Frankfurt Guide. Leisure Guides.

 

Germany’s financial capital means business, as one look at its bristling skyline will tell you. But beneath the ultra-modern skyscrapers, there’s a cultured and cosmopolitan metropolis that knows how to let its hair down.

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Getting around


Frankfurt is surprisingly compact for a major business capital, and if you’re restricting your sightseeing to the city centre, Old Town and Sachsenhausen, you’ll be able – weather permitting – to cover much of it on foot. Even so, you’re likely at some stage to want to make use of the efficient public transport system, which forms part of the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV) network that covers both Frankfurt and the surrounding communities of the Rhein-Main region. 
 
Within the city itself, the U-Bahn (underground) network is supplemented by trams, buses and S-Bahn (suburban railway). The system runs from 4am until 2am, and there are eight night bus lines at weekends. Frankfurt’s cream-coloured taxis are plentiful, with taxi ranks at the main station and at various locations in the inner city. If you’re travelling within the city centre, you can also hire a Velotaxi (cycle taxi).
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Hotels


Frankfurt’s hotels are geared towards business travel, with plenty of choice in the medium and upper price ranges. Rates can soar midweek – especially during exhibitions like the Frankfurt Book Fair – but the flipside is that weekend rates often represent unusually good value for money.
 
At the top end of the market, standout options include the highly regarded Rocco Forte Villa Kennedy (Kennedyallee 70), which focuses on a 1904-built villa. The privately owned Hessischer Hof (Friedrich-Ebert-Anlage 40) is a traditional grand hotel furnished with antiques, while the slick and very central Jumeirah (Thurn-und-Taxis-Platz 2) is the luxury chain’s first German hotel. 
 
Mid-priced hotels in Frankfurt cluster near the main railway station: The Pure (Niddastrasse 86) is a good boutique-style option with all-white, minimalist décor, while for a more youthful and funky vibe the nearby 25hours Hotel by Levi’s (Niddastrasse 58) has denim-themed interiors and a discount for Mini owners.
 
To book a hotel click here
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Nightlife


Nightlife in Frankfurt divides broadly between the rustic and occasionally raucous charms of Apfelwein-fuelled Alt-Sachsenhausen and the more stylish, contemporary options for which you’ll probably want to dress up. 
 
The décor is as austere as the name at Bar Plank (Elbestrasse 15), a tiny café and DJ bar that reflects the grungy Bahnhofsviertel’s increasing hipster credentials; if you prefer a more cosseted experience, take the lift to the 22nd Lounge & Bar atop the InnSide Eurotheum hotel (Neue Mainzer Strasse 66-68) for cocktails, classy surroundings and spectacular views.
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Restaurants


Frankfurt is Germany’s most multicultural city and has the food to match, with everything from sushi to steaks and falafel to tapas. Frankfurt also has a culinary tradition all its own, with dishes like Handkäs mit Musik (marinated cheese with onions) or zingy, herby Frankfurt green sauce that are best sampled in traditional Apfelwein taverns like Fichtekränzi (Wallstrasse 5). 
 
For more upmarket fare, Grosse Bockenheimer Strasse – also known as Fressgass or Scoff Lane – is a popular port of call in the city centre, but the most interesting options are often further afield. Local boy Matthias Schmidt creates dazzling haute cuisine in elegant surroundings at Villa Merton (Am Leonhardsbrunn 12) and has won two Michelin stars for his trouble, while Lafleur Restaurant (Palmengartenstrasse 11) offers a Michelin-pleasing blend of French and Austrian influences, and Weinsinn (Fürstenbergerstrasse 179) combines acclaimed cooking with a 200-bottle wine list and a more informal, bistro-like ambiance.
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Shopping


If you’re looking for a classy souvenir, head for the Höchster Porzellan-Manufaktur’s factory store in Höchst or its retail outlet in the city centre (Berliner Strasse 60). Everything Apfelwein-related can be obtained at Äpplergalerie in Sachsenhausen (Klappergasse 9).
 
Frankfurt’s main shopping drag is Zeil, where the department stores include Kaufhof (Zeil 116) and Peek & Cloppenburg (Zeil 71-75), while the ultra-modern MyZeil (Zeil 106) mall boasts international fashion brands like G-Star Raw and Hollister alongside a reconstructed  baroque palace and a five-star hotel. 
 
More luxurious labels are thick on the ground in Goethestrasse, Frankfurt’s most prestigious designer shopping strip, with Chanel at number 10, Gucci at number 5 and breakfasting jewellery fans making a beeline for Tiffany & Co at number 20.  Alternatively, head down to Sachsenhausen, where Secondelle (Schweizer Strasse 98) has secondhand couture from the likes of Prada and Armani, plus an alterations service if your prize find is less than a perfect fit.
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Top 10 sights

 
Top 5 sights for first-timers
 
Römerberg

Frankfurt’s medieval main square is an essential first stop for camera-clicking visitors, its reconstructed glories giving a taste of what much of the city’s Old Town was like before its destruction in wartime air raids. Close by are the cathedral where Holy Roman Emperors were crowned and the Paulskirche, home to Germany’s first democratic parliament in 1848. 
 
Römerberg, Old Town
 
Städel Museum

The star of Frankfurt’s Museumsufer (‘Museum Embankment’) and Germany’s Museum of the Year 2012, the Städel Museum has an impressive collection of art from the medieval to the modern, and hides a spectacular new underground extension beneath its lawns.
 
Schaumainkai 63
www.staedelmuseum.de 
 
Main Tower

Climb to the 56th-floor viewing terrace of this financial district skyscraper for panoramic views over the city and surrounding landscape – take your camera, or at least your phone. It’s particularly appealing at sunset, and there’s an elegant restaurant on the 53rd floor if you prefer to savour the romantic vista over a leisurely meal. 
 
