and spots where locals gather, making it the perfect place to people-watch and absorb the local atmosphere.

8. Visit Grimmwelt, the Brothers Grimm Museum

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Grimmwelt

No visit to Kassel is complete without paying homage to the city’s most renowned former residents, the Brothers Grimm. The Brothers Grimm Museum is a fitting tribute to the storied legacy of Jacob and Wilhelm, who compiled their famous fairy tales during their time in Kassel.

Located in Weinbergpark, the museum showcases first editions of the “Children’s and Household Tales,” personal documents, and displays that reveal the Grimms’ contributions to linguistics and cultural research.

It’s not just displays either. There are some hands-on acitvities making this a fun place to explore. In theory, it’s aimed at all ages, although it is much more suitable for adults than kids who may find some of it boring.

As visitors explore the halls, they’re invited into the fairy-tale worlds the Grimms immortalized, allowing them to connect with stories that shaped the fabric of childhoods worldwide.

9. Explore the Fridericianum

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Fridericianum

Thought to be the first purpose-built museum in the world, the Fridericianum is a beacon of enlightenment and contemporary culture. Sitting elegantly at Friedrichsplatz, the museum has seen history unfold and has played a significant role in the progression of art and ideas since its opening in 1779.

Today, it serves as a venue for the famed documenta exhibition, but outside of this event, it’s a hub for modern and contemporary art, hosting diverse exhibitions that inspire critical thought and creative expression.

Visitors to the Fridericianum will find themselves engaged with challenging works that span a range of media, all designed to provoke understanding and dialogue on global artistic narratives. It invites enthusiasts to explore the fresh perspectives that continue to shape our responses to the visual world.

10. Experience the Neue Galerie

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Neue Galerie

The Neue Galerie serves as a vibrant chronicle of Kassel’s and Europe’s modern artistic journey. Housing exceptional works from the 19th century to the present day, this gallery validates Kassel’s place as a significant art nexus.

With an emphasis on painting and sculpture, the collection includes celebrated pieces from German Expressionists, examples of New Objectivity, and works from the postwar period. Its curation effectively narrates the compelling evolution of societal and aesthetic shifts.

Guests can engage with art that reflects and interrogates the human condition, making the Neue Galerie a treasure trove for those eager to delve into the stories and conflicts rendered in canvas and stone.

The building itself was once the home of Napoleon’s brother, Jerome.

Where To Stay In Kassel

There isn’t a huge range of hotels in Kassel, but there’s enough to choose from.

I decided to stay in a budget option near Kassel station in the center of town. I’m glad I did.

Stadthotel Kassel

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Standard Single Room at Stadthotel Kassel

Stadthotel Kassel is a great deal! Just a couple of blocks from both Kassel Station and the main Königsplatz, you’re in the center of everything with lots of eating and shopping options nearby. You can walk to many of the Kassel attractions on this list and easily take a tram to Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe.

The hotel has the option of breakfast, but otherwise doesn’t have a huge range of facilities. There are snack machines on the ground floor. There’s great wifi.

There are a range of different single and double room options. I picked the cheapest with a standard room. It was plenty big enough for just me and had a comfortable bed with good linen, a desk area, a cupboard area, a (small) TV, tea and coffee making facilities and a private bathroom. It was quiet and clean.

What I loved best was all the light when I came into the room. What I didn’t like is that the reception has limited opening hours. So when I arrived in the morning, I wasn’t able to leave my luggage here while I explored. Thankfully, this is easy to do at the station.

Click here to see the latest prices now.

How To Get To Kassel

If you’re planning to visit the charming city of Kassel in the heart of Germany, you’ll find that getting there is quite straightforward. With a variety of transportation options available, your journey is sure to be smooth.

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Wilhelmshöhe station in Kassel – there are trams and buses directly out the front

Should you be traveling by train, Deutsche Bahn (DB) is your go-to service. From virtually any major city in Germany—Berlin, Munich, or Frankfurt—there are direct routes that bring you to Kassel’s main station, Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe. Comfortably seated, you can watch the picturesque German countryside roll by.

Do note though that there are two stations in Kassel which can be confusing, Kassel and Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe. Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe is the main one and is closer to Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe. Kassel station is closer to the center of town.

You can easily get between the two by train or tram. There are many tram and bus lines out the front of Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe station.

Click here to check out Deutsche Bahn schedules and prices.

For those preferring to drive, the autobahn connects you directly to Kassel. The A7, A44, and A49 are the major highways intersecting near the city, making for an easy drive.

Click here to check out car hire options and prices.

Long-distance buses are also an economical choice. Providers such as Flixbus operate regular services to Kassel from various German cities. Settle into your seat, utilize the onboard Wi-Fi, and you’ll arrive in Kassel before you know it.

Final Words

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Königsstraße Kassel

Kassel is a city that beautifully blends its rich historical heritage with the vibrancy of contemporary cultural expressions. Whether you’re immersing yourself in the artistic wonders at Fridericianum, exploring the sprawling beauty of UNESCO-listed Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, or tracing the footsteps of the Brothers Grimm, this city offers a myriad of experiences that satisfy both the history buff and the modern art enthusiast.

The true essence of Kassel lies in its ability to offer diverse attractions while maintaining a cozy, welcoming atmosphere. A journey through its enchanting landscapes and thought-provoking exhibitions is not just a trip but a cultural pilgrimage.

Read our itinerary for Central Germany here or our guide to nearby Erfurt here, Eisenach here and Göttingen here. Find more guides to Central Germany here.

Sharon Gourlay in the Rhina Valley

By Sharon Gourlay

Sharon first fell in love with Germany back in 2000 on her first visit. She loves the long history, the picturesque Old Towns, the castles, the food, everything really! Since then, she has visited many times and loves writing about Germany here so you can enjoy it too. In fact, Sharon loves German culture so much that she sent her kids to a German primary school in Australia. She especially loves Berlin and towns with charming Old Towns like Celle and Quedlinburg. Sharon also has a Certificate III in International Travel Sales and understands the nitty gritty of travel planning. Through this site, she'll help you have the perfect trip to Germany whether it's your first or tenth time!

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