What to see and do in Frankfurt
Frankfurt is the fifth largest city and financial capital of Germany, having one of the largest and most powerful financial centres in Europe. Being located on the beautiful Main River also makes this an excellent location to either embark or disembark a river cruise.
We were excited to arrive in Frankfurt because this is where we would board our much awaited Rhine River cruise. Making the most of our Eurail pass, we arrived from Cologne at the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof train station in about an hour and a half.
Arriving into Frankfurt we quickly learnt that Frankfurt also has a blend of historic architecture and culture. Fortunately our hotel, Mercure Hotel Kaiserhof Frankfurt City Centre was in a location very close to the train station so we were checking in within 5 minutes of our train arriving. Located on Kaiserstraße, one of the last remaining boulevards which was not destroyed in WWII still has a lot of the historic 19th century houses with impressive sandstone facades.
As soon as we checked in and took our bags to our room we were pleased with room and final choice of hotels. Our room was engulfed with sunlight and overlooked the street below. Looking out the window we had a nice city view and could see the train station to one of end of the street and the business centre at the other. But not wanting to waste any time we quickly headed out familiarise ourselves with the city we’d be calling home for the next 3 days.
We could have purchased a two day Frankfurt card to take full advantage of the city’s well developed public transport system and get discounts to numerous cultural venues, but declined as we enjoy exploring a city on foot.
Near to our hotel we found lots of shops, street cafes, restaurants and of course banks. At the opposite end of the street, away from the train station, leads through to the city centre’s wealth and glory where we found the Euro monument with bright yellow stars represents the European currency since 1st January 2001.
Not far away, we came across this amazing traditional area called Römerberg, the historic city hall square which is where the Christmas markets are held each year. Turns out this was close to where our ship will be docked.
Nearby is the Eisemer Steg, a footbridge that is used by over 10,000 pedestrians each day. The famous iron and concrete footbridge leading over the river Main which connects the city centre near Römerberg to the Sachsenhausen district. Walking in this historic area with its apple wine pubs, half-timbered houses and narrow cobblestone lanes feel like we’ve been transported back in time. We step into one of the pubs for a drink and instantly we are taken in by the cosiness and hospitality. This is an ideal place to try Frankfurt’s most popular beverage, Apple Wine, known as Ebbelwei, Schoppe or Stoffche.
Further along we come across the Dreikonigskirche, Church of Three Kings, a Lutheran parish church which is the largest Protestant parish in Frankfurt. We take a look inside the church made of red mainsand stone it is built in neo-gothic style. At the time it was built, the tower was the second tallest structure in Frankfurt and both inside and outside is a very impressive church.
We were shrouded in fog and most of the tops of the buildings were not visible as we crossed back over Eisemer Steg to explore more of Römerberg and beyond. Römerberg square is home to Frankfurt’s famous Christmas markets and although this post is not about them, I do have to say the Christmas markets were impressive. Walking in the heart of the square with a huge Christmas tree and a whimsical carousel with more adults than children riding it was a simply amazing way to get our Christmas on. And the extremely moreish gluhwein was a great way to get our merry on.
Central to the square is the Fountain of Justice. This fountain played an important part at coronation ceremonies. Honouring Justitia, the female champion of justice, she stands tall holding a sword and scales. Apart from the Christmas markets, the square is place for many festivals and markets and previously Kings were crowned, Emperors elected, even executions have taken place here.
We came to the Frankfurter Dom, Cathedral of St Bartholomew’s or Dom St Bartholomäus which has a 95 metre tower that despite the fog and surrounding skyscrapers still dominates the city skyline. Ten imperial coronations have taken place here and served as the electoral site for Kings of the Holy Roman Empire in 1356. Inside is a Crucifixion Group housed here since 1509.
We come to the Römer, a medieval building where the Seufzerbrücke or Bridge of Sighs joined the Central Court and the City Hall.
Close by is Frankfurt’s Zeil, a huge pedestrian zone, where shopping is the name of the game.
Frankfurt represents the modern version of Europe with its contemporary skyline featuring 12 skyscrapers. Before the Second World War Frankfurt featured a medieval town centre, but severe bombing resulted in the city needing to be rebuilt after being virtually destroyed and most buildings are now an exact replica.
Some of the notable buildings are Tower of Trade Fair, Skyper, Silver-Tower, the Commerzbank Tower and Japan-Center. The Eurotheum is a combination of office and luxury apartments and the Main Tower completed in 2000 has an observation platform 200 metres high, offering panoramic views over Frankfurt’s city streets. The Messeturm with its pyramidal roof is a Frankfurt landmark and was the highest office tower until 1997 and a symbol of the economic boom. Look for the Hammering Man sculpture out the front.
We enjoyed the cuisine in Frankfurt too. Our first morning we awoke to see the street along Kaiserstraße in front of our hotel transformed into streetside markets so we made our way down to sample many local foods. These markets are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays where dozens of food trucks set up selling German Bratwurst, regional specialties, breads, cakes and more. Along this stretch are many pastry shops where we regularly enjoyed a pastry and coffee to take a break from the cold December weather.
There was a choice of many restaurants. We ate one night at a lovely Italian restaurant which served our pasta from a huge cheese wheel. It was a lovely evening, we had a French waiter who served us an Italian liqueur after we’d finished our pasta whilst listening to German music. Another night we ate at Bona Mente, a Steak & Tapas restaurant where ate a genuine German meal of Cream of Chestnut Soup, Pork Knuckle, Snitzel with Apfelwein and Binding Lager. We of course enjoyed Baumstriezel, bratwurst, brezel, pomme frites and many other tasty treats. There was no shortage of mouthwatering pastries and baked goods were everywhere and oh so tempting with everything so close by.
Frankfurt is home to a number of national banks and stock exchanges, but there is more to the city than money and business. Frankfurt is also about art, culture and towering skylines. It is a place you can sit and fall in love.
With so many skyscrapers it is said the sky is so close to Frankfurt. We found it was like we were walking amongst the clouds as we wandered around on a very foggy day.
We found Frankfurt impressive, whimsical and simply amazing to explore. The sight of all the lights glittering as we were walking along the Main River at night was magical. Despite the cold December nights, our highlight was walking along the Main River as the sun gets weary and the buildings light up. Or perhaps it is because that was our final view as we sailed off to begin our Rhine River cruise?
Have you been to Frankfurt? Which sights of the city?
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