Travel Guide to Frankfurt am Main
In my previous articles I mentioned that my husband and I visited Germany and Frankfurt am Main, or simply Frankfurt, was the first German city we went to. Now, let me welcome you to the first, and hopefully not the last, article in my German Cities series by telling you more about Frankfurt!
The City On The River
Frankfurt is a city in the central German state of Hesse, near the state capital Wiesbaden.
The city’s name was derived from the word “Francofurd”, meaning “fort of the Franks”. Meanwhile, “am Main” is short for “an dem Main” which literally means “on the (River) Main” because Frankfurt is located on the Main River.
Frankfurt is a very urban city that reminds me of my hometown, Makati City. Compared to other German cities, one can notice the skyscrapers that dot the view. Because of this, Frankfurt is nicknamed “Mainhattan”, as an homage to Manhattan in New York City.
It is a metropolitan area with a population of 732,688 as of 2015. Besides being a city, Frankfurt is an important air and rail transport hub. Located in the city are Frankfurt Airport, one of the world’s busiest, and the Frankfurt Central Station (Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof), the busiest railway station in the country.
Where to Go in Frankfurt
I will be sharing the places I have actually been to and the places that are most recommended by locals and travellers alike.
Senckenberg Museum – This is the natural museum of the city that is close to the Goethe University campus grounds. The museum is the second largest in Germany. In it you will find awesome artifacts such as the skeletal replica of a Supersaurus’ leg.
Eiserner Steg (The Iron Bridge) – This bridge is well-known as it crosses the River Main and offers interesting backdrops for your selfies. Also, this bridge is filled with love locks.
Frankfurter Dom / Kaiserdom St Bartholomäus – One of the most recognisable places of interest in the city is the Imperial Cathedral of St Bartholomew. It is called an “imperial” cathedral because it stood witness to coronations of emperors and kings during the Middle Ages. One can actually climb the stairs inside the bellfry to get stunning views of the city. If you have time, you can check out the cathedral museum to marvel at the medieval religious artefacts.
Römerberg – This is also known as Frankfurt Altstadt, or the old town. You will find replicas of timber-framed houses which house coffee shops and restaurants. The town hall is also found here. This area belongs to a continuous revival of the old part of the city in the 1980s, as the original city was destroyed during World War II.
Historiches Museum Frankfurt – To satisfy your curiosity on how the city came to be, the Historical Museum is the place for you. Here you can find traces of historical Frankfurt plus several artefacts. You can take a trip down memory lane by climbing on a tower that once served as a checkpoint for people visiting the formerly walled town.
Museumsufer – This is the “Museum Embankment”, an area within Frankfurt where you can binge on museum tours. If you are a museum fan like me, this is one place you cannot afford to miss. Here you will find ten museums near each other, such as the Städel (which contains art spanning 700 years), the German Film Museum, the German Communications Museum, and many others.
Sachsenhausen – A trip to Frankfurt is not complete without trying apple wine (Apfelwein). Old Sachsenhausen is a district in Frankfurt that is well-known for its apple wine pubs. One of the most popular apple wine pubs is Adolf Wagner.
While you are in Sachsenhausen and drinking Apfelwein, you can go ahead and try Frankfurt’s Handkäse und Musik – hand cheese served with onions in vinegar. And while you’re at it, be sure to ask the server why it’s called “Musik”. It’s worth a hoot.
How to Travel Around Frankfurt
Travelling around Frankfurt means a lot of walking and riding trains. If you’re coming from another town into a specific area of Frankfurt, what you can do is to consult Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund or RMV. This is the transport network that caters to the whole state of Hesse, especially in cities such as Frankfurt. You can download their app, and also download a train line map as well. Having a train line map helps you familiarise which stop goes to which point of interest.
Once you’re in the confines of Frankfurt, all you need to do is walk. There are maps around the city that will point you to places you’d like to go to. Sometimes, you need hop on an S-Bahn to get from point A to B. When this happens, and you think you’ll be travelling a lot around Frankfurt within a week, I recommend that you get a weekly ticket. RMV provides such a ticket which you can find on their website.
Do’s and Don’ts When Commuting Around Frankfurt (and around Germany)
- Make sure to buy a ticket first before riding the train – Buying a ticket on the train used to be allowed, but the rules have changed. You can purchase tickets from ticket machines at train stations. Most ticket machines have English options so you won’t have any problems.
- Wait at the designated train station – Trains generally arrive on time (yes!) so you need to wait. A good tip is to consult the RMV app or the bulletin boards at train stations for arrival times. Usually, train times are consistent for months.
- Do not block the entrance of the train – Part of the train etiquette is to let passengers alight first before you get in.
- Press the door on the train when it lights up in green – Yes, the train doors do not open automatically. You would need to press the door button if you need to board or alight the train.
- Observe silence while inside the train – This point is imperative especially in the U-Bahn. Riding a train calls for peace and quiet. Sometimes there would be young people and children talking loudly – they are usually shushed when that happens.
- Listen to the voice prompt on the train – Voice prompts announce the next stop, so be alert. No worries as you can read the stops on a display. Stops are generally announced in German, but they are easy to understand.
That’s it for now! This may not be a complete city guide but I hope you will find something useful. Meanwhile, follow me on Instagram for my photos on Germany!
Stay tuned for my next city: Osnabrück – “Die Friedensstadt”!