Top 5 things to do in Frankfurt

The fifth largest city in Germany, Frankfurt am Main (its full name, owing to its position on the River Main, a tributary of the Rhine) is located near the centre of Europe, making it an important hub of global commerce. Because of the financial towers dominating its skyline, it’s gained the nicknames “Mainhattan” and “Chicago on the Main.” But its central location has also made it a historically rich city with an imperial past. Offering a mix of contemporary flavours and old-world charms, here are five things to see in Frankfurt. 

Explore the old town centre at the Römerberg

Spending some time in the Römerberg, Frankfurt’s most picturesque square in the city’s Old Town (Altstadt), is a must for visitors to this charming city. Having been partially destroyed during WWII, the 12th-century square has been lovingly rebuilt and restored to reflect its historical importance as a one-time centre of German and European commercial life. A busy gathering place, you’ll find many interesting attractions here, including the Fountain of Justice (Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen) built in 1543, the open-fronted shops known as Kulturschirn, and the Römer, a collection of 11 beautiful buildings dating from the 15th to 18th centuries, including the Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) with its Imperial Hall (Kaisersaal) where Holy Roman Emperors were once crowned.

See and hear the beauty of the Old Opera House

Built in 1880 in the Italian High Renaissance style, the Old Opera House (Alte Oper) sits at the heart of Frankfurt’s Opera Square (Opernplatz). Resurrected after having been destroyed during WWII, it reopened in 1981 with its exterior restored to its former glory, while the interior was transformed into a modern concert hall. These days, while opera has moved to the nearby Frankfurt Opera (Oper Frankfurt), the Old Opera House continues to serve as one of the city’s best concert venues, offering a wide cross-section of music including jazz, classical, as well as world-renowned musicals and shows.

Relax amidst the greenery of the Palm Garden

The largest botanic garden in Germany, the Palm Garden (Palmengarten), located on the Bockenheimer Landstrasse, is 54 acres of beautiful, lush gardens and grounds where everyday cares are forgotten. Completed in 1871, its numerous gardens include the rockery with an impressive waterfall, the rhododendron garden, and the tropicarium featuring tropical and subtropical plants. This urban paradise offers something for everyone, including regular tours and lectures, and recreational facilities such as playgrounds, mini golf, picnic areas, a rowing pond, and even a small railroad for the kids.

Stroll and shop on the Hauptwache

The Hauptwache is one of Frankfurt’s most popular plazas (formerly known as Schillerplatz). The square is named after the baroque guard house at its heart (Hauptwache means “Main Guard” in English), built in 1730, which has at various times served as the headquarters for the city’s militia, as a prison, a police station, and is now a café. Located at the centre of city, the Hauptwache is also one of Frankfurt’s prime shopping areas, with a large underground mall and close proximity to the upscale pedestrian shopping district known as Zeil Street (“The Fifth Avenue of Germany”), which lies to the east, and the entertainment of the Kaiserstrasse, to the southwest.

Take a day trip to cruise the Rhine River

A visit to Frankfurt also offers some extraordinary opportunities for day trips. A very popular choice is the Rhine Valley Trip, which offers full-day and half-day options that leave from Frankfurt taking you on a coach tour through the magnificent scenery of the Rhine River Valley and an air-conditioned once-in-a-lifetime Rhine River boat cruise. This section of the Rhine River Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, populated by charming villages, medieval castles and amazing vineyards.

If your time is limited, try the half-day Rhine Valley trip, which gives you a river cruise from Kaub to Rüdesheim, along with a wine-tasting session and dinner. The full-day trip involves a longer river cruise that passes by the legendary Loreley Rock, after which you’ll enjoy a leisurely lunch at a beautiful waterside restaurant. Finally, you’ll be treated to a wine-tasting and you’ll disembark and spend time exploring Rüdesheim’s numerous shops and wine bars.  

How was your time in Frankfurt? Any essential sights, attractions or activities that we failed to mention? Let us know in the comments below!

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