One of Germany’s most misconceived cities is certainly Frankfurt on the river Main. Derogatorily nicknamed Mainhattan, it is mainly recognized as Germany’s financial hub, hence, economically relevant but otherwise absolutely neglectable. Well, since this vibrant metropole is one of my favorite German weekend trip destinations, in this post, I’m introducing you to the 25 best things you should by no means miss on your visit to Frankfurt. Also, they’ll prove that the city is absolutely worth a trip!
- A Weekend in Frankfurt
- History in a Nutshell
- 25 Things Not To Miss in Frankfurt
- Historic Old Town and Römerberg – The Center of Power
- Jewish Heritage
- Goethe, German Romanticism, and the Storm and Stress Movement
- Mainhattan – The Financial District
- Museumsufer – Galleries on Both Banks of the River Main
- Urban Art
- Practical Information
- Pinnable Pictures
A Weekend in Frankfurt
You are going to Frankfurt for the weekend? Why? Frankfurt is a horrible city full of ugly skyscrapers, and the streets around the main train station are a no-go area! Why for Christ’s sake are you wasting a perfectly good weekend on Frankfurt?
Well, this reaction from people to my weekend plans just shows how little they know.
Albeit, they are not completely wrong: The area east of the main train station towards the city center is very unpleasant, to say the least. But I’m not spending the weekend there. Just one short subway stop further you leave the station into Frankfurt’s epic financial district which is called Mainhattan for a reason.
Obviously, this play on words is based on the river Main which flows westwards through the city and offers locals and visitors alike vast greeneries and pleasant promenades under blooming trees.
And then, Mainhattan is evidently a reference to the highrise buildings on Manhattan’s Wall Street.
No, Frankfurt might not be Germany’s most idyllic city. But it has a substantial past and great history. It has hearty food and a signature cream cake. There are parks and a river. But most importantly, Frankfurt’s 60 museums host some of the best exhibitions in all of Europe.
Yes, this underdog of a city is definitely suitable for a fantastic weekend!
History in a Nutshell
Since the Middle Ages, Frankfurt am Main has been an imperial city and one of the most important centers in Germany. From 1562 the imperial coronations took place in Frankfurt, and until the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, most of the German kings were elected there.
In 1848, the so-called March Revolution took place in Germany. The National Assembly met in Frankfurt’s Paulskirche to phrase the first German democratic constitution.
By the end of the 19th century, Frankfurt’s economy was booming. Also, the city incorporated numerous adjacent towns between 1877 and 1910. This way, they doubled the city’s total area. For a short time, Frankfurt became Germany’s largest city at the beginning of the 20th century.
During WWII, the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Forces flew 75 air raids on Frankfurt am Main, dropping 26,000 tons of bombs on the city. In the firestorm of the March attacks in 1944, almost all important cultural buildings, monuments, and the entire medieval old with their more than 1800 half-timbered houses burned down. At the end of the war in 1945, Frankfurt’s population had dropped from over half a million to around 230,000. Half of these people were homeless.
After the end of the war, the US Armed Forces set up their European headquarters in Frankfurt. In the election for the federal capital in 1949, Frankfurt succumbed to the city of Bonn. Despite this defeat, the city quickly developed into an economic metropolis and the most important financial center in continental Europe.
With around 760,000 inhabitants, Frankfurt on the Main is the fifth largest city of Germany.
Within the country, Frankfurt’s high-rise skyline is absolutely one of a kind. Some of its striking skyscrapers are among the tallest in all of Europe. After all, Frankfurt is the seat of the German Central Bank, the European Central Bank, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, numerous national bank, and the Frankfurt Trade Fair where the International Book Fair has taken place every year since 1949.
Yet, over 40 percent of the bustling metropolis’ area consists of greeneries. Especially pleasant are the meadows alongside the river Main.
Frankfurt versus Frankfurt
By the way, it’s important to distinguish that in this post, I’m describing the city Frankfurt on the Main which is located in the western part of Germany. There is another Frankfurt which is on the river Oder in the country’s very east close to the Polish border. Apart from their name, these two cities have nothing to do with each other.
25 Things Not To Miss in Frankfurt
So yes, to many people, Frankfurt on the Main is nothing but Germany’s financial center and major air travel hub. Little do they know about the city’s early significance for the country, its number of amazing museums, and all those hidden cozy corners. But I know better – and after this post, you’ll do, too.
Below, you’ll find some of Frankfurt’s highlights you by no means should miss out on when visiting Germany’s probably most underrated weekend destination.
Historic Old Town and Römerberg – The Center of Power
On the day of their coronation, the Emperors of the so-called Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation used to walk the coronation trail between Frankfurt’s Cathedral of St. Bartholomew and the Römer Square. As a matter of fact, you can follow their steps to this day.
1 Cathedral of St. Bartholomew
To explore the city, let’s begin at the most significant of Frankfurt’s many important buildings. The Imperial Cathedral of St. Bartholomew is the largest sacred building in the city and was the election and coronation church of the Roman-German Emperors. As a matter of fact, today’s cathedral is actually the fourth building on the same site. Excavations of the previous buildings trace way back to the 7th century.
Only in 1239 came the church under the patron Saint Bartholomew. That’s also when the construction of today’s Gothic cathedral began. Apart from two short periods in the mid-16th and the mid-17th centuries, the cathedral remained Catholic even after the Reformation. However, it was the city’s only Catholic parish church until 1917.
