Frankfurt is one of those cities where travellers pass through but rarely stop. Or where people will spend a few hours and leave again.
This is a shame. After having lived there for more than two years, we can safely say that there are lots of things to do in Frankfurt. From museums to bars, historic centres and green areas – no matter what you prefer, you will find it here.
Plus, with one of Europe’s biggest airports just a short train ride away, you’ll find it very easy to get here. And once you’ve dived into the city, you’ll notice that it’s going to be hard to leave.
Here are the best things to see in Frankfurt.
Our favourite things to do in Frankfurt
#1 Admire the half-timbered houses at Römerberg
Your first stop in Frankfurt should be Römerberg.
Frankfurt is known for its banks and skyscrapers, but here at Römerberg, you’ll see that it’s not just a modern city. Much of Frankfurt got destroyed during the war, including most of the historic houses in this area. In the 1980s, the city decided to use old plans and photographs to reconstruct the buildings around and behind Römerberg.
Reconstructions and also renovations went on for a long time, but if you visit Römerberg today, you’ll find it hard to believe that these half-timbered houses haven’t been standing there for centuries.
On the western side of the square, you’ll see the Town Hall. If you need a physical map or any other information about Frankfurt, you can find the tourist information here.
From Römerberg, go east if you want to see more classic architecture. On your way to the cathedral, you’ll find lots of beautiful houses, small shops and cafes.
#2 Drink Apfelwein
I have to admit that, even though I’m German, I didn’t know what Apfelwein was until I moved to Frankfurt. This drink literally translates to apple wine, so I figured it was cider.
It is not.
Yes, cider and Apfelwein are both alcoholic drinks made from apples. But you can find two main differences. First, Apfelwein contains far less gas than cider. Cider is put under pressure during its making, to preserve the gas naturally produced during the fermentation. While making Apfelwein, on the other hand, the producer allows for the gas to escape. Therefore, the final product will be closer to wine, while cider is closer to sparkling wine.
The second difference comes from the type of apples used. Local producers usually use old apple species, the ones that taste sour and that we wouldn’t pick up in a supermarket. These unusual apples lead to the characteristic taste of Apfelwein.
So where should you go for getting a glass of Apfelwein? You can try this refreshing drink in almost every bar or restaurant in Frankfurt. A great place to sample the wine is in the neighbourhood of Sachsenhausen, on the other side of the river Main. But you can also find typical apple wine restaurants close to Römerberg or north of the Frankfurt city centre.When visiting Frankfurt in December, go to the
When ordering, especially when going out with many people, you will order a Bembel. This stoneware pitcher is traditionally used to serve Apfelwein. Just let the waiter know for how many people, and they’ll serve you a Bembel in the appropriate size.
#3 Visit a museum
You can find lots of excellent museums in Frankfurt and a trip to the city wouldn’t be complete without visiting at least one of them.
On the Southern side of the river Main, you can find the Museumsufer, a street where many museums stand next to each other. If you want to see classic art, get tickets for the Städel Museum. This is not just one of Germany’s oldest art museums; it also houses one of the country’s most important collections.
If you want to learn more about the history of Frankfurt, we recommend either the Historical Museum or the Museum Judengasse. The latter specialises in the Frankfurt Jewish community and is well worth a visit.
You can also brush up on your knowledge of natural history in the Senckenberg Natural History Museum. Here, you can find a huge collection of dinosaur fossils, which make this museum especially popular with children.
#4 Cross Frankfurt’s most iconic bridge – Eiserner Steg
Do you want to enjoy the view of Frankfurt’s skyline? Then you should head to the city’s most iconic bridge, the Eiserner Steg. This pedestrian bridge is popular with tourists and locals alike, who come here to enjoy the view.
Along the bridge, you will find thousands of locks. You can also often see musicians standing on the bridge, playing their song and contributing to the atmosphere.
If the weather is nice, this is a great spot to watch the sunset.
#5 Explore Sachsenhausen
If you decide to cross the bridge, you will end up in Sachsenhausen. This neighbourhood is famous for its Apfelwein pubs and bars. In summer, you can spend your evenings sitting outside in beer gardens, enjoying a cold glass of apple wine.
