Despite a reputation as a soulless banking city, Frankfurt’s cultural and bar scenes make it far more interesting than the mockers may suggest…
FRANKFURT SIGHTS AND ATTRACTIONS
The 55th floor observation deck of the Main Tower (52 Neue Mainzer Strasse, 3650 4740, €5) offers 360 degree view on the other skyscrapers of ‘Mainhattan’ and the forests that ring the surprisingly compact city. The Museum Embankment on the south side of the Main river has ten museums crammed pretty much next to each other, covering subjects from architecture to the Bible. None are absolute knock-out must-sees, but it’s an impressive combined force. €15 gets you a day ticket that covers all of them, with the highlight arguably being the enormous sculpture collection at Liebighaus (71 Schaumainkai, 650 04 90).
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Cultural attractions in Frankfurt
For lovers of German literature, Goethehaus (33 Grosser Hirschgraben, 913 88 00) is the equivalent of Stratford-upon-Avon in . This was where Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born, and it’s now dedicated to show how the wealthy lived in his day – although if Faust means nothing to you, it’s not going to be rip-roaring entertainment. The Alte Oper (1 Opernplatz) is the most beautiful building in town, and hosts classical recitals, musicals and the like. The city is not just about trade fairs either – the city pads out the year with numerous festivals, most of which see an area of town taken over by stalls, temporary bars and live music stages.
The green ring around the city centre makes for a natural walking route – the skyscrapers peer through the gaps in the trees, whilst there’s all manner of bizarre public art on the way. The tourism office (2123 8953) also runs two-hour guided walking tours (€12) – with themes including architecture, banking and the city’s history – at 1.30pm every Saturday and Sunday. For proper hiking, most Frankfurters tend to head out to the Taunus, a small range of forested mini-mountains to the north-west of the city. It’s hardly scaling the Alps, but there are plenty of good walking trails.
The Ebbelwei Express (2132 2425) is a special hop-on, hop-off tram service that takes in most of Frankfurt’s highlights and dishing out a glass of the local speciality – apple wine – on the way. Tickets cost €6. Another cute idea are tours in the velo taxis (7158 8855, from €19 for half an hour), where you’re cycled round the city in a westernised tuk-tuk style. Infinitely less classy, but clearly tremendous fun is the Bier Bike (9623 7230, from €18.75 per person). The premise is simple, a 16 seater bar, sound system and keg of beer are attached as you collectively pedal around the city.
Find the best deals on Frankfurt hotels using the search box on the right, but the accommodations below have been inspected and come recommended.
Budget accommodation in Frankfurt
The Colour Hotel (52 Baselerstrasse, 3650 7580) is, as the name suggests, pretty keen on bright colours. It’s great value, from around €47 a night for a double, has a young vibe and offers free wireless internet. For dorm accommodation, the DJH hostel (12 Deutschherrnufer, 610 01 50, from €18 per night) in Alte Sachsenhausen is in the perfect spot if you want a night out. Alternatively, the highly-rated Five Elements (40 Moselstrasse, 2400 5885, from €18 a night) is close to the red-light district, but has a party vibe, loans out laptops for free internet use and has unusually high quality rooms.
Mid-range hotels in Frankfurt
Villa Oriental (21 Baselerstrasse, 2710 8950) is lovingly decked out in Middle Eastern chic, bringing riad-like peace to a busy main road. Some of the design touches – such as the multicoloured wash basins – are far more exquisite than you should expect for from €89 a night. Villa Orange (1 Hebelstrasse, 405 840, doubles from €99) sits at the other end of the scale – nothing unnecessarily elaborate, just well-equipped, unfussy rooms in a peaceful, leafy side street. Hotel Bristol (15 Ludwigstrasse, 242 390) has more modernistic designer swagger, zebra striped carpets and pretty cool rooms for from €85 a night.
Luxury hotels in Frankfurt
With one bedroom apartments – featuring a full kitchen, tasteful décor, washing machines, dryers and super skyline views – available for from €129 a night, the Adina Apartment Hotel (6 Wilhelm-Leuschner-Strasse, 247 47 40) is almost certainly the best deal in town. The Pure (68 Niddastrasse, 710 45 70, doubles from €200) is the most interesting designer option – just about everything is a bright white, including the techy additions such as the iPod docks. The riverside Gerbermühle (105 Gerbermühlstrasse, 6897 7790) blends a historic building with tasteful, modern interiors. It’s a peaceful 13 room retreat offering genuine boutique service for from €162 for a double.
Top end hotels in Frankfurt
Villa Kennedy (70 Kennedyallee, 717 120) is the undisputed top address in town – renowned for first class service and classic luxury with tasteful modernisations. Rooms start at €330 a night. Roomers (85 Gutleutstrasse, 27 1 34 20) is anything but classic – expect lots of black, clever use of technology, and a sinfully decadent vibe. The deluxe rooms – with big, rounded spa baths – cost from €220. For business, Hotel Hessicher Hof (40 Friedrich-Ebert-Anlage, 697 54 00, executive rooms from €235) is perfectly located opposite the trade fair grounds. It’s a nicely modernized grand hotel with non-profiteering additions such as a free minibar and WiFi.
Cafés in Frankfurt
The Metropol Café (15 Weckmarkt, 288 287) opposite the Cathedral is a local favourite, with candlelit tables, a lovely outdoor courtyard and a calm atmosphere. Bergerstrasse is a superb place for café culture, however. For a traditional read the papers on the terrace vibe, top coffee sourced from across the world and some rather tempting cakes, Café Wacker (185 Bergerstrasse, 4600 7752) is a great spot. Slightly further up the road is Süden (239 Bergerstrasse, 9563 3300), which has rainbow-painted wooden benches outside, art all over the walls and pride of place given to a gnome covering his eyes.
