Close your eyes and picture the typical postcard image you…
When I speak to people if they have been to Frankfurt they say yes. If I ask them whether they have been outside the airport and in fact visited the city a lot of them deny. However Frankfurt is definitely worth seeing and if you happen to have a layover in Frankfurt why not make the most out of it and explore the city. There is a lot to do and see in Frankfurt.
Frankfurt doesn’t get the credit it deserves and is often overlooked because it is not as hip as Berlin or as beautiful as Munich. In fact you probably won’t fall in love with the city at first sight when you don’t really know where to go. I moved to Frankfurt in 2013 when I started flying for Condor airline and it took me quite some time until I actually started liking the city.
I lived in Frankfurt for over three years and while it was my base from where I flew out in the world, I still got to spend a fair share of time exploring the different areas in Frankfurt and eating my way through many nice restaurants and cafés. I want to share with you my favorite things on what to do, where to go, where to eat, drink, shop and stay and I promise you that you will fall in love with Frankfurt, a city with a skyline like no other in Germany. Frankfurt is also called Mainhattan and at night with all the high-rise buildings lighting up it gives you some serious NYC vibes.
What to do in Frankfurt
To see all that Frankfurt has to offer I would recommend to at least spend two days, 1 night in the city in order not to rush it. So what are things to do in Frankfurt?
Visit the Old Town of Frankfurt
When you arrive at the airport or train station in Frankfurt you might wonder where do I start. I recommend you to take the underground to the station: Dom/Römer first. Here you will be ablate to see the old town of Frankfurt. You will find yourself on a big square with beautiful timbered houses that have been restored after the second world war. Recently they also added a new quarter to the old town reconstructed according to old plans bringing Frankfurt’s medieval history back to live.
See Frankfurt from above from the Maintower Observation Deck
Frankfurt has the most impressive skyline of Germany with the most skyscrapers. A fun thing to do for first time visitors is to go on top of the Maintower to get a great view over the city. Especially on a nice day the view over the city is spectacular. Tickets are reasonable priced (7.50 € for adults and 5 € for children). Check their website for opening hours.
Head to the riverside and cross the Eisener Steg
The Main river is a popular hangout spots for the locals in summer. You will see a lot of people having picnics along the river, working out or taking a standup paddle out on the river. There are plenty of cafés along the river as well, where you can enjoy a drink. I would recommend you to take a short walk from the Römerberg down to the Eisener Steg, an iron footbridge that connects the center of Frankfurt with Sachsenhausen. The bridge itself is a popular photo motive and couples like to attach love locks to the bridge. Cross the bridge for a nice view of the skyline.
Since you are already in that area make your way into Sachsenhausen. It is a really popular area as there are a lot of nice restaurants and cafés and many unique, small shops. Another thing you will find in Old Sachsenhausen are rustic apple wine pubs where you get the chance to try the local cuisine of Frankfurt as well as very popular beverage here: the apple wine. The area itself is very beautiful with timbered houses and narrow alley ways.
River cruise on the Main
On a nice day I would recommend you to get a ticket for one of the scenic river cruises that go up and down the Main river. It is lovely to sit on deck, grab a drink and enjoy the view passing by. On the tour they will have information about Frankfurt in German, as well as English and French. The tours depart from the Mainkai and are between 50 to 100 minutes depending what kind of ticket you buy.
Visit one of the museums along the Museumsufer
Along the river you will also be able to find a numerous of great museums to visit. There are over 15 museums to choose from so make your selection wisely.
If you are into art then the Städel Museum will definately be for you. It has art of 700 years on display from old masters to modern art and art of today. Look out for changing special exceptions as well.
Other museums are f.e the film museum, the museum of communication,
Once a year Frankfurt organizes the Museumsuferfest, a popular event where you can see as many museums as you like with one ticket.
Berger Straße for some shopping and good eats
Berger Straße has always been my favorite neighborhood to go for a stroll. With 2.9 km it is the longest shopping street in Frankurt. It has a lot of charm and offers more of an alternative and relaxed shopping experience. Here you will find rather small boutiques and lesser known brands. On Wednesdays and Saturdays there is a popular market in the upper part of the Berger Straße with lots of lovely local produces.
If you are feeling hungry or thirsty there is a lot of options for you. Some of my favorite bars and restaurants in Frankfurt are located on the street and there is also plenty of options to sit outside on a sunny day.
To get there I would suggest you to take the underground to Bornheim Mitte and walk down the street and explore. Make a stop at Bethmannpark to take a break and wander the Chinese Garden.
Frankfurts Bahnhofsviertel has always had a bit of a bad reputation- prostitution, drugs and crime. That image is changing and the area is becoming more and more hip. Clubs, bars and international cuisine can now be found here. If you are interested learning more about the Bahnhofsviertel, you can also go on a two hour walking tour and hear some of the stories that this area has to tell.
Goethe House and Museum
Famous german writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born in the city of Frankfurt. Visitors can visit the Goethe House, his birth house and see how people have lived at that time. It is recommended to take a tour to learn more about Goethe and old Frankfurt.