Neue Mainzer Strasse 52-58
www.maintower.de 
 
Goethe-Haus

Nestling in the shade of the Commerzbank skyscraper, the birthplace of Germany’s greatest writer is worth a visit not just for its literary associations but also for an insight into the vanished world of a cultured middle class Frankfurt family during the Age of Enlightenment. There’s also a gallery of 18th-century paintings.
 
Grosser Hirschgraben 23-25
www.goethehaus-frankfurt.de 
 
Alt-Sachsenhausen

The winding medieval lanes of Sachsenhausen’s boisterous old quarter are full of bars of all kinds, but for an only-in-Frankfurt experience, seek out one of the Apfelwein (cider) taverns, take your place on a bench in the garden and sample Frankfurt’s tart, refreshing local brew. 
 
Top 5 for old hands
 
Frankfurt Stock Exchange

Book at least a day in advance and take your passport or ID if you want to visit the 19th-century building that houses the nerve centre of German commerce. The visit includes a briefing on floor and Xetra trading, and you can get a glimpse of the trading floor afterwards from the visitors’ gallery.
 
Börsenplatz 4
www.deutsche-boerse.de 
 
Long Island Summer Lounge

With a seductive mix of palm trees, pools and nautical trappings, the Long Island Summer Lounge brings a touch of Balearic hedonism to the centre of Frankfurt each summer – seven stories up, on the roof of a car park and with unmatched views of the city’s skyline.
 
Kaiserhofstrasse 12
www.longislandsummerlounge.de 
 
Museum Judengasse

The Rothschild banking dynasty is one of many families that can trace its origins to Frankfurt’s old-established Jewish community; this fascinating museum, laid out among the excavated cellars of the medieval ghetto, shows just how cramped the physical confines of ghetto life were for more than four centuries. 
 
Kurt-Schuhmacher-Strasse 10
www.judengasse.de 
 
Senckenberg Naturmuseum 

With its spectacular dinosaur skeletons and miraculously preserved Eocene-era fossils from the Messel pit south of the city, the Senckenberg Museum is a treat for fans of the prehistoric – but with everything from whales to Egyptian mummies and roomfuls of birds and reptiles, there’s plenty more to keep you engrossed once the initial wow factor wears off.
 
Senckenberganlage 25
www.senckenberg.de 
 
Palmengarten

Frankfurt’s lovely botanical garden is a welcome retreat from the noise of the city, with palm and blossom houses, a lake and a variety of habitats from the succulent garden to the sub-Antarctic house. And even if you’re no botanist, coffee and cake on the terrace of the chic Café Siesmayer is an alluring way to unwind.
 
Siesmayerstrasse 61
www.palmengarten.de
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Top 5 activities


Soak up the sights

Hop aboard the Ebbelwei-Express – a brightly painted historic tramcar – for a lazy introduction to Frankfurt’s sights fuelled by Apfelwein and pretzels.  
 
Cruising
 
Take to the water for a leisurely 50- or 100-minute sightseeing cruise through the city aboard one of the Primus-Linie’s riverboats. There are occasional Sunday brunch sailings too (Mainkai/Eiserner Steg).
 
Winter sports

When the snow’s good, locals take to the Taunus hills on Frankfurt’s doorstep to go cross-country skiing or tobogganing. There are even some downhill runs that are particularly suitable for children; tuition is available and you can hire equipment. The highest peak – the Grosser Feldberg – is easily reached from Frankfurt by U3 and the 57 bus.
 
Museum hopping

Frankfurt’s answer to the South Bank is the parade of museums along Sachsenhausen’s Schaumainkai, and with everything from Salvador Dali’s 1936 lobster telephone to classical sculpture to discover, there’s something here for everyone.
 
Sensing
 
The Dialog Museum on Hanauer Landstrasse is without question Frankfurt’s most unusual attraction. Blind tour guides steer you in absolute darkness through exhibitions depicting everyday situations to give you an entirely new sensory experience.
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Top 5 events

 
Mainfest

Originally a folk festival for fishermen and boatmen on the River Main, Mainfest is nowadays a giant funfair, with carousels, shooting ranges and a riverside Ferris wheel.
 
Date: August
Venue: Römerberg and Mainkai
 
Apfelwein Festival

Live bands and dialect poetry provide the soundtrack to Frankfurt’s annual celebration of its favourite tipple. The amber nectar is available in traditional varieties, fashionable blends and in apple-flavoured cocktails, and there are stalls selling Apfelwein paraphernalia.   
 
Date: August
Venue: Rossmarkt
 
Museumsuferfest
 
For three days, the Museumsufer (‘Museum Embankment’) becomes the backdrop for Frankfurt’s biggest cultural festival, with live music and DJ stages, world food and a plethora of events from dragon boat racing to tango and film noir.
 
Date: August
Venue: along the Schaumainkai
 
Rheingau Wine Festival

Germany’s wine-growing heartland is right on Frankfurt’s doorstep, and every year in late summer it comes to town, with 30 vintners’ stands offering 600 still and sparkling wines from the Rheingau region. 
 
Date: August-September
Venue: Fressgass (Grosse Bockenheimer Strasse)
 
Christmas Market

Frankfurt’s Christmas Market dates back to 1393 and offers an evocative mix of traditional crafts, mulled wine and brass band concerts that is sure to melt the heart of even the most determined seasonal cynic.
 
Date: November-December
Venue: Römerberg, Paulsplatz and Mainkai

Written by World Travel Guide

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