Frankfurt am Main is Germany’s fifth-largest city, and Hesse’s biggest city. This bustling metropolis features stunning architecture, some of which dates back to the 12th century. The population is over 700,000 and includes many immigrants and foreign nationals.

The city has lots of German and European culture, with history and modernity blending together in a way that tourists enjoy to experience. Frankfurt sits on the Main river and has 16 main area districts within its boundaries, which further divide into smaller districts and neighborhoods. From exploring museums to shopping away the afternoon, your Frankfurt itinerary is very full!

Early Morning: Start Your Day With Breakfast

Go casual for breakfast in Frankfurt and stop at Cafe Karin. Located at Großer Hirschgraben 28, this cafe attracts locals and tourists alike for wonderful breakfast fare. The cafe itself features a comfortable interior with leather seats and tables topped with marble. Crepes, coffee, and desserts are just a few of the delicious items you can get on the menu.

Another breakfast option is Cafe Plazz, where you can get international cuisine from many European countries. Head to Kirchplatz 8 to find a cozy shop with picture frames covering every inch of the walls. Sit down for coffee and tea, then order breakfast from around the world. If you’re craving something American, they can do bacon and eggs no problem. But you should branch out and get French, English, or classic German instead.

Both of these breakfast spots open at 9 a.m., so by arriving promptly at opening you’ll beat the morning rush!

Alte Oper
Alte Oper in Opernplatz, Frankfurt.

Midmorning: Enjoy History and Nature

Take yourself on a walking tour of some of Frankfurt’s best outdoor sights, streets, and parks. Start at Opernplatz, Frankfurt’s most central square. Opernplatz sits at the center of Innenstadt, Frankfurt’s central district. The Alte Oper, which gives the square its name, is an old opera house with beautiful architecture. Today, it’s still in business as a performance venue.

Look around Römerberg, a historical square that was damaged by bombs and has since been restored. This square houses the Fountain of Justitia, a 16th century watery marvel. Around the square, discover some of Frankfurt’s most popular historical sites, like the Römer, a gorgeous medieval building more than 600 years old, which currently acts as Frankfurt’s city hall.

Head across the square from the Römer to visit Alte Nikolaikirche, a stunning old church which dates back to the 13th century. It has a powerful bell tower with 47 bells in it. Try to be near the church during the top of an hour, so you can hear the bells sing.

If you prefer nature over landmarks, head to Siesmayerstraße 61 for the Palmengarten und Botanischer Garten, a pair of picturesque botanical gardens with over 22 hectares of plants. Technically two different gardens, the Palmengarten and Frankfurt Botanical Garden sit right next to each other, giving you the perfect opportunity to get your fill of stunning flowers and trees. The Palmengarten has been open since 1871, and it’s an open-air walk through wonderfully cultivated nature.

Noon: Visit Frankfurt’s Best Museums

Next, head to some of Frankfurt’s many museums to get your cultural fill. Though Frankfurt has more than a dozen museums you might consider visiting, a few stand out as being particularly spectacular and engaging.

The Museum für Kommunikation is all about communication over the centuries. Start with Babylonian clay tablets of old, learn how communication happened during some of the major wars, like WWII, and even find out what we’re doing wrong with our communication today. The museum is closed on Mondays, but you can visit from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends. Find it at Schaumainkai 53.

Head to the Naturmuseum Senckenberg Frankfurt at Senckenberganlage 25 to see natural history at its finest. Dinosaur skeletons, solar system models, modern biology, and more are all present in fascinating exhibits here. Some of the most scintillating information in the museum centers around how life evolved on Earth. The museum is open every day. Weekday hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Wednesdays, when the museum is open until 8 p.m. On weekends you can visit from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Many vacationing in Europe want to visit classic art museums, and Frankfurt has a beautiful one. The Städel Museum is the oldest German museum exhibiting classic European artworks. Go to Schaumainkai 63 to discover artwork that spans centuries, beginning with the 14th. Artists like Monet and Picasso are on full display in these museum halls. The museum is closed on Mondays. Tuesday and Wednesday hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Weekend hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

If you’d rather see modern art, then you must visit Museum für moderne Kunst at Domstraße 10. More than 4,500 pieces of art are on display, both from German artists and international artists. From the 1960s to today, this museum explores the best of modern art. Expect to see multimedia displays featuring photographs and videos, along with the paintings and other canvas work you expect.

Naturmuseum Senckenberg
Naturmuseum Senckenberg Frankfurt at Senckenberganlage 25.

