What to do in Frankfurt

By Cristian G. Guasch •  Updated: 08/14/22 •  6 min read

Frankfurt is one of the most important financial centers in the world and the fifth largest city in Germany, with 730,000 inhabitants and a metropolitan area where 2.5 million people live. It is the core of the German Rhine-Main region in the center of the country.

Frankfurt is a city for all tastes: it can show its sophisticated side in the skyline of its great skyscrapers in the financial district, and at the same time boast the colorful wooden buildings of the Römerberg Square.

In both cases, there will always be a tavern open to taste the Frankfurter Würstchen – Frankfurt sausage – with a mug of beer or a typical apple wine (the Apfelwein). Other local attractions are: the Gothic Cathedral, Goethe’s house, the Sachsenhausen district and the museum bank.

Frankfurt Cathedral

Until March 1944, Frankfurt contained the most important Gothic citadel in Europe. But after six fierce bombings during World War II, the city center was practically destroyed. A similar fate befell the Collegiate Church of St. Bartholomew, or Frankfurt Cathedral, built between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, which burned inside and was severely damaged.

The reconstruction of the building, during the 1950s, succeeded in restoring many of its original elements. This great Gothic enclosure is one of the great attractions to see in Frankfurt. It saw emperors and kings crowned between 1356 and 1792, has a tower of almost 100 meters high that is an ideal viewpoint over the historic center. Inside, the St. Mary’s Chapel, the Electorate Chapel and the beautiful Gothic altarpiece are not to be missed.

Goethe House

Johan Wolfgang von Goethe was a German novelist, poet and playwright, considered one of the greatest writers of all time. Goethe was born and lived much of his youth – before moving to Leipzig – in a three-story house in the center that is another of the places to see in Frankfurt. Although the house, adjacent to the Goethe Museum, was destroyed during the Second World War, the restoration was impeccable, as objects of the writer were recovered, including several family portraits, the music room, the desk where Goethe created his stories and a large library. Admission is 7 euros.

Römerberg Square

Just two streets away from the Frankfurt Collegiate Church is the Römerberg Square, undoubtedly the most beautiful of the city and one of the most special places to see in Frankfurt. Located in the historic center, it houses the Town Hall building, built in 1405, where the coronation of German emperors and kings was held throughout history. Other important buildings in the square are the Church of St. Paul, the Fountain of Justice and the Church of St. Nicholas.

But what makes Römerberg really special are the six wooden buildings, with colorful facades, dating from the 15th and 16th centuries (actually replicas, as the original buildings succumbed during the Second World War). This square was since the 13th century a place where food markets were set up; today it hosts the most famous Christmas market in the country.

Sachsenhausen district

Crossing the picturesque Gothic bridge of Eserner Steg, which rises over the Main River, you reach Sachsenhausen, also known as the new quarter. This area of the city is ideal for a long walk through cobblestone streets and beautiful wooden houses. To quench your thirst, you will have to settle down in one of the many taverns and order the famous Apfelwein.

This apple wine, a typical German drink with an alcohol content of up to 7 degrees, is made according to centuries-old family recipes. It is quite an experience to look for a tavern on Rittergasse or Klappergasse and order an Apfelwein; of course, it must be accompanied by a Frankfurter Würstchen, the famous Frankfurt sausage, made from pork and stuffed in sheep casing.

Museum riverside

On one of the banks of the Main River are concentrated the 15 best museums to see in Frankfurt. It is a beautiful area for walking, a sort of cultural belt along the river, created in 1973 by the architect Till Behrens. At the end of August, one of the most important celebrations of the city takes place here, the Museums Riverside Festival.

Specifically, four Frankfurt museums, located in this part of the Main River, are recommended. These are: the Giersch Museum, the Portikus Museum, the Liebieghaus Museum, with its fantastic Greek and Egyptian sculptures; and the Städel Museum, creditor of one of the five most important art collections in the world.

Main Tower

The Main Tower is a tower of 200 meters high, 56 floors and two observatories that give the best views to see in Frankfurt. It was built between 1996 and 1999 and is located in the financial district, surrounded by other famous skyscrapers, such as the Commerzbank Tower and the Westendtower. One of the attractions of the Main Tower, which is nicknamed Mainhattan, is that it has a revolving restaurant on the top floor. The entrance fee is 6.5 euros.

Palm Garden

Twenty-two hectares make up the fantastic Palm Garden, the quintessential green space to see in Frankfurt. This park was created in 1870 and has a pond of large proportions, surrounded by plants brought from the five continents. Thus, one can find oneself in a tropical jungle or in an incredible rose garden. For lovers of green spaces, it is also recommended to visit the Bethmann Park, famous for its Chinese garden and pagodas.

Frankfurt Zoo

In the same plan to disconnect from the urban chaos (and Frankfurt can be quite chaotic), a visit to the Frankfurt Zoo is highly recommended. This zoo has almost 15 hectares of extension and is considered one of the most important in Europe, that is why it is another of the places to see in Frankfurt. Its main attraction is a sector called Grzimek House, where an artificial darkness is recreated to contemplate the life of nocturnal animals. It is, in fact, one of the largest nocturnal animal houses in the world. Admission costs 10 euros for adults and 5 euros for children between 6 and 17 years old.

Frankfurt Stock Exchange

The Frankfurt Stock Exchange is one of the most powerful stock exchanges in the world. The image of its building is at the height of that power: it has a large neoclassical facade, adorned by the sculptures of the Bull and the Bear, symbols of the unpredictable ups and downs of the stock market.

Those who stroll through the Frankfurt Stock Exchange area will surely come across two other emblematic buildings: the old Eschenhaimen Tum gate and tower, dating from the year 1400 and a survivor of the Allied bombings during World War II; and the site of the old opera house, called Alte Oper, inaugurated on October 20, 1880 by Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany.

Streetcar ride

A streetcar ride in Frankfurt is almost indispensable, because it allows you to discover the historical attractions of the city and, at the same time, have a glass of cider with pretzels. The streetcar in question is called the Ebbelwei Express and runs on weekends. The ride is always fun – the cider helps, although apple juice is also served for the kids – and costs 8 euros for adults.

Cristian G. Guasch

I have traveled the world visiting 18 countries, including Japan, most of Europe and North America. I love to learn about the culture and history, taste the different dishes and enjoy the beauty of this planet. I also work completely remotely, and this helps me discover new places all year around.