Frankfurt am Main is among the five biggest cities in Germany and is home to the busiest airport in Germany. Because it is a major airport hub for people flying into Germany and much of Europe, not everyone realizes it’s worth stopping to spend time in the city. Frankfurt is well-worth a day or two of exploring and we’ve come up with the top sights for your perfect day in Frankfurt!
Frankfurt, a city dotted with skyscrapers and home to the European Central Bank is known more as a financial hub that a tourist city. The city has a beautiful old town, a great city tour, wonderful museums, delicious restaurants, and several unique attractions. Whether you have a long layover in Frankfurt, or you have a few days, below are all the details you need to plan a great day in this German city.
Prepare & Save Big on Your Trip to Frankfurt
Check out over Top Tours & Day Trips from Frankfurt
Get a good guide book such as Rick Steve’s Guide to Germany
Where is Frankfurt?
Frankfurt is located in the German state of Hesse. Frankfurt is located on both sides of the Main River, south-east of the Taunus mountain range. The southern part of the city contains the Frankfurt City Forest, Germany’s largest city forest. Frankfurt is about 4 hours by car to Munich and about 5.5 hours by car to Berlin.
Before You Go
Frankfurt is a relatively easy city to get to by plane and train. It’s not difficult to plan a visit here from pretty much anywhere in the world. If you enjoy guidebooks pick up Rick Steve’s Guide to Germany before you leave.
When You Arrive at the Airport: How to Get Downtown
The best way to get from the airport to downtown is by train. From the airport, follow the signs that say ‘Regional Trains’ on track 1-3. Take train S8 or S9 (direction of Hanau Hbf). The train ride from the airport to the main station (Hauptbahnhof) downtown is just 10 minutes.
It is also a very easy city to navigate by bus or foot. During my visit, I took the city bus tour to get a feel for the city and then walked or took local trains for additional sightseeing and to restaurants. It’s a very walkable city. There are also bike rentals everywhere, and especially near the main train station.
A Perfect Day in Frankfurt, Germany
Located on the river Main, Frankfurt is a fun city to explore. In this post, you’ll find everything you need to know to plan the perfect trip to Frankfurt, including 10 things to do in Frankfurt that you shouldn’t miss!
1. Hop On – Hop Off Bus
One of my favorite things to do in a new city is the hop-on hop-off bus tour. It’s a great overview of the city, with 15 stops at the most important spots in the city including the main train station, the new ‘old town’ known as Romer, many museums, main tower, and the university area.
2. Public Guided City Walk
This 1.5 hour walking tour focuses on Frankfurt’s urban history and old town area and includes the Romer, Emperoror’s Cathedral, St Paul’s Church and Museum Embankment along the Main River. Tours depart at 2:30 most weekends but check the schedule as it may change based on the time of year.
3. Visit the Römerberg Area
This historic square is situated in the heart of the old town and had to be completely reconstructed after the bombings of World War II. As iconic as the gabled houses that frame the Römerberg, is the Fountain of Justice (Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen) which is an ancient well built in 1612.
4. Visit Lovelock Bridge (Iron Footbridge)
Eiserner Steg aka the Iron Footbridge is a steel-framed footbridge that crosses the River Main and connects Frankfurt’s south and north shores. It’s also the easiest route from Römer to the district of Sachsenhausen— where you can find the famous Apfelwein.
This neo-Gothic-style iron bridge was built in 1869 and has been rebuilt many times and as recently as 1993. The guardrail on the bridge is covered with iron locks, and visitors come and hang their wishes here.
5. Enjoy Lunch Along the River
From late spring through early fall, one of the best places to visit is on the banks of the river Main. Take a stroll, bike, picnic or simply enjoy a drink or meal at one of the many restaurants that line the banks.
6. Visit a Museum or Two
Frankfurt is known to be one of Germany’s leading museum locations with more than 20 museums to choose from. During my visit, one of our favorites was the Natural History Museum (Senckenberg Museum), which is one of the largest natural history museums in Europe.
It’s located near the university campus and also a stop for the hop-on / hop-off bus tour. (Senckenberg Museum features Germany’s most comprehensive display of Mesozoic dinosaurs as well as a diverse fossil exhibition. If science and nature interest you, this is a don’t miss the museum.
7. Goethe House
The Frankfurt Goethe House, the birthplace of Germany´s most famous author and poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, was built in typical 18th-century bourgeois style. The Museum is a gallery of paintings sharing Goethe’s relationship to the art and artists of his period.
8. Explore Street Art Near University Area
Frankfurt’s street art and graffiti is definitely worth exploring. I was only in the city for two days and came across a lot of beautiful pieces, just exploring the city. I found this great Frankfurt Streetart Map, that allows you to search for different types of art as well as searching by areas of town. Do yourself a favor and carve out some time to find some of these gems when you visit!
9. Explore the Sculptures in Frankfurt Old Town
10. Try Apple Wine (Apfelwein or Ebbelwoi)
Germany is famous for its beer and beer gardens, but the city of Frankfurt is known for apple wine. In the old city, you’ll find apple wine pubs where the apple wine is handmade and poured from the traditional “bembel”, which is a blue and white stoneware jug.
The wine is poured into a traditional diamond-patterned glass called a “gerippte’. The apple wine, called Ebbelwoi or Apfelwein in Germany is served cold. A glass of apple wine is called “Schoppen”. It can be a bit tart, so some prefer to mix it with a bit of sparkling water. Either way, it’s cool and very refreshing, and one of the top things to do in Frankfurt.
