Top 5 sights for first-timers
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.