Afternoon: Lunch on German Sausage

You cannot go to Germany without having German sausage for at least one meal. While you’re in Frankfurt, center your lunch stop around finding some sausage to enjoy. After all, an entire kind of sausage is named for Frankfurt, so what could be better than trying it for lunch?

Head to Best Worscht in Town at Grueneburgweg 37 to get some highly rated sausage. The shop itself is a bit on the fast food side of things, but the sausage options are manifold, including dishes like sausage nachos.

Kleinmarkthalle is a market hall with lots of lunch options, so if some of your party don’t feel like diving into sausage bliss, this is a good spot for everyone to find what they want. Dozens of vendors in stalls sell all kinds of things, so once you’ve eaten, stay for a while to walk around and see what else you find. You’ll find Kleinmarkthalle at Hasengasse 5-7.

Late Afternoon: Enjoy Family Time

Delight the kids by taking a leisurely walk through the Frankfurt Zoo. Located at Bernhard-Grzimek-Allee 1 in the center of the city, the zoo has been around since the 1850s. You’ll discover over 500 species and 4,500 individual animals when you visit. Though the zoo is crowded when the weather is warm, cold weather isn’t a good time to visit. The animals tend to hide to stay warm when the weather is chilly. However, the zoo does feature several kid-friendly playground areas, so even if it’s crowded, parents will have the chance to rest a bit as the kids play.

Instead of the zoo, you might decide to get panoramic views of Frankfurt. Head to the Main Tower, AKA Helaba, which is Frankfurt’s only skyscraper the public can visit. At the top are two viewing platforms. Given that this is Frankfurt’s fourth-tallest skyscraper, you’ll see breathtaking panoramas of the city below. If you choose one spot to grab some Facebook photos during your Frankfurt visit, this is definitely the spot. You’ll find it in the center of the city at Neue Mainzer Straße 52-58.

Evening: It’s Time to Shop!

Frankfurt’s most famous shopping street is called the Zeil. It has gone by this name since the 14th century, since “zeil” is a derivative of the German word for “row.” Since the 1800s, the Zeil has been a major pedestrian shopping destination in Germany. Many blocks of the Zeil are a pedestrian-only zone, so you can enjoy walking and shopping without dealing with cars rushing past.

At the Zeil, expect to find lots of clothing options, from famous retailers most people can afford like H&M, to upscale department stores like Kaufhof. You’ll find lots of little boutiques among the big name shops, where you can get quality bespoke items like jewelry. Electronics stores, featuring the latest in German music, are also peppered throughout the lane.

Nearly every major world city has an upscale shopping district or street. In Frankfurt, that street is Goethestraße. Located right off Opernplatz, this street features major luxury retailers like Mont Blanc, Louis Vuitton, and Armani. Even if you don’t intend to buy anything, the street itself is gorgeous and makes a wonderful walking destination.

When you want to do shopping that involves actually spending money, Freßgass is right next door. This is Frankfurt’s “culinary street,” because it features tons of boutique and bespoke restaurants and snackeries. Along Freßgass you’ll also find lots of boutique shops selling clothing and trinkets. Do some souvenir shopping, gift shopping, and indulge in some new clothes, too!

Zeil
Zeil, the most popular shopping area in Frankfurt.

Dinnertime: Enjoy a Fine Dinner

You’ve done the cafe thing and the food hall thing, so now it’s time to sit down in a nice restaurant and enjoy a European dinner.

Villa Merton is a fine dining restaurant in one of Frankfurt’s most beautiful neighborhoods, Diplomatenviertel. With one Michelin star, this restaurant provides the finest updated German cuisine. The chef takes flavor liberties with all dishes, combining exciting ingredients from all around the world to create dishes that will wow you. Find the restaurant at Union International Club, Am Leonhardsbrunn 12.

Heimat is your go-to for classic European food served with care and consideration. The restaurant has an open-plan kitchen, so depending on where you’re seated, you can watch the chef and the kitchen staff craft every dish. Inside, the restaurant is designed to look a bit like an American diner. The restaurant also has a terrace, and a secluded area for some extra romance.

If you’d like something a little more family-friendly, you must try Ebbelwoi Unser. For one thing, they offer menus in English, with an array of dishes from fairly standard to things that will seem exotic to American travelers. Stay on the European side and try something new, like blood and liver sausage or a Viennese schnitzel. Vegetarian options are also available.

