The best attractions in Frankfurt
Frankfurt has some 60 museums of varying sizes and collections, and 13 of them are by the Main River in what’s called Museumsufer, or museum embankment. Here you’ll find the Städel, with a vast art collection housed in a stunning building and new extension. This is Germany’s oldest museum foundation, boasting a collection spanning roughly 700 years of European art. Works date from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque periods to the present. The contemporary works are housed in the white, spacious underground extension (which cost 52 million Euros) beneath the gardens, where you can check out Andy Warhol’s 1982 silkscreen of German literary giant Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who was born in Frankfurt. Consider downloading the free app, which has information on roughly 100 artworks. After your art tour, stop for a bite at the museum’s acclaimed restaurant, Holbein’s. If you’re in town on the month’s last Thursday and Friday, the museum is open until 9 p.m.
When you get to this bustling cobblestoned main square, you lose sight for a few minutes of Frankfurt’s sleek skyscrapers. Here you’re surrounded only by the reconstructed, timber-framed buildings—with steeply sloped gable roofs and vertical windows—that resemble the original Gothic old town destroyed by bombing in 1944. On a sunny day, the colors of these gingerbread-looking houses—shades of pink, yellow, gray, blue, orange and red—come to life, as does the Fountain of Justice in the center. If you’re facing the City Hall, or Römer, you can head left to the Alte Nikolaikirche, or old Nikolai Church. Don’t miss the modern Schirn Kunsthalle musem, which feels like a best-kept secret in the most well-known part of the city. Internationally acclaimed artists are regularly exhibited here, including Basquiat and René Magritte.
Nothing in Frankfurt is as colorful and vibrant as this two-story market. It can get packed on Saturdays, but it’s well worth sharing this space with crowds. As with much of the city, bombs destroyed the original neo-Renaissance hall in 1944; the hall you see now was finished in 1954. It’s long been an institution beloved by locals for its bounty of fresh meat, cheese, dried fruits, produce, flowers and treats like chocolates and baked desserts. Stand after stand is topped with local specialties like Handkäse, a plethora of wurst types and whole grain German bread. On the first floor, the Markt-Stubb café offers a menu of heavy, warm regional dishes. You can take food to go or sit and eat here, though a seat is not always easy to find.
The best Frankfurt restaurants
Emma Metzler’s beautiful decor and design makes it look like an extension of an exhibition space—fitting for a restaurant in the city’s museum embankment (Museumsufer) and on the grounds of the sleek Museum für Angewandte Kunst. The spacious bistro’s sleek lines are softened by colorful artwork on the white walls, lobster-red furniture pieces, a wall of glass blocks and thick, navy blue curtains. Flower arrangements adorn the tables and strings of lightbulbs hang from above. The service is impeccable, and the food comes served like a masterpiece; the French-German menu includes a couscous with beets, yogurt and dukkah (a mixture of herbs, nuts and spices) for lunch or fennel bratwurst for dinner. If the weather is nice, eat outside and take a walk over the Eiserner Steg bridge after your meal, especially at night when you can see Frankfurt’s skyline alit before you. If you visit on the last Saturday of the month, your museum entrance is free.
Only two vegetarian restaurants in Germany have a coveted 2018 Michelin Star, and Seven Swans is one of them. Don’t rush down the Mainkai or you’ll miss the narrow building—Frankfurt’s narrowest, in fact—that houses it. Considered among the best restaurants in the world, Seven Swans offers a seasonal menu (choose from five or six fixed courses) using regional ingredients like fennel, leeks, pumpkin, apple and asparagus; take a look at the restaurant’s well-curated Instagram page to see the extraordinary attention to detail on every plate. Reservations here are a must, and the intimate candlelight dining, complete with a view of the Main River, is optimal for two people.
Don’t miss this charming café, located on the quiet, eastern end of the busy Zeil shopping promenade close to the city’s zoo. Once you enter beneath the green striped awning you’ll find an eclectic dining space with reclaimed furniture and mirrors, separated into distinctly-decorated rooms (our favorite has red walls and a sofa upholstered in gold velour). In the main dining space, lamps glow just brightly enough to illuminate the stunning, gold floral wallpaper. Maingold’s daily menu includes fresh salads (like one topped with grilled halloumi cheese, pomegranate seeds, pistachios and pomelo), soups and pastas, like penne with marinated chicken or the standout, homemade gnocchi. For dessert, try the brownie-in-a-glass with coffee, and if you’re dining in the summer, try snagging a table on the terrace beneath twinkly string lights. Reservations are strongly recommended by phone; the restaurant’s website is badly outdated, but its Facebook page is updated regularly.
