What are the best things to do in Frankfurt?

Joseph Reaney

Though it may be known more as a center of business or world port than as a destination for historic sites, Frankfurt has its own rich history and culture that are worth exploration. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the best things to see and do in Frankfurt.
 
1. Explore The Römerberg. The historic heart of the city, The Römerberg boasts lovely half-timbered houses, a 15th century town hall and the looming Saint Bartholomew's Cathedral: a significant House of God where all kings of the Holy Roman Empire were elected and all Roman-German emperors were crowned.

2. Visit the Old Opera. Originally opened in 1880, the spectacular Renaissiance-style Alte Oper hasn’t been regularly used for opera performances since the Second World War, but remains one of the city’s most arresting sights. If you’re lucky, you might just catch a one-off performance.

3. Head up the Main Tower. As the only Frankfurt high-rise open to the public, the Main Tower’s viewing platform offers the best views of the city. Head up on a Friday to see the city unwind from work week to weekend.

4. Expand your mind in a museum. Frankfurt's collection of museums and galleries is second only to Berlin's, so take some time to wander through some of the city exhibits. We recommend the Deutsches Filmmuseum (German Film Museum) and the Goethe Haus und Museum (the birthplace of the country's best known writer). If you plan to see multiple museums, save money with a two-day Museumsufer Ticket.

5. Sip cider in Sachsenhausen. Apfelwein (or Ebbelwoi, in the local tongue) is Frankfurt’s favorite drink, and you can sample the lightly-alcoholic apple cider in the many historic taverns in the pretty district of Sachsenhausen.

  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the best things to do for free in Frankfurt?

    Frankfurt is an expensive city, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are five great things to do in the German city without spending a dime:
     
    1. Nizza-Gardens. A Mediterranean oasis in the heart of the city, these relaxing gardens have been around since 1866 and are home to palm trees, lemon and orange trees and lots of other plants you rarely associate with Northern Europe.
     
    2. Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Built in the 19th century, this is the busiest trading floor in Germany – and you can go watch the action any day of the week. But be warned: you’ll need to reserve at least 24 hours in advance.
     
    3. Waldspielpark Goetheturm. This enormous forest park boasts a 130-foot-high wooden tower with spectacular views of the city’s skyline, as well as the best kids’ adventure playground in the whole city.
     
    4. Fasanerie Wiesbaden. Once a royal hunting reserve, this 25-acre plot of land is now a great (and free!) wildlife reserve with 50 species of wild animals, from wolves to bears, as well as beautiful meadows, lakes and redwood forests. There’s also a petting zoo, a water playground and a great play area for kids.
     
    5. Freibad Stadion. A free open-air swimming park on the outskirts of the city, Freibad Stadion not only has four adult swimming pools and spa facilities but also a wealth of kids’ attractions, from shallow pools to spring boards, waterfalls to water slides.
  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What is the best thing to bring home from Frankfurt?

    Frankfurt is a place where you’ll easily find artisans creating art, toys and glass in the traditional, handcrafted way. Make room in your luggage for a few of these finds. Here is our list of the best things to bring home from Frankfurt.
     
    1. Viertel wine glass. Frankfurt’s favorite drink is Ebbelwoi (apple wine), and it’s usually served in a pottery jar, then drunk from sturdy glasses with a characteristic checkered pattern and wooden cover. Called a viertel (quarter liter), it’s perfect for use at home with water, juice, lemonade or anything else.
     
    2. Food and Drink. Any visitor to Frankfurt soon realizes that the city has a unique culinary landscape — so why not take some of it home with you? Head to stores like Kaufhaus Hessen on Berger Strasse to pick up some traditional sausages, jellies, honeys, chocolates and, of course, the famous ebbelwoi.
     
    3. Wooden handicrafts. Walk around Frankfurt and you’ll see hundreds of shops selling handmade wooden handicrafts — from decorative nutcrackers to folksy figurines to elaborate cuckoo clocks — but for the very best examples of these things you should head to Handwerkskunst am Römer on Braubachstrasse.
     