But Sachsenhausen is lovely at any time of the year. Walk through the cobblestone streets and take a look at the half-timbered houses. And don’t miss Frau Rauscher! You’ll find this fountain of a spitting woman in Sachsenhausen Old Town. Wait for a few minutes, and you’re guaranteed to see her spit out water. Just make sure you don’t get wet!
If you find Old Sachsenhausen too touristy, cross into the newer parts of town. Here, you can discover lots of boutique shops, small cafes and restaurants, offering food from all over the world.
#6 Go shopping on Zeil
Are you looking for souvenirs? Or would you like to go shopping? Then head to Zeil, Frankfurt’s biggest shopping street.
You’ll find shops on both sides of the pedestrian zone, offering everything you could possibly want to buy. You’ll also see a few souvenir shops, though you can find more of them on the street that connects Römerberg with Zeil.
If the weather is gloomy, head into My Zeil. You’ll find this shopping mall in the middle of Zeil. Not only can you discover lots of shops here, but you can also head to the top floor and explore the restaurants in the food court.With very few exceptions, all shops are closed on Sundays in Germany. If you’re here on the weekend, make sure to plan accordingly.
however long you want
#7 Climb to the top of Frankfurt’s Cathedral
If you want to see Frankfurt from above, you should head to the Frankfurter Dom, Frankfurt Cathedral. We originally discovered this viewpoint when looking for a place from which we could observe the Frankfurt Christmas market from above. We couldn’t see the market that well, but we enjoyed a great view of Frankfurt.
From up here, you can see the half-timbered houses as well as the modern skyscrapers rising behind them. You also have a good view of the River Main. And in the other direction, you can spot a blue tower which is the main building of the European Central Bank.
To climb to the top of the cathedral, take the entrance to the staircase at the back of the building. While here, we also highly recommend that you go and take a look inside the church. If you want to learn more about the history of the cathedral, you can find a museum next to it.
#8 Learn about Goethe in the Goethehaus
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is one of Germany’s most famous writers. Not a single student passes through the German school system without reading at least one of his texts.
Goethe was born in Frankfurt in 1749, and you can visit the house where he lived with his family to learn more about him and his works. The Goethe house offers excellent insights into life in the 1700s, as well as a picture gallery with paintings from back then.
Goethe eventually moved to Leipzig and then Strasbourg to study law. Nevertheless, he came back to Frankfurt multiple times before settling down in Weimar, where he lived until his death.
Besides the Goethe house, you can also find traces of the famous writer elsewhere in the city. Visit the Peterskirche, where, in the cemetery, you’ll discover the graves of Goethe’s father and grandfather. And of course, we also have a street named after him, the Goethestraße, which is famous for its many luxury stores.
#9 Market feeling in the Kleinmarkthalle
You can find multiple farmers markets in Frankfurt, with the most famous (and biggest) one spreading out at Konstablerwoche on Thursday and Saturday. But what if you’re here on a different day or if the weather is rainy?
Then you should head to the Kleinmarkthalle, Frankfurt’s covered market in the city centre. Here, you can find 156 stalls selling local specialities, from cheese to the herbs needed for green sauce – a traditional dish from the area.
You’ll also discover stalls offering delicacies from all around the world. Are you looking for high-quality Japanese tea? Or Persian sweets? As you can imagine, this market is a great place to have a snack while exploring Frankfurt.
#10 Visit Höchst Old Town
So far, you could find almost all of the points of interest we mentioned close to the city centre. Now, we recommend that you hop on a train to Frankfurt Höchst. From the train station, go south, and you’ll end up in Höchst Old Town.
Höchst, which is now a neighbourhood in Frankfurt, used to be an independent city until 1928. It even had its own castle and city wall. You can see the remains of the wall down by the water, close to the palace. This area is perfect for going for a walk and admiring the historic houses.
The oldest parts of the castle in Höchst date back to the 14th century. Walking through the gardens is free, so make sure to take advantage of that. If you’re getting hungry or thirsty, you’ll find a few cafes and restaurants on the square in front of it.
1h (plus a 10 minutes train ride)
#11 Stroll along the Mainkai
If the weather is nice, you should head to the riverside. On its shores, you can go for long walks, from the European Central Bank in the east to the area of the central station in the west.
In the centre, you’ll find boats docked that leave for cruise tours on the river. You can even catch a ship to go all the way to the Rhine Valley.
