Bryce´s Guide to Frankfurt

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Updated July 28, 2023

Frankfurt is Germany´s financial center and 5th largest city. While not the capital, it is by far the largest city in the state of Hesse. The historic city was important in the Holy Roman Empire; however, it was destroyed during World War II. While some of the historic buildings were reconstructed, a new modern city rose from the ashes which includes the most skyscrapers of anywhere in Europe. I spent time here in late May 2023. 


2 days is the optimal amount of time to see all the sights of Frankfurt. There are no standout attractions, but lots of good ones. 

If you only have 1 day, I would start at Kleinmarket for breakfast. Then visit Romer, the cathedral and St. Paul´s Church. Then cross the river via the Iron Footbridge for a traditional lunch at one of the apfelwein restaurants and to visit the Städel Museum. Cross the river again, visit the Jewish Museum and get dinner in a trendier place in Innenstadt. End the night at Jazzkeller. 

With two days, you don´t need any set itinerary. I would tag all the interesting sites to an online map and wander. As you pass by the attractions, go in – eventually you will have wandered enough that you have seen everything. Do make sure to get at least one meal at a traditional apfelwein restaurant. 

Lay of the Land

The city is located on both sides of the Main River. The city center takes up both sides of the river. Frankfurt´s world famous airport (Germany´s busiest), is 12km southwest of the center. 

The city is largely safe with one notable exception: the red-light district just north of the main Hauptbanhof train station. 


Districts to Visit:

Alstadt/Romer: The main square in the historic center of Frankfurt. Contains the city hall and numerous half-timbered buildings lovingly rebuilt after WWII. This is the postcard shot. 

Willy-Brandt-Platz/Western part of Innenstadt: The business center of Germany and home to the most skyscrapers in Europe. Make sure to check out all the finance bros and the giant € sculpture in front of the old European Central Bank Headquarters. 

Zeill/Northern Part of Innenstadt: Upscale and walkable shopping district. Very lively during day and night. 

Bahnhofsviertel: Lively district next to the train station. Plenty of restaurants and cafes. Special note: Make sure to avoid the red-light district just to the north which is full of very aggressive drugged-out homeless people. 


Frankfurt has an ungodly number of museums. If you like museums, it is impossible to get bored here.

Städel Museum: Open since 1817, this is Frankfurt´s main art museum. Contains a few culturally important pieces such as Botticelli´s Portrait of a Young Woman, and Rembrandt´s The Blinding of Samson

Jüdisches Museum (Jewish Museum): Tells the story of Frankfurt´s Jewish community with an emphasis on post-WWII. There are also exhibits on the Rothschild family. Very well done. 

Museum Judengasse: This is an archaeological museum that preserved a block of the old Jewish ghetto. Different from the Jewish Museum (although your ticket there can be used here). 

Senckenberg Naturmuseum: Natural history museum. Highlights include a floor of taxidermies of basically every animal that ever existed and fossils from the nearby Messel Pit (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). 

Goethe-Haus: Frankfurt´s most famous historical resident is the author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The house is a reconstruction as the original was destroyed in WWII. There is also a modern 3-story annex with plenty more art and historical exhibits. 

Liebieghaus: A sculpture museum with a collection from Egypt up to the 1800´s. There are no modern sculptures here.

Geldmuseum: As Frankfurt is a financial hub and center of the European Central Bank, it makes sense to have a money museum. Very modern exhibits, but note it is not located in the city center and requires taking a short U-Bahn trip. 

Museum MMK: Modern art museum. It stays open slightly later than the other museums in town, so make it your last stop of the day. 

German Film Museum: Covers the history and techniques of filmmaking. The topics covered are quite technical and I would therefore not recommend for the average tourist. 

Other Attractions:

Frankfurter Dom: Frankfurt´s cathedral and site of the Holy Roman Empire coronations. One of a handful of buildings to survive WWII. Despite the esteemed history, the interior is quite simple. There is an okay museum of religious art museum attached.

Main Tower: Germany´s 4th tallest building is the only skyscraper in Frankfurt to have a rooftop observation deck. The views from the top are stunning and it only costs €9 (a steal compared to similar buildings around the world). 

Palmgarten: Huge botanical garden. The highlights are the domed tropical biomes. I can imagine this is a great mood boster in the winter. 

Eiserner Steg (Iron Footbridge): Iconic bridge over the river Main. Many people leave love locks here. 

Paulskirche (St. Paul´s Church): Decommissioned church that hosted the 1848 Frankfurt Parliament, the first democratically elected body in Germany. The first floor has a few panels explaining the history and the second floor has a modern assembly hall. The original was destroyed in WWII, but due to its symbolism this was the first building reconstructed

Alter Opera: The Opera House is impressive. The best thing is to see a show, but they also occasionally host guided tours. Check the schedule for both and book this in advance. 


Despite having a higher percentage of foreigners than any other German city, the food scene is dominated by traditional restaurants – and let´s be real, as a tourist, you want to try the local food. 

Frankfurt has a unique cuisine. The most popular food is Grüne Soße (green sauce), mix of 7 local herbs mixed with sour cream and eggs. It is typically serve on a schnitzel or with hard-boiled eggs. Another specialty food is handkäse, a sour milk cheese that looks like mochi and is topped with chopped onions. 

