One of the things we love about Frankfurt is that its city centre is very compact. Yes, you can find many unique places in the suburbs and around Frankfurt. But if you want to see the highlights of the city, you can reach all of them on foot.

That’s why we have put together a self-guided walking tour of Frankfurt. We love walking around cities, and we honestly think it’s one of the best ways to explore a place. You’ll be able to soak in the atmosphere, watch locals and discover lots of little surprises along the way.

If you follow our walking tour, you’ll be busy for around half a day, possibly longer if you stop in many places along the way. The entire route is about 7 km. But don’t worry. You can take a break whenever you like. We’ll point it out to you if there’s an area that we think is particularly good for resting or grabbing a snack.

Also, before you leave your hotel, make sure to save the article to your phone. That way, you won’t have to use your precious data and pay high roaming fees while walking around. We also have included a map with all the stops further down in this article.

Check out our post about the best travel apps if you want to know how we navigate cities when we don’t have internet access.

And last, have fun! Frankfurt is a city full of contrasts, so we hope you enjoy seeing everything the city has to offer.

Self-guided walking tour of Frankfurt

#1 Frankfurt Central Station

Frankfurt Main Station

We’re going to start this free walking tour at the central train station, also called Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof in German. If you just arrived in Frankfurt, the chances are high that you’ll end up here. Trains connect this station with the airport, and the journey only takes 12 minutes.

Our German train company sometimes refers to the central station as the country’s most important station. Due to its location in the middle of Germany, this is where travellers from all directions meet and switch to different trains.

Did you know that per year, around 160 million travellers pass through this station? That’s roughly twice the population of Germany.

The building itself dates to 1888. Before that, passengers had to go to one of three stations that were all located around the area of our next stop. So take a look at the central station and then walk east towards Willy-Brandt-Platz.

#2 Willy-Brandt-Platz

Euro Sign in Frankfurt

Willy Brandt, the person who gave this square its name, was a German chancellor in the late 60s and early 70s. Here, you can find the municipal theatre. The real reason for visiting, though, is the giant Euro sign. With the skyscrapers towering behind it, this is a constant reminder that Frankfurt is a city famous for its banks.

Take a look at the skyscraper behind the Euro sign, the Eurotower. This building was once home to the European Central Bank until it eventually got too small. In 2015, the bank moved to a new location in the east of the city.

From Willy-Brandt-Platz, walk north towards the Main Tower.

#3 Main Tower

Main Tower in Frankfurt

Here in Frankfurt, we are proud of our many skyscrapers. I know that we can’t compare to cities like New York, but Frankfurt is the only German city with a skyline dominated by high-rise buildings. On your way to the Main Tower, you will come past many of them.

Most are closed to the public, as banks have their headquarters in them. One of them, though, the Main Tower, has an observation deck at its top. This is an excellent place if you want to see Frankfurt from above and find out where you’re going to go today!

From the Main Tower, keep walking north until you get to the old opera house.

#4 Alte Oper

The Old Opera in Frankfurt

Alte Oper translates to “old opera”. While most opera performances now take place in the municipal theatre, this building was once Frankfurt’s main opera building. During WW II, it got destroyed by bombs and the city didn’t rebuild it until the 70s.

Today, the old opera houses mostly concerts, but you can also watch musicals and other performances here.

If you’re hungry already, we recommend taking a detour from here. Walk down the nearest pedestrian street towards the city centre. You will find lots of restaurants and cafes here, so this is a great place to grab a snack.

After you’ve admired the old opera house and taken your pictures, continue north through the park until you reach the Eschenheimer Turm.

#5 Eschenheimer Turm

Eschenheimer Turm in Frankfurt

Large parts of Frankfurt’s city centre got destroyed during WW II, which means it’s rare to find any historic buildings that have remained in an original state. Eschenheimer Turm is one of them.

This tower was once part of the city fortifications and dates back to the 15th century. During the bombings, it somehow survived and now reminds us of the former city limits. Frankfurt sure has grown since then! And can you believe that the Eschenheimer tower was not even part of the original city wall?

Back in the Middle Ages, when Frankfurt was still a small town, the walls only surrounded a tiny area. But even then, Frankfurt already expanded rapidly so that more and more people had to live outside the wall. They started asking for an expansion and got their wish in the 15th century.

From here, go south towards the pedestrian zone and Hauptwache.

#6 Hauptwache

Hauptwache in Frankfurt

Did you know that until 1866, Frankfurt was an independent city state? That means that it had its own government, coins and, of course, army. The building Hauptwache served as headquarters for this army, with a prison in the basement.

After Prussia annexed Frankfurt in 1866, the city did not need an army anymore. It continued using the Hauptwache as a police station for a few years before turning it into a cafe in 1905. And even though it got destroyed during the war (remember what we said about Eschenheimer Turm being one of the only buildings that survived?), the city quickly reconstructed it.

