Your Trip to Frankfurt: The Complete Guide

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Frankfurt is a new city by German standards. First established by Napoleon in 1810, the financial center of the country was thoroughly destroyed during World War II. Unlike Dresden and many other German cities, Frankfurt shrugged off its elegant historic architecture and emerged anew as "Mainhattan" (named for the Main River winding through the city and the skyscrapers reminiscent of Manhattan).

This sleek German hub is an international destination for business, its major international airport, and its exciting event and dining scene. The largest city in the state of Hesse and fifth-largest in Germany, Frankfurt is a world-class city with an impressive skyline of skyscrapers and a vibrant community of university students, internationals, convention-goers, and cultured locals

Use this guide to plan your trip to the hustle and bustle of Frankfurt, including when to visit, where to stay, eat, party, and more.

Planning Your Trip to Frankfurt

  • Best Time to Visit: Events take place throughout the year in Frankfurt, so you might have a hard time choosing what time of year to visit. The weather is best in spring and fall. The very best time to visit Frankfurt may be in October, the month of the Frankfurt Book Fair.
  • Language: German, but English is widely spoken.
  • Currency: Euro.
  • Getting Around: Frankfurt is a common entry point in Germany because of its major international airport. From there, visitors can easily travel to and through the city via its extensive public transportation network, which includes U-Bahn, S-Bahn, and buses. Taxis are also accessible, though Uber and other ride-shares have yet to find a firm foothold.
  • Travel Tip: The city can accommodate large groups for the many conventions that take place in Frankfurt, but visiting during a large conference can result in higher prices for hotels and restaurants requiring reservations. Consult Frankfurt's tourism calendar for dates of significant events.

Things to Do in Frankfurt

If you are in town for business or a short trip, there are still plenty of operas or museums or jazz concerts you can fit into your itinerary. On top of that, Frankfurt has top attractions like the Main Tower to entertain the whole family.

  • Even though Frankfurt is famous for its futuristic skyline, it also has a reconstructed and romantic Altstadt (old city) worth visiting. Walk the cobblestone streets and admire the half-timbered houses of the Römerberg.
  • Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749-1832) is Germany's most famous writer and a son of Frankfurt. He is revered at the rebuilt Goethe House and Museum.
  • Step away from civilization at the tranquil Palmengarten, a botanical garden founded in 1868. It includes 50 acres and more than 6,000 different botanical species from all around the world.

Explore more attractions with our full-length articles on the top attractions in Frankfurt and the best things to do in Frankfurt with kids.

What to Eat and Drink in Frankfurt

Frankfurt's dining scene can be refreshingly international with options from Japan to SoCal. But those are merely a welcome distraction from Frankfurt's traditional cuisine. The city has several restaurants that are more than 100 years old and an endless supply of sausage. Try classics like the fragrant, poetically named handkäse mit musik (cheese with music), or order hard-boiled eggs and boiled potatoes with Frankfurter grüne sosse (Frankfurt green sauce).

Frankfurt also has hip and modern bars in places like the Bahnhofsviertel, a formerly seedy area surrounding the central train station. But if you want to get to the heart of the city, you have to visit an apfelweinlokal (traditional apple wine bar). Known as ebbelwoi in the local dialect, this tart, slightly sour fruit wine, is a must-try when in Frankfurt. The charming bembel the drink is served in also makes for a great souvenir if you find one at the city's many flea markets.

Where to Stay in Frankfurt

Frankfurt is composed of 46 distinct neighborhoods, each with its positives and negatives. Some areas nod to the city's historical past while others embrace its forward-thinking style. Innenstadt is the center of the city with both modern and reconstructed historic hotels. For easy travel in and out of the city, the Bahnhofsviertel area around the train station has the highest concentration of hotels, many at affordable prices.

No matter where you stay, the center of the city is compact and walkable. Excellent public transport links mean it is easy to get anywhere.

Explore the different areas of the city in our article on the best neighborhoods in Frankfurt.

Getting To Frankfurt

Flughafen Frankfurt am Main (FRA) is the busiest airport in Germany and the main entry point for many visitors. It is the hub for Lufthansa, as well as Condor, and a major transfer point for domestic and international travel. The airport has two passenger terminals, four runways, and extensive services for travelers.

From the airport, visitors can easily reach the city via public transportation or by private transport. The S8 and S9 (direction Offenbach or Hanau) reach Frankfurt's Hauptbahnhof (central railway station) in about 10 minutes for just 4.50 euros. Taxis are also readily available.

Within the city, the network of public transportation includes U-Bahn (metro), S-Bahn (local trains), and buses that run throughout the night.

Culture and Customs in Frankfurt

  • Customer service in Germany is infamous for its low standards, but because of Frankfurt's international populace, service is often better here than in the rest of the country.
  • When eating out in Germany, know that you should seat yourself and will need to ask for the bill at the end of the meal. Say "Die Rechnung, bitte" (the check, please) and tip by rounding up to the nearest euro, or no more than 10 percent.
  • Frankfurt's Bahnhofsviertel used to be a dangerous area to hang around, but today it is downright trendy. There is still some drug use and prostitution, but the latter is legal.

Money Saving Tips for Frankfurt

  • Make use of walking and public transport in Frankfurt as it is inexpensive and the best way to see the city. Regular tickets (einzelfahrt) costs 2.75 euros and allows for travel on all forms of transport in one direction for two hours. Zone 50 includes most of Frankfurt, excluding the airport. If you are going to be using transport all day, buy a Tageskarte for 5.35 euros.
  • Many hotels are geared toward business travel, so prices stay low (think under 100 euros a night). However, the decor can be very basic.
  • If you have flexibility on your travel dates, check the Messe (convention center) calendar for major trade fairs that will drive up prices. It is best to avoid those days.
  • Looking for souvenirs? Frankfurt’s largest flea market is held every other Saturday. It's a bargain-hunters' dream.

Learn more about the cheapest ways to have fun in the city with our article on the best things to see and do for free in Frankfurt.

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