Welcome to Frankfurt, Germany’s bustling financial capital and home to a rich historical and cultural heritage. Whether you are stopping over for a few hours or have a longer layover, this vibrant city has plenty to offer. From beautiful architecture and picturesque river views to world-class museums and delicious cuisine, Frankfurt is bound to captivate your senses.
Located in the heart of Europe, Frankfurt is easily accessible with its international airport serving as a major transportation hub. Despite its reputation as a business destination, the city offers a diverse range of attractions and activities that cater to all interests.
In this guide, we will highlight some of the top things to do and see during your stopover in Frankfurt. Whether you are a history buff, a nature lover, a food enthusiast, or an art aficionado, there is something for everyone in this dynamic city.
So, don’t let your layover go to waste. Let’s dive in and discover the best of Frankfurt!
Transportation Options from the Airport
Upon arriving at Frankfurt Airport, you’ll find several convenient transportation options to take you into the city center. Here are a few popular choices:
- Train: The fastest and most efficient way to reach the city center is by taking the S-Bahn train. The S8 and S9 lines connect the airport to Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (main train station) in approximately 15 minutes. From there, you can easily access other parts of the city.
- Taxi: Taxis are readily available outside the airport terminals, and they offer a more direct and private mode of transportation. The journey into the city center typically takes around 20-30 minutes, depending on traffic conditions.
- Shuttle Service: Various shuttle companies operate services from the airport to major hotels and popular destinations in the city. These shared or private shuttles provide a convenient and hassle-free option, especially if you have a lot of luggage.
- Public Bus: Frankfurt Airport is well-connected to the city’s extensive public bus network. Bus lines such as the 61 and 77 offer affordable and reliable transportation into the city center and other neighborhoods.
- Car Rental: If you prefer the freedom to explore at your own pace, renting a car is a viable option. Many well-known car rental companies have service desks at the airport, allowing you to easily pick up your vehicle and hit the road.
It’s worth noting that Frankfurt has an efficient and reliable public transportation system, consisting of buses, trams, and trains. Once you’re in the city, these options can take you wherever you want to go. Consider getting a travel pass like the Frankfurt Card, which offers unlimited travel on public transportation for a specified duration.
With these transportation options at your disposal, you can easily navigate your way from the airport to the heart of Frankfurt and begin your adventure in this vibrant city.
Exploring the Historic Center
When visiting Frankfurt, a must-see area is the historic center, known as the Altstadt. This charming district is filled with beautifully preserved architecture and rich history. Here are some highlights to explore:
- Römerberg Square: Begin your journey at the iconic Römerberg Square, the heart of Frankfurt’s historic center. Admire the picturesque half-timbered houses and the stunning Römer, Frankfurt’s City Hall. This square has been the center of civic life for over 600 years.
- Frankfurt Cathedral: Just a stone’s throw away from Römerberg is the Frankfurt Cathedral, also known as the Kaiserdom. Climb to the top of the tower for panoramic views of the city or step inside to marvel at the impressive gothic architecture and intricate stained glass windows.
- Eiserner Steg: Walk across the Eiserner Steg, a famous pedestrian bridge that spans the River Main. From this vantage point, you’ll have breathtaking views of the city skyline and the river bustling with activity.
- Kleinmarkthalle: Immerse yourself in the vibrant food culture of Frankfurt by visiting the Kleinmarkthalle. This bustling indoor market offers a wide variety of fresh produce, international delicacies, and local specialties. Grab a snack or pick up some ingredients for a picnic along the riverbank.
- Goethe House: Frankfurt is the birthplace of the famed poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Visit the Goethe House, a meticulously restored 18th-century house that provides a glimpse into the life of this literary genius. Explore the rooms adorned with period furnishings and learn about Goethe’s life and works.
The historic center of Frankfurt is also home to numerous quaint cafes, charming boutiques, and art galleries. Take your time to wander through the narrow cobblestone streets, soak in the architectural beauty, and savor the vibrant atmosphere.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply seeking a taste of the old-world charm, exploring the historic center of Frankfurt will transport you back in time and leave you with lasting memories.
Visiting the Römerberg Square
One of the iconic landmarks in Frankfurt’s historic center is the Römerberg Square. Steeped in history and surrounded by stunning architecture, this picturesque square is a must-visit during your time in the city.
The Römerberg Square has been Frankfurt’s main market square for centuries and is home to the Römer, Frankfurt’s City Hall. The Römer is a collection of beautifully decorated buildings with their distinct medieval facade, making it a symbol of the city’s rich heritage.
