Fun in Frankfurt
As Germany’s financial core, Frankfurt is where you’ll be confronted with banks, businesses in skyscrapers and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Money, money, and more money… And you’ll certainly need a fair few Euros when you’re here. Frankfurt is many things, but one thing it’s not is cheap.
Amusingly, the people of Frankfurt are named after sausages. Or that could be the other way around. Regardless, Frankfurt is home to lots of Frankfurters – some are tasty and gorgeous, while others are simply edible.
Amidst the high-rises are museums aplenty. If you’re interested in philosophy or poetry, head to the Goethe House or Goethe Museum. For other cultural pursuits, try the Museum of Sculpture, the Film Museum or Staedel Gallery.
Here’s something to add to your trivia knowledge: Frankfurt-am-Main is actually the city’s official name (referring to the river Main). This is because there’s a handful Frankfurts in Germany – confusing, we know! But when someone says ‘Frankfurt’, it’s common knowledge that they mean Frankfurt-am-Main.
You’ve probably been daydreaming about bier since the second you started thinking about Germany as a holiday destination, but in Frankfurt the alcoholic specialty is actually Apfelwein (Ebbelwoi in the local dialect), which is an apple cider. Fortunately, it tastes almost as good as beer and is just as alcoholic!
So while money makes this city go round, a good time can still be had in Frankfurt. The sausages see to that.
Frankfurt's Top 10
10. Museum of Modern Art unsurprisingly exhibits German modern art, but the building itself is also very pretty.
5. Frankfurter Dom (Dom Sankt Bartholomaus) This Gothic cathedral is the largest church in Frankfurt at 95 metres tall.
9. Palmengarten is one of the two botanical gardens in Frankfurt – and the largest in Germany.
4. Frankfurt Zoo Find your animalistic side at the Frankfurt Zoo. There are more than 5000 animals to learn about.
8. St Paul’s Church was the first building to be re-built after World War II when many of Frankfurt’s major buildings were destroyed.
3. Hessenpark Open Air Museum Close to 100 houses are on display at this museum, showcasing the land of Hesse (which isn’t quite as magical as the land of Oz, but still quietly interesting in a rather earnest Germanic way).
7. Sachsenhausen This district of Frankfurt is where you can taste the famous Apfelwein at its traditional cider houses.
2. Senckenberg Museum is a natural history museum. You know the deal: dinosaur skeletons, stuffed birds and the like. It’s no Jurassic Park, but kids (and dinosaur fanatics) will absolutely love it!
6. Oper Frankfurt is a modern opera house not to be confused with Alte Oper (Old Opera). It has been awarded ‘Best Opera House of the Year’ three times now.
1. Römer This medieval building is Frankfurt’s most important sight. It was converted into a city hall (Rathaus) after the Römer merchant family sold the building to the city council.
- Senckenberg National History Museum – Not just dinosaurs. Children will love it, and parents will too.
- Frankfurt Romans – This building has been the City Hall since 1405.
- Money Museum – The history of money in Germany.
- Goethe House – Where the genius lived and wrote his amazing works.
- Historical Museum – An interesting history of Frankfurt before and after the war.
Frankfurt Art & Culture
- Museum of Modern Art – Many levels in a building made for the display of art.
- Dialog Museum – Find out what it is to be blind, led by a blind guide in darkness.
- Old Opera House – Rebuilt after being destroyed in the war and well worth a visit, even without a performance.
- Stadel Museum – Widely regarded as the best art museum in the city, if not the world.
- German Architecture Museum – A wonderful way to learn about German architecture.
- Bauernmarkt Konstablerwache – A huge farmer's market that leaves nothing out.
- MyZeil – Shops and restaurants for every taste. Check out the LEGO shop.
- Portikus – An art gallery that features contemporary art.
- Hessen–Center – Find the brands you know in a conveniently located little shopping mall.
- Schirn Art Hall – An ever-changing art gallery that specializes in nothing. Old masters sit next to modern pieces.
Gay & Lesbian Frankfurt
- Lucky's Manhattan – LGBT-friendly place that offers entertainment as well as drinks.
- Harvey's – The emphasis in this place is romance. The drinks aren't bad, either.
- Pilar – The emphasis here is on the cocktails.
- Opium – This place is known for its beautiful patrons.
- Central – Good drinks and great conversation.
- Garden of Heavenly Freedom – An oasis of Asian charm in the middle of a bustling German city.
- Bethmannpark – Goethe once enjoyed this old park Goethe, still lovely after all these years.
