Frankfurt is often thought of as a ‘layover city’ rather than a must-visit German destination, but you’ll be surprised to learn that there’s a lot you can do and see in this hip metropolis.
While Frankfurt is mostly known for being a major financial centre, the city has in recent years become a thriving cultural hub, boasting several world-class museums, an innovative food scene and a variety of festivals and open-air events.
Frankfurt is also the perfect base for visiting other cities and attractions in the region of Hesse, including the Taunus mountains, Heidelberg and the gorgeous town of Limburg.
If you’re looking for free things to do in Frankfurt on a long layover, or planning to spend a day or two exploring the city on a budget, here are some attractions you shouldn’t miss.
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1. Take a walk through the peaceful Korean Garden
Frankfurt is a very green city – something that you’ll notice straightaway from the plane. The city centre is fringed by large parks, one of them being Grüneburgpark, where you’ll find a typical Korean Garden; a gift to the city from South Korea. The garden is divided into four sections representing the four seasons, and features two beautiful pavilions and ponds.
Tucked away from the busy city centre, this is a great (and peaceful) place for having a picnic and soaking up the sun on a beautiful day.
2. Explore the city by night
Frankfurt takes on a different character at night. Its busy commercial streets become a pleasure to walk through when the shops and offices are shut, and the old town has more of a romantic aura in the dark than it does during the day.
There’s a lovely atmosphere in the evening, especially in the Old Town Square and along the river promenade. Historic buildings, such as the Opera House and the Cathedral, are beautifully lit up at night.
Tip: Sunsets can be pretty spectacular in Frankfurt – head to the love lock bridge (The Eiserner Steg) for the best views.
3. Check out the beautiful buildings in the Old Town
Frankfurt was heavily bombed during the Second World War, and the city’s medieval quarter was partially destroyed in a single raid. In recent years, the old town has undergone extensive restructuring. Most of the timber-framed houses and other medieval buildings that had once framed the Römerberg plaza have been completely rebuilt.
Nevertheless, the restructured old town is still a sight to behold. There are also a few cosy cafes and traditional restaurants in the main square and the surrounding streets.
4. Go for a pleasant stroll along the river promenade
The wide, tree-lined promenade along the river Main offers some panoramic vistas of the city’s skyline, particularly from the south bank and the love lock bridge.
The river walk is also perfect for cycling or just sitting down and watching the world go by. On a beautiful day, the promenade is bustling with activity, and you can enjoy a refreshing drink at one of the riverside bars.
Love cycling? Explore Frankfurt on a bike tour by Baja Bikes.
5. Visit St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral
The impressive Cathedral of St. Bartholomew dominates Frankfurt’s skyline, its Gothic tower contrasting with the modern skyscrapers in the downtown area. Like many other historic buildings in the city, the Cathedral was reconstructed in the 1950s after suffering extensive damage in the Second World War.
Besides admiring the cathedral’s striking interior for free, you can also climb up the tower’s 324 steps for magnificent views of the city.
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