The cathedral is open for touristy visits every day from 9 a. m. to 12 p. m. and in the afternoon from 1.15 p.m. to 8 p. m. Fridays and Sundays, it’s open only in the afternoon.
The adjacent museum opens from Wednesday to Friday between 10 a. m. and 5 p. m., on weekends, they open only at 11 a. m. The entrance fee is 2 €uros and is included in the MuseumsuferTicket* that I’m introducing below.
During the opening hours of the museum, you can climb the church tower for an additional 3 €uros.
Just a few steps west of the Cathedral is the former Archaeological Garden. From 2013 to 2016, a house was built above this archaeological site in order to protect the excavations from the weather while keeping them permanently accessible. In August 2018, the site in the basement of the so-called Stadthaus was opened as a part of the Archaeological Museum under the name Franconofurd.
The Franconofurd literally offers a window into the origins of the city of Frankfurt: a Roman bath, the walls of the Carolingian royal court, and late medieval cellars are taking you back around 2000 years. In addition, selected finds are shown in a new exhibition room.
The Franconofurd is open from Wednesday to Sunday between 1 p. m. and 5.30 p. m. and access is free of charge.
3 The Golden Scale
On the backside of the Franconofurd is the beautiful medieval half-timbered building Goldene Waage which translates to Golden Scale. Its most alluring feature was the detailed Renaissance façade which dates from 1619.
Sadly, this architectural jewel was destroyed in 1944, and the remains of the house, which would have allowed reconstruction, were removed in 1950.
In 2007, the city of Frankfurt initiated an urban reconstruction plan by the name of Dom-Römer project. Fortunately, this included also the rebuilding of the Golden Scale house.
After the completion of the half-timbered facade, the Renaissance ceiling inside, and the belvedere, the building was reopened in 2019. It is accessible on guided tours organized by the Historical Museum.
But you can visit the sweetest part of the Golden Scale every day as there is a café on the ground floor. Here, you can sample the best cakes Frankfurt has to offer, including the iconic Frankfurter Kranz. The Kaffeehaus Goldene Waage is open every day from 11 a. m. to 7 p. m. and on weekends until 8 p. m.
4 Hoppenworth & Ploch
While the Golden Scale has the best cake, Hoppenworth & Ploch serves the best coffee. Keep that in mind when enjoying a sweet treat at the Goldene Waage and leave some room for another cup of artisan Espresso or Latte. Actually, Hoppenworth & Ploch is located just around the corner from the Golden Scale on the newly refurbished Hühnermarkt.
As a coffee roasting company, Hoppenworth & Ploch not only sell’n’serve artisan coffee. They also offer special barista classes, and you can buy their beautiful ceramic cups and plates as unique souvenirs. Most importantly, everything they produce is ecologically and socially sustainable.
Their branch on the Hühnermarkt is open every day from 10 a. m. to 7 p. m., however, they have three more branches around Frankfurt.
This brings us to the Römerberg, Frankfurt’s most famous square, which opens on the other side of the Schirn. On its western side stands the town hall, the so-called Römer that gave the square its name, obviously.
The Römer has been the town hall since the 15th century. With its characteristic stepped gable facade it is one of the city’s most famous landmarks. However, only the central part of the initially three independent buildings is the actual Römer house. Legend has it that the Römer – which translates to Roman – got its name because of the Italian merchants who sold their goods on the building’s ground floor in medieval times.
The Gothic St. Nicholas Church from the 14th century as well as the row of picturesque houses on the east side of the square had to be reconstructed after WWII.
6 St Paul’s Church
As you cross the street north of Römer Square, you find yourself on the Paulsplatz, hence, Paul’s Square. It’s named after St Paul’s Church, Paulskirche in German, which was completed in 1833. The Germany National Assembly met in the neoclassical round building in 1848 respectively 1849. This makes the church a powerful symbol of the democratic development in Germany.
In 1944, together with many of the surrounding buildings, St Paul’s Church burned after an air raid. Until then, it had been Frankfurt’s main Protestant house of worship.
Yet, after WWII, it was the first historic building in Frankfurt to be rebuilt by 1948.
Today, Frankfurt’s Paulskirche is a national monument. It hosts exhibitions and public events, the recurring Peace Prize of the German Book Trade being the most famous one.
The building can be visited free of charge every day between 10 a. m. and 5 p. m.
Another historic square in Frankfurt’s old town is the so-called Liebfrauenberg. Already in medieval times, it was one of the city’s most important squares and the second largest after the Römerberg. This is where glass, ceramics, and other household goods were sold.
In the 16th century, the Gothic church called Liebfrauenkirche was completed. This Catholic church with an adjacent monastery plays a significant role when it comes to charitable care in the inner city. However, the church and the monastery’s courtyard are popular places of quiet not only among the Catholic community.
This serene spot is open every day from 6.30 a. m. to 9.30 p. m., however, Sundays, it opens only at 7.30 a. m.
At the end of the 15th century, a draw well was built on the Liebfrauenberg which granted the residents of the surrounding houses water supply. This well was converted into a fountain in 1594. Today’s fountain, however, is a replica from 1770.
The Liebfrauenberg hosts a beautiful flower market as well as open-air bars and eateries where you can enjoy a snack and a refreshing drink while rubbing shoulders with jolly locals. During the Christmas season, it’s part of Frankfurt’s massive Christmas market, obviously.
Right off the Liebfrauenberg is Frankfurt’s culinary hotspot, the Kleinmarkthalle. With over 150 stalls, this covered market offers all kinds of produce. Also, it houses some of the best casual snack bars where you can sample regional cuisine. However, you’ll find also some posh eateries like Franco’s Austernbar, a fish restaurant serving oysters, and all kinds of high-class seafood.
