A major city in Germany, a transport hub and an industrial and economic powerhouse, there’s no doubt Frankfurt is a prominent German destination.
But it’s not always a major tourism destination.
In fact, most travellers simply arrive here at the airport or train station (they are 2 of the busiest in the country) and then promptly leave!
But I’m here to encourage you to hang around – at least for a day – because Frankfurt really is a lovely city to explore before you head on to adventure elsewhere.
Here’s my top 11 things to do in Frankfurt if you’re planning to have some time there…
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#1 See the Römer
First up, you can’t miss the main tourism attraction in this city and that is the Historic Old Centre or Altstadt.
Badly destroyed during the bombing of World War II, this is a reconstructed Old Town that aims to parallel the largest timberframe town in Germany that once stood here.
Finished in 2017, the Gothic-style, half-timbered buildings have been beautifully and painstakingly recreated and are now set around a wonderful central square that forms the hub of the Altstadt.
Around this, the modern, bustling city of Frankfurt exists, but in this “Older Town”, life feels a lot quieter and more peaceful – as if you really have entered a bygone era.
And in the centre of this square, is the most famous building of them all The Römer.
It is located opposite the Old St. Nicholas Church and is now the City Hall building.
#2 Cross the Iron Bridge
Then, once you’ve wandered the beautiful Old Town, it’s time to hop down a street to meet the River and, in front of you, one of Frankfurt’s other great icons.
Known as the Eiserner Steg, or Iron Bridge, this architectural wonder is a prime way not only to cross the river on 2 feet (it’s entirely pedestrianised), but also a great place to clip on a love lock (if you’re into that kinda thing) or to snap some epic photos of Frankfurt – the skyline of which spreads out before you.
First built in 1868, the bridge was also destroyed in WWII, but has since been rebuilt and is now quite the spectacle.
#3 SUP on the river
And once you’ve crossed over the bridge, strolling along the main river in Frankfurt is definitely one of the most beautiful things to do in this city.
On the far side from the Altstadt, there’s actually a lovely walk and cycle way, called Mainkai, right along the river with some nice benches to sit on and cafes to enjoy the views from.
And it’s when doing this that I actually saw some people SUP-ing on the river, which looked like a lot of fun.
If this inspires you, then check out these guys who have lessons and boards for hire.
#4 Snap the Cathedral
The beautiful Frankfurt Cathedral is a Gothic beauty and while it doesn’t quite measure up to the Gothic Cathedral of Strasbourg in France, it is a gem in its own right and well worth a snap and a wander inside.
Another great religious building to visit in this city, if you’re making the rounds, is St Paul’s,
Built in 1789, this building was also destroyed in WWII, but later rebuilt in the style you see today.
Visiting these 2 icons is definitely one of the top things to do in Frankfurt.
#5 Visit the Stolze Museum
Although there are many museums to visit in Frankfurt, I picked the Sotlze Museum as one of the best things to do in this city, mainly because of the glorious old school and posh café it has at the bottom.
Yes shameless but true, a good café always draws me in and this one is sure to impress you too!
But cafes aside, this museum in the centre of Frankfurt, by the Cathedral, is in a beautiful building and features a permanent exhibition that commemorates the famous poet, satirist and journalist Friedrich Stoltze.
Plus entry is free, so this is definitely a top thing to do in this city on a budget.
#6 Get Your Fill at MuseumsUfer
If you want to get even more of a museum fix however, then there’s only one place to head in Frankfurt and that’s the MuseumsUfer.
On the other side of the river to Mainkai (i.e. the side of the Old Town), MuseumsUfer is essentially a cultural quarter with tons of great exhibitions ranging from history and culture to film.
Absolutely one of the top things to do in Frankfurt, checking out this place – and all it has to offer – is a must.
#7 Check out Goethe’s House
And sticking with the history and education theme, you can’t miss the opportunity to check out Goethe’s house when you visit Frankfurt either.
Located a short distance from the city centre, this was the residence of the famous German writer and his family until 1795.
Also destroyed in WWII, but since rebuilt, there is now also a museum attached here too if you want to learn more about Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe’s life and work.
And if you plan on visiting a lot of museums in Frankfurt, including the Goethe House, then do check out the Frankfurt Card.
Giving you free public transportation and discounts at many museums, city tours, restaurants, and other attractions, you can choose either an individual card (1 person) or a group card (2-5 persons), for 1 or 2 days.
#8 Swap Beer for Cider
Now we all know that Germany is famous for its excellent beer and that enjoying a stein or 2 is basically a rite of passage if you travel here!
But that aside there’s actually another alcoholic drink you should try if you enjoy a drink and visit Frankfurt.
And that drink is not beer, but cider.
Yes believe it or not, Frankfurt is actually famous for its cider, not its beer, because this is where a lot of it is produced in Germany.
