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Both modern and historic, Frankfurt, Germany is a fascinating place to visit. The rebuilt old town sits just steps from the Main River and soaring skyscrapers surround the quaint Frankfurt Old Town. While we were Frankfurt sightseeing, we navigated our way through the city – admiring the juxtaposition of old and new. We created a self-guided Frankfurt walking tour that allowed us to see the absolute best of the city – and are sharing it so that other travelers can experience the city like we did.
Free Tour Frankfurt
Eager to learn more about the city, we were interested in finding a Free Walking Tour of Frankfurt that would help us get acquainted with the city. We discovered the Alternative Tour, a free Frankfurt tour that focuses on the slightly edgier areas of the city. Although it was informative regarding the city’s stance and history of prostitutes and drug addicts, it was not an all-encompassing Frankfurt city tour.
Therefore, we designed our own self-guided city tour that includes top Frankfurt landmarks and attractions. If you are looking for Frankfurt, Germany things to do, start your trip by using this Free Self-Guided Frankfurt Tour for a fabulous introduction to the city.
Self-Guided Free Walking Tour Frankfurt
Our tour focuses on the sights in Frankfurt downtown, which is easily walkable. Visitors who have one day in Frankfurt – or one week in the city – can use our City Sightseeing Frankfurt Guide to explore the history and sights. The tour can be completed in as little as 3 hours, but we suggest allowing 5-7 hours to truly enjoy it.
We recommend picking up a Frankfurt tourist map (or buying one in advance on Amazon!), but we have also included a helpful map at the end of the post. In addition, we include links to Google Maps that show directions from one sight to the next. Be sure to Pin, Save or Bookmark this post so that you can easily access it during your trip! (You will need access to the internet to use the links, so make sure to adjust your data plan to international or buy a SIM card when you arrive in the city!)
#1 Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof
As one of the busiest train stations in Germany, the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof is traversed by 450,000 passengers a day. The station opened on August 18, 1888 and today services long-distance trains, local underground trains and tram lines. Before racing from the station into the city, make sure to pause and take in the ornate east-facing facade. Above the main entrance, a large clock is flanked by figures that represent Day and Night. Look up to the roof to see a statue of Atlas holding the globe; he is assisted on either side by two statues, which signify Steam and Iron. Walking Directions To Next Stop
Kaiserstrasse is one of three Frankfurt streets that lead from the train station east into the city center. The street features several 18th century buildings, which are among the few structures in the city that survived the World War II bombings. Once a highly fashionable shopping street, after the war Kaiserstrasse became part of the city’s Red Light District.
Although the area is currently undergoing revitalization, brothels and strip clubs can be found on Taunusstrasse, the street to the north that runs parallel to Kaiserstrasse. Use caution and common sense when strolling through this area – especially after dark. Walking Directions To Next Stop
#3 Old City Walls and Wallanlagen
The Wallanlagen city park encircles Frankfurt just as the ancient city walls once did. When the 14th century fortifications were dismantled in the early 1800s, the land was designated as a green space, creating a 5-km-long green belt. The open public park features modern art, picturesque fountains, historic memorials, significant statues and plenty of space to spread out a blanket and relax. Walking Directions To Next Stop Note: If not going to the Main Tower observation deck, simply continue walking through Green Belt to Old Opera House.
