Frankfurt am Main, to give it its full name, is a city of superlatives. A major world centre of finance and home to the European Central Bank and German Stock Exchange, Frankfurt plays host to the world’s largest motor show and the world’s largest book fair.
An ultra-modern high-rise skyline provides the visual backdrop to an historic city centre, much of it restored after sustaining heavy damage during bombing raids in World War II. World-class museums and galleries, a picturesque river setting, great shopping, wonderful food and a vibrant nightlife attract millions of tourists each year to this Greenest of cities.
The Romerberg, the historic heart of Frankfurt dating back to Roman times, is a great place to start. Many of the buildings from the medieval era were either destroyed or badly damaged in World War II; some have been rebuilt as part of an ongoing campaign of homage to the city’s heritage, including the Romer itself – the town hall building.
Those wishing to risk cultural overload can take advantage of Frankfurt’s 30 museums, many of them straddling the Main River in the Museumsufer district. For a look at why the city gets the nickname Mainhatten, there are sweeping views from the observation deck of Main Tower, one of Frankfurt’s many skyscrapers.
Where to Eat and Drink
The name Frankfurter Wurstchen was trademarked in 1860 and you will find variations of this famous smoked sausage as a component of more complex dishes, as well as in the form of a hot-dog.
Frankfurt is much more than sausage-central, however, with a wide range of places to eat and drink, from student bars and pubs to fine-dining restaurants. The pedestrianised Fressgrass is one of the better-patronised restaurant and bar areas.
Don’t forget to try the other speciality of Frankfurt – apple wine, known locally as Ebbelwoi. Some of the more traditional pubs that sell it are in the Sachsenhausen district.
Where to Stay
As a financial, commercial and cultural hub of Europe, Frankfurt is not short of places to stay with many hotels relying on business travellers to maintain occupancy rates. That means better deals are available outside peak business periods. It also pays to avoid clashes with trade fairs, when competition for accommodation is high and rates rocket.
Most of the major hotels are found around the main train station (Hauptbahnof) and the more salubrious central business district, the latter closer to the historic city heart and picturesque riverside. If world-class shopping is your thing, look for hotels close to the Zeil.
The pedestrianised Zeil is one of Europe’s most prestigious shopping areas and home to the widest range of brands, including C&A, Zara, H&M, Esprit and Adidas and many others, as well as the large department stores Galeria Kaufhof and Karstadt. You may be in danger of shopping overload with the addition of two further Zeil shopping centres: MyZeil and Zeilgalerie.
For the biggest concentration of even more upmarket shopping (think, for example, Gucci, Tiffany, Hermes and Louis Vuitton), head to Goethestrasse. If you are looking for more traditional German stores, including German fashion labels, you will find outlets on Schweizer Strasse, north of the Hauptbhanof. Don’t miss the Saturday flea market by the river in Sachsenhausen.
Frankfurt Like a Local
In a city of superlatives, it comes as little surprise that not only does Frankfurt have Germany’s largest botanic garden but also the largest inner-city forest in Europe. Combined with the picturesque riverside and other public parks, they contribute to Frankfurt’s reputation as a Green city.
With six playgrounds, water features and walks in and around its 48 square kilometres, the Stadtwald (City Forest), a tram ride south from the city centre, is hugely popular with local families. For calm closer to the city heart, enjoy a leisurely walk along the Main river promenade.