    4. Ceramic pottery. Take a trip to Töpferei Maurer on Wallstrasse for home-made ceramic pottery that will always remind you of Frankfurt. Those beautiful blue Ebbelwoi serving jars you see around the city? They’re called ‘bembels’, and they mostly come from here.
     
    5. Goethe souvenirs. From original works and translated texts to memorial stamps and miniature statues, why not take a piece of Frankfurt’s most famous son home with you?
  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the five best Frankfurt food experiences?

    Forget the frankfurter. When in Frankfurt, you’ll want to explore the burgeoning international food scene found here. These are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ choices for the best Frankfurt food experiences.
     
    1. Handkäse mit Musik. Although somewhat of an acquired taste, handkäse is a Frankfurt staple: a kind of curdled milk cheese, hand-rolled into a cylindrical shape and prone to giving off a pungent aroma.
     
    2. Grüne Sosse. Although not a meal in itself, this ‘green sauce’ – made from eggs, salt, oil, vinegar and various aromatic herbs including parsley, chives, cress and dill – can be found on a variety of dishes sold throughout the city. We recommend it poured over a plate of grilled fish with boiled potatoes.
     
    3. Sausages. Everybody in the world knows about the frankfurter hot dog, but in the 21st century the city’s most popular sausages are actually the grilled rindswurst (a sausage made with 100% pure beef) and the fried currywurst (slices of pork sausage seasoned with warm curry ketchup).
     
    4. Frankfurter Kranz. The most traditional dessert the city has to offer, this ‘Frankfurt Crown’ is a firm sponge cake in two or three layers, filled with lashings of butter cream icing and strawberry jam, then topped with even more butter cream icing and toasted almond flakes. Delicious, decadent and deadly.
     
    5. Beer and Cider. Frankfurt has two good local brews – Binding and Henninger – but the city’s liquid refreshment of choice is undoubtedly Ebbelwoi, an apple wine that tastes similar to cider. You’ll find taverns across town selling the drink either straight up or mixed with sparkling water (sauergespritzt).
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  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    Where is the best nightlife in Frankfurt?

    The story of nightlife in Frankfurt is a tale of two cities: you have the alternative student parties of Bockenheim versus the bustling business bars of Nordend. If you’re after something in between, the best option is the suburb Alt-Sachsenhausen, home to a number of ‘Ebbelwoi’ (‘apple wine/cider’) taverns, including Dauth-Schneider, Struwwelpeter and Lorsbacher Thal.
     
    Once you have started the evening with a few drinks, you can move on to one of the city’s many late-night options. Along with the renowned youth-oriented nightclubs like Cocoon Club (mostly electronica), King Kamehameha (mostly house music) and Odeon Club (good for theme nights), there are fantastic live music venues like Jazzkeller (jazz music), Clubkeller (indie music) and Nachtleben (rock, punk and metal). There is also the popular-with-everyone gay club PULSE. Or for something altogether more genteel, seek out of one of the city’s many late-night coffee joints, including the Spanish-influenced Cafe & Bar Celona on Holzgraben – open until 2 a.m.
  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What is the best way to see Frankfurt in one day?

    If you only have a single day in Frankfurt, you should focus on those sights north of the river.  Start out by walking north along the iconic Eiserner Steg (Iron Bridge) en route to the Altstadt. Walk past the Customs Tower and Wertheim House and into the Historisches Museum, where you can spend an hour or two learning about the history of Frankfurt and the surrounding area. From here, head into the main Römerberg square to see sights such as the Ostzeile (a row of six picturesque half-timbered houses), the Alte Nikolaikirche (a pretty, 13th century Gothic church) and the impressive Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen (the Fountain of Justice). Then, stop for a swift lunch in one of the excellent, if expensive, cafés and restaurants lining each edge of the square.
     
    After lunch, turn just off the square to look around the impressive St. Bartholemew’s Cathedral – best known as simply ‘The Cathedral’ and one of Germany’s most significant Houses of God – then head north to take a look around Goethe House. The somewhat unassuming birthplace of the country's most renowned author and poet. If you still have energy, you can then head to the Jüdisches Museum on Untermainkai, which documents 850 years of Jewish history in Frankfurt.
     
