Frankfurt am Main is Germany’s business and financial hub, as well as the center of the larger metropolitan area of the Frankfurt/Rhine-Main Metropolitan Region. The city is located on the river Main in the heart of Central Germany.
The city’s economy is based mostly on finance, transport, and trade fairs. Frankfurt is the largest financial center of continental Europe, home to numerous banks and stock exchanges, and is also a major transportation hub; the Frankfurt Airport is one of the world’s busiest. The city has excellent connections between railway lines, airlines and roads, thus coming in and out of the city is a breeze. The city hosts numerous international trade fairs, also the well known Book Fair.
Frankfurt boasts a futuristic skyline, dominated by a forest of avant-garde skyscrapers. The old city core is well preserved; its museums and historic buildings see millions of visitors per year. The city is also an important cultural hub: it is home to many museums, theaters and operas.
Frankfurt has a temperate continental climate with cold winters and warm summers with occasional rain. Temperatures are never extreme. Average annual temperature is 10.1 °C
January average temperature 1 deg Celsius 47 mm rainfall February average temperature 2 deg Celsius, 38 mm rainfall March average temperature 5 deg Celsius, 42 mm rainfall April average temperature 9 deg Celsius, 41 mm rainfall May average temperature 14 deg Celsius, 55 mm rainfall June average temperature 17 deg Celsius, 67 mm rainfall July average temperature 19 deg Celsius, 69 mm rainfall August average temperature 18 deg Celsius, 70 mm rainfall September average temperature 15 deg Celsius, 51 mm rainfall October average temperature 10 deg Celsius, 54 mm rainfall November average temperature 5 deg Celsius, 54 mm rainfall December average temperature 2 deg Celsius, 53 mm rainfall
Frankfurt is Germany’s main transportation hub, and one of the busiest airports in the world. It is also Europe’s second in passenger traffic, after London Heathrow.
The airport has good connections to the city. You can use taxi, bus or S bahn. Take bus line 61 to Frankfurt Südbahnhof (South Station), or commuter train S-bahn, line S8 or S9 direction Offenbach Ost or Hanau at the Regionalbahnhof (regional train station) located at the Terminal 1.
The city Public Transportation system is efficient but expensive. It consists of interconnected systems of U-Bahn trains, S-Bahn city trains, trams and buses. Services operate from 4:00 am to 2:00 am. Night buses operate from 1:00 am onwards. All systems use the same tickets; prices are set according to the number of zones traveled. Most tickets are valid for 1 hour during which time the passenger can switch any number and variety of transports. Tickets must be bought from machines before boarding the trains/buses.
Taxis abound, they are safe but expensive.
Using your own car in the city is not recommended – parking spaces are limited and expensive, in addition to congested traffic during the rush hours the street system is difficult to navigate.
Frankfurt is a bike friendly city with numerous bike lanes. There are several bike rentals available, one of the providers is also the Deutsche Bahn, with bikes available April to December.
Many boats ply the Main River running through Frankfurt. The bat ride offers incomparable views of the city and is also a hassle-free way of seeing the sights. Tours vary in length - from half an hour to several days. You can either check listings and book a tour or simply take a stroll along the riverbanks and hop on a boat.
The city has a big selection of shopping possibilities. "Die Zeil" is a bustling shopping street, located downtown Frankfurt. It features the ‘Zeilgalerie’ – a modern shopping mall - along with numerous other stores selling well-known brands. The area is in close vicinity to numerous attractions, as well as the so-called ‘Freßgass’, a street with many restaurants.
In addition there are various other shopping districts further out of city center, if you are looking for a quieter place to shop. These are Bornheim, Bockenheim or Sachsenhausen. Berger, Leipziger and Schweizer streets offer a colorful and international range of boutiques, second-hand stores and cafes.
The riverfront is very popular in the summer, where numerous cafés and restaurants pop up. There are also green spaces suitable for a game of soccer or Frisbee.
Frankfurt boasts the largest city forest in Germany; its ‘Stadtwald’ measures 48 square kilometers. The forest is a popular recreation area. It features six playgrounds and nine ponds. It can be easily reached via tram line 14 direction Neu-Isenburg/Stadtgrenze from Frankfurt South Station (Frankfurt Süd), or lines 2, 19, 20 and 21 connecting with downtown Frankfurt.
Römerberg Square is the main square of Frankfurt’s Old Town. It is encircled by the typical half-timbered houses (Fachwerkhäuser) which were reconstructed after WW II. The former court chapel is also situated here, the Nikolaikirche dating from the 12th century. The biggest attraction is the City Hall (Rathaus Römer), dating back to 1405. The square was the setting of Frankfurt’s first trade fairs back in the 13th century, and is today a lively and popular area dotted with pleasant café’s and shops.
Frankfurt is the birthplace of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), Germany’s most prominent writer and poet. The house was reconstructed and now offers a glimpse into how the life during the Baroque era. Visitors can see the family music room, library, living room and Goethe's study room.
Next door is the Goethe museum, which houses paintings by artists from German-speaking countries. The works span several periods, from late Baroque to Biedermeier period.
BÖRSE (FRANKFURT STOCK EXCHANGE)
The old stock exchange is still in use, although not full-steam as most of the traffic has been moved to the new headquarters. Apply for a guided tour in advance to access the interior where you can see the trading floor from observation deck. Just outside the building the bull and bear statues are situated. The animals are symbolic of finance, namely the bull market and the bear market - which denote the upward and the downward market trends.
