Frankfurt: A frankly surprising city

For our final stop in Germany, my friend and I visited Frankfurt. There were many potential places to visit but we chose this city because it was closer to our next destination and we were interested in exploring more of Central Germany. Below are some things to do and see in Frankfurt.

What to Do:

Walking tour. This is the best way to see the highlights of the city and learn about its history for the lowest price. There are a few companies to choose from, but I decided to go with the one that had the most reviews, Frankfurt on Foot. This four hour tour included stops at the Romer, Frankfurt Cathedral, Jewish district and monument, Goethe house, and many other gems. Four hours may sound like a long time, but this does include a break to grab lunch. The tour has a lot of stops to learn about the history so the walking is broken up and not too strenuous. My tour guide for the day was the woman who started the company, an expat from the USA who has been living in Frankfurt for several decades. Her knowledge of the city was extensive. The tour was a great way to get a feel for where things are located and to get advice on where to eat and what to do from a local.

Staedal Museum. This museum has an extensive collection of European art spanning seven hundred years. The permanent collection includes works from well known artists, such as Rembrandt and Degas. The museum also has some interesting temporary exhibitions. I was lucky to be there for the Matisse-Bonnard exhibition that compared the two painters and was very well curated. This museum is a great activity for art lovers. Plan to spend about two hours here.

Jewish Memorial. When in Germany, thoughts of WWII are never too far behind. Visitors should spend at least a little time in remembrance of this tragic war. In Frankfurt, there are several reminders left throughout the city, but the one to visit for those short on time or those visitors who have already paid respects in other cities, is the remembrance wall that has the names of all the Jews from Frankfurt killed in WWII. On this wall, can be found the names of Anne Frank and her family who are considered to be from here. This wall surround an old Jewish cemetery that visitors can enter as well. For those visitors taking a walking tour, this will likely be a stop on the tour. For those not taking a tour, plan to go here separately. Plan to spend 15-30 minutes here.

Old Town. Frankfurt has reconstructed its Old Town following its bombing of WWII. The reconstruction is very authentic, and the buildings look amazing, especially the Romer. Visitors will definitely want to walk around this area and take pictures. There are also a lot of shops and restaurants in this area for visitors to stop at. Plan to spend a few hours here walking around, shopping, and grabbing some food or drink.

Shopping:

Frankfurt has a lot of handicrafts for sell and is really known for its woodwork, which can be found at many of the souvenir shops. I recommend stopping by Handwerkskunst am Römer. This traditional shop has a great collection of handicrafts, including Christmas ornaments, smokers, cuckoo clocks, and Christmas pyramids. Any of these items would make a great Christmas gift or a decoration for back home. Another item that can be found in many of the shops is bembel. This blue and grey stoneware jug is found in many of the restaurants and is what apple wine is served in. This could also serve as a cute reminder of Frankfurt for visitors who think they would actually use this at home. I personally decided I would get more use out of ornaments so I did not buy any bembel.

What to Eat:

Like many of the cities in Germany, Frankfurt has some good street food. And this is the place we really took advantage of that. One place visitors should try is Kleinmarkthalle. This indoor market has a lot of food stalls along with raw ingredients to cook a meal for those lucky enough to have a kitchen during their stay. There are also several food stalls outside near the market. I recommend trying the sausages, which come in a variety of flavors, and the potato pancakes, which come with different dipping sauces. The other must try food in Frankfurt is the Frankfurt Schnitzel. This is traditional schnitzel but it is served with a delicious green sauce that is local to Frankfurt. This sauce is so popular that the city has a big competition each year to find the best one. A good restaurant to try this dish at is Restaurant Klosterhof. This restaurant is very favored by locals and tourists so it does get crowded. Be prepared to get in line and wait. While not a must try food, apple wine is a must try drink here. This popular beverage is pretty tasty. It has an almost tart taste but not overly so. As mentioned above, it comes served in bembel with ribbed glasses to pour into. Frankfurt even has a yearly apple wine festival in August that we just missed by a couple of weeks during our trip here. Apple wine can be found at most restaurants and bars here.

Where to Stay:

We did not know the best area to stay in Frankfurt so we chose an Airbnb that was close to public transportation and not too far away from Old Town. We ended up staying near the Glaugburgstrabe stop. This was a nice area with lots of restaurants and grocery stores nearby. It was only a couple of km away from Old Town so very easy and fast to get there. I would recommend staying anywhere near the Old Town area.

Getting Around:

We arrived to Frankfurt by bus from Munich, which takes from 6-8 hours. We chose to travel by bus because it was the cheapest option. The Frankfurt central bus station is located near the center of the city and next to public transport. We were able to get on the subway to go to our Airbnb. While in Frankfurt, we either walked or took the public transport system. Public transportation is definitely the better way to go because taxis are expensive in Germany, and there is no Uber. Public transport got us everywhere we wanted to visit and go, and it was easy to navigate because it is linked to Google maps. Tickets for the subway can be bought at subway stations. While some do accept cards, some require cash so have some small bills and coins just in case. When we departed Frankfurt, we again left by bus to go to Tilbury and took public transport to the bus station.

Overall:

Frankfurt is a nice city. I did not know too much about it before visiting, but I learned a lot about its history through the walking tour. This city offers visitors a peek into its past with the reconstructed Old Town and a taste of its culture with its food and festivals. We visited in September and had pretty good weather. It was cooler but not too cold yet. And it definitely was not overcrowded with tourists. We stayed for three days, and I think that is plenty of time to see the highlights. Travelers who like exploring cities will enjoy Frankfurt.

 

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