    In the evening, reward your efforts with a meal in the traditional Frankfurt eatery Max on One, followed by an unforgettable evening of tasty cocktails, wonderful live music and sensational city views in the popular 22nd Lounge & Bar. If you’d like to see a small slice of life south of the river, head to one of the quaint cider taverns in the old suburb of Sachsenhausen.
  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    Where is the best shopping in Frankfurt?

    With everything from niche designer boutiques to sprawling flea markets, Frankfurt has superb shopping options to suit all tastes. Just remember that everything will be closed on Sundays. Read on for Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the best shopping in Frankfurt.
     
    1. Fashion. The city’s main retail street is simply known as Zeil, and it is home to many international fashion brands (like H&M and Zara), several large German department stores (like Galeria Kaufhof and Karstad) and the odd ultra-modern shopping mall (like Zeilgalerie and MyZeil). But if you’re only looking for the highest of high-end fashion, head a little west to the pretty, tree-lined Goethestrasse, which is home to exclusive designer boutiques such as Versace, Cartier and Tiffany’s.
     
    2. Souvenirs. You can pick up kitschy German souvenirs in the airport or the main train station, but if you want a more authentic memento you’ll have a look a little harder. For traditional handmade ceramics, you’ll find a couple of small stores on Kaiserstrasse; for German antiques and other hard-to-find historical items, try Berger Strasse; for distinctly local jewelry and accessories, head to Leipziger Strasse; and for designer furniture and expensive German-built cars, visit Hanauer Landstrasse.
     
    3. Markets. Frankfurt has more than its fair share of great markets. In fact, with examples like the excellent indoor grocery and butcher’s market Kleinmarkthalle, the always-fresh Friday farmer’s market on Schillerstrasse (opposite the city’s stock exchange), the colorful flower market Hauptwache-Biebergasse and the popular second-hand and handicrafts flea market Schaumainkai, you’ll see market stalls being put up somewhere in the city every day of the week, every week of the year.
  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the best things to do with kids in Frankfurt?

    Frankfurt is a welcoming destination for families with kids. A world class zoo, kid-targeted museums and a slew of hand-crafted toy shops will fill the hours with fun. Here Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ favorites for five of the best things to do with kids in Frankfurt.
     
    1. Tour the Kinder Museum. What could be more child-friendly than a Children’s Museum? Solely dedicated to subterranean happenings, it is home to a series of interactive exhibits varying from a subway simulator and a real-life bomb shelter to a tour of the water canal system and important archaeological digs.
     
    1. Go for a swim. Frankfurt is home to a number of swimming baths. During the winter choose from the excellent heated pools across the city, while in the summer you’ll find even more great open-air baths and water parks. Or if you’d prefer a swim in the wild, head for one of the city’s 50 lakes and ponds.
     
    3. Visit the city zoo. Animals attractions are always guaranteed to keep kids interested, and Frankfurt is home to one of the continent’s largest zoos, which in turn is home to more than 5,000 animals of 600 species.
     
    4. Go toy shopping. Frankfurt is famous for its traditional toy makers, so take your kids to Hannah Kley for wonderful wooden toys, Das Spielzimmer for handmade dolls or Hochster Porzellan for fragile collectibles.
     
    5. Take to the ice. Frankfurt’s Eissporthalle is a frozen paradise, with an enormous family-friendly ice rink designed for skating and playing ice hockey. You can even take in a professional hockey game here.
  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the best things to do in Frankfurt?

    Though it may be known more as a center of business or world port than as a destination for historic sites, Frankfurt has its own rich history and culture that are worth exploration. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the best things to see and do in Frankfurt.
     
    1. Explore The Römerberg. The historic heart of the city, The Römerberg boasts lovely half-timbered houses, a 15th century town hall and the looming Saint Bartholomew's Cathedral: a significant House of God where all kings of the Holy Roman Empire were elected and all Roman-German emperors were crowned.

    2. Visit the Old Opera. Originally opened in 1880, the spectacular Renaissiance-style Alte Oper hasn’t been regularly used for opera performances since the Second World War, but remains one of the city’s most arresting sights. If you’re lucky, you might just catch a one-off performance.