Take a leisurely stroll through the square and admire the well-preserved half-timbered houses that line the cobblestone streets. These traditional German buildings are a testament to Frankfurt’s architectural past and provide a charming backdrop for photos.
At the center of the square, you’ll find the iconic Römer Fountain, a popular meeting point for locals and visitors alike. The statue of Justice atop the fountain serves as a reminder of Frankfurt’s position as an important center for trade and commerce in Europe.
While in Römerberg Square, be sure to visit St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral (Frankfurt Cathedral). This grand Gothic-style church dominates the skyline and offers an impressive interior filled with intricate details and beautiful stained glass windows. Climb to the top of the tower for panoramic views of the city.
Throughout the year, Römerberg Square plays host to various events and festivals. One of the most famous is the Frankfurt Christmas Market, one of Germany’s oldest and most traditional Christmas markets. Experience the festive atmosphere, indulge in delicious treats like mulled wine and gingerbread, and browse through the stalls selling handmade crafts and gifts.
From street performers to artists and musicians, Römerberg Square is a hub of activity, ensuring there is always something to see and do. Take a moment to sit at one of the outdoor cafes, soak in the vibrant atmosphere, and watch the world go by.
Visiting the Römerberg Square allows you to immerse yourself in the history, culture, and architectural beauty of Frankfurt. It’s a place where the past meets the present, creating a unique and memorable experience for every visitor.
Discovering the Frankfurt Cathedral
One of the most exquisite landmarks in Frankfurt is the Frankfurt Cathedral, also known as the Kaiserdom. This magnificent Gothic-style church is a must-visit for history enthusiasts, architecture buffs, and anyone seeking a spiritual experience.
Located in the heart of the city’s historic center, the Frankfurt Cathedral towers over the surrounding buildings, making it an impressive sight. Step inside this stunning church, and you’ll be greeted by soaring ceilings, intricate stone carvings, and breathtaking stained glass windows that tell stories of religious significance.
The construction of the Frankfurt Cathedral began in the 14th century and continued for centuries, resulting in a unique blend of architectural styles. The exterior showcases the grandeur of Gothic design, with its pointed arches, flying buttresses, and intricate details carved into the stone facade.
One of the highlights of visiting the Frankfurt Cathedral is ascending its tower. Climb the spiral staircase and be rewarded with panoramic views of the city. From this vantage point, you can admire Frankfurt’s skyline, including the modern skyscrapers of the financial district juxtaposed against the quaint charm of the historic center.
Inside the cathedral, take the time to explore the various chapels and altars, each adorned with art and religious artifacts. Look out for the grand organ, which dates back to the 18th century and adds to the awe-inspiring atmosphere of the space.
Throughout the year, the Frankfurt Cathedral hosts numerous concerts and cultural events, offering visitors an opportunity to experience the power of music and the acoustics of this grand venue.
Adjacent to the cathedral is the Dommuseum, a museum that houses an extensive collection of religious art and artifacts. Take a moment to delve into the history and significance of the cathedral through the exhibits on display.
Whether you are seeking a moment of tranquility, appreciating architectural marvels, or immersing yourself in religious history, the Frankfurt Cathedral offers a captivating experience. Its beauty and cultural significance make it a must-visit attraction during your time in Frankfurt.
Enjoying the Scenic River Main
When in Frankfurt, make sure to take some time to appreciate the scenic beauty of the River Main. This majestic waterway runs through the heart of the city, offering picturesque views and a vibrant atmosphere.
One of the best ways to enjoy the river is by taking a leisurely stroll along its banks. The wide promenades on both sides of the river are perfect for walking, jogging, or cycling. As you wander along, you’ll pass charming cafes, green parks, and iconic landmarks, providing a delightful backdrop for your exploration.
If you prefer a more relaxed experience, consider hopping on a river cruise. Several companies offer guided boat tours that will take you along the Main, allowing you to admire Frankfurt’s skyline and the city’s many bridges. This is a fantastic way to see the city from a different perspective and learn about its history and landmarks from the knowledgeable guides onboard.
For a unique dining experience, book a table at one of the floating restaurants on the river. Enjoy a delicious meal while soaking in the serene ambiance and watching the boats pass by, creating a truly memorable dining experience.
During the warmer months, you can also rent a pedal boat or kayak and explore the river at your own pace. It’s a fun and enjoyable way to experience the water and take in the cityscape.
For nature lovers, a visit to the Main River Park is a must. Located on the southern bank of the river, this lush green space offers a peaceful retreat from the bustling city. Take a picnic blanket, find a shaded spot, and relax while enjoying the river views and watching the world go by.