Hauptwache remains a cafe today, with the square next to it being one of the most popular meeting places in Frankfurt.

Here, you can also find one of the city’s most important underground station. Most S-Bahn and subway lines pass through here, so no matter where you want to go, this is a good starting point.

If you turn left at Hauptwache and walk towards the east, you will get to Zeil. Follow this pedestrian street and watch out for the mall on your left.

#7 MyZeil

The shopping mall MyZeil in Christmas

You are now walking down Zeil, Frankfurt’s main pedestrian shopping street. If you want to go shopping while in Frankfurt, start here as this is where you’ll find lots of different stores.

After a short walk, you will see a mall on your left. This is MyZeil. Even if you’re not planning on buying anything, we recommend that you go inside to take a look at the architecture. Right in the middle of the building, you have what almost looks like a glass funnel. And it works, indeed, like a funnel. This structure collects the rainwater so that it can be used in the building.

When MyZeil opened in 2009, it proved immensely popular with the locals. After only two weeks, more than a million people had already visited.

From here, go back outside and keep walking down Zeil until you reach a big square.

#8 Konstablerwache

Farmers market at Konstablerwache, Frankfurt

Remember how we mentioned above that Frankfurt was once an independent city state with its own army? Here in the square, the military had another building – the Konstablerwache. Frankfurt turned it into a police station in the 1800s, but eventually, it became too small. In 1886, the city decided to move the police headquarters and demolish the building.

Today, only the name Konstablerwache remains. On the large square, you can find a farmers market which is open on Thursday and Saturday. If you’re here at the right time, this is a great place to grab a snack. Many stalls offer local specialities, from sausages to Handkäs mit Musik (a local cheese) and Apfelwein, a drink similar to cider.

If the market is not open and you’re still hungry, don’t worry. You’re going to pass another market soon where you are guaranteed to get traditional food.

From here, cross the main street and continue walking straight. Take the second road on the left.

#9 Ehemaliges Polizeigefängnis Klapperfeld

Klapperfeld prison in Frankfurt

That name is quite a mouthful, isn’t it? It translates to “former police prison Klapperfeld”. The police built this prison in 1886, the same year that they demolished Konstablerwache. During the national socialist period, the Gestapo used this prison for incarceration and torture. Many of those who were imprisoned ended up in concentration camps later on.

If you want to go inside, you will need to visit on a Saturday. That’s when the prison opens its doors from 3-6 pm, and you can learn more about the building and its history.

Opposite the prison, you can see the Frankfurt courthouse. Take a brief look at its architecture and then walk south until you reach the Old Jewish Cemetery.

#10 Old Jewish Cemetery

The Old Jewish Cemetery is the second oldest Jewish cemetery in Germany, with the oldest tombstone dating back to 1272. If you have enough time, we highly recommend that you visit the museum next to the graveyard. Here, you can also get the key to the cemetery.

Back in the day, the Jewish population of Frankfurt lived in a street called Judengasse. You can see remains of it in the museum, but what’s important is that the map of Frankfurt looked very different back then. The Judengasse was a curved, narrow street running through an area where you can now find houses.

The people living in the Judengasse used the Old Jewish Cemetery until the 1800s. By that time, Frankfurt built a new main cemetery for both Christians and Jews.

The Old Jewish Cemetery remained as it is for many years, though as Hitler rose to power, the government started making plans for demolishing the old cemetery. In 1943, demolition began. Out of the original 6500 tombstones, only 2500 remain today.

Take a glimpse through the gate to see these stones and then move on to the Kleinmarkthalle in the west.

#11 Kleinmarkthalle

Fruit stall in Kleinmarkthalle

Are you hungry yet? Or do you want to stock up on local delicacies from Frankfurt? Then you are going to love our next stop.

The Kleinmarkthalle is a covered market place where you can find a total of 156 stalls selling delicious food.  Here, you can get cheese from the area or try some of Frankfurt’s typical fare. Rindsbratwurst, for example, is a beef sausage very popular in the area.

We also recommend that, if you haven’t done so yet, you try a glass of Apfelwein (apple wine). As we already mentioned above, this drink is similar to cider but at the same time, not quite the same. The process of making it is different, and you’ll end up with a more tart taste compared to cider.

Kleinmarkthalle is also a great place to find food from all around the world. Whether you’re looking for Persian sweets or Japanese tea, you can find it here.

From here, follow Hasengasse to the south, cross the big street and keep going straight until you get to Frankfurt’s Cathedral.

#12 Frankfurter Dom

View of Frankfurt from the top of the Cathedral
View from the top of the Frankfurt Cathedral

Welcome to the Imperial Cathedral of Saint Bartholomew, the church where the coronation ceremony for emperors of the Holy Roman Empire took place. We recommend that you take a moment to admire the interior and, if you want to know more about the history of the cathedral, visit the museum next to it.

