Frankfurt is the most modern of Germany’s cities with the energy and lively atmosphere of a true metropolis. Don’t look for the charm of Germany’s other popular tourist destinations here, but if you’re a fan of contemporary architecture or a lover of art and culture, you certainly won’t be disappointed.
The official name of the city is Frankfurt am Main, Frankfurt lying on both sides of the River Main. Its history dates from Roman times, and although similarly to Cologne a great part of Frankfurt was destroyed in World War II, traces of ancient times are still discernible in the city. Most of the historical sites can be found in the city center, where attractions are all within convenient walking distance from each other.
Today Frankfurt is the primary center of finance in Germany, home to the stock exchange, the head office of the German Federal Bank and the European Central Bank. Its role in European finance and business has contributed to its amazing development and rapid expansion in the modern period. Its famous skyline has some of Europe’s tallest skyscrapers and is still evolving with several high-rise projects currently under construction. This skyline has earned Frankfurt the nickname “Mainhattan”, a portmanteau of the names “Main River” and “Manhattan”. The 850 feet (259 m) high Commerzbank skyscraper is the tallest office high-rise in Europe. The only skyscraper in the city with a public viewing platform is the 56-storey Main Tower. You can enjoy a breathtaking view of Frankfurt while having a meal in its excellent restaurant on the 53rd floor.
Top things to do and see in Frankfurt
Visit The Dom
Officially called Saint Bartholomew’s Cathedral, the Dom is the main church of Frankfurt. It was constructed in the 14th-15th centuries and for several centuries it was the coronation site of emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. The impressive Gothic-style building is situated in the heart of the city. The interior with its exquisite artifacts is really beautiful – don’t forget to admire the nice stained-glass windows and the amazing organ!
If you are ready (and able) to climb the 386 steps of the spiral staircase in the tower, you will have a view of Frankfurt from a height of 216 feet (66 m). The staircase is really narrow, though, not for the claustrophobic!
Soak in the atmosphere of Medieval Germany at Römerberg
Römerberg is one of the most scenic squares in Frankfurt with several rebuilt medieval buildings. Römer itself, which the area was named after, is a set of such restored buildings and it serves as Frankfurt’s city hall. Römerberg has a unique and pleasant atmosphere, many good restaurants and cafes, so it’s a great place for just sitting around and enjoying the view. The square is also an important public space with frequent live performances and trade fairs, and a major location of the Frankfurt Christmas Market.
Explore Museumsufer (Museum Embankment)
Museumsufer is part of the southern embankment of the River Main, where an amazing variety of great museums –altogether 26 of them- stand side by side. Whether you are into arts, history, architecture or cinema, you will find what you want at Museumsufer. The most famous of its museums is the globally-renowned Städel Art Museum, an excellent collection of art beautifully presented. It has over 10,000 works from various periods, and it’s also worth checking out the temporary exhibitions.
Other great museums on Museumsufer and in its vicinity include the Museum Judengasse, the Museum of Applied Arts, the German Architecture Museum and the German Film Museum. If you’re planning to visit several of the museums, it’s well worth getting a one- or two-day Frankfurt Card, which not only gives significant discounts on entrance fees but also includes free public transportation.
Go to a concert at the Alte Oper (Old Opera House)
The Old Opera, in the heart of the city, is a 19th-century gem of architecture worthy of attention in itself, however, the best way to admire its elaborate interior is to book a ticket to one of its performances. Its program features symphony and chamber concerts, song evenings, as well as musicals, jazz, rock and pop concerts. Just make your choice!