Throughout the year, the River Main hosts various events and festivals, adding to its vibrant atmosphere. From fireworks displays to cultural festivals and seasonal markets, there’s always something happening along the riverbanks that will surely enhance your visit.
Whether you choose to walk, cruise, dine, or simply relax by the river, the scenic beauty and tranquil ambiance of the River Main provide a refreshing escape from the urban bustle of Frankfurt.
Exploring the Palmengarten Botanical Garden
If you have a love for nature and botanical wonders, a visit to the Palmengarten is a must during your time in Frankfurt. This 54-acre oasis of greenery is one of the largest and most beautiful botanical gardens in Germany, offering a peaceful retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle.
The Palmengarten showcases a diverse collection of plant species from around the world. As you wander through its well-manicured gardens, you’ll encounter a variety of themed areas, each displaying different types of flora.
One of the main highlights is the Palm House, a magnificent glass structure that houses tropical and subtropical plants. Step inside, and you’ll be transported to a lush paradise filled with exotic palms, ferns, orchids, and other tropical wonders. The Palm House also features a waterfall, creating a soothing and tranquil atmosphere.
Another must-visit area within the Palmengarten is the Mediterranean Terrace. Here, you’ll find a stunning collection of Mediterranean plants, including olive trees, cypresses, and colorful flowers that evoke the charm of the Mediterranean region.
Along with its impressive plant displays, the Palmengarten offers a range of recreational activities. There are playgrounds for children, picnic areas where you can enjoy a leisurely meal amidst nature, and benches strategically placed throughout the gardens for relaxation.
Throughout the year, the Palmengarten hosts various events and exhibitions. From seasonal flower shows to concerts and workshops, there’s always something happening to enhance your visit and provide an enriching experience.
If you’re feeling peckish, visit one of the on-site cafes or restaurants, where you can indulge in a delicious meal or a refreshing beverage while enjoying the serene surroundings of the gardens.
Whether you’re a botany enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, the Palmengarten Botanical Garden is a haven of beauty and tranquility. Take your time to explore this green oasis, immerse yourself in its enchanting atmosphere, and leave feeling rejuvenated and inspired.
Shopping in Zeil Street
For shopaholics and fashion enthusiasts, a visit to Zeil Street is an absolute must during your time in Frankfurt. Known as “Fifth Avenue of Germany,” Zeil Street is the city’s premier shopping destination, offering a wide range of stores, boutiques, and department stores to suit all tastes and budgets.
Wandering along this bustling street, you’ll find an impressive selection of international brands, luxury fashion houses, and popular retailers. From high-end designer labels to affordable high street fashion, Zeil Street has something for everyone.
One of the highlights of shopping in Zeil Street is the iconic MyZeil shopping center. This architectural marvel features a stunning glass facade and houses a range of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. Take a break from your retail therapy and enjoy a meal with a view at one of the rooftop restaurants.
Aside from international brands, Zeil Street is also home to local German boutiques and department stores like Galeria Kaufhof and Karstadt. These department stores offer a wide range of products, from fashion and accessories to home goods and cosmetics.
As you explore Zeil Street, you’ll also find specialty stores catering to specific interests. From technology and electronics stores to bookshops, gourmet food markets, and specialty tea and coffee shops, there’s something to satisfy every shopper’s desires.
For those looking to take a break from shopping, Zeil Street is dotted with cafes and restaurants where you can sit back, relax, and people-watch. Grab a coffee and watch as locals and tourists go about their day.
If you happen to be in Frankfurt on a Thursday or Saturday, don’t miss the Zeil Street Market. This vibrant open-air market offers a diverse selection of fresh produce, local delicacies, flowers, and handmade crafts. It’s a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and pick up some unique souvenirs to remember your time in Frankfurt.
Whether you’re interested in high-end fashion, bargain hunting, or simply enjoy the experience of browsing through stores, Zeil Street is a shopper’s paradise. So, pull out your wallet, put on your most comfortable shoes, and get ready for a fabulous shopping spree in the heart of Frankfurt.
Sampling Local Cuisine and Brews
No visit to Frankfurt is complete without indulging in the city’s culinary delights. Known for its hearty and flavorful cuisine, Frankfurt offers a variety of traditional dishes and local brews that will tantalize your taste buds.
Start your culinary adventure with a classic Frankfurt specialty – the famous “Frankfurter” or Frankfurt sausage. These savory, smoky sausages are traditionally served with mustard and sauerkraut. Head to one of the many traditional sausage stands, known as “Wurststände,” for an authentic taste of this local delicacy.
Another must-try dish is “Green Sauce” or “Grüne Soße.” Made from a mixture of herbs such as parsley, chives, sorrel, and dill, this creamy sauce is typically served with boiled eggs and potatoes. It’s a refreshing and tangy dish that perfectly complements Frankfurt’s cuisine.
If you’re a fan of hearty comfort food, don’t miss out on “Handkäse mit Musik.” This specialty consists of a savory sour milk cheese marinated in a vinegar and oil dressing with onions and spices. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a glass of cold local apple wine.
Speaking of apple wine, it is a quintessential beverage in Frankfurt. Head to a traditional apple wine tavern, known as an “Apfelweinlokale,” to enjoy this crisp and tangy drink. Served in a traditional blue and white ceramic jug, apple wine is best enjoyed alongside hearty regional dishes.
For those with a sweet tooth, Frankfurt has a delightful treat in store – “Frankfurter Bethmännchen.” These small marzipan cookies topped with almonds are a local specialty enjoyed around the holiday season but can be found year-round in the city’s pastry shops.
When it comes to brews, Frankfurt boasts a thriving beer culture. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample locally brewed beers, from rich lagers to refreshing wheat beers. Head to a traditional beer garden or beer hall to soak in the lively atmosphere and enjoy a stein of Frankfurt’s finest brews.
For a unique dining experience, consider trying “Ebbelwoi”, also known as apple wine. This traditional Frankfurt beverage is made from fermented apples and is often served in traditional cider houses. Pair your glass of “Ebbelwoi” with traditional German cuisine like schnitzel or sausages for a truly authentic experience.
In addition to traditional dishes, Frankfurt is a melting pot of international cuisine. The city offers a diverse range of restaurants, showcasing flavors from around the world. From authentic Italian trattorias to trendy fusion eateries and vegetarian delights, there’s something to satisfy every palate.
So, come to Frankfurt with an empty stomach and be prepared to indulge in the local cuisine and brews. Food lovers and beer enthusiasts will undoubtedly find themselves in culinary heaven in this vibrant city.
Exploring the Museumsufer
For art and culture enthusiasts, the Museumsufer is a true paradise in Frankfurt. Located along the banks of the River Main, the Museumsufer, which translates to “Museum Embankment,” is a cluster of world-class museums that showcases a diverse range of artistic and historical treasures.
One of the highlights of the Museumsufer is the Städel Museum. This prestigious art museum houses an impressive collection of European art spanning from the Middle Ages to the present day. From Renaissance masters to contemporary works, the Städel Museum provides a comprehensive journey through the history of art.
Next to the Städel Museum, you’ll find the Museum für Angewandte Kunst, commonly known as the Museum of Applied Art. This museum showcases a vast collection of design objects, furniture, ceramics, and textiles, providing insights into the evolution of applied art throughout the centuries.
Explore the fascinating world of film at the Deutsches Filmmuseum. This interactive museum offers a unique behind-the-scenes look at the art of filmmaking. Experience the magic of cinema through exhibitions, interactive displays, and screenings of classic and contemporary films.
Art enthusiasts will also appreciate the Museum Giersch, which focuses on contemporary art from the Rhine-Main region. This museum showcases the works of regional artists, allowing visitors to get a deeper understanding of the local art scene and its cultural significance.
For those interested in cultural history, the Museum of World Cultures (Museum der Weltkulturen) is a must-visit. This museum explores the diverse cultures of the world through a wide range of artifacts and exhibitions, offering a fascinating glimpse into different societies and their customs.
In addition to the museums, the Museumsufer is a vibrant area with beautiful promenades where you can enjoy a leisurely walk along the riverbanks. Take in the scenic views, relax in one of the many riverside cafes, or simply people-watch as locals and tourists go about their day.
Throughout the year, the Museumsufer hosts various events and festivals. One of the most popular is the Museum Embankment Festival, a three-day celebration featuring live music, performances, food stalls, and art installations. It’s a lively and festive atmosphere that showcases the diversity and creativity of the city.
Whether you’re an art connoisseur or simply have an appreciation for culture, the Museumsufer offers a wealth of experiences that will enrich your time in Frankfurt. Immerse yourself in the world of art, history, and creativity as you explore the museums along the river’s edge.
Taking a Stroll in the Frankfurt City Forest
If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and reconnect with nature, a stroll in the Frankfurt City Forest is the perfect retreat. Located just a short distance from the city center, this expansive green oasis offers a tranquil setting for outdoor activities and relaxation.
The Frankfurt City Forest, also known as the Frankfurter Stadtwald, covers over 48 square kilometers of woodland and meadows. It is one of the largest urban forests in Germany, providing a haven for both locals and visitors looking for a breath of fresh air.
Start your exploration by walking along the network of serene forest trails. It’s a paradise for nature lovers, with towering trees, native fauna, and the soothing sound of birdsong. The forest’s well-maintained pathways make it accessible for walkers, joggers, and cyclists.
As you wander through the forest, you’ll come across charming picnic areas where you can enjoy a leisurely outdoor meal surrounded by nature’s beauty. It’s an ideal spot to unwind, recharge, and soak up the peaceful atmosphere.
If you’re feeling adventurous, consider venturing further into the forest to discover hidden gems such as the Goetheturm tower. This 43-meter-tall observation tower offers panoramic views of the surrounding treetops and the Frankfurt skyline.
The Frankfurt City Forest is not just about natural beauty; it’s also home to several recreational facilities. The Opel Zoo, located within the forest, is a popular attraction for families, housing a variety of animals from all over the world.
In addition, the forest boasts sports facilities, including running tracks, horseback riding trails, and even a golf course. These amenities provide opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities amidst the tranquil surroundings.
Throughout the year, the forest hosts events and festivals such as nature walks, wildlife education programs, and outdoor concerts. These events offer an immersive experience in the heart of nature and an opportunity to learn about the region’s flora and fauna.
Whether you’re seeking solitude, a family outing, or a day of outdoor recreation, the Frankfurt City Forest delivers. Escape the urban environment and immerse yourself in the tranquility of this expansive green space just moments away from the bustling city center.
Enjoying a River Cruise on the Main
One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Frankfurt and its surroundings is by taking a leisurely river cruise on the Main. Drifting along the gentle currents of the river, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the city’s skyline, picturesque vineyards, and charming riverside villages.
An array of river cruise options is available, ranging from short sightseeing tours to full-day excursions. These cruises offer a unique perspective of Frankfurt, allowing you to see popular landmarks such as the Frankfurt Cathedral, the Römerberg Square, and the skyscrapers of the financial district from the water.
As you sail along the Main, listen attentively to the informative commentary provided by the guides, who will share fascinating facts about the city’s history, architecture, and cultural significance.
The river cruises also provide an opportunity to explore the surrounding countryside, as the Main is flanked by charming towns and vineyards. You may have the chance to disembark at some of these picturesque locations and explore their quaint streets, sample local wines, or visit historical attractions.
One of the highlights of a river cruise on the Main is passing through the scenic Rhine Gorge. This UNESCO World Heritage site features stunning landscapes, medieval castles, and vineyards along the riverbanks.
During the warmer months, many river cruises offer dining options on board, allowing you to savor a delicious meal while enjoying the scenic views. From traditional German cuisine to international flavors, these cruises provide an excellent opportunity to indulge in a culinary experience paired with the beauty of the river.
Whether you choose a relaxing afternoon cruise or a romantic sunset excursion, a river cruise on the Main is a delightful way to immerse yourself in the natural and cultural wonders of the region. The calm waters, stunning scenery, and soothing breeze will ensure a memorable experience that showcases the beauty of Frankfurt and its surroundings.
Frankfurt, with its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning architecture, offers a multitude of experiences for travelers. From exploring the historic center and admiring the Römerberg Square to enjoying a relaxing stroll in the Frankfurt City Forest, this city has something for everyone.
The Museumsufer delights art enthusiasts with its world-class museums, while the Palmengarten Botanical Garden provides a serene escape amidst diverse plant species. Zeil Street fulfills the desires of shopaholics with its wide range of stores and boutiques, while the River Main offers a tranquil backdrop for leisurely walks and scenic river cruises.
When it comes to culinary delights, Frankfurt does not disappoint. From savoring traditional dishes like Frankfurt sausages and Green Sauce to sampling local brews such as apple wine, the city’s unique flavors will leave a lasting impression. And let’s not forget the sweet treats like Frankfurter Bethmännchen.
Whether you have a few hours or a couple of days, Frankfurt invites you to explore its rich heritage, immerse yourself in its cultural offerings, and experience its dynamic atmosphere. The city effortlessly blends history and modernity, providing a captivating journey for visitors of all interests.
So, whether you are on a layover or planning a dedicated trip to Frankfurt, make the most of your time in this vibrant city. Discover its hidden gems, savor its culinary delights, and soak up the captivating ambiance that makes Frankfurt a truly remarkable destination.