Frankfurt is called by some the European New York – this is not surprising when you look at the impressive panorama of this German city. Emanating modernity is not the only distinguishing feature of this metropolis, as lovers of monuments and railways will also find some treasures there.
Frankfurt am Main is one of the better organized transport hubs in Europe. The Rhine-Main airport, which is the largest airport in Germany, has a train station with domestic and international connections. Frankfurt is crossed by a high-speed rail route that is 177 kilometres long, linking, among others, Frankfurt with Cologne, which is worth visiting during your stay. Moreover, two motorways – A3 and A5 – which are important communication arteries in the world, intersect in the city.
If you want to get from the airport to the city, it is best to use the overground train – the S-Bahn line will take you to the city centre in approx. 11 minutes, with trains running every quarter of an hour.
Frankfurt am Main, like most German cities and towns, boasts a well-kept and picturesque historic city centre. Römerberg, as the town hall square is called, was completely destroyed during the Second World War as a result of Allied bombing, but was successfully rebuilt after 1945. It is worth paying attention to the Grosse Engel building at number 28. The first mention of it comes from 1342. It is considered one of the most decorative and representative private buildings of the late Gothic period. In 1458, it became the property of Friedrich Nachtrabe, a mint master, who opened an exchange office on the ground floor. Over the next centuries, it was used for financial activities. Until the end of the 19th century, the tenement house was called die Wechsel, which means an exchange or a bill of exchange. In the southern part of the square, you will see the late Gothic, restored Church of St. Nicholas – one of the oldest in the city.
A bit of history
It will take you literally a few minutes to get to the Historical Museum. This is the oldest museum in the city, where you can learn about the rich, turbulent and complicated history of the fifth most populated city in Germany. About 800 meters away is the Goethe House. Johann Wolfgang Goethe, a poet and forerunner of the Romantic era, was born in a three-story, restored tenement house. Even if literature at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries is not your passion, a visit to the museum is a great opportunity to see the conditions under which a well-to-do family lived 200 years ago. After an intense day, you can go for a walk along the Main or go for a dinner.
It is best to start your tour with a walk towards the Imperial Cathedral of St. Bartholomew, a must-see spot on the tourist map of Frankfurt. Built of red sandstone, it is the oldest, largest and most important church in Frankfurt am Main. In the past, the coronations of emperors took place there. You are only a few hundred meters away from discovering a completely different face of the city. Of course, we are talking about the Bankenviertel business district, the so-called Mainhattan. It is full of skyscrapers – the Commerzbank Tower, with a total height of 300 meters, was the tallest building in Europe until 2003, and the Messeturm (257 meters) was considered the tallest office building until 1997. Right in front of the Eurotower skyscraper, there is a rather unusual monument. It represents the euro currency surrounded by yellow stars symbolizing the European Union. Next, you can go to the largest shopping street in Germany. Zeil is the perfect place not only for shopping, but also a moment of relaxation – there are plenty of cafés and restaurants. If you do not like noisy and crowded places, go for a walk along the Main or to the Nizza city park. On the other side of the river – from the Schaumainkai boulevard – there is a wonderful view of the historic and modern skyline of Frankfurt.
A trip to Cologne
Trains to Cologne run from the largest train station, Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof, on average three times per hour. The price of a return ticket for an adult, purchased several weeks in advance, ranges from approx. PLN 170 to 320. However, the journey itself takes from 60 to 130 minutes.
In the immediate vicinity of the main railway station in Cologne is the Cologne Cathedral of St. Peter and the Virgin Mary. The Cathedral is considered one of the finest examples of medieval architecture. The body of the five-nave basilica delights with its lightness and the play of lights characteristic of the Gothic style. Particularly noteworthy in the temple is the reliquary of the Magi, made by the eminent French goldsmith-artist Nicholas of Verdun (1130–1205). The relics of the Three Wise Men, patrons of Cologne, are kept there. In turn, the light penetrating the stained glass windows, including the oldest one from 1260, presenting selected scenes from the Old and New Testaments, gives the interior a sublime, almost heavenly aura. In 1996, the cathedral was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
By the river Rhine
There is a magnificent view of a Gothic church from the equally imposing Hohenzollern Bridge.The banks of the Rhine in Cologne are connected by seven bridges: five city and two railway bridges.Without a doubt, the Hohenzollernbrücke is considered – next to the cathedral – a symbol of the city. In 2008, couples in love started hanging padlocks on the railing of the bridge and throwing the keys into the river.It is estimated that in thirteen years the weight of the padlocks reached 40 tons!Although the custom is romantic, it is controversial due to safety reasons – due to passing trains, the padlocks move, damaging the coating of the railings.In 2018, the city authorities decided to carry out thorough renovation works to prevent further corrosion of the structure.