The Kleinmarkthalle satisfies your hunger and quenches your thirst Monday to Friday from 8 a. m. to 6 p. m., on Saturday, they are closing already at 4 p. m.
On the wall behind the parking lot, you’ll find some fun murals. Personas who contributed to Frankfurt’s history and culture were immortalized here.
Jewish life in Frankfurt can be traced to as early as 1150. The Jewish settlement, which was under imperial protection, was in the immediate vicinity of today’s cathedral.
From 1462, however, Jews were forced to live in a ghetto on the outskirts of the old historic city as was the case in most European cities. Actually, the oldest Jewish quarter was in Venice from where the term ghetto derives. In Frankfurt, around 2,200 people lived in the ghetto for the following 350 years. They were crammed into around 160 houses alongside the 330-meter-long city wall.
After French troops bombarded and completely destroyed the ghetto in 1796, many families had to look for housing elsewhere in the city. Hence, the obligation to live in the ghetto was also legally abolished in 1811. Nonetheless, Jewish Frankfurters continued to be denied citizenship.
It was not until 1864 that Frankfurt became the third German state after Hamburg and Baden to grant its Jewish population unrestricted equality. Hence, the Jewish community grew. Between 1882 and 1910, three new synagogues were inaugurated.
With around 30,000 members, the Jewish community in Frankfurt was the second largest in all of Germany.
Yet, as everywhere in Germany, the year 1933 marked a deep turning point in this development as the Nazis rose to power. More than 11,000 Jews were deported from Frankfurt to concentration camps. Only a few were able to flee.
After 1945, only a few hundred Jews returned to their destroyed hometown. Yet, today, with over 7,000 members, the Jewish community in Frankfurt is again the second largest in all of Germany after Berlin.
9 Museum Judengasse
In 1987, during construction work on an administration building, the foundations of 19 houses in the Judengasse were discovered.
The Frankfurt Judengasse, which translates to Jewish Alley was built in 1460, and two years later, the city’s Jewish residents had to relocate there. Over the centuries, the Judengasse developed into a rich cultural center. Its population grew to over 3000 people in the 17th century. Then, after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the order for the Jewish population to settle in the Judengasse was lifted. The declining ghetto was demolished in 1870. However, the adjacent old Jewish cemetery was preserved even though burials were no longer carried out on site.
The discovery of the old foundations was the largest archaeological find of a Jewish settlement in Europe. However, it sparked a conflict about how to deal with this reminder of Jewish history. In the end, the involved parties compromised on rebuilding five of the house foundations in the basement of the administration building on the original site. In 1992, the museum was opened as a branch of the Jewish Museum.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday between 10 a. m. and 5 p. m. The entrance fee is 6 €uros and is included in the MuseumsuferTicket*.
10 Jewish Museum
Frankfurt’s Jewish Museum is the oldest of its kind in Germany. It was opened on the occasion of the 50th commemoration of the November pogrom on November 9, 1988. It consists of two parts, namely the Museum Judengasse that I’ve introduced above and the main part at the Rothschild Palais on the northern bank of the river Main.
The main building shows a very well-structured permanent exhibition with many pictures and objects that explain how Jews shaped the cultural and economic development of the city. Also, you’ll find multimedia installations and interactive stations.
In 2012, the Basel-based Anne Frank Fund gave the museum paintings, photographs, letters, furniture, and other objects that belonged to the Frank family as a permanent loan. These are now an important part of the museum’s permanent exhibition.
Because if you didn’t know, you’ll learn in the following section that Anne Frank and her family were actually from Frankfurt.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday between 10 a. m. and 5 p. m., on Thursdays, they are closing only at 8 p. m. The entrance fee is 12 €uros and is included in the MuseumsuferTicket*.
11 Anne Frank
Millions of people around the world have at least heard about Anne Frank. Many have also read her famous diary. However, not everyone knows that although the Anne Frank House is in Amsterdam, she and her family actually were from Frankfurt on the Main.
Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt in 1929. There she spent the first two years of her life with her family at Marbachweg 307. In 1933 when the Nazi party came to power, the family was living at Ganghoferstraße 24. The same year, they fled to Amsterdam.
When German troops invaded the Netherlands, the family hid in a rear building from 1942 to 1944. After their hiding place was denounced, all family members were deported to concentration camps.
Anne Frank died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945 at the age of 15. Her diary was published by her father in 1947.
Goethe, German Romanticism, and the Storm and Stress Movement
German Romanticism shaped the aesthetics of literature, music, and visual arts in the 18th and 19th centuries. German Romanticism was the origin of an artistic movement that then spread across Europe. I’ve introduced the viajeros romanticos, the romantic travellers, in my post on the Spanish town of Ronda. Hence, it was the epoch of Romanticism, followed by the periods of Storm And Stress and Enlightenment that exalted nature, feeling, and human individualism and made Germany the proverbial nation of poets and philosophers.
12 Museum of Romanticism
So no wonder the German Romantic Museum is the first museum in the world dealing with the Romantic era as a whole. It presents unique originals in a way that makes it possible to experience the Romanticism period as a key epoch.
The German Romantic Museum presents manuscripts, graphics, paintings, etchings, and everyday objects in an alluring multimedia exhibition. On your visit, you’ll discover lots of artistic gems and get a glimpse – and hopefully a feel – at the root of the German spirit and soul.
