Frankfurt is the heart of modern Germany. It’s the country’s robust financial center, home to futuristic skyscrapers, and, located in the central-southern state of Hesse, it’s literally right in the middle of things. That doesn’t mean, though, that Frankfurt lacks any of that old-European charm.
After London and Paris, Frankfurt has the third-largest airport in Europe, so making your way to the city is a breeze. However, Frankfurt’s accessibility comes with a price: It’s a popular base for trade shows like the Frankfurt Auto Show, so make sure you plan accordingly if you want to battle fewer crowds than usual.
And don’t forget the Ebbelwoi, or apple wine. It’s a regional specialty!
For those interested in old German architecture, head to Römerberg, the original city center of Frankfurt. Here you can find several buildings dating back centuries, including the Alte Nikolaikirche, originally built in 1290. Frankfurt is practically overflowing with museums, and you’ll find many of them — featuring exhibits of art, film, technology, and more — grouped here along the banks of the Main River. To step out of city life without stepping out of the city, head to the Stadtwald, or City Forest. The 48 square kilometers of trees and trails are accessible by public tram. Apart from the numerous local shops sprinkled all throughout the city, the Zeil is where you can get your serious shopping done, as one of the most popular shopping streets in Europe.
Consider visiting Darmstadt, the former capital of the Grand Duchy of Hesse and famous for its art nouveau buildings, Darmstadt is a perfect quick trip out of Frankfurt. Heidelberg is also a great option for a day trip. You’ve probably seen pictures of the Heidelberg Castle, and you can see the real thing if you’ve got a day to spare when you’re based in Frankfurt: Heidelberg is only a short trip away.
The Vogelsberg Mountains are another great place to visit. If the Stadtwald doesn’t scratch your itch for nature, head north for a day of hiking in the Vogelsberg, a collection of mountains that are actually extinct volcanoes.
If you’re on a budget, you can still find reasonably-priced options in the city center. For a more local vibe, consider staying near Berger Straße or Schweizer Straße. If you need to be close to the airport, look for accommodations near the Messe exhibition center which will still give you an opportunity to explore downtown. While renting a vacation home is a great option in this city, consider treating yourself to a night of luxury at the Frankfurter Hof, Frankfurt’s grand old five-star hotel that was original built in 1876.
Traveling by train is incredibly easy in this city. Use the U-Bahn trams and buses for local city travel, and the S-Bahn to travel to suburbs outside Frankfurt. Just remember that you must purchase a ticket before boarding. Parking can get nightmarish in Frankfurt, so if you must travel by car, use a taxi. They may be expensive, but they’re fast. Frankfurt is also one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world. Not only are there ample bike lanes webbed throughout the city, but tourists can also rent a bike with just a cell phone and a credit card.
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