If you go west, you’ll find an area that we call Mainkai “Nice”, after the French city. Its location, protected from the wind, creates a microclimate that allows Mediterranean plants to grow here. So don’t be surprised if you walk past palm trees.
#12 Visit the Palmengarten
Talking about exotic plants. One of the first places we visited in Frankfurt was the Palmengarten, a botanical garden with a giant greenhouse. Inside, you can find lots of palm trees and other tropical plants. You can even discover a waterfall here!
The botanical garden stretches out far behind the greenhouse, with different areas dedicated to different plants. Here, you can find the stone garden or the rock garden. You’ll also see a few smaller greenhouses.
In summer, open-air concerts take place in the park. We’ve been to a jazz concert here before, and the botanical garden is a great setting on a warm summer night. You can also join guided tours if you want to learn more about the plants in the garden or visit the special exhibitions that often take place.
#13 Climb to the top of the Lohrberg
Frankfurt is not just famous for its Apfelwein but also for its grapevine. On the Lohrberg, a small mountain in Frankfurt, you can find both. Here, you’ll discover vineyards growing on the southern slope of the hill. This is a great viewpoint, from which you can see the skyline of Frankfurt in the distance.
At the same time, the Lohrberg is also famous for its orchards. Go to the MainÄppleHaus, where you can take a walk amongst the fruit trees. Most of them are apple trees, but the owners also grow other varieties of fruit.
The small bar offers you a chance to try different kinds of Apfelwein, including variations mixed with berries. Or do you want a glass of fresh apple juice? If there’s anything you particularly like, you can buy a bottle or two in the adjacent shop.
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#14 Eat local food
When going out for dinner in Frankfurt, make sure to try some local food at least once. I’ve rarely encountered a German city with such a strong identity rooted in food and that many local specialities that you’ll find hard to buy in other parts of Germany.
The classic dish, which you’ll see on menus everywhere, is Grüne Soße (green sauce). Germans are very direct with their names, so this is, as you would expect, a green sauce. The green colour comes from the fresh herbs used in its preparation, and the sauce is so popular in Frankfurt, that you can buy bundles containing all seven herbs in supermarkets.
You’ll find Schnitzel with green sauce on most menus, but there’s also an option for vegetarians. Go for the eggs with potatoes and green sauce.
Other dishes to look out for include Handkäs mit Musik (a German cheese), Frankfurter Rippchen (pork cutlets) and Frankfurter Kranz (a local cake).
#15 See the Eschenheimer Turm
While walking through the city centre of Frankfurt, you might have spotted a few other notable buildings. One of them is the Eschenheimer Turm, a tower that used to be part of the city fortifications. It dates back to the fifteenth century, which makes it the oldest building in the area.
What’s fascinating about the history of this tower is that the old city walls which surrounded the Old Town didn’t include this area. But Frankfurt grew so quickly that in the 14th century, people already set up buildings outside the walls. That’s why the emperor eventually allowed Frankfurt to expand and to build a wall around the “New Town”.
If only people had known back then how much further Frankfurt would expand one day.
Today, you can find a cafe, restaurant and bar inside the tower. You’ll also discover lots of small restaurants in the area. This is a great place to come to if you want to avoid the more touristy and crowded restaurants in the city centre.
#16 Go out on Berger Straße
If you want to escape the touristy crowds, leave the city centre behind and make your way to Berger Straße. This street is where locals will go out. During the day, you can find small shops and cafes, and in the evening, the street comes alive through the local bars and restaurants.
While you can find traditional German restaurants along this street (Apfelwein Solzer has delicious traditional food, for example), this is a great place to try all of the international cuisines that Frankfurt has to offer. People from almost every country in the world live in Frankfurt, so you’re bound to discover a huge variety of food here.
Make sure to go and explore the sidestreets to find even more restaurants and bars where you can spend your evening.
To get here, you can either walk from the city centre or take the U4 to Merianplatz, Höhenstraße or Bornheim Mitte.
#17 Explore the Chinese Garden
At the beginning of Berger Straße, close to the city centre, you will find the Garden of Heavenly Peace (Garten des Himmlischen Friedens). This Chinese garden offers you a chance to escape the busy city. It opens at 7 am every morning and closes at sunset.