#4 Frankfurt Skyscrapers and Main Tower
Of the 17 tallest buildings in Germany, 15 of them are in Frankfurt. The Commerzbank Tower is currently the tallest, standing at 985 feet. (It ranked as the tallest building in all of Europe from 1997 until 2003). The cylindrical, glass Main Tower is one of the most popular Frankfurt tourist attractions…not because it is the tallest, but because it has an open-air observation deck. Built in the late 1990s and opened in 2000, Main Tower stands at 656 feet (787 feet to the top of the antenna) and ranks as the 4th tallest building in Frankfurt. A 20% discount is offered to visitors with a Frankfurt Card (more on the tourist card at the end of the post!). Walking Directions To Next Stop
#5 Alte Oper (Old Opera House)
Although neither an opera house nor old, the Old Opera House is claimed by many as the most beautiful building in the city and one of the top places to visit in Frankfurt. Completed in 1981 to replace the 1880 building that was destroyed in the war, the elegant theater hosts musical performances and events. The spacious plaza is a common meeting place for locals: events are often held on the square. Walking Directions To Next Stop
#6 Fressgass ‘Grazing Street’
Until the 1970s, Fressgass – which directly translates to ‘Grazing Street’ – was simply a nickname for Grosse Bockenheimer. The street’s popularity dates to the 1900s when the city’s West-end elite flocked to the high-end dining establishments and food shops on the street (just as they – and corporate executives – do today). In addition to gourmet eateries and bistros, visitors will find numerous high-end stores – like Apple, Devialet and Telsa – on Fressgass. Walking Directions To Next Stop
#7 Borse (Frankfurt Stock Exchange)
With a history that dates to the 11th century, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange was officially established in 1585 and developed into one of the first stock exchanges in the world. Since 1879, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange has been housed on Borsenplatz, where Bull and Bear statues are prominently displayed. A new visitors center is expected to open in 2019 and interested visitors will be able to take a guided tour. Walking Directions To Next Stop
#8 Eschenheimer Tower
A Frankfurt landmark, Eschenheimer Tower was erected in the early 1400s as part of the city fortifications. At one time 60 towers stood in the city, but only three remain today. The 154-foot tall Eschenheimer Tower is the oldest and most original building in the city – and today it houses an upscale restaurant called the Eschenheimer Turm 1428 (read TripAdvisor reviews). Walking Directions To Next Stop
#9 Hauptwache Square and Building
The centrally located Hauptwache Square is one of the most popular plazas in the city. In the middle of the square is the historic Hauptwache building, which dates to 1730 and has been used as military headquarters, a police station and prison. Since 1904, the building has housed a cafe…as it still does today. The beautiful Baroque building is now dwarfed by the surrounding buildings, but remains a focal point of the square. Walking Directions To Next Stop
#10 Galeria Kaufhof Rooftop View
Located on the north side of Hauptwache Square is the Galeria Kaufhop. The mall offers a typical shopping experience…and a phenomenal rooftop view. The 7th floor cafeteria-style restaurant has an open-air deck with views of the city skyline. Taking the elevator to the viewpoint is one of the top free things to do in Frankfurt! Walking Directions To Next Stop
#11 Katharinenkirche (St. Catherine’s Church)
Katharinenkirche – the largest Protestant church in Frankfurt – sits on the south side of Hauptwache Square. Built in 1681, the church had to be rebuilt after the war – and a simple interior was constructed rather than the original opulent Baroque decor. With a long history of church music, Katharinenkirche offers free organ concerts (at 4:30 pm on Mondays and Thursdays), which provide a relaxing environment to take a break from Frankfurt sightseeing! Walking Directions To Next Stop
#12 Goethe House Frankfurt
The famous writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, was born in Frankfurt in 1749. The house he grew up in – a prominent 18th century abode – has been transformed into a museum that features historic furnishings. We did not visit the museum, but Goethe House is one of the popular Frankfurt museums that can be visited for a discount with the Frankfurt Card. Walking Directions To Next Stop
#13 Zeil Street Shopping
Frankfurt’s famous shopping street, Zeil Street, is chock-a-block with international retail outlets and department stores. Not-to-be-missed is the MyZeil mall, which features a curved glass facade and Europe’s longest interior escalator (running nearly 140 feet). The wide pedestrian Zeil Street, which is pleasantly lined with trees, is the place for shopaholics – and a lovely promenade for an afternoon stroll.
Top Tip: On Thursdays and Saturdays, head to the intersection of Zeil and Kurt-Schumacher for the Bauernmarkt farmer’s market – a great spot to relax with a glass of Frankfurt’s famous apfelwein. Walking Directions To Next Stop
#14 Frankfurt Food Market: Kleinmarkthalle
If you are not already hungry, you will be by the time you walk through Kleinmarkthalle – which is why we recommend stopping here for lunch. The art-deco market hall was built in the 1960s – but a market has taken place on the site for hundreds of years. Vendors sell everything from fresh flowers to ready-to-eat meals to heavenly sweets. Both international and local fare is available at Kleinmarkthalle, including many Frankfurt specialties. Top Tip: Don’t miss the second floor and balcony wine bar!
