Germany’s Mainhattan

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Frankfurt am Main, more commonly known simply as Frankfurt, in the central German state of Hesse, is one of the world’s smallest metropolises and a cosmopolitan city. It’s also one of Europe’s most important hubs, connecting Germany with the rest of the world.  

Frankfurt’s open and hospitable atmosphere is attributed to its history as a trading centre. It is also a centre for commerce, culture, education, tourism and web traffic. The city plays host to a number of large trade fairs each year, including the Frankfurt Motor Show and the Frankfurt Book Fair. It is also home to many cultural and educational institutions, including the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University and the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences.

Frankfurt International Airport

Frankfurt Airport is Germany’s busiest airport in terms of passenger traffic, the third busiest in Europe, and was ranked the world’s 11th busiest in 2012.

Lufthansa uses Frankfurt Airport as its primary traffic hub, including its fleet of Airbus A380 aircraft.

Since opening in 1936, the airport has undergone a number of expansions. It now boasts two large terminals, with a capacity of approximately 65 million passengers yearly, and four runways. Recently, it was upgraded to accommodate the A380, including a large maintenance facility for the jumbo aircraft.

Anticipating increased traffic volumes in the next six years, the airport added a new terminal section adjacent to Terminal 1 for an additional six million passengers, which opened in October 2012, and a large third terminal for 25 million passengers is scheduled to begin construction in the near future.

Public Transport

The city is well serviced by an extensive public transport system run by the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV or Rhine/Main Regional Transport Association). RMV tickets can be bought from machines placed within the service area, on your smartphone with a free RMV app, from the RMV.de website, or from one of their mobility centres – if you need a bit more assistance with purchasing your ticket – and are suitable for all train and tram trips.

RMV operates nine train lines on the S-Bahn, with an average frequency of 15 minutes. The S-Bahn connects Frankfurt with the Rhine Main region. The nine lines of the U-Bahn serve Frankfurt and the larger suburbs of Bad Homburg and Oberursel in the north, with trains available every three minutes or so.

Frankfurt has 10 tram lines, with trams arriving on average every 10 minutes. Many sections are served by two lines, combining to give a five-minute frequency during rush-hour. The trams run only above ground and serve more stops than either the U-Bahn or the S-Bahn.

The night bus takes over from the trains.

Taxis can be found outside most train stations and can be prearranged with an operator or at a taxi rank. It’s not unheard of to hail a taxi from the street, but it is an uncommon practice.

Velotaxis – tricycles designed to carry passengers – are also available in Frankfurt. It’s a great way of seeing the city, as the velotaxis are allowed into pedestrian-only areas.

Where to Stay

There is an abundance of hotels in Frankfurt, with at least three directly connected to the Frankfurt airport and a large number within 10 kilometres.

Hilton has two properties at the airport – the Hilton Frankfurt Airport and the Hilton Garden Inn Frankfurt Airport. They both connect to Terminal 1 by means of a skywalk, offer Wi-Fi connectivity and fitness centres. The Hilton Frankfurt Airport offers 10 meeting rooms and the Globe Ballroom, which can accommodate up to 570 guests.

The Sheraton Frankfurt Airport, also directly connected to the airport, offers 1008 rooms and suites, Club and Towers floors, two restaurants, a cafe, two bars, two fitness centres, and a business centre, as well as 60 banqueting and conference rooms.

The Steigenberger Airport Hotel Frankfurt offers 570 guest rooms and 40 conference rooms. There is a free 24-hour airport shuttle to transport guests the four minutes to the hotel.

The Park Inn by Radisson Frankfurt Airport has 209 guest rooms, including 22 business-friendly rooms and two junior suites, all with free Wi-Fi. There is a daily free airport shuttle from 05h00 to midnight.

The 3-star Meininger Hotel Frankfurt Main at the airport offers 168 rooms, free W-LAN, and Internet terminals.

The 330-room InterCityHotel Frankfurt Airport gives guests a free city ticket to enjoy local public transport, making getting around the city more convenient. There is also free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel and an airport shuttle every half hour between 04h45 and 00h30.

The 4-star Mercure Hotel Frankfurt Airport has 150 rooms with free Wi-Fi. A complimentary shuttle service ferries guests between the hotel and airport, which is three kilometres away. The main Frankfurt train station is 20 kilometres away.

