18 essential travel tips for every first-time Frankfurt visitor
Germany’s most international city? Being an economic powerhouse’s economic powerhouse will lend itself to such a set-up, and Frankfurt doesn’t let the side down. Walkable, well planned, with brilliant public transport networks and the rest, Frankfurt is a city that is easy to get around and even easier to enjoy. Of course, visitors aren’t prioritising urban planning, and the restaurants, attractions and nightlife here are all worth celebrating. If you’ve landed here for the first time and feel a little lost, fear not, take these essential travel tips for first time visitors to Frankfurt to heart and settle in nice and easy. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Frankfurt
The 5 best day trips from Frankfurt
Sure, there may be a whole host of brilliant things to do in Frankfurt itself, but excellent public transport networks make Germany’s financial capital a fantastic base from which to explore the surrounding countryside, too. From wine country and sprawling forests to medieval villages and riverside towns, fast local and national trains make a huge range of day trips possible. In less than 90 minutes, you could find yourself visiting a shrine to a Hungarian princess, bathing in natural thermal baths or inspecting a Russian spacecraft. For the lowdown on the coolest bars, restaurants and other things to do nearby, here’s our pick of the best day trips from Frankfurt. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Frankfurt
48 hours in Frankfurt
Despite Frankfurt’s varied history as a medieval merchant city and a hotspot of the 1968 revolution, as the financial centre of Europe it’s never quite shaken off its reputation as a boring city full of soulless bankers. But today, Frankfurt is finally starting to realise its potential as a dynamic international city. In 48 hours, you’ll discover a vibrant arts and culture scene, beautiful green spaces, traditional taverns and Michelin-starred restaurants, and an ever-increasing number of hip bars and nightclubs—all set against a striking juxtaposition of medieval buildings and towering skyscrapers. It’s not an obvious choice for a weekend getaway, but give it a chance and Frankfurt may well win your heart.
How to eat like a local in Frankfurt
More than half of Frankfurt’s population is made up of immigrants from over 180 different countries, and as a result, almost every culinary taste is catered to—and you can pick up a street snack for a euro or two, or blow your savings on a Michelin-starred meal. Yet Frankfurt has also firmly hung onto own food culture and traditions, with Apfelwein (cider) taverns as the city’s most beloved spots for local fare. Frankfurt-dwellers of all ages share tables in these lively rustic pubs, enjoying hearty plates of pork, beef and sausages with bread, Sauerkraut and a jug of potent Apfelwein. On weekends, the markets buzz with happy people eating, drinking and enjoying life: Frankfurters know how to have fun.
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Heroes Premium Burgers
There are countless places to eat burgers in Frankfurt, and endless arguments to have about which one’s the best, but Heroes Premium Burgers in the Nordend-Ost neighbourhood is as fun to hang out in as its food is delicious. The walls are decorated with cartoon strips of superheroes, and the menu is full of slightly mad combinations in addition to the simple classics. Fancy a macaroni cheese patty instead of a bun, or some candied peanuts sandwiched in with your beef? Heroes is the place for you. There are great vegetarian options too, plus meals for kids. Time Out tip: There are rotating guest burgers on the menu at Heroes: if you see the peanut butter pineapple jalapeno version on offer, don’t question its weirdness: snap it up—you won’t regret it!
A short walk from the medieval Römerberg and directly opposite the entrance to the Historisches Museum, this tiny café is tucked into a corner of a tall, half-timber building, with a window full of treats. Alongside the traditional German cakes, available to buy whole or by the slice, the Kreppel (doughnuts) during Karneval time are irresistable; and if you’re visiting in the run up to Christmas, the Bethmännchen—ball-shaped marzipan pastries decorated with almonds—are sublime. Time Out tip: If the café is full and the weather’s good, order a pastry and a hot drink to go, and wander down to the river to enjoy them in the sun.