In the garden, you can find a Chinese pavilion. The building burned down in 2017, but Chinese experts rebuilt it, using only traditional techniques and materials imported from China.
Just next to the garden, you can find the Bethmann Park. If you need a break, find a bench. This park is also a great spot for people-watching.
#18 See Frankfurt’s sand dunes
This might not be what you’d expect so close to Frankfurt, but did you know you can find sand dunes here? These are one of the few landlocked sand dunes in Europe. Don’t expect giant dunes where you can go sandboarding. Instead, you’ll walk along a boardwalk and take in the very Mediterranean looking flora.
If you want to visit, take the train to Frankfurt Höchst. Go south until you reach the river and then cross the Main by ferry.
On the other side, you’ll find a walking trail that takes you to the dunes.
#19 Walk through the Financial District
Frankfurt is famous in Germany for being the only city with a Skyline. The skyscrapers of Frankfurt are a big part of its identity, and you shouldn’t leave town without walking through them!
The easiest way to go to the financial district is by going to the Willy-Brandt-Platz. This is the home of the giant Euro sign, right in front of the Eurotower, the old seat of the European Central Bank.
From there, you can walk up the Neue Mainzer Straße. Don’t forget to look up! The street is surrounded by some of the tallest buildings in Frankfurt, including the iconic Commerzbank Tower. At the end of the street, you can also find the Main Tower. There you can pay a small entrance fee to go to the top and enjoy an amazing view of the city!
#20 Go on a day trip
With its location in central Germany and lots of train connections, Frankfurt is the perfect place to base yourself and go on a few day trips. Get a hotel or AirBNB close to the train station and start exploring!
We highly recommend a day trip to Bad Homburg. This spa town, which is only half an hour away by train, used to very popular with the Thai king – and many more visitors from all over the world.Grab your
You can also go to Hanau, which is where the Grimm brothers were born. Or visit Kronberg, a small town north of Frankfurt. We like this village, with its half-timbered houses and its castle, so much that this is one of our favourite destinations to take visitors. If you want to escape into nature, you can hike from here to Königstein and visit three castles along the way.
As an alternative, if you don’t mind venturing a bit further, go to Würzburg. This city is famous for its residence, which was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, as well as its vineyards.
How to get to Frankfurt
No matter where in the world you are, you shouldn’t find it hard to reach Frankfurt. With its big, international airport, Frankfurt has flight connections to many cities in the world. Just make sure not to confuse the main airport (FRA) with the airport Frankfurt-Hahn (HHN). The latter is located halfway in between Frankfurt and Luxembourg, at a distance of about 120 km to each of them.
If you’re already close by, you can go to Frankfurt either by train or by bus. Check out the train schedules on the website of Deutsche Bahn. For buses, we usually take Flixbus, as they have convenient connections to many locations in the area.
Getting around Frankfurt
Frankfurt is connected through a massive network of buses, trams, underground trains and local trains. You can find a map of the most important connections in all underground stations as well as online.
We also really like using the RMV app on our phones. All you need to do is enter your starting point as well as your destination, and the app will show you how to get there. No looking at maps and guessing which one will be the fastest connection.
While moving around the Frankfurt city centre, you can usually walk. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, as it’s easy to cover large distances without noticing.
Best time to visit Frankfurt
You can visit Frankfurt at any time of the year, but two seasons stand out as particularly good.
In summer, you will be able to sit outside in a beer garden and enjoy a glass of Apfelwein. And in December, you get to visit the Christmas market. Unfortunately, everyone knows that those two time periods are perfect for visitors, so expect to run into large crowds.
If you want to avoid crowds, come in November or January/February. That’s when we generally see fewer tourists but be aware that the weather can be dreadful. As an alternative, opt for the shoulder seasons, when you can have decent weather and not as many crowds as in summer.
We hope you found our guide helpful. If you are planning on travelling to Germany soon, we have a few more articles for you that you should check out:
- 1 Day in Bad Homburg – a perfect day trip from Frankfurt
- Your guide to the Frankfurt Christmas market
- All you need to know about German Christmas markets
- Planning on going south? Find out how to visit the famous Neuschwanstein Castle.
Leave us a comment if you’ve been to Frankfurt or you’re planning on going. We’d love to hear from you.
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