Everyone travels through Frankfurt at some point, but most people don’t like the city. It’s the Dubai of Germany – cheap attractions and high polished people standing in the way of a great experience. Fortunately, Frankfurt has become much more accessible in the past few years.
If you’re traveling through, I highly recommend stopping by for one or two summer days. I categorized my recommendations for the Frankfurt guide 2017 by neighborhood / district.
What to do in Alt-Sachsenhausen
Alt-Sachsenhausen is the old neighborhood south of the river Main and worth a trip in the daytime, but try to avoid weekend nights, as the medieval little houses are quite the attraction for stag nights and embarrassing bachelor parties. But Alt-Sachsenhausen is also in the progress of changing, with some bars and locations worth a visit.
Stay at the Libertine Lindenberg Hotel
The Libertine Lindenberg may just be the future of urban residencies: part hotel, part condo, you can pretty much stay for as long as you like. Every longterm resident (and guest) can have access to the washing room, the gym and the huge community kitchen. It seems unlikely that such a beautiful hotel, with fantastically furnished rooms and a very contemporary taste in interior design, would be in Alt-Sachsenhausen. But here it is.
Libertine Lindenberg, Frankensteiner Str. 20, 60594 Frankfurt am Main
Have a drink at Bonechina
Pour yourself your own drink in this small bar right across from Libertine (and part of the same crew). You will be guided through all the necessary steps and get to mingle with your hosts in an untraditional bar setting. The tiles and the elephant sculpture add an intense vibe to the place that so crassly stands out between the rest of the neighborhood. That being said, they only open during the week – to avoid the weekend crowds.
Bonechina, GROSSE RITTERGASSE 64, FFM
Eat a traditional Frankfurt speciality at Dauth Schneider
Frankfurt is known for the traditional cider, called Apfelwein (or “Ebbelwoi”), and for the very hearty, very meat-based food. Alt-Sachsenhausen might be the best neighborhood to indulge in some experiments. My absolute recommendation is to try the Grüne Soß, a cold, yoghurt and herbs based sauce that is usually served with eggs and potatoes. If you like smelly cheese, try the Handkäs with Musik. If you’re vegan, forget it.
By the way, every Frankfurt guide will recommend a different restaurant in Alt-Sachsenhausen. Trust me, they all serve the same stuff, with marginal differences in quality.
Dauth Schneider, Neuer Wall 5, 60594 Frankfurt am Main
Buy yourself a souvenir Bembel
You don’t have to like Apfelwein (you probably won’t) to appreciate the designs that come with its traditions. The Bembel, the caraffe in which the drink is served, can be customized or bought in different funny or stupid variations in a shop in Sachsenhausen. I’ve also learned to appreciate the Äppler glasses, which are super cheap and a beautiful alternative to the Ikea crap in your cupboard.
Töpferei Maurer, Wallstraße 5, 60594 Frankfurt am Main
Walk along the south side of the Main
I mean, you can really walk on any side of the Main. Even better: you can rent a bike (although I haven’t found an actual rental space and rental bikes in hotels are usually either too big or too small) and roll through. It’s quite the tidy and beautiful track. Beware of the humongous ducks though. Like seriously, they are HUGE.
I mean, if you’re going to do some shopping, you might as well do it in Frankfurt. You can walk from Konstablerwache to Hauptwache for the typical mid-budget franchise stores and malls (such as the impressive but ugly MyZeil mall), but you should definitely continue beyond to Goethestraße for the very posh stores (think Prada and Gucci).
Typical sightseeing routes also include the Römer, crossing various bridges to take pictures of the skyline, and walking by Willy-Brand-Platz to selfie yourself next to the big Euro sign.
Get up on the Main Tower
I mean honestly, you don’t have to see the skyline from above, but if you can’t arrange a trip to the Goetheturm and feel like standing in an elevator for exactly 10 seconds (200m – it’s not that high, people), then the Maintower is an okay option. The platform is not caged into a plexiglass dome so that’s cool in my book.
Main Tower, Neue Mainzer Str. 52-58, 60311 Frankfurt am MaiN
So the Westend is where the bankers reside. The affluent, classicist neighborhood is quite worth a little walk through, even though there’s not much to do. We did discover a few beautiful sights on the way, such as the Westend-Synagogue. It pays off to roam.
Visit the botanical Palmengarten
If flowers and gardens are your thing, then you’ll love Palmengarten. This botanical garden (with a few animals here and there) is great to spend a summer day. What’s a bit annoying is that you can’t really chill out on the perfectly manicured lawns, but eh. It’s not a park.
Palmengarten Frankfurt, Siesmayerstraße 61, 60323 Frankfurt am Main
See the impressive IG Farben building and have lunch in the campus caféteria
The former IG Farben Haus is an impressive feat of architecture by Hans Poelzig. If you do one thing in Frankfurt, it’s see this incredible building. Today, the IG Farben is the campus of the Goethe University Frankfurt, and unlike their Berlin counterparts, the canteen menu is actually quite great for an affordable and plentiful lunch.