At Kleinmarkthalle, visitors can indulge in classic Frankfurt cuisine, like sausages, Handkase with Musik (Hand Cheese with Music), Grune Sosse (Green Sauce) and Rippchen mit Kraut (pork cutlet with sauerkraut). If we had not already eaten our fair share of sausages, we would have waited in line (at least 20 people deep!) for Frau Schreiber’s famous sausages. Instead, we found a vendor serving Green Sauce with boiled eggs and potatoes; the classic Frankfurt fare seems like an unlikely combination, but it’s absolutely delicious. Walking Directions To Next Stop
#15 Paulskirche (St. Paul’s Church) and Paulsplatz
Although built as a Lutheran church at the turn of the 19th century, St. Paul’s Church holds a significant place in Germany’s history. In 1849, St. Paul’s Church was the meeting place for the Frankfurt National Assembly – the first freely elected parliament for Germany. It was in the church that the first constitution was written, which included key elements of subsequent constitutions. The church was nearly destroyed in the war; it was rebuilt as a museum (free entry!) and a place to host ceremonies.
The square that surrounds the church is Paulsplatz – and it’s the largest square in the Old Town. The south end of the square extends to the Frankfurt City Hall (Romer). Walking Directions To Next Stop
As one of the top things to see in Frankfurt, Germany, spending time in Romerberg is a must! The iconic gabled Romer sits prominently on the west side of the spacious square and has been the site of the Frankfurt City Hall since the 15th century. Opposite the Romer is the Ostzeile, a row of fairytale half-timbered houses (which were completely restored in the 1980s).
On the south side of the square is Old St. Nicholas Church, which dates to the 15th century and only suffered minor damage during the war. The church carillon, which is comprised of 51 bells, rings at 9:05am, 12:05pm and 5:05pm. The Fountain of Justice, which dates to the mid-1500s, stands in the center of Romerberg.
The famous Frankfurt Christmas Market takes place in Romerberg – as well as other events throughout the year. Top Tip: At Romerberg’s north entrance, there is a small German pub (look on the east side as you enter) with friendly bartenders and local Frankfurt Binding beer on tap. Walking Directions To Next Stop
#17 Haus Wertheym
Dating to the early 1400s, Haus Wertheym is the only half-timbered house on Romerberg that was still intact after the bombing of World War II. The building has served as a public bathhouse, a customs house, guards’ quarters and, today, is a classic German restaurant. Walking Directions To Next Stop
#18 Eiserner Steg Bridge
The Eiserner Steg pedestrian footbridge crosses the Main River, connecting the Frankfurt Old Town to the Sachsenhausen district to the south. The first bridge on the site was built in 1868, but the current bridge dates to the 1940s. The bridge recently became a popular site for Love Locks, but has long been a favored spot for taking in the spectacular city skyline views. Walking Directions To Next Stop
#19 Saalgasse Street Architecture
Prior to World War II, Saalgasse Street was lined with historic houses, which were all destroyed by fire during the 1944 bombings. When the neighborhood was reconstructed in the 1980s, several postmodern architects were called on; each was allowed to design one building on the street so that there are no two facades alike. Saalgasse Street in the Frankfurt Old Town is a great example of how the city looks to the future. Walking Directions To Next Stop
#20 Frankfurt Cathedral
Although not truly a cathedral, the official name of the historic Frankfurt church is the Imperial Cathedral of St. Bartholomew – but it’s also called Kaiserdom, St. Bart’s or just The Cathedral. Built as a collegiate church in the 14th century, the church served as the site of Holy Roman Empire coronations between 1562 and 1792; 10 kings were crowned in the church. The unmissable bell tower is 310-feet-tall – and for €3 visitors can climb more than 300 steps to the viewing platform for fabulous views of the city. Walking Directions To Next Stop
#21 Kaiserpfalz Franconofurd (Imperial Palace Franconofurd)
A free, outdoor exhibit of the Frankfurt Archaeological Museum, the Kaiserpfalz Franconofurd reveals ancient structures that were discovered during excavation. Evidence of buildings, cellars, fortifications and public baths exist – and are complimented by informative plaques. The archaeological site – parts of which are thought to be more than 1,000 years old – provides insight to the history of the city. Walking Directions To Next Stop
#22 New Old Town
The district between the Cathedral and Romer – dubbed the New Old Town – has recently been overhauled. Efforts were made to utilize original building materials and recreate some historic sites, while also emphasizing modern architecture. Within the New Old Town district there is living space, shops, restaurants, cafes and museums. Walk through the passageways to enclosed courtyards and follow the path of past kings on the Coronation Route from St. Bartholomew Cathedral to the Frankfurt Town Hall. Walking Directions To Next Stop
#23 Jewish Cemetery and Memorial
The Jewish Cemetery on Battonnstrasse has a historic past and gravestones that date to the year 1272. Unfortunately, much of the cemetery was destroyed by the Nazis, with only a cluster of headstones still standing in one corner. The outer wall of the cemetery has been transformed into a memorial, displaying 10,000 name plaques of Jews killed in the Holocaust. Top Tip: If the gate is locked, ask for the key at the Jewish Museum next door (ID is required). Walking Directions To Next Stop
#24 Alte Brucke (Old Bridge) and Portikus Museum
The Alte Brucke, first mentioned in 1222, is the oldest crossing over the Frankfurt river. Since then, the bridge has been rebuilt 18 times. The Portikus Museum sits on an island near the south end of the bridge, representing a historical watermill that was once part of the bridge. The one-room gallery is free to visit and features contemporary art. Walking Directions To Next Stop
#25 Old Sachsenhausen
Narrow lanes, timber-frame houses, artistic water fountains and quaint courtyards are found throughout the historic Old Sachsenhausen district. Once a separate village, Sachsenhausen was encircled by Frankfurt city walls in the late 1300s (the Kihhirtenturm Tower still stands on Rittergasse). The district was used as farmland that included apple orchards, thus the rise of Frankfurt’s famous apple wine.