Opernplatz and Euro Sign
The old opera in Frankfurt and the area around always reminds me of Paris. The building itself has been destroyed in WW2 and has been completely rebuilt. Nowadays it serves as a concert hall and theatre. While it is defiantly worth checking out their website whats currently on, the square itself is a nice place to visit and to enjoy a coffee there. Just around the corner from the old opera you will also find a massive Euro sculpture in the heart of the banking district.
Zeil and Hauptwache
If you are into shopping you will find all the big brands on the main shopping street Zeil. The underground stations to take to get there are either Hauptwache or Konstablerwache. If you are tired from all the shopping and want to grab a bite to eat or a drink I can recommend you to head to Galeria Kaufhof and to go to their café on the top floor. The terrace is a nice hangout spot and you will get a great view of Frankfurt’s skyline from there.
The Dialogmuseum must be my absolute favorite museum in Frankfurt. There is nothing to see, as you won’t be able to see when you are there. The idea behind the museum is a unique and touching experience to show people how it is like to not be able to see. The exhibition in complete darkness is displayed as a parc, a city, or a bar with the help of sounds, scents, textures, and authentic props. The people guiding you through are blind and visually impaired.
Currently the museum is closed and will reopen it autumn 2019.
Located in the area of Westend, you will find the over Palmengarten– a large greenhouse opened in 1871 having over 13.000 tropical and subtropical plants from different climate zones on display. Some of the oldest palm trees are over 100 years old. Without even going on a faraway journey, you will be able to see the diversity of our planet in the heart of Frankfurt.
The Frankfurt cathedral is the largest religious building in the city and is called the Kaiserdom (imperial great church) or Dom due to it’s importance as former election and coronation church of the Holy Roman Empire. You can take a free tour of the interior and from April to October for a small fee visitors have the chance to climb up the spire via 328 to get a panoramic view of the city.
Not far from the renowned shopping street Zeil, you will find the Kleinmarkthalle, a market hall with over 60 stalls selling fresh food from all over the world from Monday to Saturday. It is nice to have a wander, do tastings and take some products home.
It has becoming a bit of a tradition that locals gather there on Saturdays to have a glass of wine and enjoy some live music.
Where to eat in Frankfurt
Frankfurt is a melting pot of cultures. When you are here make sure to try the traditional, local cuisine that is Grüne Soße ( a yogurt based sauce that consists of 7 different herbs that is eaten with potatoes and hard boiled egg), Handkäse mit Musik (harzer cheese with vinegar, oil and onions) and of course you have to have apple wine when in Frankfurt which you can eater drink pure or mix it with sparkling water („sauer gespritzt“) or lemonade („süß gespritzt“).
Apart from the traditional Frankfurter cuisine, you can almost find any other cuisine and go on a culinary journey. I loved to try out different restaurants from all over the world and am always excited when I am back in Frankfurt to dine at some of my favorites. I would recommend you to try making a reservation in advance just to be sure.
Pizzeria Montana: Original Neapolitan Pizza. Nothing less, nothing more. In the Bahnhofsviertel you will find some of the best pizza in Frankfurt at Pizzeria Montana. There is only pizza on the menu, but that’s what you come here for. The ingredients are of great quality and the pizza comes out of a wood stone oven.
HolyCross Brewing Society: A hip and urban café not far from the Zeil. Here you will find some of the best coffee in Frankfurt. If you are keen on some good breakfast this is also a nice place to check out.
Dönerboot: This is a Frankfurt classique. The Döner boat is a boat not far from Eisener Steg along the Main river selling döner as well as other Turkish food. You can either get a döner as takeaway or take a seat on the boat. There fish döner is unique and delicious.
Aroma Vegetarian & More: An inexpensive and popular place to grab a quick meal for on the go. They sell delicious falafel sandwiches.
MainNizza: Along the Main river you will find this modern and chic restaurant with big panorama windows serving international as well as creative German cuisine. A great place for a special event or a sophisticated dining experience. Prices are more on the higher side, but the daily lunch menu is good and affordable.
Sonamu- Casual Korean Dining: On the Berger Straße you will find this modern Korean restaurant. I never had Korean food before coming here and they have some delicious Bibimbap and beef bulgogi.
Muku (Ramen Restaurant): Ramen has become more and more popular and it’s understandable why- this Japanese noodle soup is filling and simply delicious. Muku must be one of the most popular and best places to eat ramen in Frankfurt.
Im Herzen Afrikas: This is my all time favorite restaurant as not only the food is mouth watering but the entire dining experience is so unique. They serve Ethiopian food here and the entire restaurant is decorated accordingly. You can for example dine in a tree house or in an African hut and the floor is covered in sand. Best thing is to order a mixed platter to share (with meat or vegetarian), you eat everything with your hand pulling small pieces of a pancake using it to grab the food.
Where to grab a drink
Bonechina: Hidden Cocktail bar with living room atmosphere in Altsachs.
Rote Bar: Great Gatsby vibes, a mystical atmosphere and great cocktails. To get in you have to ring a door bell and one of the waiters will guide you in. The bar itself is rather small with a cozy interior and great atmosphere. The cocktails are worth ordering and they have over 50 different gins. On weekends it is best to reserve in advance.