Apfelwein-Wirtschaft Fichtekränzi is a prime example of a traditional, rustic Frankfurter Apfelwein tavern, and it’s a firm local favourite. It’s noisy, lively and fun, and you should expect to share tables with other diners and drinkers when it’s busy—and Fichtekränzi’s always busy. The staff are friendly and helpful, and the menu lists generous portions of local specialties, from Schnitzel with Grüne Soße (green sauce) to an excellent Sachsenhäuser Schneegestöber, an oniony cream cheese and Camembert spread sprinkled with paprika and caraway. If you have room for dessert, the non-local Apfelstrudel is very popular. Time Out tip: Fichtekränzi’s logo is a ring (Kranz) made of twisted branches of spruce (Fichte), which was the traditional symbol hung outside Apfelwein taverns for hundreds of years, denoting that Apfelwein could be found within.
Apfelwein Wagner is a firm favourite amongst locals and tourists alike for its traditional, rustic decor and a menu that offers all the Frankfurter classics as well as German specialties such as Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle). There offer a variety of three-course menus, including a vegetarian option featuring the famous Eier mit Grüne Soße (eggs with green sauce). Eating at Wagner’s is a sociable experience: it’s always crowded and you’ll find yourself sharing a table whether you’re sitting inside or out. The service varies from very friendly to standoffish, but that’s all part of the Apfelwein tavern experience. Time Out tip: Apfelwein Wagner sells no beer, only the local Apfelwein (also called Ebbelwoi - cider). Drink it mixed with soda water (sauer), lemonade (suß), or pure (pur) like the locals, and order a Bembel (jug) if you’re in a group - but beware of the (in)famous Apfelwein hangover the next day!
Competition is high when it comes to the best Korean restaurant in Frankfurt, but the modern and stylish Sonamu in the Bornheim district is convenient to access and serves up very good food. Run by a second-generation German-Korean born up the road in Wiesbaden who speaks German, Korean and English, the atmosphere is calm and relaxed and the service very friendly. The galbi (grilled ribs) and bibimbap are both worth a try. There’s a good selection of drinks as well, including some very good bourbons for American whisky fans. Reservations recommended. Time Out tip: If you need a coffee to perk you up after lunch at Sonamu, you’ll find one of Frankfurt’s best coffee shops - Wacker’s - a short walk back up Berger Straße past Bornheim Mitte U-Bahn station.
Hanging out with friends enjoying a lavish late breakfast is popular way to start a Saturday or Sunday in Germany, and the centrally-located Cafe Karin is a lovely place to do it. It’s high-ceilinged and spacious and the atmosphere relaxed, and there’s a good selection of different breakfasts to choose from. Order a basket of bread rolls with meats and cheeses, or opt for muesli, fruit, pancakes or variously cooked eggs. If you visit later in the day, there are salads, soups, cake and alcoholic drinks including beer, wine and cocktails. Time Out tip: Celebrating a special occasion? Contact Cafe Karin in advance to reserve a table and arrange for it to be set and decorated with flowers.
Shake off your apple wine hangover with a visit to Frankfurt’s Palmengarten, which opened in 1871. The palm house, conservatories and extensive botanical gardens feature over 13,000 tropical and subtropical plants. Sunday tours on a variety of topics are included in the entry free.
What Da Cimino lacks in style and atmosphere, it makes up for with excellent pizza. This small, casual Italian spot is legendary amongst locals, meaning you’ll almost certainly have to queue, but your pizza will be served straight out of a traditional wood oven, and if the weather’s good, you can sit out and eat it on the patio.
Zum Gemalten Haus
You can’t visit Frankfurt without sampling its famous Apfelwein (or Ebbelwoi, apple wine), available by the glass or Bembel (jug), pure or mixed with lemonade or soda water. Have a glass with dinner at one of Frankfurt’s oldest apple wine taverns, Zum Gemahlten Haus; if you’re feeling hungry and adventurous, try a mixed platter of local sausages, meats and Sauerkraut. If you’re vegetarian, choose the eggs with green sauce.
If you can move after all that food and apple wine and fancy catching some live music, head to the Ponyhof. It’s neither big nor glitzy, but if you enjoy seeing obscure bands or dancing till the wee hours, this Frankfurt institution is a fun spot to do so.
While away the afternoon at Naturmuseum Senckenberg, Germany’s second largest natural history museum, which houses a huge collection of fossils and Europe’s biggest collection of large dinosaurs, including the continent’s only diplodocus. There are also animal exhibits spanning 50 million years of life on Earth. A brilliant option for families and a great way to round out your trip.