    3. Head up the Main Tower. As the only Frankfurt high-rise open to the public, the Main Tower’s viewing platform offers the best views of the city. Head up on a Friday to see the city unwind from work week to weekend.

    4. Expand your mind in a museum. Frankfurt's collection of museums and galleries is second only to Berlin's, so take some time to wander through some of the city exhibits. We recommend the Deutsches Filmmuseum (German Film Museum) and the Goethe Haus und Museum (the birthplace of the country's best known writer). If you plan to see multiple museums, save money with a two-day Museumsufer Ticket.

    5. Sip cider in Sachsenhausen. Apfelwein (or Ebbelwoi, in the local tongue) is Frankfurt’s favorite drink, and you can sample the lightly-alcoholic apple cider in the many historic taverns in the pretty district of Sachsenhausen.
  • On July 30, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where are the best places to stay in Frankfurt?

    As a major business destination, Frankfurt boasts a large and eclectic selection of luxury hotels. Read on for Forbes Travel Guide’s editor’s picks for the best places to stay in Frankfurt.
     
    1. Le Meridien Parkhotel Frankfurt. A luxury option in the heart of the city (just two minutes from the main train station), this early 20th century hotel offers the perfect blend of historical beauty and contemporary comfort.
     
    2. Schlosshotel Kronberg. It may be a little way out of town, but the luxurious Schlosshotel Kronberg more than justifies the minor inconvenience. A 19th century country castle-cum-hotel, it boasts exquisite furnishings, an impressive collection of antiques and paintings and, naturally, an exclusive 18-hole golf course.
     
    3. Rocco Forte Hotel Villa Kennedy. This turn-of-the-century building was once a simple (admittedly enormous) family home, but is now a beautiful 163-bedroom hotel with a large swimming pool, spa and gym and great dining and drinking facilities.
     
    4. Jumeirah Frankfurt Hotel. Located in the inner part of the Innerstadt, this superb high-end hotel is the largest in Frankfurt, featuring 218 bedrooms and suites, three restaurants and bars, a luxurious day spa and state-of-the-art meeting and event facilities. There is also a spectacular ballroom, just for good measure.
     
    5. Roomers. Those who prefer their retreats on the stylish side will be at home at this uber-modern boutique hotel with a location in central Frankfurt. The décor is dramatic, with dark tones, dim lighting and plenty of contemporary art. If you’re visiting during summer, camp out at the hotel’s patio oyster bar, which serves fresh oysters, champagne and a well-edited wine list.
  • On July 30, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where are the best places to eat in Frankfurt?

    Frankfurt has a vast array of world-class dining options. You’ll find everything from traditional schnitzel to top-notch sushi. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the best places to eat in Frankfurt.
     
    1. Max on One. Run by the internationally-famous chef Martin Steiner, this excellent eatery serves up a variety of (mostly grilled) Frankfurt classics – making it the best option for a truly cultural experience.
     
    2. 22nd Lounge & Bar. A superb skyscraping eatery with an unparalleled view over the city, 22nd Lounge & Bar not only offers an extensive high-end menu but also sumptuous cocktails, excellent live piano music and always-friendly service. It’s also worth noting that the prices, unlike the setting, are not sky high.
     
    3. Erno’s Bistro. Almost certainly the city’s finest French eatery, Erno’s has been serving up fine, Michelin-starred Gallic gastronomy for close to four decades. It’s only realistic rival is the simply-titled Français.
     
    4. Iroha. An excellent Japanese restaurant in the bowels of the hotel Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof, Iroha serves up the tastiest sushi in the city. Nevertheless, opt for a seat at one of the restaurant’s few teppanyaki tables, where you’ll see great food prepared before you on a traditional iron griddle.
     
    5. Lohninger. Owned by the celebrated (and eponymous) head chef Mario Lohninger, this excellent restaurant focuses on traditional Austrian staples with a gourmet twist – perfect for a light lunch. For more adventurous cuisine from the same chef, head to Frankfurt’s Micro and Silk restaurants instead.
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