You can even hop aboard the Apple Wine Express! This one hour tour takes place in a 1950’s streetcar tour with live music, pretzels and of course apple wine!
Apfelwein Wagner is the most famous of all the apple wine pubs and is a full restaurant. They are located at Schweizer Strabe 67 and open daily from 11am to 12am.
Weather: When is the best time to visit Frankfurt?
Frankfurt is typically characterized by a temperate oceanic climate with the average annual temperature hovering around 10.6°C with summers reaching around 25°C and the coldest Frankfurt temperature doesn’t often go below 0°C in January.
The best time to visit the city is between may and September, but again, this may change depending on what festivals you wish to see or what kind of climate and activities you’re seeking in Germany.
Festivals in Frankfurt
Frankfurt is a city that his home to numerous celebrations throughout the year including the Festival of Stoneware, Day of the Forest, Night of the Clubs, Festival of Light, Skyscraper Festival, Museums Riverbank Festival and more.
One of the most festivals is the Apple Wine Festival, which is a 10-day event that happens every August.
German Jazz Festival takes place every October and features classic and contemporary Jazz. The festival is known as the birthplace of experimental jazz.
Green Sauce Festival
You Must Try in Frankfurt:
- Ebbelwoi, which is local “apple wine”. In fact, Frankfurt is famous for apple wine and it has been produced here for more than 250 years.
- Currywurst, which is steamed, then fried pork sausage typically cut into bite-sized chunks and seasoned with curry ketchup.
You Can’t Miss in Frankfurt:
• If you visit during the Christmas season, the Christmas Market is a must! These markets are located throughout much of Europe in November and December. It’s a magical event filled with mulled wine, vendors selling holiday gifts and ornaments and delicious German foods.
Fun Facts about Frankfurt:
- Frankfurt is a major financial hub that’s home to the European Central Bank.
- Frankfurt is the birthplace of famed writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, whose former home is now the Goethe House Museum.
- Much of the city was damaged during World War II and later rebuilt.
- The reconstructed Altstadt (Old Town) is the site of Römerberg, a square that hosts an annual Christmas market.
- Frankfurt is the home of apple wine (Ebbelwoi).
Where to stay: Frankfurt Hotels
During my visit to Frankfurt, I stayed at the IntercityHotel Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof Süd. This is one of the newest and best hotels in Franfurt. It is the modern and stylish design of Matteo Thun. The hotel is located on the south side of the main station, which is a 10-minute ride from the airport. It’s an ideal location for exploring the city as well as for day trips considering it’s just steps from the main train station. The hotel has a restaurant and bar. They also provide a “FreeCityTicket” to guests for local transportation.
Budget: Frankfurt Hostel, Kaiserstr. 74. Close to the Railway Station with many nearby eateries. Rooms are spacious, clean and well maintained.
Mid Range: InterCity Hotel, Am Luftbrueckendenkmal 1. Across from the main train station in downtown, this hip hotel opened in 2018.
Luxury: Sofitel Frankfurt Opera, Opernplatz 16. Excellent hotel with one of the best breakfasts in town. Located in a beautiful park setting in a quiet area, but close to all.
Useful German Phrases:
Guten Tag (formal): Good day (formal)
Hallo: Hello (informal)
Bitteschön: You’re welcome
Dankeschön: Thank you
Auf Wiedersehen: Goodbye (formal)
Tschüss: Bye (informal)
Entschuldigung: Excuse me / sorry
Kein problem: No problem
Guten Morgen: Good morning
Guten Abend: Good evening
Wie geht’s: How are you? (informal)
Wie heißen Sie? What is your name?
Ich heiße…: My name is….
Ich komme aus…: I come from…
Sprechen Sie Englisch? Do you speak English?
Wie viel Kostet das? How much does that cost?
Wo ist die Toilette? Where is the toilet?
Ich verstehe nicht: I don’t understand.
Ich hatte gern…: I would like to have…
Ich möchte bezahlen: I would like the check, please.
Können Sie mir helfen? Can you help me?
Deutschland ist wunderschön: Germany is a wonderful country.
Mein Deutsch ist schlect: My German is bad.
Frankfurt Airport Info
More than 1,300 flights arrive and depart from “Frankfurt” each and every day. Considering how many flights move in and out of Frankfurt airport, it was a surprisingly easy passport control experience. When we arrived, it took less than 15 minutes, which was a lovely surprise after a long flight!
Similarly, when we flew back to the United States, I found the airport easy to navigate. We flew with Condor Airlines, which had two check-in sections. One for flights heading to the U.S. and another section for flights to other locations in Europe and Asia. Give yourself plenty of time, as the check-in line took about 45 minutes when I departed.
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Alexa Meisler is the editorial director of 52 Perfect Days. Born in Paris, France she has since lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. She currently resides in San Diego with her husband and son where they enjoy exploring California and Mexico.
Travel has always been a part of her life; traveling to such places as Morocco, Tangiers and Spain as a young child as well as taking many road trips to Mexico with her grandparents as a young girl. Since then, she has traveled abroad to locations such as Russia, Taiwan and throughout Europe.
Prior to working at 52 Perfect Days she was a freelance travel writer; focusing on family and women’s adventure experiences.