The history of apple wine and taverns has taken on a modern twist – and now the lanes are filled with cliché party bars (there is even a Hooters). Hanging out in Sachsenhausen is one of the top things to do in Frankfurt at night. Although particularly quiet during the day, it’s worth a wander through the district to imagine what the city once looked like (just ignore the bar signs).
Despite the disappointment of the historic district being overrun by garish touristy bars, one of the fun things to do in Frankfurt is to visit the apple wine taverns in Old Sachsenhausen. There are many taverns to choose from in the area. Unfortunately, our only recommendation is to avoid Gaststatte Atschel, where the staff is overtly rude and ruthlessly disrespectful to tourists. Walking Directions To Next Stop
Visiting museums is one of the top Frankfurt activities – and some of the best museums in Frankfurt are clustered together in an area called Museumsufer. Ten of the city’s most prominent museums are found on the south bank of the River Main between Alte Brucke and Friedensbrucke, while a few more are found along the north bank. The museum embankment is a nice place for a walk, even if you don’t intend on visiting any museums.
Two of the most popular museums on the south bank are the Stadel Museum and the Deutsches Filmmuseum. Most museums offer significant discounts on entry with the Frankfurt Card. Walking Directions To Next Stop
#27 Frankfurt River Walk
Tree-lined paths and riverside parks are found on both banks of the Main River – and are a perfect place to end your free walking tour of Frankfurt. Relax on a bench, stroll in the shade or take in the city views.
Use this Frankfurt city map with attractions to find your way on your self-guided walk.
More Frankfurt Sightseeing Ideas
Our free walking tour of Frankfurt is a fantastic way to see the city…but it does include a lot of walking! Although our preferred method of discovering the city is on our own two feet, we have a few tips on other ways to explore Frankfurt.
Hop On Hop Off Frankfurt Bus
The Frankfurt sightseeing bus is a great option for getting around the city without wearing out the tread on your shoes. Visitors interested in a Frankfurt bus tour can book tickets on the Hop On Hop Off Bus Frankfurt. Get the details here!
Applewine Express Tourist Train
The Ebbelwei Express is a historic tram that chugs through the city past numerous city sights. In addition, guests are treated to an on-board glass of apple wine, pretzels and music. Find out more!
Frankfurt River Cruise
A popular way to see the city is from the River Main. There are several boats that take passengers on river cruises up and down the Main River. Book Your Cruise!
Frankfurt Tourist Guide Tour
Rather than discovering the city on your own, join fellow travelers on a tour of the city that is led by a professional Frankfurt tourist guide. Get the details here!
Frankfurt Airport Tour
Travelers with a layover in the Frankfurt Airport (and those who are just really interested in aviation) can join a Frankfurt Airport Tour. The tour offers a behind-the-scene look at one of the busiest airports in Europe.
One of the top things to do in Frankfurt in December is visit the Christmas Markets. In fact, the Frankfurt Christmas Market is the reason we decided to visit the city…and it was fabulous!
Frankfurt Sightseeing Card
The Frankfurt Card offers an array of benefits. Card holders are granted free access to all public transportation (including trains between the airport and city) and discounts of up to 50% on museums, attractions and guided tours. Tickets are valid for either one or two days. Families or friends traveling together can benefit from the group ticket (up to 5 people). Visitors can buy and print passes in advance so the pass is ready to use as soon as you arrive!