The museum is open every day from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m., Thursdays until 9 p. m. The admission fee, which includes also the Goethe House, is 10 €uros. It is included in the MuseumsuferTicket*.
13 Goethe House
The so-called Goethe House is actually part of the German Romantic Museum. Johann Wolfgang Goethe was born in the very house on the Großer Hirschgraben in 1749. In this house, Goethe created part of his impressive early work. In the unique atmosphere of the originally furnished rooms, you get a glimpse into the poet’s family life in Frankfurt in the 18th century.
According to his father’s wishes, Goethe studied law and eventually actually worked as an attorney. At the same time, however, he pursued his passion for poetry. He achieved high recognition already with his very first drama Götz von Berlichingen in 1773. He didn’t have to wait for long to gain fame in all of Europe. Even Napoleon asked him for an audience on the occasion of the Erfurt Congress of Princes in 1808.
Goethe’s literary work consists of drama and poetry, autobiographical pieces as well as treatises on art, literature, and science. His drama Faust is considered the most important piece of German-language literature.
Mainhattan – The Financial District
Being the seat of the European Central Bank and the Deutsche Bundesbank, hence, the German Federal Bank, Frankfurt is one of the most important financial centers in the world.
After the city center was destroyed by air raids in WWII, numerous height buildings were constructed from 1949 onwards. The Plaza Hotel and the skyscraper housing the Dresdner Bank were the first towers over 150 meters high at the end of the 1970s.
Nevertheless, since 1998, a high-rise master plan is regulating where and how further skyscrapers can be constructed. The majority of Frankfurt’s high-rise buildings stand in the banking district. However, the towers of the Palaisquartier are found in the city center and the skyscraper housing the European Central Bank in the Ostend district.
14 Main Tower
The Main Tower is a true millennial since it was inaugurated in January 2000. With a height of 200 meters, it is the fourth tallest skyscraper in all of Germany.
Some of the posh tenants of its 56 floors are banks and law firms and since 2006 the Australian consulate. On the 53rd floor is the Main Tower Restaurant & Lounge at a height of 187 meters.
However, the only way is up since at 198 meters is a publicly accessible viewing platform. What’s really nice is that at 192 meters, there is an additional platform especially and exclusively for visitors with reduced mobility.
The viewing platform is open every day from 10 a. m. to 7 p. m., on Fridays and Saturdays until 9 p. m. The admission is 9 €uros and you get a discount with the Frankfurt Card**.
There is a restaurant with a cool bar on the 53rd floor where you can enjoy a drink and some amazing views from Tuesday to Thursday between 6 p. m. and midnight, and on Fridays and Saturdays, they are closing only at 1 a. m.
15 Taunus Tower
The Taunus Tower, in German Taunusturm, is a two-part building complex consisting of a 170-meter-high office building and a 63-meter-high residential building. There was a lot of back and forth in building the complex, which I’ll spare you. For us visitors, the most interesting section of the tower is the branch of the Museum of Modern Art.
Since 2014, the museum, abbreviated MMK, occupies a large space in the tower where changing exhibitions are shown.
The MMK Tower is open from Tuesday to Sunday between 11 a. m. and 6 p. m., on Wednesdays, they are closing only at 7 p. m. The entrance fee is 8 €uros just for the tower and 16 €uros if you want to visit all three MMK venues within three months. The MuseumsuferTicket* includes visits to the three MMK galleries.
16 Galeria Kaufhof
You certainly know the saying that the best things in life are free. While in most cases, I’d argue that this is a bold lie, I can confirm that one of Frankfurt’s best panoramic views doesn’t cost a dime: There is a restaurant with a roof terrace on top of the department store Galeria Kaufhof. As you make your way up there, you get a fantastic panoramic view of the immediate vicinity and the impressive financial district.
The rooftop café is open during store hours from Monday to Saturday between 9.30 a. m. to 8 p. m.
Museumsufer – Galleries on Both Banks of the River Main
No one can deny that Frankfurt is one of the cities with the broadest cultural program in all of Germany. After Berlin and Munich, it has the most significant art museums which are housing grand collections and organize amazing temporary exhibitions. Obviously, it’s Frankfurt’s so-called Museumsufer – which translates to Museum Embankment – that drew me to Frankfurt for the first time many years ago and since then time and time again. 60 larger and smaller venues line both banks of the river Main and its immediate surroundings.
With the MuseumsuferTicket*, culture vultures can visit the 39 participating venues for free. You can learn more about this amazing pass in the Cash, Cards, and Deals section below.
On the Northern Bank of the River Main
On the northern bank of the Main are the Jewish Museum that I’ve introduced above as well as the Historical Museum of Frankfurt.
17 Schirn Kunsthalle
Also, there is the Schirn Kunsthalle one of the best-known exhibition venues in Europe. They don’t have their own collection, but hosted over 200 exhibitions since their opening in 1986. Some of their outstanding shows were organized in cooperation with galleries like the Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges-Pompidou in Paris, the Tate Gallery in London, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum as well as the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
The art gallery consists of several parts, each with a different geometric floor plan. The most striking feature is the rotunda crowned by a glass dome. With a diameter of around 20 meters, it forms the monumental main entrance. Even if you don’t visit one of the exhibitions at the Schirn, you can still walk through the rotunda free of charge.
The Schirn is open from Tuesday to Sunday between 10 a. m. and 7 p. m., on Wednesdays and Thursdays, they are closing only at 10 p. m. Without a MuseumsuferTicket*, the entrance fee is 10 €uros.
