If you are going to Frankfurt for a weekend, there are many things you can see and do in this city on the river Main. Here is the list of attractions and activities I would recommend for a perfect weekend in Frankfurt.
We visited Frankfurt in spring and spent two days there before going on a scenic Rhine cruise (read about it here – Scenic Middle Rhine cruise in Germany). We came by train – Frankfurt is well connected by train lines with many German cities and other countries. There are direct trains from Paris, Brussels, Vienna, Amsterdam and other EU cities.
If you’re arriving by plane, there is a direct train (S line – S8 and S9) connecting Frankfurt airport with the city center. It will take you just under 30 minutes to get from Frankfurt airport to the Romer by the train.
Within the city there is a good public transport system in place. We stayed in a hotel outside of the city center and so we had to take the train (S line). Tickets can be purchased in ticket machines right at the stops. Inside the city center there is a good connection by trams for the main attractions. So, if you are not into walking you can simply go by trams or subway (U line).
Explore the Altstadt (Old Town)
Altstadt, the old town, is a must see in Frankfurt. If you have only a few hours in Frankfurt just go to Altstadt and walk its cobbled streets, take in its pretty German houses and have a pint of beer on Römerberg square.
One of the oldest buildings in Altstadt is Frankfurt Cathedral, also known as Imperial Cathedral of Saint Bartholomew, or simply Frankfurt Dom. Dating back to the 13th century the cathedral features 95-meter tall tower, which is open to visitors (if you don’t mind climbing 300 steps). From the tower you can enjoy panoramic views to the city.
Not far from the Cathedral you will find Neue Altstadt – New Old Town. It’s a tiny square surrounded by a group of small pretty houses. Original houses were actually destroyed during WW2, and the ones you see now are a restored version of them.
Two minutes walk from the the Neue Altstadt and you get to the city’s main central square – Römerberg. The square is surrounded by medieval buildings and often holds various city’s events. When we visited there were lots of tables outside, selling beer and cider, and orchestras playing cheerful music.
One of the most prominent buildings on Römerberg is Römer. Römer is a medieval complex, which served as city hall of Frankfurt for centuries. These days it’s not usually open to public but serves as city’s council and mayor office.
Just outside Römerberg you will find more historical landmarks such as St. Paul’s Church (Paulskirche), Standesamt Mitte and Puente de los Suspiros – all within a short walking distance.
Frankfurt’s Altstadt is very charming, with lots of historical buildings, souvenir shops, cafes and cobbled streets. We really enjoyed just walking around, taking in the atmosphere of the city and afterwards having a break in one of the outdoor cafes serving traditional German sausages and cold beer.
Eiserner Steg (or Iron Bridge)
After Altstadt head towards Main river and onto Iron footbridge – Eiserner Steg. Admire the city views from the bridge, take photos and watch passing boats under the bridge. There are thousands of love locks attached to the railings of Eiserner bridge. When we visited our boys enjoyed finding some unusual and quaint love locks on the bridge.
Cross the bridge to get to the waterfront on the other side of the river. Its green area is really nice to have a walk along the river or to simply have a rest with nice views in front of you.
Parks along Main river
I always like cities standing on a river for their promenades along the river, green zones and nice views from multiple bridges crossing the river.
Frankfurt has really nice green parks on both sides of Main where you can walk, stroll, have a picnic and just enjoy the views.
If you have time and like walking, start at Hafenbecken Westhafen – nice harbour with city marina. Walk along the Nizza – a riverside park and have a stop at a playground Spielplatz Frankfurt Mainkai if you’re travelling with children. Walk all the way to Äquatorialsonnenuhr – an equatorial sundial copper statue, also known as a copper clock.
Main Tower (named after the Main river) is a skyscraper not far from the city central square. There is a restaurant and an observation deck on top of it. The observation deck is open all year round (except for days around Christmas and New Year) and you can buy tickets right there at the tower lobby.
When we visited Frankfurt, the subway station Bockenheimer Warte was on our list of things to see, but unfortunately we didn’t go there due to our time constraints.
Bockenheimer Warte station has an entrance to the subway designed as a train car crashed into the ground. You can get there by U-Bahn train.
Ride on Ebbelwei-Expreß – Apple cider express tram
Ebbelwei-Expreß is exactly what its name says – you can ride the express tram and drink cider while riding. It’s a really good option of getting highlights of the city if travelling with kids. During the one hour round trip you will pass many city attractions along the way. On the board they have specially designed tables to hold cider bottles so you can drink cider (or apple juice for kids) and eat salty pretzels – included in the ticket price.
We were walking by foot for the first half of the day and so it was nice to hop on the tram afterwards to have a drink and a snack while looking out of the window and letting our boys to have a rest.
Check their web-site for the route and ticket prices, and keep in mind that the tram is only operational on weekends and public holidays.
Visit Natural History Museum
Frankfurt’s Natural History Museum – Naturmuseum Senckenberg – was on our list of must see things. Both our boys were interested in dinosaurs and after researching on where to see dinos remainings we found out that Frankfurt’s museum has a good collection of dinosaur skeletons. In addition to that, they had a collection of minerals (another interesting subject for my boys) and even a room with Egyptian mummies (unfortunately for us, the room was closed for renovation during our visit).
We have spent few hours in Naturmuseum Senckenberg and really enjoyed expositions devoted to dinosaurs, mammoths, giant ancient sea creatures and other exhibits.
The Hammering Man sculpture
On the way to/from Natural History Museum make a small detour to see The Hammering Man – 21 meters tall sculpture. The statue symbolizes workers throughout the world. The interesting part is that the statue’s hand with the hammer is motorized and is constantly moving up and down.
The sculpture is one of the series that have been installed in the US, Europe and Asia.
More things to do in Frankfurt
When we planned our short trip to Frankfurt our main goals were to see its old town – Altstadt and visit its Natural History Museum with kids. However, we quickly found out that there are much more things to see and do in Frankfurt.
Visit The Goethe House – a birthplace of a well known author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Go to one of the three botanical gardens in Frankfurt, or perhaps Frankfurt’s Zoo. Visit some of the many Frankfurt’s museums – Städel Museum, German Film Museum or Hessenpark – open-air museum on rural life. Alternatively, go for some shopping on Zeil – a central shopping street of the city with pedestrian area promenade.
How many days to spend in Frankfurt?
You can see the main attractions of Frankfurt in one day – have a walk around Frankfurt’s old town, get on Main Tower to admire panoramic views of the city and finish off with a pint of beer and a traditional German sausage at the Romerberg square.
However it’s better to spend at least a weekend in Frankfurt to see more things and get a fuller experience. Visit some of Frankfurt’s museums, have a ride on the cider train, relax and take it slow on the green riverbanks of the city center.
We had a perfect weekend in Frankfurt and hope you will have one too!
After Frankfurt we took a boat cruise on Middle Rhine and visited Koblenz – a picturesque city on the Rhine and Moselle rivers.
Read next – One week road trip in Bavaria.