Frankfurt is a city ripe with culture, restaurants, and history. It’s also the center of banking and business in Europe. While Frankfurt lacks the charm of Munich, Cologne, or Berlin, it’s more than just a stopover destination (Frankfurt’s airport is one of the world’s busiest international airports so a lot of people have short stopovers here).
For more than five centuries, Frankfurt was known as the Free City of Frankfurt, an important city-state in the Roman Empire. Today, the city is incredibly diverse; half of the population has a foreign background, and a quarter of the population are foreign nationals.
While most people who stop here never leave the airport, Frankfurt is actually worth a few days. Eat dinner at one of the city’s famous cider houses, relax at a beer garden, spend the afternoon at one of the free parks, or soak up the city’s history in a museum.
This travel guide to Frankfurt can help you plan your trip, save money, and make the most of your visit to this overlooked gem!
Table of Contents
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Frankfurt
1. See the Dom
2. Visit the Städel-Museum
3. Explore Römerberg
4. Relax in Frankfurt City Forest
5. Visit Offenbach
Other Things to See and Do in Frankfurt
1. Cross the Eiserner Steg
Otherwise known as the Iron Bridge, this pedestrian neo-Gothic bridge connects the downtown core to the Sachsenhausen district. Built in 1869, the bridge provides unique views of the city from over the Main River from which the city takes its full name, Frankfurt am Main (Frankfurt on the Main). Over 10,000 pedestrians cross the bridge daily!
2. Eat and drink in Sachsenhausen
South of the Main River, Sachsenhausen has many of the best cider taverns and pubs in the city. After visiting some pubs, take a stroll along the Main River and enjoy the view. Sachsenhausen is also known for Museumsufer, a row of 38 museums along the river with themes exploring the arts, architecture, and Jewish history. With the two-day Museumsufer pass, you can visit all the museums for just 21 EUR.
3. Spend the day at the Palmengarten
Spanning 22 hectares, Frankfurt’s botanical garden is the largest of its kind in Germany. Opened to the public in 1871, the garden was actually visited by the famous Buffalo Bill in 1890. Don’t miss the Palm Garden and its enormous collection of native, tropical, and subtropic plant life. Moreover, the gardens also offer lots of activities year-round, including concerts and guided tours. It’s 7 EUR to visit.
4. Walk around the Bornheim
The Bornheim neighborhood has some wonderful medieval-style houses that survived World War II. Since so much of the city was destroyed in the war, this is your only chance to see what the city looked like before everything was destroyed. The city’s longest street, Berger Strasse, is Bornheim’s commercial hub, and it’s chock full of restaurants, wine bars, boutique shops, and bars.
5. Stroll through the Frankfurt Book Fair
Held in the middle of October for nearly 500 years, this fair is considered the largest event in the publishing industry. Publishers, writers, and creative professionals from all over the world come to hold discussions, network, and celebrate the written word. It’s a week-long affair, but it’s only open to the public during the last two days. A day pass is 19 EUR.
6. Climb the Main Tower
The most rewarding views over Frankfurt are from the top of the 56-story Main Tower, the only high rise that’s open to the public. Named for the Main River, from here you can take the elevator up to a viewing platform overlooking Frankfurt’s skyline. Tickets to the observation deck are 9 EUR.
7. Visit Goethe House
Born in Frankfurt in 1749, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is considered Germany’s most important writer. Born in 1749, he was a poet, playwright, novelist, and theater director. Destroyed during World War II, the Goethe House was restored with its original furniture, paintings, and books that belonged to the family. You can also see his writing desk, where he wrote his most famous work, The Sorrows of Young Werther in 1774. Admission is 10 EUR.
8. Visit Senckenberg Museum
The Senckenberg Museum is a treasure trove of natural history artifacts, with everything from fossils to Egyptian mummies to dinosaur skeletons. It’s the second-largest natural museum in the country, home to some 17,000 skeletons. One of the most amazing pieces here is a fossil with a bit of preserved scaly skin attached to it. Admission is 12 EUR.
9. Check out the DialogMuseum
The DialogMuseum is easily one of the most unique museums in Germany. Rather than visiting a museum to view exhibits, this museum invites you to navigate the world as a blind or visually impaired person. On a one-hour tour through four completely pitch-black rooms, visitors experience what it’s like to live without any visual cues, relying on other senses to get you through. Admission is 16 EUR.