GOOSE’s sweet charm is not just the Citroën food truck it’s housed in, but the owners themselves. The über friendly business partners, Gökhan Kaba and Patrik Bruch, take their truck to locations across Frankfurt, serving up waffle creations for lunch and dessert. Among the available toppings are caramelized goat cheese, beet mousse, grapes confit, vegetable chips, sliced mussels, roasted pine nuts and sweet potatoes. For sweet tooths, Kaba recommends the peanut butter cheesecake with salted caramel or double chocolate brownie. In addition to their mobile efforts, GOOSE also offers a catered dinner for a minimum of ten people at their private restaurant space on Ludwigstraße, close to the central train station—in March 2018 they’ll sell lunch there, too, in a 45-person space open to the public. Check their Facebook page for the truck’s latest location, or send them an email to get details further in advance.
You’ll receive a warm welcome befitting a regular in this old-school establishment low on frills and high on hospitality. Founded in 1849, today’s Atschel seats patrons at communal wooden tables, beer hall style. The walls are adorned with framed vintage drawings of apples, and Art Nouveau ball lamps emit a warm light for a homey feel. Feast on hearty local cuisine like grilled pork knuckle with sauerkraut and bread or the region’s specialty dish—cold green sauce, or grüne Soße, made chiefly with local herbs and sour cream and served with boiled eggs and potatoes. Don’t leave without tasting Frankfurt’s quintessential drink, refreshing Apfelwein (apple wine), which is more sour than sweet. Traditional Bembel pottery hangs above the bar, and specials are written in German on chalkboards along the walls. Be warned: Atschel, located in Sachsenhausen, only takes cash and larger groups should reserve a table in advance.
The best Frankfurt bars
Hunky Dory Bar
Too lazy to leave the comfort of your seat? No worries; at Honky Dory bar, just dial up your drink. In this cocktail bar crammed with flea market finds from the 1930s and 1940s, seven wooden booths have black vintage rotary phones on speed dial to the bartender, who will deliver signature cocktails such as the Break Point (hibiscus vodka, apricot brandy, agave syrup, lime and pickled chili) or Penicilin (Dewar's 12 scotch, honey, lemon, ginger and Laphroaig 10 scotch whiskey served in a syringe) directly to your table. You can also sit at the bar, which seats up to 22 people, or on the rooftop for views of Frankfurt skyline. For a small bite, tapas-style dishes range from salmon and tuna tartare to Flammkuchen (pizza with creme fraiche, chopped onions and smoky bacon). While the name Hunky Dory is homage to David Bowie—it’s the title of the English musician’s fourth album—you won’t find any rock and roll memorabilia among the model sailboats, medicine bottles, badminton rackets and other tchotchkes inside.
Located in a Baroque building in the hip Alt-Sachsenhausen neighborhood, Bonchina is more high-class house party than bar—you’re even expected to pour your own drinks. The minds behind it say the experimental concept is “a meditation on bars,” and you won’t find a bar counter or bartender in the monochrome interior of custom grey ceramic wall tiles. Serving as a sculptural meeting point, a grey porcelain elephant with origami-like folds is perched on a pedestal, with homemade tonic water flowing out of its mouth. While chilled bottles contain premixed infusions (waiting for the house-made flavored ice cube of your choice), the rest of the fixings for your order are set out for you. The host that takes your order can make it, but most guests prefer to do the job themselves. Just 12 people can fit in the small space, which doesn’t serve food and is only open Tuesday through Thursday. Speakeasy style, you’ll need to ring the bell to enter.
Located in the Bockenheim district, Bockenheimer Weinkontor was once a blacksmith's workshop—you’ll need to cross under an arched cast-iron gate and descend down a stairway to reach it. This hidden gem of a wine bar draws wine enthusiasts during both summer and winter with a cobblestone courtyard either blooming with green foliage or glowing from the log-fire fireplace. Space for around 150 people consists of booth seating and bar stools topped with colorful pillows; simple wooden planks form the bar, at which a section of 50 German and European wines from mostly family-run wineries start at just 4 euros a glass. Flammkuchen (German pizza) and small plates of cheese, salami, and vegetables with humus stave off hunger.
Named after legendary sound engineer Conny Plank, Plank Cafe-Bar-Studio is just an eight-minute walk from Frankfurt Central Station, and is a popular place to spend the hours before your train leaves. Drinks are offered from 6pm (it’s a cafe by day) and in warmer months, you can join the people milling around outside. See the chalkboard for specialty cocktails such as the Russian spring punch—a blend of Koskenkorva vodka, Crème de Cassis de Dijon, Crémant de Loire, lemon juice, simple syrup, and black current—or Vesper X-tra Strong, which adds a splash of Lillet Blanc to a mix of Elephant gin and Koskenkorva vodka and finishes it off with a lemon twist.