Snacks in Frankfurt
Come lunchtime, there’s always a monumental scrum for the focaccias and salads outside Feinkost Strahmann (5 Kaiserstrasse, 280 073). And it’s with very good reason too – the food quality is very high, as you can see from all the meats displayed further back. Half of Meyer (52 Grosse Bockenheimerstrasse, 28 50 30) is a restaurant, but the rest is a deli/ stand-up café serving up cracking pasta salads, soups and meaty treats to time-poor businessfolk. For something a little sweeter, La Bentivenga (219 Bergerstrasse, 5600 5820) serves up awesome gelati in flavours ranging from English custard to Mars Bar.
Best restaurants in Frankfurt
Restaurant Francais at the Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof (Kaiserplatz, 215 118) is pretty formal – don’t forget your jacket, chaps. But it’s rare that anyone dips below raving endorsement when assessing the gourmet French-style cuisine. Villa Merton (12 Am Leonhardsbrunn, 70 30 33) offers elegant fine dining in a neo-baroque mansion, with six course tasting menus available for from €105. For a spectacle, head to The Ivory Club (15 Taunusanlage, 7706 7767, mains from around €30), a steakhouse with an Indian twist aimed at showy bankers and their latest arm candy. The elephant-ridden décor is absurd, the food good and the people-watching priceless.
FRANKFURT ENTERTAINMENT AND NIGHTLIFE
Bars in Frankfurt
The cobbled (and often rather rowdy) streets of Alt-Sachsenhausen are lined with wall-to-wall Irish pubs, sports bars and traditional apple wine taverns. The latter are the more interesting to hop between, and the deceptively huge Lorsbacher Thal (Grosse Rittergasse, 616 459) is amongst the best of them. Sugar (5680 3976) at 235 Bergerstrasse is a cool little cocktail bar, while Wein Dunker (451 993) further up at number 265 is an unheralded gem. It’s homely rather than sophisticated, specializes in German wines, and the amazing stone cellar bar is even more appealing than the ivy-strewn courtyard.
Live music in Frankfurt
Frankfurt is living in the past if it continues to bill itself as Jazzkeller (18a Kleine Bockenheimerstr, 288 537) is still the country’s most famous jazz club. The likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong and Chet Baker have all played in this prestigious basement, and there are either concerts or jamming sessions most nights. For rock bands, Batschkapp (24 Maybachstrasse, 952 18 40) is inconveniently located in the northern suburbs, but is where the scene is at. The more central Sinkkasten (5 Brönnerstrasse, 280 385) often throws in live groups from all genres in between its 80s and disco nights.’s jazz capital, but the
Nightclubs in Frankfurt
Sven Väth is regarded as the godfather of techno in Germany, and he’s the man who owns Cocoon (21 Carl-Benz-Strasse, 900 200). The interior is all futuristic alien glamour, and the music policy is influenced by the owner. It’s go hard or go home territory. King Kamehameha (192 Hanauer Landstrasse, 480 0370) is strictly for the beautiful (or rich) people, where cigars and champagne are consumed ostentatiously and everyone’s too cool to jump in the decorative pool. Latin Palace (57 Münchenerstrasse, 2722 0807) shows off Frankfurt’s multicultural side, with everything from salsa to reggaeton on the menu.
Markets in Frankfurt
Frankfurt’s top market is to be found in Kleinmarkthalle (5 Hasengasse, 2123 3696). It’s all about the food, and it’s where many of the city’s chefs – as well as enthusiastic, deep-pocketed amateurs – will source their ingredients. Be warned, you will salivate as you walk through. There are other small markets – often farmers’ markets that take place on different days of the week in different areas – but the only one that really offers something different is the flea market at Schaumainkai every Saturday. Then, of course, there’s the traditional German Christmas Market, which sprawls all over Romerberg from late November to mid-December.
Shops in Frankfurt
The Zeil is Frankfurt’s most famous shopping street, but it doesn’t offer anything you can’t get elsewhere. Goethestrasse has many of the high end names such as Louis Vuitton and Armani. A few of the stores off it act as upmarket hosts for a few different top designers. Blumör (10 Kaiserhofstrasse 21 99 90 85) is a case in point – you’ll find the likes of Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood there. For smaller indie stores, Bergerstrasse has a few dotted amongst the cafés and Brückenstraße south of the river has lots of little boutiques which seem to have an obsession with putting stuffed animals in the windows.
FRANKFURT TRAVEL INFORMATION
Frankfurt travel tip
Possibly more than any other place in the world, Frankfurt is all about the timing. Hotel prices fluctuate wildly – you can pretty much triple any price listed here during one of the city’s frequent major trade fairs. On the flip side, room rates on weekends and out of conference season (ie. August and Christmas) can be extraordinarily cheap. Often the top hotels take a cleaver to tariffs, and it can be possible to get really good rooms for as little as €40 or €50 if you shop around and catch the hotels when they’re at their most desperate.
Germany uses the euro.
The country code is +49 and the Frankfurt city code is 69. To call any of the numbers listed from abroad, put in 00 11 49 69 first.
Flights to Frankfurt
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Details correct as of August 2010, when this guide was researched by David Whitley. It was originally published by the Sun-Herald in .
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