They call it “the city of white collars” and many people believe that it’s a good place to work, but not necessarily to live in, as it has no climate. Because of my work I spent there in total well over a year and at the beginning I would “sign up” to the statement about dullness of that city. True, it’s not Prague or Vienna. During the war the city was virtually flattened to the ground, so you’d waste your time looking for an old city from the 14th century. There are places, however, for which you should put your nose out of the airport… although the airport itself also deserves a separate post! So what do you need to take into consideration while planning a short trip to the city between your transfer flights?
1. Promenade with the view of Mainhattan.
Boulevards by the Main River are definitely one of my favourite places in Frankfurt. If you have a chance to be in Frankfurt between May and October, you have to add that place to your must-see list. It’s not only about the spectacular view of the city landscape. This place thrives with its own unique life, it’s a sanctuary of the citizens of the city, where everything is permitted and where the police pops in very rarely (maybe because they would have too much work there?). The spring-summer period is the picnic season. It is hard to find some place to lay your blanket in the area stretched over a few kilometres. Everyone has picnics. Loudly, taking their time, sitting in big groups… Melting pot of cultures and tastes because, as befits an outdoor party, appropriate equipment is absolutely necessary. The Germans usually sit culturally with beer or the traditional cider (Apfelwein) from Hessen region. The Turks enjoy picnics in a richer style, with hookah, shish kebabs, in bigger teams and lots of alcohol. The Indian people have rather quiet picnics; they observe everything around them. There are usually also many international groups, quite ubiquitous in the Frankfurt’s corporations. They have quite a royal fun, as everyone prepares something to eat characteristic of his or her own country.
The boulevards are a perfect spot for photographers as really a lot is going on there. It’s also popular with bikers and rollerbladers (although the place is crowded sometimes). In the spring and summer the city organizes there many events, from canoeing competitions to all types of transmissions of sporting events (huge screens placed on rafts), traditional German festivals and events organized on no particular occasion. It’s an obligatory starting point for groups celebrating stag and hen parties, who come not to drink but… collect money! It’s a tradition to organize a collection for the young couple 😉
The annual canoeing competition , it is probably one of the national sports in Germany.
A lot of emotions…
Panorama of the Mainhattan
Always crowded eatery … Main Cafe. Perfect place for a glass of Apfelwein.
Picnics – very popular way of spending time in the summer season.
This tree (Platanus) is a symbol of Frankfurt because you can meet them at every step.
2. View from Maintower and Zeilgalerie.
There are two options to see the panorama of the city. The first one -Maintower, a skyscraper towering over the city with a viewing terrace at the height of 200m. You obviously have to pay for the lift (EUR 6,5), but the view is really impressive. Miantower will allow you to notice that Frankfurt is not some great metropolis (700 000 thousand citizens, so more or less like Cracow). You’ll have no problem to identify the border of the city, which doesn’t stretch over hundreds of kilometres. Going up Miantower is definitely a worthwhile experience. The easiest way to get there is to get off at the U-Bahn stop called Willy-Brandt-Platz.
The other option, free and less extreme, is also a feast for the eye. When you are at the main promenade of the city, the popular Zeil (Hauptwache U-Bahn stop), pop in to Zeilgalerie gallery situated at the corner, near the renowned “Gallery with a hole”. Go upstairs until you reach the top floor and get outside at the terrace of the cafe situated there. It also may be proud of a nice view of Mainhattan, but this time it’s free, there’s no wind, and you may linger there with coffee or beer in your hand. Also worthwhile.
View from Maintower
3. Red Light District -the street of lechery in the middle of financial games
If you’ve already been to Amsterdam, you’d be disappointed with the counterpart of the red light district in Frankfurt. Visit the place by all means, but be careful at night. Even though Kaiserstraße Street is located almost in the very centre of the financial Eldorado of Frankfurt and it’s surrounded by skyscrapers… it doesn’t make the best impression. Why? The prostitutes (whose average age seems to be something close to 50!) are not the reason for this at all, but the rest of those slippery customers, many of them drug-addicts, laying here and there, frequently still with the equipment in their hands. The place also doesn’t smell good. On the other hand, however, it might be an advantage for some people, as there are no crowds of tourist one might see in Amsterdam. The district is wild, harsh… to complete the image there should be also men with moustache, in leather trousers and vests, with black police cap, walking along the streets with quirts in their hands (but maybe they are there, only inside!).
The whole ero-area is not big really, it encompasses only the main street Kaiserstraßeand the adjacent turnings. There are night clubs of every description, but most space is occupied by huge erotic centres where ladies simply rent rooms for hours. Undoubtedly there is something for everyone If you want to feel the real atmosphere of Kaiserstraße, go there on Friday or Saturday night. How to get there? Get off at the main train station Hauptbahnhof, and then you are just a stone’s throw away from the place.
District of debauchery in the heart of the financial district
The district of white collars
The old headquarters of the European Central Bank , the bank is in the process of moving to a new building next to the Main river.
Interior Central Station – Hauntbanhof .
