Visiting Frankfurt - What to See and Do
(Frankfurt Airport FRA, Germany)
Germany's throbbing financial heart may deserve its nickname 'Mainhattan', but it is not all business in Frankfurt
. This is a busy glittering metropolis with a fun-loving bunch of residents and lots of attractions for visitors to see and enjoy. Skyscrapers soar from its streets and massive international conventions come and go like the tide, but ultimately Frankfurters play as hard as they work.
The Altstadt (Old Town) is where the remnants of medieval Frankfurt linger on. The half-timbered houses that line the Romerberg main square are as pretty as they've ever been, and the Gothic towers of the Dom St. Bartholomaus peer down over the whole scene. Just next door is the Museumsufer riverside strip, where top venues like the Stadel Museum hold their artistic treasures.
As you'd expect, there is plenty of excellent dining throughout the city. Nightlife is best served around the Sachsenhausen neighbourhood, which bursts into an open-air party every weekend. There are also plenty of outdoor pursuits along the Main River and in the large urban parks such as the Palmengarten and Gruneburg.
Ten things you must do in Frankfurt
- The Altstadt (Old Town) embodies the medieval heritage of Frankfurt and is where most visitors spend their time. Start at the Romerberg, then wander down the old lanes and discover centuries-old apple wine taverns and quiet cafés among the lovely historic homes.
- The Romerberg is the city's original main square and easily the most photogenic spot. Beautiful 14th-century half-timbered houses line the square and the people-watching here is superb. You can also climb the towers of the Dom St. Bartholomaus for a bird's eye view of the Altstadt.
- If you fancy a night out on the town, head straight to the Sachsenhausen neighbourhood south of the Main River. Dozens of different bars, taverns and other watering holes seem to eject their patrons onto the streets every weekend, turning the entire area into a big outdoor drinking party.
- Frankfurt's top art gallery attraction is the Stadel Museum, located along the Museumsufer strip. European art from nearly all the great masters of history is the theme of this magnificent collection. From Botticelli to Hieronymus Bosch and many more in between, the Stadel is well worth a lingering afternoon.
- Frankfurt is a surprisingly green city considering the amount of glass and steel at its heart. Gruneburg Park is the city's largest and was once the grounds of a Rothschild castle. In summer it is the place to be for sunbathing and strolling around. Next door is the Palmengarten, another beauty that is more botanical garden than park.
- The most famous son of Frankfurt is probably Goethe, the German literary powerhouse. His house managed to survive the bombing during WWII and is now a popular museum. The tour lets you roam the four floors at your whim and admire the authentic furnishings and décor from his time here in the mid-1700s.
- One of the city's most lively shopping spots is the Zeil, a pedestrian area tucked in between the Hauptwache and Konstablerwache. This street is lined with stores, restaurants and other shops, being packed with people day and night. This is a great spot for getting a sense of Frankfurt's busy pulse.
- When you get hungry, head over to Munch Alley, or the Fressgasse as it is known in German. This fun little street, north-east of the Altstadt, is lined with casual stalls selling all kinds of tasty street food. From the predictable sausages to creative fusions of Asian and European ingredients, this is the place to go when the munchies kick in.
- A nice change of pace from the usual oil on canvas art museums is the Liebieghaus. This is a repository of sculpture, with some real classics like Naukydes' Discus Thrower alongside ancient Syrian creations and works from medieval Germany. The sprawling 1896 villa where it is all displayed creates just the right atmosphere for the sense of exploration.
- Frankfurt's modern face is on full display with the myriad skyscrapers that ripple its cityscape. An interesting day tour is visiting a handful of the more notable of these landmarks. From the EU's tallest office building (the Commerzbank Tower) to the needle-like Europaturm or the Messeturm, there are dozens to choose from. Head down to the Neue Mainzer Strasse, where they line up like pinnacles, then fan out and keep your head up.