18 Museum of Modern Art
Another great venue on the northern bank is the Museum of Modern Art. The museum was opened in 1991. With the venue on the Domstraße, the branch in the so-called Zollamt just across the street, and finally the galleries in the Taunus Tower, the Museum of Modern Art has a total of three locations. The museum – abbreviated to MMK – houses more than 5,000 works of art by around 440 artists. The works represent a wide selection of all genres of modern and contemporary art from painting, sculpture, video, photography, and installations.
In the early 1980s, the city of Frankfurt acquired works from the collection of the late industrialist Karl Ströher. Those were mainly pieces by US Pop Art artists from the 1960s as well as works by significant European artists. Eventually, founding director Peter Iden expanded the collection with works from the 1970s and 1980s.
Apart from pieces from the permanent collection, the MMK organizes extraordinary changing exhibitions.
The MMK is open from Tuesday to Sunday between 11 a. m. and 6 p. m., on Wednesdays, they are closing only at 7 p. m. The entrance fee is 12 €uros just for the main building as well as the Zollamt, and 16 €uros if you want to visit all three MMK venues within three months. The MuseumsuferTicket* covers visits to the three MMK galleries.
Other museums worth visiting on the northern bank that are included in the MuseumsuferTicket* are the above-introduced Museum Judengasse and the Archaeological Museum in the Carmelite Monastery. However, with your ticket, you’ll get a complete list of all participating venues.
On the Southern Bank of the River Main
While the participating museums on the northern bank are spread around the city center, the venues on the southern bank are standing in line like beads on a threat. I’m walking you along the length of this impressive row of nine venues northwards from the Museum Giersch all the way to the Ikonenmuseum, the Museum of Icons.
The Museum Giersch is part of Frankfurt’s Goethe University and is based in a beautiful neoclassical villa from the early 20th and organizes temporary exhibitions dealing with art, culture, and science with a main focus on the Rhine-Main region.
The Liebieghaus is a castle-like historicist villa. In 1907, the city of Frankfurt acquired the property to house the city’s sculpture collection.
Today, it showcases one of the most important sculpture collections in Europe. It consists of around 3,000 sculptures from Greek, Roman, and Egyptian antiquity, as well as pieces from the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque Classicism. You’ll also get to see artifacts from East Asia.
To be honest, I didn’t expect to find so many dazzling pieces at a sculpture museum. Especially the recently acquired collection of over 200 precious ivory sculptures from the Middle Ages as well as the Baroque and Rococo are just amazing. Also, quirky installations by the art scene’s bad boy Jeff Koons are great fun.
The Liebighaus is open Tuesday and Wednesday from noon until 6 p. m., Thursday from 10 a. m. to 9 p. m., and from Friday to Sunday, they are open from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m. The entrance fee is 12 €uros and, obviously, included in the MuseumsuferTicket*.
20 Städel Museum
Next in line of the museums alongside the southern bank is Frankfurt’s most significant gallery, the Städel Museum. As a matter of fact, it is one of the most important German art museums. The collection consists of 3,100 paintings from the Middle Ages to modern and even contemporary art, 660 sculptures, and more than 5,000 photographs.
The bequest of the late banker Johann Friedrich Städel was the foundation of the museum’s permanent collection. It’s been presented in its current location since 1878.
The vast collection consists of masterpieces of European art beginning in the early 14th century. From Gothic through the Renaissance, Baroque, Romantic, classical modernism all the way to some of the most noteworthy contemporary pieces, it covers incredible seven centuries. On top of this impressive permanent collection, the Städel regularly organizes some of Germany’s most important temporary exhibitions.
The Städel Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m. An individual ticket** costs 16 €uros, but, like all the other venues, it is included in the MuseumsuferTicket*.
Just one block further north is the Museum for Communication followed by the German Architecture Museum. Since these venues specialize in quite specific fields, they are certainly fantastic institutions for experts and maybe not that interesting to the general public.
However, I’d like to point out that the Museum for Communication is very well-structured and child-friendly. Also, I can imagine that the telecommunication we grew up with will be absolutely fascinating for younger visitors. And since both museums are included in the MuseumsuferTicket*, you can always just pop in and check out whether those venues hold something interesting in store for you. To me, the opportunity to check out for free exhibitions I normally wouldn’t visit is one of the biggest advantages of getting any kind of tourist pass.
21 German Film Museum
Housed in a historic villa, this museum is dedicated to every aspect of the medium of film. It goes back to the invention of cinema in 1895 and shows also all the movies’ predecessors. Apart from the comprehensive explanations of the technical aspects, it also deals with the history and aesthetics of various movie genres. The exhibition also includes a small showroom where you get to see short excerpts from iconic films.
In addition, special exhibitions complement the permanent displays. They are mostly dedicated to the oeuvres of outstanding filmmakers or thematic factors.
The German Film Museum also houses the municipal cinema where they show historically significant and influential movies as well as documentaries about directors, actors, and countries.
I’m even not that movie buff, and yet, the German Film Museum is one of my favorite venues in Frankfurt.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a. m. to 6 p. m. The entrance fee to the permanent collection is 6 €uros and to the temporary exhibitions 9 €uros. A combi-ticket sets you back 12 €uros, however, all entrance fees are included in the MuseumsuferTicket*.
Between the German Film Museum and the Museum of Applied Arts that I’m introducing below stands the Museum of World Cultures. It was founded in 1904 and moved into the Palais Thurn und Taxis in Frankfurt’s city center in 1908. Significant parts of the collections were lost due to air raids during WWII.
