GETTING THERE: As Robert Browning explained, "Hamelin Town's in Brunswick, by famous Hanover city" -- 29 miles southwest, to be exact. From Frankfurt by car, take autobahn routes north to Kassel and Go ttingen. Continue north to the Hildesheim exit and head west on Hwy. 1 to Hamelin. It's about five hours driving time from the Frankfurt airport. There are also regular trains from Frankfurt to Hamelin by way of Hanover.
WHERE TO STAY: The telephone area code for Hamelin is 05151; delete "O" when dialing from abroad.
Dorint Hotel, 164er Ring No. 3, phone 7920; there are 55 singles and 48 doubles up to $53.
Hotel zur Krone, Oster Strasse No. 30, 7411, seven singles and 37 doubles up to $51.
Hotel zur Bo rse, Oster Strasse No. 41a, 7080, 24 singles and 12 doubles up to $30.
Hotel Altstadtwiege, Neue Marktstrasse No. 10, 27854, eight singles and three doubles up to $24.
WHAT TO DO: Between May 1 and Sept. 30, guided walking tours, in German, start at 3 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. Sundays, from the Tourist Information Office, Deisterallee, phone 202517; fee DM 2 (67 cents).
Group tours with English-speaking guides can be booked year-round through the Tourist Information Office; $10 for up to 30 persons.
Pied Piper Play, every summer Sunday at noon on the market square; admission free.
Hamelin Museum, Oster Strasse No. 8 and 9, open Tuesdays to Fridays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; admission DM 1 (33 cents).
SIDE TRIPS: Hamelin is a good departure point for Weser River excursions. Boats leave from the landing at the Mu nster Bridge, near St. Boniface basilica. There are several trips daily upstream and downstream through the Weser hill country to such charming towns as Bodenwerder, Rinteln and Ho xter.
It is only 10 miles to Schloss Ha melschenburg, a perfectly preserved Renaissance castle on the banks of the Weser, still owned and inhabited by members of the Klencke family, whose forebears, titled landowners, built it in the 16th century. The castle's living quarters are open to the public. There are seven one-hour guided tours daily except Mondays between April and Oct. 31; admission DM 5.
WHERE TO EAT: Rattenfa nger Haus, Oster Strasse No. 28, phone 3838; open lunch and dinner, the specialty is "Rattenschwa nze" (Rat Tails), a pork filet dish.
Ratschenke im Rattenkrug, Ba cker Strasse No. 16, 22731; open lunch and dinner. This is Hamelin's oldest inn, in a 700-year-old house.
Zur Krone, Oster Strasse No. 30, phone 7411; open for lunch and dinner.
Alte Marktstube, Alte Marktstrasse No. 31, phone 44664; open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, lunch only on Sunday.
Weinstuben am Kamin, Pyrmonter Strasse No. 12, phone 62122; open for dinner only Tuesday through Sunday.
The most atmospheric spot for coffee and pastries is the Museum Cafe, No. 8 Oster Strasse, right in the half-timbered Stiftsherren Haus. The specialty is a calorific concoction called "rat catcher torte."