Known as apfelwein, Frankfurt is the home of this drink and locals here consume a huge amount.
Typically made without any added sugar or yeast, and ranging from sweet to dry, apfelweins in Frankfurt can be both filtered and unfiltered.
Enjoy a glass in this city from a traditional apple bar (most are in the Sachsenhausen district of the city) out of a traditional bembel… it doesn’t get more Frankfurt than this!
#9 Enjoy the Botanical Gardens
Frankfurt’s beautiful Botanical Gardens, known as Palmengarten, are internationally renowned and visiting here is absolutely one of the best things to do in Frankfurt.
Home to over 6,000 flora species from over a huge range of climate zones, this is the largest one of its kind in Germany and was founded as long ago as 1868.
#10 Take in the View from the Main Tower
And coming in at number 10 on this list of the best things to do in Frankfurt, it’s climb the Main Tower.
Ok, not climb, but ride in the elevator, up 650 feet to be exact!
Here you’ll get an incredible view of the city from a platform which is part of the only high-rise building open to the public in Frankfurt.
And it’s a view absolutely worth checking out and perhaps toasting with a drink too!
#11 Take a Tour
If you really want to learn the most about Frankfurt however, then it certainly pays to take a tour, even for a few hours, so that a professional guide really can give you all the information you need, as well as answer any questions you have.
As such, it’s great to know that Frankfurt has a huge range of different and affordable tours on ofeer, so why not check out the options below to see what suits you best…
- 2 Hour Segway Tour
- 2 Hour Walking Tour
- 2 Hour Sightseeing Cruise
- 3 Hour Bike Tour
- Private Walking Tour
Mini Travel Guide to Frankfurt
How to Travel to Frankfurt?
In the west of Germany with good transport links to many other European cities, getting to Frankfurt by train or bus is relatively easy.
Check out these common routes I’ve written about in the following articles…
- How to Travel from Frankfurt to Heidelberg
- How to Travel from Berlin to Frankfurt
- How to Travel from Strasbourg to Frankfurt
- How to Travel from Frankfurt to Amsterdam
As you’ll discover in these articles, I always recommend Trainline when booking rail travel across Europe and Flixbus if you’re a budget traveller and want to save some money by travelling on a coach.
If you’re travelling from further afield, then you’ll likely want to fly to Frankfurt.
The good news is that Frankfurt has one of the largest airports in Germany serviced by a huge range of airline, including budget options.
As always, I use Skyscanner to find the best deals on flights.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to combine flight and train or bus routes to get to Frankfurt, then check out kiwi.com who offer some great solutions across multiple routes and transport types in one handy package:
How Long to Spend in Frankfurt + Where to Stay?
As a city with a relatively compact centre, all the top things to do in Frankfurt I’ve listed above are easy to tick off your list in a day.
As such, I recommend 1 night and 1 day as the perfect time to spend in Frankfurt, before you head on elsewhere.
If you are staying the night in Frankfurt, then check out this list of my top 10 Frankfurt Airbnbs.
Otherwise, if you’re looking for a hotel stay then the 3 Star Hotel Isha in Frankfurt gets great reviews thanks to the excellent value for money it offers, along with its top location, free parking and good service.
Alternately, if you’re a budget traveller, then the excellent Five Elements Hostel right in the heart of the city is the one to go for!
When to Visit Frankfurt?
Despite the proliferation of fabulous Christmas markets in Germany during December, there’s no question that I think the best time to visit Frankfurt is the summer.
During the months of June through August, it gets delightfully warm in this city and in my opinion that’s the best time to wander the old town, the river and enjoy a coffee, cider or beer outside.
How to Get Around Frankfurt?
As I’ve mentioned Frankfurt’s city centre is small and easy to navigate on foot.
The city also has excellent U-Bahn and S-Bahn systems that can be used.
Plus Uber works in this city too.
Otherwise, why not consider a hop-on hop-off bus tour, which is a great way to combine your sightseeing and transport in Frankfurt.
Where to Go After Frankfurt?
Being so well-connected, there’s many good options when it comes to heading on elsewhere after Frankfurt.
Within Germany itself, the wonderful arty city of Cologne and the superb historic university town of Heidelberg are both easy day trips or short drives from Frankfurt.
Otherwise, the city of Freiburg and the Black Forest are not that much further south and, continuing on, you can even reach Zurich.
Heading west, you can easily cross over the border from Frankfurt to Strasbourg and explore the beautiful Alsace Wine Route, or head east to explore Nuremberg and its wonderful castles, before moving south to Munich.
PIN IT TO PINTEREST!
And that’s my list of the top 11 things to do in Frankfurt.
I hope I’ve convinced you to spend a little longer in this city than you perhaps normally would have.
Or am I preaching to the converted?
If so, and you’ve already visited Frankfurt, what was your favourite thing to do there?