Groovy in Germany – A Guide to Spending a Day in Frankfurt

Frankfurt is a city in central Germany; a major financial hub that’s home to the European Central Bank.  You can find 14 of the 15 tallest buildings in all of Germany in Frankfurt, contrasting nicely with the classical churches and historic buildings in the old town. There are many parks and botanical gardens and even a city forest! One of Germany’s most famous writers, Goethe, was born here and there is a museum dedicated to him in his former house. No doubt you’ll find many cool things to see and do, and here are some ideas!

Getting there:

Frankfurt is a major airline hub with Lufthansa, so it’s easy to do a full day layover or stay for a couple days before going elsewhere. From the airport it is an easy to navigate 10-minute train ride into the city centre.

Currency and costs:

Germany uses the Euro. I advise bringing some cash, and then use a credit card when you can. I always find that easier than knowing how much cash to carry. I found things quite expensive here, so budget accordingly.

Getting Around:

Take the train to the city centre, and then walk around the city – most sights are within walking distance from the Hauptbahnhof Station and each other. If this doesn’t appeal to you, there are other options such as taxi/UBER, and public buses.

What to see and do:

Main Tower – a 56-floor skyscraper; the only tower with an observation deck in the entire city. So, take that elevator up to the outdoor viewing platform and enjoy sweeping views of the city below.

Goethe House and Museum – I did not visit this site, but since Goethe is one of the most famous Germans—it’s worth a stop. The medieval house has been restored to how it would have looked when he lived here.

Frankfurt Cathedral – a stunning Gothic church whose 95-metre tower reaches high into the Frankfurt skyline. This church needed reconstruction after the war, and it used to hold coronation ceremonies for the Holy Roman Kings. Have a wander inside and enjoy its grandeur.

Romerberg – my favorite area in Frankfurt; a beautiful square with medieval half-timbered houses and important buildings. The main building is the pretty pink Romer, which is the city hall. In the centre of the square is the impressive Fountain of Justice, and on the opposite side of the square is the Old St. Nicholas Church, which survived the war without major damage. This area is also great for sitting out on a patio and enjoying some food and drink while people watching.

Eiserner Steg – the iron pedestrian bridge over the River Main and like many major foot bridges, it is adorned with sentimental love locks. Walk over the bridge from the old town, and into an area called Sachsenhausen – it has a small village feel to it, with cobblestone streets and many places to eat and drink.

St. Paul’s Church – It has political symbolism, as the National Assembly met here for the first time and gave birth to the first publicly and freely elected German legislative body. The church was destroyed in World War II and rebuilt, and is now used for displays and events. In front of the church is the Unity Monument which is a three-sided obelisk that represents freedom, knowledge and unity.

Hauptwache – this square is at the end of the major shopping street in Frankfurt (the Zeil). The pretty St. Catherine’s church is here, and when I visited there were many street stalls set up. The most famous building here is the baroque Hauptwache which was a barracks for the city’s militia when Frankfurt was a free city state.

St. Catherine’s

Eschenheimer Turm – a city gate that was once part of the late medieval fortifications from the 15th century; it’s the oldest unchanged landmark in the city.

The Old Opera House – unfortunately I just missed seeing this Italian high Renaissance building that was rebuilt after the war. Today it still functions as a concert hall.

Photo courtesy of Manuel Ascanio for fineartamerica.com

What to eat:

Frankfurter Wurstchen– the best thing to try when in Frankfurt, since it’s named for the city! A long skinny boiled pork sausage served with a small bun.

Green sauce– -this cold sauce is usually poured over eggs or boiled potatoes. It is creamy (made from mayo, sour cream or yogurt) and is flavored with chopped herbs.

Frankfurter Rippchen – a yummy dish of cured and slow cooked pork cutlets served with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes.

Handkas mit Musik – a marinated hand cheese with a pungent flavor, usually served with bread.  

What to drink:

Apfelwein – a specialty of Frankfurt is this sour apple wine. You can drink it on its own or mix it with soda or water. Many bars make their own, so they may differ slightly. It didn’t seem that potent to me, so go ahead and have a few glasses.

Mispelchen – a Hessian specialty served at the end of a meal, made with apple brandy and an Ioquat fruit at the bottom of the glass.

Beer – well of course you’re gonna have a beer or three when in Germany! Try a crisp refreshing German Pilsner, a Bavarian style wheat beer, a dark malty bock, or a Rauchbier (smoke beer)!

Where to Eat and Drink:

Alten Limpurg – you can grab a table outside on the patio, or roll up to their takeout window. Enjoy a beer, Apfelwein or a Frankfurter Worschen. Service isn’t amazing, but the location is!

Apfelwein Solzer – located in Sachsenhausen. I wanted to go here for dinner but I was way too tired to stick around until it opened later in the afternoon.  Come here for some of the best Apfelwein, and tasty schnitzels with boiled potatoes with green sauce.

What to buy:

I didn’t actually buy any souvenirs this time. Crazy! Either I couldn’t find what I was looking for, or I did and it was just way too expensive. But here are a few things I think are neat:

A bottle of Apfelwein – impress your friends and family with this authentic German cider. You can also buy apple wine jelly or soap.

A Bembel– this is a stoneware pitcher used to serve Apfelwein. You can also use it for décor, or perhaps a flower pot? You can also buy a special Apfelwein glass that features the logo of the wine makers.

Photo courtesy of bembeltown.de

Eintracht Frankfurt scarf – Eintracht is their soccer team, and this merchandise could be hard to find elsewhere.

Photo courtesy of gpsmycity.com

Rauchermannchen – it’s a figurine of a little German forester or miner with a pipe. If you put an incense stick inside, smoke comes out of its mouth. I REALLY wanted one of these but couldn’t find one!

Frankfurt is a really great city and you can easily see and do a lot in just 1 day!

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