The remaining holdings have been presented to the public since 1973 in a villa on the banks of the Main. The museum focuses on non-Western art. Therefore, collecting non-European contemporary art was made a priority. The museum holds works by artists from Oceania, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Americas. Due to spatial limitations, the museum can only organize changing special exhibitions.
22 Museum of Applied Arts And the Villa Metzler
The building that houses Frankfurt’s Museum of Applied Arts was designed by the American architect Richard Meier. An important criterion for choosing Meier’s design was his cautious handling of the trees in the adjacent park as well as the clever integration of the Villa Metzler into his concept. Actually, the three interconnected white cubes of Meier’s building are based on the proportions of the adjacent neoclassical villa. A glazed bridge connects the rear of the modern museum building with the old mansion.
The museum is dedicated to applied arts, handicrafts, design, fashion, book craftwork, graphics, and architecture in all their shapes and forms. In changing special exhibitions, the museum perceives and showcases artistic trends as well as social developments.
As a matter of fact, the museum’s collections consist of around 65,000 pieces from five millennia with a focus on European arts and crafts and design from the 12th to the 21st century, but they have also Islamic and East Asian art.
The adjacent Villa Metzler is a classicist country house built by pharmacist Peter Salzwedel in 1803. At that time, the site was outside the city limits, arable, and therefore suited Salzwedel’s fondness for botany. He planted rare trees such as chestnut, ginkgo, red oak, and giant sequoia, to name just a few. Even Grandmaster Goethe praised the lush garden.
Over the decades, the Villa Metzler housed illustrious tenants such as the Russian writer Wassily Andrejewitsch Joukovsky,the painters Gerhardt von Reutern and Philipp Veit, and finally the banker Georg Friedrich Metzler who gave the mansion his name. While the salons on the ground floor are used for cultural events, the rooms on the two upper floors are open to visitors and show furnishing and decoration from Baroque to Art Nouveau in nine themed rooms.
I’d argue that the Museum of Applied Arts And the Villa Metzler are always worth a visit. However, your experience will vary depending on the exhibitions – somewhere from good to mindblowing.
The Museum of Applied Arts And the Villa Metzler are open from Friday to Sunday and on Tuesdays from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m. and Wednesdays to 8 p. m. A visit costs 6 €uros and is included in the MuseumsuferTicket*.
Finally, at the eastern end of the museum row stands the Icon Museum. It is a museum for sacred art of Orthodox Christianity and housed in a baroque building right next to the iconic bridge Eiserner Steg that you’ll find described below.
Apart from the conventional form of art exhibitions at Frankfurt’s many museums, there is also a vivid urban art scene including one of my very favorite muralists Case MaClaim. Yet, the city is not as flooded by street art as for instance Berlin or Hamburg. Street art like murals, graffiti, stencils, stickers, cuts, urban knitting, and others are mostly not concentrated in one area but spread across the city.
Therefore, I’m introducing only two of my favorite street artists and will later publish another post dealing exclusively with the city’s urban art.
23 Murals by Case MaClaim
Andreas von Chrzanowski, far better known as Case MaClaim, was born in 1979 and currently lives in Frankfurt. He is a founding member of the muralist group MaClaim stat came together in 2000. The crew is mainly known for amazing photorealistic works, and Case specializes in hands as well as other parts of the human body.
In Frankfurt, where he currently lives, you’ll spot a couple of his best pieces like for instance the large-scale twin portrait on Miquelallee that shows a woman at a typewriter and a man reading her letter.
Another very cool piece is found on the back of the small house on Hanauer Landstraße right next to the Ostbahnhof train station. Case MaClaim painted the pub’s facade in cooperation with fellow muralist Klark Kent.
24 Murals at the Naxos Plant
The so-called Naxoshalle is a former factory building of the Naxos-Union company. It was completed in 1907 in the Ostend district near the Frankfurt Zoo. Production of abrasives in the plant was abandoned and production relocated to another site at the end of the 1980s.
The building was on the brink of falling into disrepair when entrepreneur Josef Buchmann bought the property and rented it out to the city of Frankfurt in 1989. Today, it houses a theater, and municipal institutions catering to children and indigent families. Also, they are used for cultural events and as concrete canvasses by graffiti sprayers.
One of them is Justus Becker who goes by the nom de
plume spray can COR as a memento of his major heart surgery.
In his early years, COR was spraying illegally and was even arrested a couple of times. Despite these tribulations, he became one of the best sprayers in the area. During his studies of Illustration and Fine Arts, COR embellished walls in more than 15 countries.
As social topics matter to COR and are a vital part of his artistic work, he is involved in social projects both artistically as well as financially.
Also, major companies commission his pieces that often incorporate expressive photo-realistic portraits.
The two banks of the Main are a wonderful recreation area right in the heart of the city. An important part are the main bridges. For centuries, the so-called Old Bridge was considered the city’s most vital construction. In fact, it was first mentioned in 1222 and grants the most iconic views of the old town as well as the skyline of the financial district. About halfway between the banks stand the Portikus, a small exhibition venue for contemporary art that can be visited free of charge.
Another icon among Frankfurt’s 24 bridges across the Main is the Eiserner Steg. This so-called Iron Bridge is a pedestrian bridge from 1869. Not only the wonderful view of both banks makes it one of the city’s most important landmarks but also the incredible number of 50,000 love locks
How To Get There
Frankfurt is home to Germany’s largest commercial airport. A cab ride to the city center will set you back at least 35 €uros. However, since it’s located about ten kilometers southwest of the city center, it can easily be reached by public transport like local trains S8 and S9, as well as various regional trains. Tickets start at around 3 €uros.