Sightseeing

The Ebbelwei Express is a great way to tour the city. The historical tram takes passengers on a hop-on-hop-off trip to the Römer (the medieval building that serves as Frankfurt’s city hall), through the Ebbelwei district, out to the Frankfurt zoo, the central train station and exhibition grounds. The trip lasts one hour, not counting the time spent exploring the different stops, and is only available on weekends and public holidays.

If you’re looking for a vantage point from which to view to the city, head to the Main Tower. Completed in 1999, with a façade made entirely of glass, the Main Tower consists of two interlinked high-rise buildings – the square tower is 170 metres high and the round tower 199.5 metres tall. It is the only building in the city with a publicly accessible viewing platform.  

Shoppers, head to the Zeil – Frankfurt’s most popular shopping mile, with one of the highest turnovers in Europe. Not only will you find some well-known department store chains, but also a host of specialised shops.

Palm Garden, in the heart of Frankfurt, displays plants from all corners of the world. The Palm House recreates a sub-tropical landscape. The Tropicarium depicts different tropical landscapes. The Sub-Antarctic House gives a realistic interpretation of freezing temperatures at the extreme south of the planet. The Flower House has an impressive display of floral beauty all year round.

St Bartholomew’s Cathedral, in the centre of the city, is not strictly speaking a cathedral at all, since it was never a bishop’s church, but it is one of the few to receive the designation of Imperial Cathedral. For 300 years it served as the site of coronation for Holy Roman Emperors.The present-day church is the fifth structure known to have existed at this location – the first structure was erected around 680AD. The cathedral museum in the medieval cloister displays exhibits from the cathedral’s treasury and spectacular finds from the grave of a girl from the late Merovingian period in the 7th century. From April to October, it is possible to climb the tower. Visitors who climb the 324 steps are rewarded with a magnificent panoramic view.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German poet, playwright, novelist and natural philosopher, perhaps best known for his two-part poetic drama Faust. Today, the Goethe House and Goethe Museum stand on the site of his birthplace. The 17th century building was destroyed by bombs in World War II, but has been restored to its original Late Baroque state, to give visitors an authentic feel of the city in the 1800s.

Restaurants

Frankfurt is teeming with multicultural eateries to tempt your taste buds.

The Weinsinn, a cosy Michelin 1-star restaurant, is an easy commute from the airport, where you will enjoy delicious continental cuisine expertly paired with delectable wines. The menu, inspired by the international bistronomics movement, includes dishes of quail with apple, celery and duck liver, halibut with shrimp tapenade, and braised cheek of beef with truffle jus.

If you’re in the mood for a little Eastern flavour, give Iwase a try. The restaurant, 17 kilometres from the airport on Vilbeler Street, serves sushi, sashimi and other authentic Japanese dishes. It is hugely popular, with a small number of tables, so a reservation is recommended.

For a taste of Italy, head to Trattoria i Siciliani on Walter-Kolb Street and enjoy Sicilian cuisine with dishes like sea bass with black ravioli stuffed with mozzarella in a sauce of lemon, green peas and persil, octopus salad, and plenty of pizza and pasta options.

Antschel serves up traditional German fare. It is the city’s oldest apple wine pub. Around the corner from Trattoria i Siciliani, Antschel is the place to sample boiled beef sausage, grilled pork knuckles, pork schnitzels, and sauerkraut. Make sure you wash your meal down with a glass of Schoppen – apple wine.

Weather

Almost smack bang in the middle of the country, Frankfurt has a typical European climate. Summers are warm, with temperatures averaging between 15ºC and 22ºC. Winters are cold, with snow likely between December and February – temperatures rarely rise above 8ºC. There is no wet or dry season in Frankfurt, with a 50% chance of rain at some point during summer days and a 60% chance of either rain or snow in winter.

Visa

Travel to Germany requires a Schengen visa for all non-European Union passport holders. A Schengen visa requires applicants to be finger printed and a digital ID photo needs to be taken at a German consulate. It takes at least two weeks to be issued with a Schengen visa, longer in some countries, so be sure to apply well in advance of your trip.

Kate Kennedy

FACT FILE
Population:
690,000
Time zone: GMT +1
Plugs: Two-pin round
Dialling code: +49
Currency: Euro – 1€=$1.3
Language: German