Frankfurt Cathedral is a great place if you want to see the city from above. You can climb to the top of its tower and admire the view of the Old Town with the skyscrapers in the background.

From here, you can see another church that played a significant role not just in the history of Frankfurt but all of Germany – the Paulskirche. We’re going to go there soon, but first, walk along the Saalgasse, a street which you can find slightly south of the cathedral.

#13 Saalgasse

Colourful houses in the Saalgasse in Frankfurt

This street is one of the oldest in Frankfurt, and excavations found signs that people already lived here around 1,000 years ago. Initially, Jewish residents lived here. In the 14th century, Frankfurt residents appropriated the houses, and eventually, all Jews were forced to live in a ghetto.

You won’t see any of the original houses in this street as they didn’t survive the bombings during the war. Instead, you can find great examples of post-modern architecture here.

Take a look at the colourful houses and then follow the road to the end, so you end up at Römerberg.

#14 Römerberg

View of the Romerberg in Frankfurt

Welcome to Römerberg, Frankfurt’s central square in the heart of the Old Town. This is the best place to admire half-timbered houses.

If you want to see more traditional German architecture, we recommend a day trip to Bad Homburg. You can reach this cute spa town in only 25 minutes by train!

Much like the rest of the city centre, this area almost completely burned down in the war. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the city decided to restore the half-timbered houses, using old plans and photographs. They did a pretty good job, didn’t they? Take a look at the buildings, and you’ll find it hard to believe that these are not original.

Here at Römerberg, you can also find our city hall, the Römer. It houses the tourist information, so this is an excellent stop if you have any specific questions about Frankfurt (or leave us a comment below and we’ll do our best to get back to you as soon as possible).

From Römerberg, go back towards the cathedral, walking through the streets behind the half-timbered houses.

#15 New Old Town

Frankfurt Neue Altstadt

This area is the New Old Town. New because restoration here started so late that when we moved to Frankfurt in 2018, we could still see scaffolding in this area.

Not all houses are in their original state, but while walking around, you can get a pretty good impression of how Frankfurt once looked. The most noticeable building in this area is the Haus zur goldenen Waage, the house of the golden scale. The facade is easily one of the most beautiful ones you can find in Frankfurt.

Take a good look around and then go back to Römerberg. North of the square, you’ll find the Paulskirche, St. Paul’s Church.

#16 Paulskirche

Interior of the Paulskirche in Frankfurt

Frankfurt has two important churches. The first one is the cathedral, which we already mentioned above. This is where the coronation ceremonies of emperors took place.

The second one is the Paulskirche, representing a very different time period. The first publicly elected parliament of Germany came together in this building in 1848, making this building an important symbol of democracy for the whole country.

You can go inside for free and visit the exhibition about the first parliament as well as the history of the church. Paulskirche, as you might guess, also received massive damage during the bombings. Therefore, expect a very different interior from the original one.

From Paulskirche, go south. You will cross Römerberg again. Keep walking until you reach the shore of the river Main.

#17 Eiserner Steg

View of Frankfurt from the Eiserner Steg bridge

One of the best places to see the skyline of Frankfurt is from the pedestrian bridge called Eiserner Steg. This bridge is famous for its many locks and also for its incredible views. From here, you can see the skyscrapers of the banking district rising, or you can watch the ships on the river Main.

If the weather is nice, you can take a ride on one of those boats. They leave from just next to the bridge and give you the chance to experience Frankfurt from a very different angle.

You can also cross the bridge and end up in Sachsenhausen, a great place if you want to sample more Apfelwein.

Find out more about Sachsenhausen in our detailed post about the best things to do in Frankfurt!

You’ve almost reached the end of the walking tour. Go back to the northern side of the river and turn left to keep walking along its shores.

#18 Mainkai Nizza

"NIce" at the river shore in Frankfurt

After having walked underneath the next bridge, you will notice some exotic plants on your right. Palm trees, banana trees, Mediterranean plants, they all grow here. Due to its location, protected from the wind, this area has developed a microclimate that allows those plants to survive German winters.

We call this area “Nice”, after the French city.

You have now reached the end of the walking tour. If the weather is nice, you could keep walking along the shore of the river. If it’s rainy, why not cross over the bridge and visit one of the many museums you can find on the other side of the Main?

If you need more inspiration, here are our favourite things to do in Frankfurt!

Practical information

Map of the self-guided walking tour

Here is a map that will help you see all the stops on the self-guided walking tour of Frankfurt:

Further reading

If you want to know more about Frankfurt, you are in luck. We have lots of resources about the city, all of them adequately researched during our time living here.

If you have any questions about Frankfurt, please leave us a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

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Author

Ilona is a world traveller passionate about sharing her experiences and giving advice to fellow travellers. Having visited over 70 countries, she is always excited about her next trip.

2 Comments

  1. This is so helpful and great! Do you know approximately how many km this walking tour is?

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