Because of its location in the middle of Germany – and in all of Europe, for that matter, you can get to Frankfurt quickly and easily by train. Train connections to all cities in Germany as well as in neighboring countries such as Belgium, Luxemburg, France, and Switzerland are frequent. You can check timetables and prices on the website of the Deutsche Bahn, Germany’s national rail company. It’s available in eight languages.
Frankfurt lies in the Federal State of Hesse. If you’d like to explore other places around the city, the so-called Hessenticket is a great deal. For 38 €uros, up to five people can travel an entire day around Hesse. The only catch is that you can only take the regional trains. Those train numbers begin with RE, MET, etc. However, you cannot take interregional trains such as the Intercity (IC) or Intercity-Express (ICE).
In Germany, children up to the age of 5 always travel free of charge – regardless of whether they are your own children or not. They do not have to be taken into account when determining the number of travellers. However, you can also take up to three of your own or other children between the ages of six and 14 years with you regardless of whether your ticket is for just one or more people.
The Germany Ticket for 49 €uros
Following the fantastic 9 €uro ticket that allowed nationwide travel for an entire month from June to August 2022, there now is the 49 €uro ticket. For good.
With the 49 €uros ticket, you can travel basically the entire country by regional trains. Those train numbers begin with RE, MET, etc. But remember, it is not valid in interregional trains such as the Intercity (IC) or Intercity-Express (ICE). However, you can also use regular buses, trams, subways, and suburban trains as well as regional express trains everywhere in Germany.
While the 49 €uro ticket is valid throughout the country, it is not linked to German citizenship. It can also be purchased by non-residents. Although it is an annual subscription, it can be canceled on a monthly basis.
Flixbus is conquering the world – at least the world’s European part, hence it’s also serving Frankfurt. It might not be the fastest way to travel, but it’s quite comfortable and oftentimes cheaper than trains. For instance, a one-way trip from Berlin sets you back only 20 €uros, but it takes around 9 hours. International tickets for instance from Paris to Frankfurt cost between 35 and 50 €uros, but the trip takes at least 9 hours. From Brussels, the bus takes less than 7 hours and this trip sets you back around 20 to 25 €uros.
From some German cities like for instance Hamburg and Berlin, Flixbus also offers a very cheap train connection. The Flixtrain takes you from Hamburg to Frankfurt in 5 short hours and from Berlin in 4 for under 20 €uros. However, while the bus rides are okay, the trains tend to be extremely unreliable.
Since 2019, FlixBus operates from the coach station at Stuttgarter Straße 26.
To check schedules and prices, visit their website.
How to Get Around
Like in every German city, local public transport in Frankfurt is comprehensive. There are buses, trams, subways, and local as well as regional trains.
A regular ticket for the city costs 3.40 €uros and is valid throughout the city with the exception of the airport. There are short-distance tickets for 2.10 €uros. You have to check at the bus stations or the ticket machines whether those tickets apply.
Since tickets don’t have to be validated, single tickets have to be bought right before boarding.
If you don’t have a Frankfurt Card**, a 49 €uros ticket, or any other discounted pass, the best deal for you will be an all-day ticket for 6.65 €uros. Parties of up to five people pay 12.60 €uros for an all-day group ticket. Both tickets are good for an unlimited number of trips.
In the section Cash, Cards, And Deals, I’m introducing the Frankfurt Card**, with which individuals or groups of up to five people can travel through Frankfurt for one or two days and also get a discount on various admission prices. Also, keep in mind, that kids up to 5 years of age travel free with an adult. At the age of 6 to 14, they pay a discounted fare.
Hence, you have to do the math which is the best deal for you and your party.
Another convenient way to explore Frankfurt is by bicycle. The company that rents out bikes is called Call a Bike and you find their website here. Registration is free.
As one of the largest bike-sharing networks in Germany, Call a Bike offers you quick access to more than 13,000 bicycles not only in Frankfurt, but also in Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, and Munich, to name just a few of the more than 80 municipalities.
Download the Call a Bike app Download and register with your email, mobile phone number, and credit card. Then you can choose a bike on a map or with a QR code. The lock will open automatically. If you need a break, you simply click on the Pause button and push down the lock lever on your bike. To travel on, go to Continue in your booking, and the lock opens. Nevertheless, keep in mind that the clock keeps ticking also during your break.
As you return the bike to a station and close the lock, your journey is over.
There are neither free minutes nor is there a flat rate. You’ll be charged 1 €uro for 15 minutes up to a maximum of 9 €uros per day.
You can always ask at your hotel if they have rental bikes for their customers. This might be a less complicated option, however, they probably won’t be cheaper.
I’m an avid solo-travelling woman. Since solo travel doesn’t equal solitude, I love to join organized tours here and there. They allow me to meet fellow travellers – for just a short moment or a lifelong friendship.
Therefore, here are some great ideas of what to do during your stay in Frankfurt. Especially if you have only a short amount of time, they’ll enable you to leave the planning and organizing to others and just enjoy the city and the surrounding area to the max*:
Where to Stay
Over the past years, a couple of new hotel chains have opened branches in different larger cities in Germany. They offer comfort in sleek rooms at a reasonable price.
One of these innovative lodging options is the hotel chain Flemings. The very modern no-frill rooms, a great breakfast buffet, as well as free access to a gym and sauna made the Flemings Express Hotel Frankfurt* the perfect place to stay during my weekend in Frankfurt.