Kinly Bar: A speakeasy bar located in the Bahnhofsviertel that isn’t easy to find. Once you are in they will surprise you with delicious and creative cocktails that are however on the pricey side with 13-14 Euros each.
Oosten: Is a bar and restaurant with industrial design next to the European central bank. Lovely view of the skyline from the terrace and good drinks. Feeling hungry? They also have a wide food menu serving international cuisine.
Altsachs- Rittergasse: It is not every bodies cup of tea and definitely don’t expect much when coming here. On the Rittergasse you will find lots of cheap bars next to each other. It can be a lot of fun, if you had a few drinks already. Lots of stag parties here. The Frankfurt pub crawl also takes you to this area.
Frankfurt Nightlife- Where to party in Frankfurt
Gibson: This is a stylish, urban club with a strict dress code located on the Zeil. Especially the band that plays on Thursdays is great- if you come before 10 pm on that day the Entrance is free. The drinks are rather expensive.
Robert Johnson: If you like techno, you will love this club. It is a stylish, small club with living room atmosphere and a great crowd. From the terrace you have a great view over the Main. Keep an eye out for special events when they invite famous DJs.
Der Grieche: This greek restaurant has some good food and wine. After 11 pm on Saturday it all turns into a big party with everybody dancing on the tables and throwing napkins.
Tanzhaus West: This club has an underground feel and is a great party hotspot for everybody liking electronic music. The atmosphere is relaxed and no special dress code required.
Silbergold: A little alternative club playing an indie/rock mix. Frankfurt can be quite expensive to go out, here entrance prices as well as drinks are moderate. Especially on Thursdays it is a great place to be.
Yachtklub: A floating café during the day and a bar and club at night playing everything from Electro to Hip-Hop. I especially like that they have a sun deck, which is nice to hang out to cool down and have a chat when you want to take a break from dancing. Prices are reasonable.
Where to stay in Frankfurt- Accommodation
At the airport: Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel
Frankfurt airport is an international hub and when flying into Germany from abroad you most likely will land at FRA airport. A lot of people will also fly into Frankfurt to get connection flights to other destinations. Whether Frankfurt is your final destination or you are flying out of Frankfurt the next day, an airport hotel after a long journey or before taking a flight is convenient and easy. For that I can highly recommend the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel and Conference Center. It is just opposite Terminal 1 and can be reached by crossing the street from arrivals or taking a walk bridge. This is the hotel closest to the airport, so once you arrive at the airport you are at the hotel and then in your room in just a few minutes. Perfect to refresh and take some rest. If you want to head to the city you can either take a taxi or simply take public transport that runs frequently from Frankfurt airport into the city in 15 minutes.
The Sheraton is part of the Mariott Group and offers you the comforts away from home. I arrived after a long flight from Tokyo to Frankfurt and was very happy that I didn’t have to take a taxi or underground into the city. After crossing the street from Terminal 1 I got checked in by the friendly and professional reception staff in no time. The Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel offers different room categories from Classic and Deluxe Rooms to Family Rooms and several suites. For two nights I stayed in the Deluxe Room offering all the amenities you would be looking for: comfortable king size bed, a work desk, safe, iron, coffee/tea maker, mini bar, as well as fast and free WiFi. From my room I had a view of the airport, but not to worry windows are completely sound proof.
If you want to unwind from your journey you can either book visit the spa for a massage or make us of the 24 hour fitness.
Feeling hungry or in the mood of a drink? There are several dining options at the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel: You can either enjoy international cuisine at the main restaurant Flavors or have a taste of traditional German cuisine at the coz restaurant Taverne. Drinks and various sportcasts can be enjoyed at the Davidoff Lounge & Sports Bar.
One thing that I want to highlight is the great breakfast buffet that leaves no wishes open and is perfect to fuel up for the day or a long journey. There is a lot of options to choose from such as different baked good, healthy options such as fruits and nuts, a cooking station where eggs are prepared and several warm dishes.
My stay at the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel was pleasant and perfect for in between travels and business meetings.
The 25hours Hotel chain is among my favorites. The brand is creative, hip and for everybody who is young at heart. In Frankfurt you will find two 25hour hotels. The 25hours Hotel The Trip is just a short walking distances away from the central station. Perfect place to stay for your city trip to Frankfurt. It recently has been rebranded and fully renovated and now will take you on a trip around the world in a day. Every floor has a different theme reminding the visitors of different continents, adventurous trips and legendary excursions created by Frankfurt artist Michael Dreher. I stayed in one of their Asian themed Medium rooms during my stay. The room features a queensize bed, aircon and guest will be able to surf with free highspeed internet. A nice extra is that guests can use the Mini cooper free of charge (when available) and also have the chance to hire Schindelhauer bikes. As Frankfurt is perfect to explore by bike and the hotel lays in the heart of the city we opted for the bike hire.
The restaurant BAR SHUKA serves creative oriental cuisine and some great cocktails and is a popular place to eat out not only for hotel guest, but also a popular restaurant among Frankfurt locals.