Sweet museum and more
From the Hohenzollern Bridge, it is worth going to the nearby Lindt Chocolate Museum (approx. 1.1 kilometres). It is also impossible not to mention the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud, with one of the largest collections of medieval paintings in Europe, as well as the Roman-Germanic Museum, with a mosaic of Dionysus from around 220-230, coming from a Roman villa, that was discovered in 1941 during construction works on an air-raid shelter.
In Cologne, in addition to the cathedral and the Hohenzollern Bridge, it is also worth visiting the Gothic-Renaissance town hall, a complex of Romanesque churches. Moreover, lovers of contemporary and modern art should not miss the Ludwig Museum located near the cathedral, famous for its impressive pop-art collection.
Museumsufer is the name of the museums in Frankfurt, located on either side of the Main or in its close vicinity. The choice is really wide, from the German Film Museum or the Museum of World Cultures (on the south bank), to the Jewish Museum (on the north bank) or the Museum of Contemporary Art (in the Old Town).
From Frankfurt, you can set off on a day trip to Kronberg. You will reach the charming town in approx. 20 minutes by getting on the S-Bahn train from the underground station Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof. On site, you will find not only colourful examples of wattle and daub architecture, narrow streets, and an inconspicuous church with an exceptionally interesting interior, but also peace and respite from the city noise.
You can also travel by rail to Wiesbaden - the journey will take you less than an hour. The capital of the federal state, Hesse, is famous for its thermal springs, which have earned it the title of the most famous spa in Germany. Visit the Kurhaus spa house, the magnificent baroque Biebrich castle, beautiful tenement houses and the Maldaner café - opened since 1859. You can also choose to relax in thermal baths.
The largest airport in Germany. It has two terminals. It serves nearly 70 million passengers a year and over 80 airlines. Thanks to this, the possibilities of traveling around the world from Frankfurt are endless. It is worth checking deals and last minute flights. A weekend getaway can then turn into a longer vacation.
Good to know
The Frankfurt Card
The Frankfurt Card is available for one or two days (it costs € 11 or € 16 per person). Its purchase allows you to use 50% discounts on city tours, museums and other attractions. The card will also allow you to travel by all public transport in Frankfurt, including the international airport in Frankfurt.
Where to sleep?
A wide range of accommodation facilities can be found in the Hauptbahnhof area. From the vicinity of the train station, you can easily reach the airport by public transport, while the most important sights of Frankfurt, the Römerberg square and the cathedral, are relatively close - you can reach them in approx. 10 minutes on foot. If you want to have constant access to restaurants, cafés and markets, and feel the atmosphere of the city, look for accommodation facility in the Bornheim district.
What and where to eat?
Behind the church of St. Nicholas, along the Bendergasse Street, there is the Black Start restaurant. The first mention of the place comes from 1453. The inn offers not only a view of the Römerberg, but also traditional German cuisine. The menu includes, among others, sauerbraten - roast meat marinated in vinegar and spices, sausage with potatoes and white cabbage, pork knuckle, pork in aromatic cider sauce with dumplings and red cabbage, as well as schnitzel with green Frankfurt sauce, served in a pan with fried potatoes. For dessert, it is worth ordering a classic strudel, i.e. a crispy, multi-layer cake with sweet, apple filling, which is popular in Germany and Austria.
The airport’s regional train station is served by RMV (Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund) with direct connections to Frankfurt, Hanau, Aschaffenburg, Mainz, and Wiesbaden. You can use the S-Bahn Trains S8 and S9 or the Regional Express (RE) with the numbers RE59, RE2 and RE3. It's easy for you to get there from anywhere in the area served by RMV by transferring at any of those places.