- One-Day Ticket – €10.50
- Two-Day Ticket – €15.50
- One-Day Group Ticket – €22.00
- Two-Day Group Ticket – €32.00
More Frankfurt Things To Do
Although our self-guided Frankfurt walking tour includes the top things to do in Frankfurt, Germany there are a few more sights you can add to your list. Note: We did not personally visit these Frankfurt points of interest.
Palm Garden – The Frankfurt Botanical Garden.
Berger Strasse – Shopping street with boutique cafes and shops.
IG Farben Haus – Now the main building of Frankfurt University, but previously a large chemical company, the massive building is an architectural gem.
Schillermarkt – Friday street market.
As we mentioned previously, museums are top Frankfurt attractions. Below is a list of popular museums that you might want to check out when you visit Frankfurt.
- Senckenberg Natural History Museum
- Stadel Art Museum
- Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
- German Film Museum
- German museum of Architecture
- Goethe Museum
- Historisches Museum
- Jewish Museum
- MMK Museum of Modern Art Frankfurt
- Archaeological Museum
- Museum for Communication
Read reviews of the top-rated Frankfurt Museums on TripAdvisor.
Frankfurt Day Trips
Looking for the best places to visit near Frankfurt? Check out these top-rated Frankfurt Day Tours on Viator.
Heidelberg Half-Day Trip from Frankfurt
Travel by luxury bus from Frankfurt to Heidelberg and tour the medieval town with a knowledgeable guide. Book it now!
Black Forest and Strasbourg Day Trip from Frankfurt
Neuschwanstein Castle and Rothenburg Day Trip
See two of Germany’s most famous sights on a full-day tour from Frankfurt. Visit the Disney-inspired Neuschwanstein Castle (admission included in price of tour!). Next, discover the walled village, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a preserved medieval town full of cobblestone lanes. Book it now!
City Highlights and Rhine Valley Full-Day Tour
Combine Frankfurt sightseeing with a full-day tour of the villages along the Rhine Valley and a Rhine River Cruise. See the city sights from the seat of a double-decker bus, then travel through the UNESCO World Heritage Rhine Valley – from Rudesheim to Sankt Goarshausen. Cruise the river on a steamboat and end your day with a wine tasting. Book this trip!
How Many Days in Frankfurt?
Whether you are looking for things to do in Frankfurt for a day or advice on how to spend a weekend in Frankfurt, we’ve got your covered! Use our tips below to create your ideal Frankfurt itinerary.
1 Day in Frankfurt
Wondering what to do in Frankfurt for a day? No problem! There are numerous ways to see Frankfurt in a day. We recommend starting with our above outlined Frankfurt sightseeing tour. At the end of the self-guided walk, either visit one of the famous museums in Frankfurt, Germany or stroll along the riverside. End the day back in Romerberg and have a pint of Binding Frankfurt beer at the bar at the north entrance of the square.
2 Days in Frankfurt
There are many options for a Frankfurt 2-days itinerary! On Day 1, we recommend following our advice for what to see in Frankfurt in one day. Then, on Day Two visit two more museums in the morning. In the afternoon, travel 10 km west outside of the city center to explore the well-preserved town of Hochst.
3 Days in Frankfurt
Visitors planning 3-day Frankfurt vacations will find it is easy to fill the time! Use our recommendations for things to do in Frankfurt in 2 days, then on your last day take one of the highly-rated Frankfurt day trips (listed above).
Where To Stay in Frankfurt, Germany
Although there are numerous hotels throughout the city, we think the best place to stay in Frankfurt is near the Hauptbahnhof train station. We were seeking a budget hotel with clean rooms and en-suite bathrooms. Although we found our choices to be somewhat limited, we found a hotel that suited our needs: the Hotel Excelsior. The hotel has spacious rooms, free minibar beverages (including beer, juice, water and cola) and a location right outside the south entrance to the Frankfurt train station (where we caught the train to Paris).
Start your search for places to stay in Frankfurt, Germany on Booking.com – like we do!
Before Your Trip to Frankfurt
- Frankfurt is a walkable city…but only if you have the right shoes! Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes for your trip. I (Sarah) have traveled with these shoes by Columbia and Skechers. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell.
- We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos. We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and lightweight – and the new models are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
- It’s easy to get turned around in any foreign city…and especially Frankfurt! Make sure to have a good city map and/or guidebook before arriving. Visitors can pick up a free Frankfurt train map at the Frankfurt Tourist Information Center in the main train station.
- We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.
We want to know: What is your favorite part of Frankfurt sightseeing? What would you add to our Free Walking Tour Frankfurt? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments!
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