- Rothschildpark – A lovely city park with a playground for children and interesting sculptures.
- Frankfurt Zoo – A nice zoo with new enclosures and activities for children.
- Sachsenhausen – An old-fashioned part of town where you can wander around.
- Commerzbank Arena – The largest sports arena in Frankfurt and the site of the 2011 Women's FIFA World cup finals.
- Frankfurt Marathon – The oldest city marathon in Germany, held in October and sponsored by Commerzbank.
- Eintracht Frankfurt – A football club for Frankfurt playing at Riederwaldstadion.
- Ballesporthalle – The home of the Frankfurt Basketball team, Skyliners Frankfurt, who were the national champions in 2004.
- Eschborn–Frankfurt City Loop – A cycling race that goes mostly in the mountains outside the city.
It means ‘old city’ in German, so it’s no surprise that Altstadt is the historical centre of Frankfurt, although much of it has been rebuilt since WWII. Here you’ll find the Romerberg Plaza and Paulskirche (Paul’s Church), while the Hauptwache (guardhouse), a baroque building and plaza, is also worth a peek. It connects to shopping streets, if you’re suddenly in the mood for a splurge. There’s also the Historischer Garten, an archaeological garden that houses the remains of Roman and Carolingian military buildings.Innenstadt
Innenstadt translates to ‘inner city’. The city district houses the Alte Oper (Old Opera) – old because it’s been around since 1880. Alte Oper has two concert halls and smaller convention halls. Although there’s now a new opera house, Frankfurt Oper, it still holds plays and concerts today. Another landmark worth visiting is the Friedberger Tor, a medieval watchtower. Innenstadt also has the Zeil, Germany’s longest Fussgängerzone (pedestrian shopping street). You’ll easily burn money at this shopping area, so watch out!Bahnhofsviertel
Trainspotters of the world, rejoice! Finally a city destination created with you in mind! Bahnhofsviertel is Frankfurt’s train station area. How good is that?! You can go there and see trains. Some moving, some standing still, some with people using them. Simply unbelievable stuff! (You can also go there for the famous red-light district, which boasts everything from peep shows to sex shops – but who would want to do that when trains are on offer? FYI, the sexy action is particularly, shall we say, active and vibrant north of Kaiserstraße).
Frankfurt Eat & Drink
You’ll no doubt want to chow down on some good old hearty German food, but for those looking for something a little different, Frankfurt also has a lot of international and European cuisine to keep your tastebuds tantalized.
Bistro Rosa Here you’ll be greeted by pig caricatures that looks like German politicians. As intimated by the caricatures and the fact that Germans love meat, pork is on the German menu.
Silk at Cocoon Club is an exotic restaurant – almost too exotic for most Germans, we presume, as it’s waaay more popular with tourists. The fusion menu offers an 11-course meal. City Centre
Gargantua serves modern German cuisine with a touch of French flair. Chef Klaus Trebes is also a food columnist (just to give you a conversation-starter should you meet him).
Erno’s Bistro has been open since 1974. It’s one of Frankfurt’s favourite restaurants, serving French and Mediterranean.
Gerbermuehle A restored 14th Century flour mill with contemporary design, Gerbermuehle is the place where Goethe met his Marianne. It’s a hotel, which also has an excellent restaurant. Oberrad
Osteria Enoteca It’s like we’ve died and gone to gastronomical heaven. This small but very busy restaurant gives you an authentic Italian fine dining experience in Frankfurt. Rödelheim
Maintower 187 metres high, you’ll get a spectacular view while you bask in the glory of German and international dishes. Be warned, though, the lift ride alone costs €5. City Centre
Movenpick Hotel Frankfurt has a brunch buffet that seduces all who try it. Warning: you may leave with a food baby if you don’t practise safe eating.
Surf’n’Turf Steaks and seafood! It’s the best steakhouse in Frankfurt, but it comes at a price.
Altes Zollhaus dishes up traditional German food and international dishes in a 230-year-old house. In the summer you can dine in the gorgeous garden. Seckbach
Fasching is an annual event celebrated in February everywhere in Germany. It’s somewhat similar to Mardi Gras in other countries. Dress up along with the Frankfurters and join in on the many outdoor activities.
In March and April, the Spring Dippe Fair is an enormous sideshow where you can enjoy rides, food and wine tastings, as well as firework displays.
The Museum Quay Festival is a celebration on the river Main in August. Set your eyes on cultural performances and fireworks.
The Frankfurt Motor Show is held every two years in September. It’s the largest motor show in the world!