10. Explore the Deutsches Filmmuseum
This is another unique museum in Frankfurt, focused on film in Germany. There are exhibits on the history of film, behind the scenes insights into filmmaking, interactive displays, film artifacts like sketches, and more. A combined ticket to both the permanent and temporary exhibits is 12 EUR. You can also see a film at the museum’s theater for 8 EUR.
For more information on other cities in Germany, check out these guides:
Frankfurt Travel Costs
Hostel prices – A bed in a 4-6-bed dorm costs about 31-38 EUR per night while a dorm with 8 beds or more costs 18-22 EUR per night. A basic double private room costs about 160 EUR per night. Free Wi-Fi is standard and some charge a supplemental one-time fee of 3-4 EUR for linens. None of the hostels in Frankfurt offer free breakfast, though a couple offer robust breakfast buffets for 6-8 EUR. Most hostels also have a bar/café on site.
Budget hotel prices – Budget hotel rooms costs 50-65 EUR. Free Wi-Fi, TVs, and private bathrooms are all standard. Free breakfast is rare, though most hotels offer a breakfast buffet for an additional 8-10 EUR.
Airbnb is available everywhere in Frankfurt. Private rooms cost around 35-55 EUR per night while a full apartment averages 70-125 EUR per night.
Food – Frankfurt has tons of cheap food options. Currywurst and frankfurters are everywhere for less than 4 EUR, while a hearty plate of fries is less than 6 EUR. A traditional meal of a half chicken at a cider house costs 9-11 EUR, while a glass of cider to go with it is about 2 EUR.
A beer costs about 4 EUR while a glass of wine is 4.50-6 EUR.
A meal at McDonald’s costs about 8 EUR while a pizza is around 9-11 EUR. At a mid-range restaurant, a sandwich or German savory pancakes cost between 7.50-10. A big bowl of salad is 8.50-11.50.
If you want to splash out, a set six-course menu at a gourmet restaurant starts at 96 EUR, including traditional German food like schnitzel. A single entree may cost as much as 35 EUR for a duck breast.
If you cook for yourself, you can spend as little as 45 EUR on groceries per week. This gets you basic staples like rice, pasta, bread, produce, and some meat.
Backpacking Frankfurt Suggested Budgets
If you’re backpacking Frankfurt, my suggested budget is 70 EUR per day. This budget covers staying in a hostel dorm, using public transportation, cooking all of your meals, limiting your drinking, and sticking to mostly free activities.
A mid-range budget of 140 EUR covers staying in a private Airbnb room, eating out for most of your meals, renting a bike or taking the occasional taxi, enjoying a few drinks, and doing some paid activities like visiting museums.
On a “luxury” budget of 250 EUR or more per day, you can stay in a budget hotel, eat out for all your meals, drink more, take more taxis, and do whatever tours and activities you want. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!
You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in EUR.
Frankfurt Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
Frankfurt is one of the more expensive cities in Germany. However, you can turn Frankfurt into a more affordable destination with just a few simple tricks. Here is how to save money in Frankfurt:
- Purchase a Museumsufer ticket – For those of you that love visiting museums, this two-day pass saves you tons of money. Costing 21 EUR, this card provides access to 34 museums in and around Frankfurt.
- Get the Frankfurt Card – An alternative to the Museumsufer Card is the Frankfurt Card, which provides free travel on all public transport (including to the airport) as well as up to 50% discounts on tours, museums, and other attractions. You can get a one-day card for 11.50 EUR, or a two-day card for 17 EUR.
- Take a free walking tour – Frankfurt’s Free Alternative Walking Tour is a great way to see the city while learning about its history. The tour doesn’t just cover the main sites but delves into detail about the growth, development, and change of the city itself. For a more general tour, the Frankfurt Free Tour provides an overview of the historic center and all its highlights.
- Stay with a local – If you want to save money on accommodation while getting some insight from the locals, try Couchsurfing. It’s a great way to meet people in the city and discover some off-the-beaten-path destinations.
- Take advantage of SaTOURday – Most of the main museums in Frankfurt offer free entry on the last Saturday of every month.
- Get a transportation day pass – If you don’t want to get the Frankfurt Card (which includes unlimited public transport), you can get a regular transportation day pass. It costs 5.35 EUR, which is much cheaper than paying per ride.
- Bring a water bottle – The tap water here is safe to drink so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce your plastic use. LifeStraw is my go-to brand as their bottles have built-in filters to ensure your water is always clean and safe.