Frankfurt´s signature drink is apfelwein (apple wine) which tastes like a dry hard cider. Every restaurant in the city will sell it and many of the traditional places will make their own. Another unique drink is mispelchen. Typically drank at dessert, it contains a Japanese fruit called a loquat drenched in apple brandy. 

Traditional Restaurants:

For some reason, nearly all the traditional restaurants are located south of the Main River. 

Ebbelwoi Unser: Ever-popular and smaller than the other places and therefore more difficult to find a table

Apfelwein Dax: My favorite of the apple wine spots. Not as historic as the others, but the food is just as good, and the servers were very friendly

Apfelweinwirtschaft Dauth-Schneider: Another historic apple wine spot. This one had a nice outdoor seating area in the front, so maybe save this spot for a good weather day.

Apfelwein Solzer: Supposedly the best traditional restaurant in all of Frankfurt. However, it is located northeast of the center far from the other places. If you really want to try local food, call to make a reservation before showing up. 

Apfelwein Wagner: the most famous traditional restaurant in the city, but my least favorite. Servers were exceedingly rude, and my food came out lukewarm.

Other Restaurants:

Due to Frankfurt´s diverse population, you can find any type of cuisine here with decent quality. 

Kleinmarkthalle: Iconic city market. It mostly sells produce but there are vendors here. The most famous, Schreiber, sells fleichwurst or hot dogs. 

Im Herzen Afrikas: a very rare Eritrean restaurant. The food is just like Ethiopian food but don´t ever say that to the staff! The inside is highly themed and even has dirt/sand floors.


Eis Christina: Iconic ice cream shop located north of the center in the upscale Nordend-West neighborhood. The specialty is spaghetti-eises (spaghetti ice) which is ice cream that is formed to look like spaghetti. It is typically served with a bunch of toppings like a sundae. 


Despite the business-culture, Frankfurt actually has a decent and varied nightlife scene 

Bar Districts: 

Applewine Restaurants: All the traditional apple wine restaurants double as bars. 

Sachsenhausen: the district near the apple wine bars in the south has plenty of cheap shot bars on Klein and Gross Rittengasse streets. 

Bahnhofsviertel: The area around (but not in) the red-light District has experienced a revival in the past 3-5 years and now has lots of trendy bars. 

Bornheim: A chiller, more local district to drink. Often described as a “bohemian” area. 


Frankfurt is not a cocktail city, but given its wealth and size, there are some quality spots in the financial district: 

Jazzkeller: World-famous jazz club that may or may not be the oldest in Europe. Located in a tiny basement in Innenstadt. Try your best to pre-book your ticket or risk not getting in! I paid a €10 cover, but it probably varies depending on the performer. 

Embury Bar: typical high-quality cocktail bar in the center.


While not as popular as Berlin, Frankfurt has a very old and established clubbing scene. I am not into nightclubs and did not visit, but these seem to be the most popular ones. 

Robert Johnson: Older (dare I say historic) techno club on the Main River 

Velvet Club: EDM club in the city center

Tanzhaus West: Club located in a former ink factory west of the center

Day Trips

Frankfurt is the center of the rail network in Hesse and therefore has many options for trips in the region. Here are some of the more popular spots:

Very Close to Frankfurt:

-Wiesbaden (capital of Hesse state. Historic center, museums and mineral baths. Accessible on S-Bahn)

-Mainz (capital of the adjacent state of Rhine-Palatinate. Major cathedral and the Gutenberg museum. Accessible on S-Bahn)

-Bad Homberg (Very wealthy town north of Frankfurt. Kaiser Wilhelm’s summer palace, baths and a little out of town a UNESCO-listed fortress marking the end of the Roman Empire. Town is accessible on the S or U-Bahn)

-Darmstadt (Industrial town with an Art Nouveau artist colony recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The historic structures are being renovated so wait until 2025 to visit here. Accessible on S-Bahn)

Further Away From Frankfurt:

-Rhine Valley (beautiful towns along the Rhine River. Most popular town is Bacharach. No good public transport, but only a 1 hour drive or accessible with a Frankfurt day-tour company)

-Heidelberg (Iconic castle and one of Germany´s most beautiful old towns. Spared during WWII. 1.5 hours by regional rail)

-Baden-Baden (fancy spa town at the edge of the Black Forest recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 2 hours by regional rail)



The city is walkable and the center small enough to be covered on foot.

Frankfurt, like most of Germany, has a stellar public transportation network. The network is integrated so one ticket works on all the various systems. 10 tram routes cover the city center and the nearby neighborhoods. The subway, called the U-Bahn has 9 lines and covers the entire city limits. The commuter train, known as the S-Bahn, also has 9 lines and goes to the airport (in just 15 minutes) and many nearby cities. 

The easiest way to figure out which train to take is a mapping app such as Google Maps and selecting the transit option. 

Where to Stay:

Given the city´s strong public transport network, nowhere is too far. That said, I would recommend staying in the city center (north of the river) or any of the neighborhoods immediately surrounding the center north of the river (Bornheim, Nordend, Westend). 

Many of the backpacker hostels and some of the western chain hotels (Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Inn) are located on particularly bad blocks of the Red Light District. Avoid staying here at all costs. 


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