Located conveniently across the street from the main station and within walking distance to many spots I’m introducing in this post, it’s the perfect lodging option even for a longer stay.
However, if they should be booked out, you’ll find some suitable alternatives on this map*:
What to Eat
As wealthy guests flocked to the city during the imperial coronations and the trade fairs, Frankfurt installed sophisticated gastronomy and accommodation culture as early as in the 17th and 18th centuries.
One of the oldest and best-known delicacies is pork sausage which is known in the entire world as Frankfurter and has been produced since the Middle Ages.
An absolutely distinctive specialty is the Frankfurt Green Sauce. It is traditionally made from seven herbs: borage, chervil, cress, parsley, burnet, sorrel, and chives. The sauce is traditionally eaten cold over hard-boiled eggs and boiled potatoes. It can also be served with meat or fish.
Popular desserts are Brenten, Bethmännchen, Haddekuchen, and my favorite, the Frankfurter Kranz. I’ve introduced this creamy delicacy already above.
Also, with the decline of viticulture in the 19th century, apple wine became the local signature drink.
However, I’d like to point out that Frankfurt is a very international city with migrants from all over the world. Therefore, you’ll find any cuisine imaginable there in case you’re not fond of Germany’s traditionals.
A wonderful example is the Eritrean restaurant Savanna. It’s open from Tuesday to Friday from 5 p.m. to 10 p. m. On Saturdays, they open already at 2 p.m.
For Frankfurters, Green Sauce is serious business: A monument was designed in her honor in 2007, and a Green Sauce Festival has been held annually since 2008.
Cash, Cards, And Deals
Until now, 20 European countries replaced their former local currency with the €uro starting in 2002. Obviously, Germany is one of them. The exchange rate is 1 US$ = 0.94 EUR as of June 2023. However, you can check today’s conversion rate on this page.
Especially since the pandemic, cards are far more accepted than before.
There are basically two types of city cards that grant discounts or even free access to Frankfurt’s most interesting landmarks.
Firstly, there is the so-called Frankfurt Card**. It is a ticket for local public transport and available in a 1-day and a 2-day version. While the entire network of public transportation including the airport is covered, you get only discounts of up to 50 percent on admissions, city tours, and other attractions.
|1 Day||2 Days|
|Single||11.50 €uros||17.00 €uros|
|Group (2 to 5 people)||24.00 €uros||34.00 €uros|
|2 Days||3 Days|
|Single||6 €uros||9 €uros|
|Group (2 to 5 people)||13 €uros||19 €uros|
If you prefer to explore the city exclusively by walking or by bicycle, there is also a version excluding public transportation for two and three days.
You get detailed info on this website. There you can also buy the ticket of your choice online.
For those who are focusing mostly on Frankfurt’s grand museum scene, the so-called MuseumsuferTicket is the better choice. It costs 21 €uros and is valid for two consecutive days in all participating museums. Detailed information is available on this website. You can buy the ticket at the tourist information office located in the main station as well as at the participating museums but unfortunately not online.
Communication And Connection
Since June 2017, no roaming charges apply within the EU if you have a European mobile phone contract. This involves all 27 countries of the European Union as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.
The EU roaming regulation applies to all contracts.
In case European roaming is not available, you can connect to the internet at museums, eateries or cafés, and, of course, hotels. This being said, in comparison to many other countries, Germany is a developing country when it comes to the Internet. There are annoyingly many dead zones and many places do not offer free Wifi connection.
So if you depend on a reliable online connection, you should opt for a SIM card. Whether phone companies such as O2 or Vodaphone or supermarkets like Lidl and Aldi – there is a wide choice of providers of prepaid cards.
The standard voltage in Europe is 220 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. In Germany, they use plug types C and F.
Whereby, nowadays, all these chargers have integrated adapters, in general, the voltage and frequency don’t really matter.
By the way, you’ll find comprehensive travel info in my post World’s Most Complete Travel Information – an indispensable globetrotter-classic.
Say It Right
In Germany, most people speak pretty decent English. Nevertheless, for some useful words and phrases, you might want to practice a little with the help of e. g. Babbel. Also, the first lesson is free and already supplies you with a useful basic vocabulary.
In this post, I’m writing out some of the German names of brands and places. Obviously, you will notice that there are letters that might not exist in other languages.
Firstly, there is the letter ß which exists only in the German alphabet. It’s by no means a B – it’s a so-called sharp S. You pronounce it like the double S in kiss. So although the German word for street, Straße, looks quite exotic, it is simply pronounced Shtrasse. Mind you, when an S stands before a T, it becomes sh instead of s.
Then, there are three more vowels, ä being the easiest one since it’s pronounced like an open e as in head.
For some foreigners, ö and ü might be a bit tougher. Ö is pronounced more or less like the e in her. Finally, Ü sounds a bit like the u in huge.
On this map, you can see the exact location of all those amazing places that I’m introducing in this post. Clicking on the slider symbol at the top left or the full-screen icon at the top right will display the whole map including the legend.
If you choose to pin this post for later, please use one of these pictures:
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* I’m very appreciative that Tourismus+Congress GmbH Frankfurt am Main supplied me with a 48-hour Frankfurt Card. Also, I got a complimentary MuseumsuferTicket from the Kulturamt Frankfurt am Main However, all opinions expressed in this post are mine and were in no way influenced by my cooperation partners.
**This article contains affiliate links. By purchasing items or making a reservation through those links on my site, not only do you get the best rate. I will receive a small commission that helps to run this site.