Where to Stay in Frankfurt
Frankfurt has lots of clean and comfortable hostels. Here are my suggested places to stay in Frankfurt:
How to Get Around Frankfurt
Public transportation – Like other German cities, Frankfurt is well connected by its subway (the U-Bahn) and its above-ground rail system (the S-Bahn). A single ticket is 2.75 EUR and is good for up to 60 minutes, or you can get a short distance ticket (for journeys less than 2km) for 1.50 EUR. You can purchase tickets at the station or with the RMV-App. Always keep your ticket on you as random checks on the train are very common.
A day ticket with unlimited travel costs 5.35 EUR. If you’re in a group, take advantage of the all-day group ticket for up to five people for 11.50 EUR (or 16.95 EUR if including the airport). A weekly pass costs 26.80 EUR, including the airport.
You can use your tickets across the train, tram, and bus network.
Ticket prices for trams are the same for the train and bus system. You can buy onboard the tram, at kiosks next to specific tram stops, or in the app.
Buses take you anywhere you need to go, especially where the trains and trams don’t go. Ticket prices are the same as the trains and trams and can be used interchangeably. You can buy tickets at kiosks next to the bus stop, from bus drivers, or in the app.
Bicycle – Bicycle rentals are plentiful in Frankfurt, with daily rates starting at about 9-15 EUR per day. Try a company like Call a Bike or nextbike, which both have docking stations all over the city.
Taxi – A base fare for a taxi in Frankfurt is 3.50 EUR, with each additional kilometer costing 2 EUR per kilometer for the first 15 kilometers. After that, it’s 1.75 EUR for every subsequent kilometer. In short, taxis add up fast so skip them if you can.
Ridesharing – Uber is available in Frankfurt, though since the public transportation here is comprehensive you likely won’t need it.
Car rental – Car rentals can be found for as little as 25 EUR per day for a multi-day rental, however, you won’t need one to get around the city. Drivers need to be at least 21 years of age.
When to Go to Frankfurt
Summer is peak season, specifically July and August. The average daily temperatures are in the upper 20s°C (high 70s°F) and days are sunny and bright. You’ll be rubbing shoulders with lots of other tourists, but there are always fun festivals and events happening during this time.
Spring (April-May) and autumn (October-November) are both shoulder seasons that bring cooler temperatures, sunny days, and fewer tourist crowds. If you want to take advantage of lower room rates and more a more laid-back vibe, this is the best time to visit Frankfurt!
Like the rest of Germany, Frankfurt’s winters can be harsh, with temperatures dropping to 1°C (34°F). The city experiences some snowfall, and the Christmas markets throughout November and December are magical.
How to Stay Safe in Frankfurt
Frankfurt is generally safe to visit, but like all big cities, you should stay alert for pickpocketing and petty theft. At night, it’s best to avoid the areas around the Hauptbahnhof, Konstablerwache, and Hauptwache. Violent crime is very rare but can occur.
As in any city, always keep an eye on your drink when out at the bar and never walk home alone if intoxicated.
If you’re worried about getting scammed, you can read about common travel scams to avoid here.
Always trust your gut instinct. Avoid isolated areas at night, and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID, and don’t keep a lot of valuables on you.
Remember, if you wouldn’t do it at home, don’t do it in Frankfurt!
And be sure to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past.
Frankfurt Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
- Momondo – This is my other favorite flight search engine because they search such a wide variety of sites and airlines. I never book a flight without checking here too.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- Couchsurfing – This website allows you to stay on people’s couches or spare rooms for free. It’s a great way to save money while meeting locals who can tell you the ins and outs of their city. The site also lists events you can attend to meet people (even if you’re not staying with someone).
- HostelPass – This new card gives you up to 20% off hostels throughout Europe. It’s a great way to save money. They’re constantly adding new hostels too. I’ve always wanted something like this and glad it finallt exists.
- Intrepid Travel – If you want to do group tours, go with Intrepid. They offer good small group tours that use local operators and leave a small environmental footprint. And, as a reader of this site, you’ll get exclusive discounts with them too!
- Grassroots Volunteering – For volunteering, Grassroots Volunteering compiles a list of good local volunteer organizations that keep the money within the community.
- Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
- Eurail – If you are going to Europe and taking a lot of high speed or long distance trains, get a rail pass. I’ve used a rail pass three times and saved hundreds of dollars each time. The math just works.
- The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
- Rome2Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
- FlixBus – Flixbus has routes between 20 European countries with prices starting as low 5 EUR! Their buses include WiFi, electrical outlets, a free checked bag.
- SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
Frankfurt Gear and Packing Guide
If you’re heading on the road and need some gear suggestions, here are my tips for the best travel backpack and for what to pack!
The Best Backpack for Travelers
Straps: Thick and cushy with compression technology that pulls the pack’s load up and inwards so it doesn’t feel as heavy.
Features: Removable top lid, large pocket at the front, hydration compatible, contoured hip belt
If you want something different, refer to my article on how to choose the best travel backpack for tips on picking a pack and other backpack suggestions.
What to Pack for Your Trip
- 1 pair of jeans (heavy and not easily dried, but I like them; a good alternative is khaki pants)
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 bathing suit
- 5 T-shirts (Unbound Merino is my preferred company. If you’re a member of NM+, you can get 15% off your purchase)
- 1 long-sleeved T-shirt
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 6 pairs of socks (I always end up losing half)
- 5 pairs of boxer shorts (I’m not a briefs guy!)
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 razor
- 1 package of dental floss
- 1 small bottle of shampoo
- 1 small bottle of shower gel
- 1 towel
Small Medical Kit (safety is important!!!)
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Antibacterial cream
- Hand sanitizer (germs = sick = bad holiday)
- A key or combination lock (safety first)
- Zip-lock bags (keeps things from leaking or exploding)
- Plastic bags (great for laundry)
- Universal charger/adaptor (this applies to everyone)
- LifeStraw (A water bottle with a purifier)
Female Travel Packing List
I’m not a woman, so I don’t know what a woman wears, but Kristin Addis, our solo female travel guru, wrote this list as an addition to the basics above:
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 sarong
- 1 pair of stretchy jeans (they wash and dry easily)
- 1 pair of leggings (if it’s cold, they can go under your jeans, otherwise with a dress or shirt)
- 2-3 long-sleeve tops
- 2-3 T-shirts
- 3-4 spaghetti tops
- 1 light cardigan
- 1 dry shampoo spray & talc powder (keeps long hair grease-free in between washes)
- 1 hairbrush
- Makeup you use
- Hair bands & hair clips
- Feminine hygiene products (you can opt to buy there too, but I prefer not to count on it, and most people have their preferred products)
For more on packing, check out these posts:
Frankfurt Travel Guide: Suggested Reading
When in Germany, Do as the Germans Do, by Hyde Flippo
This light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek read will have you feeling confident about fitting in during your trip (or at least you’ll have some good laughs in the process.) It’s a crash course in German tradition and customs so you can navigate the country without embarrassment. Topics include appropriate small talk subjects, how to tell the difference between sausages, and more practical things like what to do in case of an emergency.
The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
This book was an instant classic when it came out, and it was made into a movie in 2013. It’s about Liesel Meminger, a young girl living just outside of Munich in 1939. Nazi Germany is in full force, and little Liesel manages to keep herself alive by stealing. There’s one thing she can’t resist, though: books. She learns to read and then shares her stolen books with neighbors during air raids…as well as the Jewish man hidden in her basement. This book stays with you long after you’ve finished it.
The Tin Drum, by Günter Grass
The Tin Drum is a huge deal in Germany — it’s considered a classic. It’s about Oskar Matzerath, a young boy who stops growing when he’s a child and takes up drumming instead. This is Oskar’s narration from an insane asylum as he recounts his life of a young boy who stands up against the Nazis armed only with his tin drum and his piercing voice. Using his drum, he recalls memories from the past, including the strange death of his mother and the equally strange deaths of his father(s). It’s dark, twisted, and so very weird.
Two Brothers, by Ben Elton
This is the heart-wrenching story of two brothers growing up under the shadow of the Nazi regime. Born in Berlin in the 1920s, the boys are raised by the same parents…but one is Jewish, and his adopted brother is German. This doesn’t matter to the two boys at first, but as the Nazis grow in strength, the boys and their family are forced to make some difficult decisions with terrible consequences. Two Brothers is an unusual book about Nazi Germany and makes for a great travel read.
Alone in Berlin, by Hans Fallada
This is one of my favorite German reads. It follows the story of Otto, an ordinary, play-by-the-rules kind of guy who lives in a rundown apartment with his wife and tries to stay out of trouble with the Nazis. When he learns his only son has died in combat, his grief turns to resistance: he starts dropping anonymous postcards defaming Hitler all over Berlin. He knows he faces execution if he’s found out, but he doesn’t stop. A Gestapo officer Escherich catches wind of the postcards and sets out to find the perpetrator. This is a real page-turner!
Frankfurt Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling Germany and continue planning your trip: