Often known as the financial capital of Europe, Frankfurt is not typically on your to-do list whilst on a Europe tour. Well, it should be! And I say that not after seeing the “things to do in Frankfurt” on Google or reading a travel agency brochure. I say it from experience. There is much more to the city than what initially meets the eye. And this is coming from a girl who had much the same picture of Frankfurt painted in her mind as you do. But one week into my now six month stay at Frankfurt, and I stood corrected.
A little intro
What gets to me most about Frankfurt is the perfect blend of town and city. The hustle-bustle of the city combined with the quaintness of the town make it the most elegant town I have ever visited. The high rise buildings are accompanied pleasantly by the cottages along the Taunus (mountain) and the numerous street performers and market stall owners gel perfectly with the suited investment bankers. A city full of colour, vigour, culture and charisma, Frankfurt will find a place in your heart as quickly as it did in mine. Another thing I absolutely love about Frankfurt is the public transport. Though a central German city, Frankfurt is quite small. Nowhere comparable to its peers. You can pretty much cover the entire city in a couple of days and the German trains make this all the more feasible (I am sure no one here doubts German efficiency 😛). Running from everywhere to everywhere, they make travelling within the city a child’s play (plus its cheap!). And if you’re an auto-buff there is no better place to be than Germany of course!
I like my vacations to be relaxed. I don’t like cramming 10 tourist spots in 2 days. I like to take my time and do the spots I like. In this article I am going to talk about my favourite things to do in Frankfurt and the spots I would do if I were a tourist. If you guys don’t find anything you like, be not disenchanted! With Auto-fairs, book-fairs and a lot more, Frankfurt am Main definitely has something for you! Now I came to Frankfurt as a student and will be staying here for another year and a half at least, but for the benefit of all you readers I shall talk about what you can do on your trip 😊.
As I said before, your Frankfurt trip will not take more than a few days. Your journey would start right from the Flughafen (airport) where you could grab a quick bite at one of the many restaurants or decide to stay (as many tourists do), although I wouldn’t recommend that if you want the full experience. Also, it would be super boring to return to the airport every night. But of course, that is up to you.
Get ready for some true Europe!
One of the very first things I did when I reached Frankfurt was to visit the Altstadt (old town). Get down at the U-Bahn station of Dom Römer and enjoy a walk along the magnificent Main River. You may also go to the Eiserner Steg – an alluring arch on a bridge across the river, where you can lock away your wishes or take cruise along the river. The walk would definitely build up your appetite and you can then treat your tummies to lunch at the many cafes and delis at the Römerberg Square (a special note for all those who love your occasional pizzas and pastas – a lot of Italian restaurants and delis here 😊). A small word about the weather here – it gets really windy. So cover yourselves well!
Another of my favourite spots is The Alte Oper (old opera house) – a place where all the plays, award ceremonies and major events take place (Joachim Gauck, the president of Germany and Angela Merkel were both here!). And no, you do not have to go to any of these activities (I never did either). Just sit by the fountain outside the opera house or enjoy the lush scenery for a good 20-30 minutes. You could then make your way towards the Main Tower – a 56-storey skyscraper offering a 360 degree view of the city. I recommend doing this in the evening as the superbly lit streets and buildings are truly a treat to the eyes (especially during the festive season). Again – really cold up there!
Something for all you nature and art lovers
Frankfurt also has something for all you nature and animal lovers. A stroll in the Palmengarten (Botanical garden) will get you well acquainted with the fascinating flora of the world and a trip to the Frankfurt Zoo (which is right across from where I stay :)) would be just right for those of you with curiosity and kids. And those of you who love your architectural marvels – worry not! Frankfurt has a lot of Museums and Cathedrals for you, my favorite one being the angelic Frankfurt cathedral. Decorated with delicate stained glasses, this Gothic-style church offers you a city view from its tower and allows you to soak in as much of the culture as you can. Another interesting tourist spot is the Goethe House – the house of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a renowned German writer (my limited knowledge about art, architecture and literature is preventing me from advising you further in this arena 😛 you could now turn to Google for some extra help 😊)
Time to loosen up!
I like saving the best for the last so these following two paras are my favourite part – shopping, eating and night life! And the choices are endless! Walk along Konstablerwache and Hauptwache (Zeil area) and shop at the many stores and malls (a little note here – it gets crazy during discount season!). This is, without doubt, the most happening part of town with all the wonderful eateries and clubs. All you foodies reading this must have growling bellies by now! So let me put you at ease by telling you some of the most satisfying restaurants I’ve been to. I absolutely love Thai food and have eaten some of the best Thai food at Green Thai – a restaurant at Konstablerwache (my favourite dish is the Pad Thai – number 92 on the menu 😊). It is not one of the better known ones and hence often not visited by tourists. But the food is fresh, inexpensive and just yummy! Another of my favorite cuisines is Italian and El Classico (a restaurant at Westendstarsse – near Alte Oper) just makes it closer to my heart than ever before. A family run restaurant, El Classico is a nice and cozy place to supper with your loved ones (and do try the pasta with Truffels – it is no less than anything at a Michelin star hotel). And those of you craving for some authentic German wurst (sausage) may make their way to The Best Worscht in Town – a small food truck cum restaurant at Grünberweg. This place offers you wurst on a spicy-scale of A to F (F being the spiciest). So be aware of your tolerance level before placing an order 😊. You may also want to visit the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (central railway station). With brilliant street food and fairs, it is a great way to spend your evenings.
Now, to bring a smile to all those party animals shifting in their shoes – you can drink and dance away to your heart’s content here and surely there is no doubt in anyone’s mind about the German beer! I am not much of a drinker so I shan’t advise you on what alcohol you should and shouldn’t have but what I will recommend, is visiting Sachsenhausen. A street full of bars and pubs, Sachsenhausen is one of the most lively and beautifully lit areas in Frankfurt. And for those of you wanting to shake their bodies, make your way to Gibson’s at Kontablerwache – one of the most visited and popular clubs in Frankfurt (be prepared for long lines – we stood out there for an hour!). Those looking for exclusivity may want to visit Club 101 – a club located on the 25th floor of the Japan Centre, which opens just once every month (you may want to time your vacation accordingly for this). With many more distinctive and offbeat clubs, Frankfurt should be able to satiate your fidgeting feet 😊.
Perfect time for making your trip a special one
But when is the best time to visit Frankfurt? – A question that must be troubling all you readers. Well, that depends. Frankfurt has good weather pretty much all year round. It doesn’t get as cold as other European cities (though the temperature does go to -4 degrees in January and February – still a lot better than other cities). I personally like being in Frankfurt in December. Though you might have to pack all your warm clothes, the Xmas fervour is totally worth it. Christmas markets with food stalls, joy rides and goodie shops make you feel the warmth of the European culture and the stunning street decorations will stop you from ever going back (it also won’t be too crowded as it is not peak tourist season 😊). If you are not made for the cold, you could visit Frankfurt from April to August. This is undoubtedly the best time to visit any European city. But be sure to book your tickets well in advance as hotels and flights get full within days during this time.
So for all those restless souls out there, I hope this article was helpful and that you would take a couple days from your next Europe trip to visit Frankfurt 😊 (plus you know some German words by now!).