4. Römerberg Market Square
Microscopically small old city is without doubts the oldest part of Frankfurt (although the greater part of it was restored). Nevertheless you should visit it when you happen to be walking by the river as the market square is located right next to the famous “bridge with padlocks” – Eiserner Steg. Several historical buildings, a town hall, really nice gallery and Goethe’s House, as well as many traditional charming eateries. Between December and January the place is the location of Christmas fair. Get off at Dom Römer U-Bahn stop to get there.
Characteristic buildings of the Römerberg market square.
Römerberg is also a popular place for all kinds of artists…
Frankfurt’s entertainment district located at the other side of the Main River. Climatic cobbled street with traditional German buildings hosting numerous eateries -from good and renowned restaurants to German murder-holes. You’ll not find here any peace on Fridays and Sundays, especially in spring and summer. There are some streets which during weekends don’t fall asleep at all, hectolitres of beer are consumed and crowds of drunk Germans loiter around! Sachsenhausen is the finish line of all Saturday’s hen and stag parties, so you may imagine what’s “going on” late at night. The party area covers Elisabethen Straße and the adjacent streets.
Apart from the party side, Sachsenhausen is also a pleasant residential district with nice-looking tenement houses and greenery, enjoying great popularity among the more well-off part of the citizens of Frankfurt. When you go past the bridge with padlocks, turn left and after some 300 meters turn right and head for the centre. When you are walking there in the evening, listen for wild cries and go in their direction or simply follow others. I lived in Sachsenhausen for around four months and there is one more thing, or maybe a curiosity, which I discovered there. The district is inhabited by the so-called “urban nudists”, so don’t be surprised, if you see a naked man in his fifties coming back home in the morning with fresh rolls from the bakery 😉
Partying part of the Sachsenhausen.
Eiserner Steg – bridge with padlocks. Does every city in Europe already has such a bridge?
6. Flea market along the Main River
If your stay in Frankfurt falls on Saturday, you definitely mustn’t miss that place. The “flea market” in Frankfurt stretches along the southern bank of the promenade of the Main River at the distance of around 2km. You may buy and sell there literally everything. Gramophone records, old clocks, sculptures resembling those produced in African villages, Chinese stuff, designer clothes right from German wardrobes… everything sold in the smell of grilled sausages and frankfurters. Extremely crowded, popular and colourful place! It’s definitely worth your time! Whenever I walked there, I came back home with something utterly unnecessary, such as two non-functional wall clocks, which I hardly managed to carry to my flat to the joy of every passer-by that came my way 😉
7. Events in the financial district
The financial district is a frequent venue of all kinds of demonstrations during weekends. Various groups demonstrate their views: vegetarians, pensioners, as well as peaceful supporters of peace in the Middle East. If you have a passion for photography, you mustn’t miss that place..
SOME PIECES OF MORE OR LESS PRAGMATIC INFORMATION …
How to quickly leave the airport?
The most expensive option -taxi. The fare for a drive to the city centre will be more or less EUR 30. However, the game is not worth the candle, as Frankfurt has great public transport (U-Bahn, S-Bahn). What is the difference between S and U? S-Bahn operates in the city as well as outside its boundaries (e.g. it reaches the airport), while U-Bahn is a strictly urban network. You will reach the centre going by two lines -S8 and S9. One-way ticket is around EUR 5. The transfer will take you some 15 minutes. When you want to go from the city to the airport, don’t forget to buy the ticket to the airport. They are marked with a picture of plane in the ticket machine (the airport is outside the city zone).
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Going to the city centre by car?
Well, it’s possible. There are lots of car parks in the centre, where you may leave your car. Remember, however, that Frankfurt is included in the list of the so-called German “green cities”. What does it mean? Every car must have on its windshield a sticker with information about the level of exhaust gases emitted by it (in the form of number on the scale from 1-4). Such examination costs around EUR 15-20 and it is performed in diagnostic service centres. If you don’t have a sticker with 4, you won’t get into the centre… that is, you will, but the “guys” will find you. And you will regret it.
Where to eat and drink?
Here I might write for hours on end because in Frankfurt you’ll find many places with tasty food, so I will refrain from describing particular places -I will only give you some tips. In the financial district (in the area of Kaiserstraße) there are many streets inhabited by the immigrants from Asia, and consequently, there is quite high “concentration” of the Chinese eateries per square meter. In fact you’ll find here not only the Chinese, but also Malaysian, Thai or Vietnamese pubs. Really good food for a moderate price. There are also quite many stores with Asian food products, so you may buy spices and other ingredients to your hearts’ content. Prices lower than in Poland!
Sachsenhausen. As you go along Elisabethen Straße street, you’ll see several eateries in a row with delicious fast food (Lebanese, Syrian cuisine etc.). You’ll find there also the best falafel in whole Frankfurt -you really must try it! There are also many pubs serving traditional fat German food in Sachsenhausen. Yet for us, the Poles, it’s not particularly interesting as that food is too similar to ours -although I must admit -it’s really good.
If you happen to be on a walk by Main River, don’t forget to have a go at the refreshing apple Apfelwein. Right by the bank there is a pub called Main Cafe, where you may admire the panorama of Frankfurt laying on a lawn chair and imbibing cider.
Are you looking for a good chinese food? Check the streets coming out of Hauptbahnhof..for sure you will find something.
I hope I’ve convinced you to put your nose out of the airport while you are in Frankfurt?