Late Night: Adventure into Nightlife

If you want a European clubbing experience, Silbergold is where you should go. This club is run by DJ music, and like famous clubs all around the world, usually has a big line for entrance. If you’re willing to wait, however, the party lasts all night. Loud music and great dancing are what you can expect here, and this is a great excuse to wear some of those new clothes you bought shopping in the afternoon. Find it at Heiligkreuzgasse 22.

Head to the Fox and the Hound at Niedenau 2 for a pub experience. It’s a little British on the inside, but it has a beer garden, so you can enjoy the night air. Expect some great happy hour items on the menu. You can get snacks here, if you’re still hungry after dinner. You can also catch sports games if that’s your thing.

Jazzkeller is a great music and drinks venue. This basement bar at Kleine Bockenheimer Str. 18a fills its musical roster with famous jazz acts from around the world. Jazzkeller has been around since the 1950s, and jazz heavy-hitters like Louis Armstrong once performed on its stage. Friday nights are dance nights, so expect to get some swing in. If you want to sit and listen instead, Wednesday is the perfect night to hear jazz musicians jam on together.

Frankfurt night
Banking district of Frankfurt at night.

Airport Guide

Knowing the airport you’ll be flying into makes international travel that much easier. Two German airports serve the area near Frankfurt, though one is significantly closer and more convenient than the other.

The Frankfurt Airport

Germany’s busiest airport connects you directly to Frankfurt. This airport has four runways and sees more than 65 million people pass through it every year. You can get to almost 300 destinations in more than 100 countries when flying out of the Frankfurt Airport. Two main terminals serve the airport, and a third, smaller terminal, is dedicated to Lufthansa first class passengers. The Frankfurt Airport is a hub for five major airlines: AeroLogic, Condor, Lufthansa, Lufthansa Cargo, and Lufthansa CityLine. Around the airport you’ll find lodging and shopping.

This airport’s first terminal is the larger of the two, and sees the largest volume of passengers. It has four concourses, spread through three levels. The top level is for departures, the middle level for arrivals and bag claim, and the bottom level for ground transportation access. If you fly Lufthansa, this is probably the terminal you’ll be using. Lufthansa’s partner airlines, like United Airlines and Air Canada, also fly into and out of terminal one.

The second terminal in the Frankfurt Airport is newer than the first, and only sees about 15 million people every year. It has two concourses and only 48 gates. This terminal is the one able to serve extremely large aircraft, so the biggest Airbuses are likely to connect with terminal two. If you need to travel between the two terminals, people movers exist to get you from one place to the other.

Inside the airport, lots of shopping and dining opportunities are available to you. Find duty-free items and locally made German souvenirs at shops spread throughout the terminals and concourses. The Frankfurt airport is a great spot to get some last-minute gifts, since the Made in Germany stalls sell German wine and chocolate your friends and family will love. Overall, more than 90 shops and food options exist at the Frankfurt airport, making it easy for travelers who are in a rush to fuel up before hopping on their next flight.

Frankfurt Airport
The Frankfurt Airport.

The Frankfurt-Hahn Airport

The Frankfurt-Hahn is 1.5 hours away from Frankfurt by car, which means it’s not the most convenient airport to fly into. If you want a drive through the German countryside and prefer to miss the bustle of the Frankfurt Airport, Frankfurt-Hahn is a doable choice. The airport’s two closest cities are Kirchberg and Simmern.

From the Frankfurt-Hahn airport, you can take bus transportation to the city of Frankfurt. Sometimes the journey costs as little as €5, and you can book the airport shuttle bus via Flibco. Taxis are available, too, but a cab journey that long will be expensive. If you plan to drive through Germany, the Frankfurt-Hahn Airport provides several car rental desks within the airport, including Avis, Hertz, Thrifty, Sixt, Europcar, and Car Partner Nord.

You’ll find two passenger terminals at Frankfurt-Hahn. Passenger airlines Ryanair and Wizz Air serve Frankfurt-Hahn. If you’re flying from America, you’re unlikely to get a flight into Frankfurt-Hahn, unless you have a connection somewhere else in Europe. Ryanair connects to cities like Naples, London, and Lisbon. Wizz Air is based in Hungary and mostly serves Europe and the United Arab Emirates.

A single day isn’t enough to complete this itinerary, so plan your trip to spread across a few, so you can hit all the Frankfurt highlights. Even walking through the city provides you with beautiful views. You’ll come across lots to interest and entice you while you’re visiting Frankfurt.