In mid-October indulge in the Frankfurt Book Fair (Frankfurt Buchmesse) – the most important publishing event in the world. The fair has been around since 1485. You’ll only be able to participate in the last two days of the fair when it’s open to the public. Just don’t go there to should out: ‘The Internet is killing books!’
In October the Frankfurt Jazz Festival is perfect for jazz enthusiasts. Obviously. Wouldn’t be much point going if country and western is your thing.
The Christmas Market is one of the best in Germany. Held in November and December, up to three million visitors (including one very special one with a great white beard who comes all the way from the North Pole!) make an appearance.
When To Go
Frankfurt’s climate is much like any other German city: cold in winter, hot in summer, and pleasant in between.
Winter (November to February) in Frankfurt is chilly – temperatures frequently drop below freezing.
Spring (March to April) thaws out those frozen toes and fingers with temperatures that (happily) climb above zero at around 0-13°C (32-55°F).
In summer (May to August) you’ll typically enjoy warm weather at 8-23°C (46-73°F), but the mercury can climb to 35°C (95°F) at times.
Autumn is from September to October, and is still warm enough to make for a pleasant trip at 6-19°C (43-66°F)
Getting There & Around
Frankfurt Airport is the second largest in Europe, so chances are you’ll have a stopover here even if you’re flying elsewhere in Europe. May as well make a trip out of it! You can also reach Frankfurt by bus and train.
The public transport system in Frankfurt is very good. You can take the Underground (U-Bahn) or S-Bahn (those gorgeous trains again!), the tram or the bus. On average a one-day ticket will cost you €6.40. You can also take taxis, cars or bikes. Frankfurt has lots of bike lanes, so you’re good to go.
What To Miss
Avoid secluded areas like Bonames or Rödelheim, where American-style gangs could feel the need to provoke you.
Hauptbahnhof (central station area) attracts a lot of homeless people and drug addicts. Beggars may ask you for Kleingeld (small change). Pretend you don’t speak German (which you probably don’t!) and they’ll most likely leave you alone.
While only fifth on the population depth chart in Germany, no other city in the country is more vital to the national economy. As the financial heart of Germany and indeed, second only to Paris on continental Europe, the city is synonymous with big banks, big business and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
The sum total for tourists however, extends far beyond the cold numbers of the DAX. Though Frankfurt is a financial hub, certain consequences proffer great reasons to visit. The city has a decidedly international vibe for one, with people from all over the world in the employ of countless multinational institutions, and invests in the arts in a big way.
While traces of a medieval fortification that ran the perimeter of the city are scarce, the Eschenheimer Turm is a stark reminder of Frankfurt's historic role as a crucial base on the river Main. The Gothic watchtower was one of 60 around the city.
The former Baroque house of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a giant philosopher, poet and writer, is a popular attraction in Frankfurt. The house, faithfully rebuilt after World War II, is adjacent to the Goethe Museum. Frankfurt also has a liberal arts university in his name.
Frankfurt's preeminent Museum of Sculpture has a fabulous home in the former palace of Baron Heinrich Liebieg. Built in 1896, exhibits span various periods of sculpture throughout the history of Europe, as well as collections from around the world.
Germany has a unique and rich cinematic history. Much of it is on display at the excellent Film Museum in Frankfurt.
The StÄdel Gallery is the best art museum in Frankfurt. The vast collection of master works covers all the major schools in Europe.
Frankfurt, as befitting a leading financial city, has some tall buildings. Some of the highest skyscrapers in the European Union grace the city skyline. While the Maintower is only the fourth-tallest, it comes equipped with that most magnetic of tourist attractions: an observation deck, with great panoramic views of Frankfurt.
Every German city seems to explode at Christmastime, with traditional fairs and festive feasts that conjure the convivial warmth of Old Europe. Frankfurt's Christmas Market is simply one of the best in the country. Held in the heart of the old town, the market dates back over 700 years.
The Museum Quay Festival is a huge outdoor celebration on the river Main in late August that draws tens of thousands of Frankfurt residents to cultural performances, food and beverage vendors and fireworks displays.
While not as large as others around Europe, the Frankfurt Jazz Festival has a solid track record of thoughtfully chosen artists from around the world that challenge the very limits of the genre. The festival takes place throughout the month of October.
A typical German city with four seasons that herald cold winters and humid, rainy summers, the months of May and September may be the best time to visit Frankfurt.
- Winter (November to February) -3-7°C
- Spring (March to April) 0-13°C
- Summer (May to August) 8-23°C
- Fall (September to October) 6-19°C
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