The best things to do and discover in Frankfurt




03 April 2024

Food, drink, hidden gems, tours and more

The 2000-year-old city of Frankfurt is famous for its skyscraper-filled, state-of-the-art business and banking area but beyond that lies a buzzing, multicultural city filled with the arts (it has over 50 museums), nightlife, lively food and drink, beautiful green spaces, Old Town and meandering river.


Get to know Frankfurt

Frankfurt is located on the beautiful river Main. It was the oldest surviving mediaeval city until WWII and has since been rebuilt with avant-guard skyscrapers around the Zeil while still retaining much of its fascinating history and unique, welcoming character. 

The city is made up of seven distinct neighbourhoods: the centre (which is the focal point for Frankfurt’s long shopping streets and business); the Old Town (head to the Römerberg to see Frankfurt’s city hall of 600 years, the Römer, standing opposite Old St. Nicholas Church; it’s here the city’s famous Christmas markets pop up); the vibrant Bornheim; the well-connected Niederrad; the arty and traveller-friendly Sachsenhausen; the laidback Bockenheim and the elegant Westend with the Botanical Gardens. (For a useful guide to the best parts of Frankfurt, bookmark The Frankfurt Edit.) 

Luxury shopping to independents and flea markets

Frankfurt’s legendary shopping street, the Zeil, is home to Galeria Kaufhof and huge malls including Zeilgalerie and MyZeil (known for its architecturally stunning glass roof tunnel). 

For designer boutiques, luxury finds, elegant cafes and art galleries, Goethestraße (named after Frankfurt’s most famous writing son, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe) in the centrally located area Innenstadt is the place to find Gucci, Chanel, Prada, Dior and more. 

Berger Straße is home to a huge selection of independent labels and shops which stretches from the rose and Chinese gardens of Bethmann Park to the family-friendly Günthersburg Park. Located in Bornheim (nicknamed the Merry Village thanks to all of its Apfelwein restaurants), it’s now the place to find coffee shops, book stores and boutiques. For hip streetwear and smiley faces, head to Section Store by BHFSVRTL or vintage finds at Vintage Revivals Frankfurt

Another neighbourhood to shop is Sachsenhausen south of the river – head down  Schweizer Straße for delis, the incredible stationery store Schmidt's Papeterie and goyagoya’s stylist designs. Sachsenhausen is also home to Frankfurt’s most popular flea market (second Saturday of the month, 9am-2pm). 

The best food and drink in Frankfurt

Frankfurt is famous for its Ebbelwoi cider (aka apfelwein). A brilliant way to try it – and get to know the city – is to book on the Ebbelwei Express, a brightly painted 1970s tram that takes an hour-long loop of the city (from the zoo to the banking district). You can also drink Ebbelwoi across the city in family-run bars but in Sachsenhausen you’ll sit at long tables eating the city’s signature hard cheese and onions or Atschel which has been serving up the drink since 1849. 

There are countless excellent restaurants selling Frankfurt’s beloved bratwürste, garlicky Fleischwurst, pork chops with sauerkraut and the addictive Grie Soß (green sauce) – try the airy Paulaner am Dom next to Frankfurt Cathedral for a friendly and tasty experience. 

The huge mix of international communities also makes Frankfurt a global city for dining out. Korean, Middle Eastern, Turkish – you’ll discover incredible food wherever you go. Get the lowdown on the best places to eat with the Frankfurt Food Guide on Instagram

Frankfurt also boasts incredible Michelin-starred restaurants including the vegan Seven Swans, the Piedmont-born chef’s eponymous eaterie Carmelo Greco and the contemporary Restaurant Gustav (expect seasonal menus of trout with fennel pollen, cauliflower with couscous). 

Food shopping-wise Freßgass (which runs parallel to Goethestraße) is filled with upmarket delis (you have to visit Meyer Feinkost Fressgass for the experience), cafes and bistros under sycamore trees. 

The popular Kleinmarkthalle is open daily (except Sunday) and has 156 stalls of fruit, vegetables, cheeses, spices, flowers and more and, on sunny Saturdays in spring and summer, it’s a place where locals head for refreshing drinks and wine sold from stalls by the entrance. Finish your shopping with a must-visit to one of Frankfurt’s famous Kaffeehaus for coffee and Kranz sponge cake. 