IG Farben Haus, Norbert-Wollheim-Platz 1, 60323 Frankfurt am Main
See the Westend-Synagogue, eat cake at Café Laumer
The Westend-Synagogue was a lucky discovery and not supposed to end up in any Frankfurt guide. We were walking to Palmengarten when we were struck by the beauty of its architecture. Since we weren’t really prepared for religious sites, we merely passed by. We ended up eating cake at the very cute and gracefully aged Café Laumer. It’s been an institution for the royalties of the Frankfurt school – my boys Horkheimer, Adorno, Mannheim, late chancellor Kohl and Marcuse used to hang out in this crib. The cakes are quite alright, too, and you get real filter coffee (“Kännchen”) when you ask for it.
cafe Laumer, Bockenheimer Landstraße 67, 60325 Frankfurt am Main
The Bahnhofsviertel has become extremely popular in every sense of the word. New hotels, restaurants and bars, mostly catering to the bankers, tourists and creative crowd, are opening one after the other. It all mixes very interestingly with the red light bordellos, the drug addicts and the multi-cultural mix of ethnic shops and well dressed suits. It can get really dodgy at night for women, so don’t venture out by yourself.
Stay at the 25hours by Levi’s Hotel
The 25hours is an institution in the Bahnhofsviertel and one of the reasons why the area has become so frequented with tourists. The hotel amenities are simple, but plentiful: great beds, great breakfast, and an even greater rooftop party make for a stimulating stay in Frankfurt.
25Hours Hotel by Levis, Niddastraße 58, 60329 Frankfurt am Main
Eat a pastrami sandwich at Maxie Eisen
Maxie Eisen doesn’t need another plug on the internet – once you look for “food recommendation Frankfurt”, it’s the first thing that will pop up in your feed. But still, it’s worth saying again how high the quality and how tasty the products at the Jewish joint are. Too bad their Berlin cousin (Louis Pretty) had to close down.
Maxie Eisen, Münchener Str. 18, 60329 Frankfurt am Main
Get a drink at Amp
Amp is the newest addition to the empire of Ata Macias, the founder of legendary Robert Johnson club. Ata is still in the driver’s seat when it comes to directing Frankfurts creative vibe, and Amp is no exception. Drinks, music and people are carefully composed without being as rigid as in other bars. All in all, Amp is a good place to be.
Amp Frankfurt, Gallusanlage 2, 60329 Frankfurt am Main
Interestingly, the Ostend seems to be up and coming. The district is centered completely around the tower of the European Central Bank, but the efforts to restructure the former industrial no-go zone into something more residential are quite visible. The Hafenpark has skateparks and basketball courts, meanwhile Oosten and other locations are opening up along the river to add some flavor to the area. My Frankfurt guide won’t include all of them, as we only passed by – but I highly recommend getting to know this part of town before everything’s sold off to the highest bidder.
Eat Japanese at Tawayara
A quirky Japanese joint like this would be SOLD in a minute in Berlin, but in Frankfurt, it just sits there, with all its preciously great food, in a former German Kneipe. The owners made fun of us for not slurping the soba noodles, then taught us how to do it right. Absolute recommendation.
Tawayara, Hanauer Landstraße 131, 60314 Frankfurt am Main
Walk across the Deutschherrenbrücke at sunset
Everybody’s been across the Eisener Steg, arguably the most famous bridge (complete with the locks and shit) in Frankfurt. But the Deutschherrenbrücke delivers a much sweeter view towards the skyline, especially at sunset. The trains that still run on the bridge tracks add to the “big city” feeling.
Bergerstraße & Bornheim Mitte
Bornheim Mitte is the Prenzlauer Berg of Frankfurt. It’s a cute residential area that has nothing for you if you’re not willing to explore. We took our rental bikes and rode down Berger Straße for that little bit of “don’t know what to do” spirit. It was worth it.
Take a walk through the soothing oasis Bethmannpark
Man, why can’t we have nice things like that? On the risk of sounding super boring, but that’s the kind of park that I’d like to see in Berlin. All we get is stupid chicken in Görli. Grab coffee and cake from the Mellow Yellow café across the street and sit down in the lush lawns to enjoy the afternoon sun.
Bethmannpark, Friedberger Landstraße, 60316 Frankfurt am Main
Eat the ‘modern’ Frankfurter Küche at Henscheid
Up on the hill of Bornheim Mitte is the sweet restaurant Henscheid. We wouldn’t have discovered it if it hadn’t been for my friends who live next door. It was one of the best meals we had in Frankfurt, and the service was great too. You can sit on the terrace or inside, but definitely try the Grüne Soße. I also appreciated their wide selection of vegetarian meals. Living in Berlin makes you forget how much meat is on the menu in the rest of the country.
Henscheid, Mainkurstraße 27 ,60385 Frankfurt