Nightlife – where to go out in Frankfurt

A thriving nightlife is built into Frankfurt. The city is the birthplace of techno (a claim disputed by Detroit but the newly opened Museum of Modern Electronic Music (momem) begs to differ) so it’s not short of amazing nights out. Head to Robert Johnson for guest DJs and the eclectic Dreikönigskeller

For live music, there’s the legendary Jazzkeller where everyone from Chet Baker to Dizzy Gillespie have taken to the stage; Brotfabrik is located in an old “bread factory” and hosts indie, afro-jazz, flamenco metal (yes really) while the Elfer Music Club is one of the most famous venues in Germany. For an excellent guide to nightlife, check out Wanderlog

If you’re searching for the best drinks and cocktails, head to Sachsenhausen which is busy and welcoming on Friday and Saturday nights (Drinksmith is a hip bar serving up cocktails and IPA); if you’re in the centre, the luxe Ruby Louise Rooftop Bar gives amazing views and martinis while the city’s beer gardens shouldn’t be missed – try the trendy Naiv in the Old Town or the Orange Beach pub right on the river. 

Art, theatre, sport and culture

For a city of just 730,000 people, Frankfurt is a cultural wonderland. The art galleries include the Städel (700 years of art under one roof), the Museum für Moderne Kunst (Museum of Modern Art or MMK), the Liebieghaus (5,000 years of sculpture), the Schirn exhibition space… we could go on. 

There are also plenty of museums in the city covering all sorts of subjects: the history of Frankfurt (the Historisches Museum), the fascinating German Film Museum, natural history, Goethe, porcelain and many more. The city is also home to a world-renowned opera company, theatres, independent cinemas and comedy. (See a full list of exciting places to visit here.) 

Sportswise, the city football team is Eintracht Frankfurt and a major obsession – the city will be playing host to the UEFA Euro 2024 at Deutsche Bank Park. The city also organises a number of international events including the Frankfurt Marathon, European IRONMAN Frankfurt and the Frankfurt City Triathlon

Escape into green spaces, go sailing and more

There are calming places to restore your zen all over Frankfurt. Surrounding its inner core, is the Frankfurt Green Belt: 8,000 hectares of fruit orchards, nature reserves, parks and streams. The Hafenpark (Harbour Park) is also an incredible destination for working out with skating and BMX, a sports strip for soccer, volleyball, basketball or badminton, basketball or even badminton and two walking trails.   

Along with beautiful cruises for visitors, the river encourages water sports including stand-up paddling and windsurfing. See MAIN-SUP Stand Up Paddling Frankfurt and Windsurfing Shop Rhein-Main and rowing clubs Frankfurter Germania RG 1869 and Frankfurter Ruder-Club 1884. There are also swimming pools and outdoor swimming dotted across the city (visit here for listings) or enjoy ice skating and ice hockey at The Eissporthalle

In the centre of town, the sweeping Palmengarten botanical gardens have 13,000 plant species and historic display houses. On summer evenings, the garden serves as a concert venue with a focus on jazz and world music. 

One-day trips from Frankfurt

You can travel from the Hauptbahnhof on ICE high-speed trains to Paris, Zurich, Amsterdam and Brussels but, for closer to home, Frankfurt is ideally located to explore the Rhine Valley (take one of the city’s many cruises with someone who knows their Riesling – the town of Eltville is especially known for its vineyards with welcoming cafes and restaurants) and the romantic city of Heidelberg.
The spa town of Baden-Baden is only 90 minutes on the train from Frankfurt where you can explore incredible architecture, hiking, a beautiful forest and food (on sunny days, head to Restaurant Le Jardin de France for a leisurely and delicious lunch). 

Getting around

Frankfurt Airport is 9.6km (six miles) from the city centre. Take lines S8 or S9 of the S-Bahn from the airport station to the downtown Hauptbahnhof station (one of Europe’s busiest).

The city’s excellent public transport is made up of the U-Bahn (subways), S-Bahn (commuter trains), trams and buses. It's run by the Rhine-Main Transport Association (RMV) and Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt (VGF), one of Germany's largest public transport networks.

Regular tickets (einzelfahrt) are valid for two hours. Alternatively, an all-day ticket (tageskarte) is valid for any number of journeys. You can also buy weekly and group tickets (buy online here). For a guide to understanding the city’s network, go here

Happy exploring!

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