ALTE OPER (OLD OPERA)
Address: Opernplatz 8 Phone: +49 69 134 0400
The Opera House is situated on a lively square in city center, and was inaugurated in 1880. It was demolished during WW “ but was completely rebuilt and reconstructed so that its façade resembles original. It is decorated with statues of Goethe and Mozart, the building interior, however, is modern. Today, the building no longer stages operas, but stages concerts, congresses and other events.
The Frankfurt Zoo is one of the most attractive and pleasant in Europe. It is home to 4,500 animals of 400 species, which live in environments closely resembling their natural habitat. The Zoo was rebuilt after WW 2 and was thoroughly modernized. Now it features several innovative sections, such as The Big Cat Jungle where lions and tigers prowl through an almost natural environment, the Exotarium with fish, reptiles, penguins, and insects coming from the Amazon to the Arctic Sea. Another spot not to be missed is the Grzimek House, where nights are made into days, home to a large number of nocturnal animals such as Aye-aye, aardvark, kinkajou, prehensile-tailed porcupine and kiwi. The Zoo complex also features two restaurants and an open air summer terrace.
Location: along River Main Access: U-bahn (Schweizer Platz or Willy-Brandt-Platz stop)
Frankfurt has a huge selection of museums, many of which are clustered along the banks of the River Main in the area called Museumsufer. Some of the museums are:
Frankfurt has a colorful dining scene. It brings the German classics, as well as the innumerable world and ethnic cuisines to the numerous eateries and restaurants around the city.
The Sachsenhausen area and the Grosse Bockenheimer Strasse (locally known as Fressgasse) are home to traditional German restaurants serving such classics as schnitzel (steak), sauerkraut (sour cabbage), and Frankfurter Hacksteak (chopped steak).
The city centre and Westend are home to Frankfurt’s best modern and international restaurants, while Nordend offers ethnic eateries and great cafés.
Address: Niedenau 50 Phone: +49-(0)-69-7214-24
Superb Italian restaurant located in a stately villa in Westend. Menu is filled with Italian delicacies and the wine list is adequately long to accompany it.
Address: Abtsgässchen 8 Phone: +49-(0)-69-6263-10
Picturesque establishment serving Indian and Pakistani food, including a rich selection of vegetarian dishes, is noted for good service and fair prices.
Chic, picturesque eatery – possessing the famed Michelin Star - is located in the heart of Frankfurt’s business district and serves superb French and Mediterranean cuisine. It boasts excellent service and a menu that never stays the same for long.
Address: Opernplatz 10 Phone: +49(0)-69-2870-07
Located in the vicinity of Alte Oper, this restaurant often caters to the consumers of culture in the nearby venue. During the summer they have a pleasant outdoor sitting area. The menu always includes modern and delicious items, and the service is great.
Address: Schweizer Straße 71 Phone: +49-(0)-69-6125-65
This is a traditional German apple wine café, known for a relaxed and festive atmosphere apple wine and hearty German food such as steaks, sausages, cabbage and potatoes.
The best known and one of the largest international book fairs in the world started in the 1400s, draws thousands of authors, vendors, visitors and book dealers from more than 100 countries all over the world.
FRANKFURT MOTO SHOW (Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung)
Web: www.iaa.de. Date: September, odd-numbered years (Held in Hannover on even-numbered years)
Frankfurt hosts the world's largest motor show held every two (odd-numbered) years. It is also the biggest and most prominent event on the city’s busy agenda.
SPRING DIPPE FAIR
This colorful 3-week-long festival is the first open air event after the winter. It attracts a large number of visitors, who come to enjoy the food, wine, and old-style carnival rides. The festival concludes with a huge fireworks display.
AUTUMN DIPPE FAIR
The relative of the spring fair, held in autumn, also focuses on old-style entertainment with carousels, roller coasters and other rides for the kids and apple wine and local food for the grown-ups. There is also a market offering innumerable shopping opportunities. The event concludes with a fireworks show.
THE FINE ART FAIR
Date: April Location: Frankfurt Messe
This is the city’s most prominent art show. About 50 galleries take part the event the aim of which is to bring the world’s most promising young and adventurous artists under the spotlight.
THE MUSEUM QUAI FESTIVAL
This is one of the city’s biggest events. The 3-day festival draws large crowds and offers a varied program on the 10 stages set along the River Main, featuring art shows, technology exhibitions, films and a numerous concerts, with museums and other organizations as sponsors.
FRANKFURT CINEMA WEEK
This innovative and fun festival brings open-air cinema to the streets of the city. For a whole week, movies of all genres are screened in various unusual locations, such as in parks and on river boats.
The Old core hosts a holiday fair from Thanksgiving to Christmas. The city is decorated with lights and numerous activities are available in the lively streets from Romerberg to the Main River.
Frankfurt has a wide selection of night-time venues. There are many jazz bars with live music, night clubs for dancing, as well as classical music venues.
Bars are usually open until 1 am during the week but stay open much longer during the weekend. The best area to go out at night is in the northern part of the city near Fressgasse, Zeil and Römerberg. Sachsenhausen is a district of cobbled lanes with lively Latin, Irish and local bars.
Jazz clubs with live bands are mainly located in the area of Kleine Bockenheimer Strasse. The best known jazz venue is Jazzkeller, featuring star performers from around the world.
Roman settlements in the area were established in the 1st century BC. Germanic tribes of Alemani and Franks lived in the area and by 794 the settlement was first mentioned as “Franconovurt” (City of Franks) as a prominent ecclesiastical council of Franconian nobility under the direction of Emperor Charlemagne.
Already in 1140 Frankfurt was noted as a major trading post. Its annual trade fair was initiated in 1240, spring trade was introduced in 1330, whereas the city’s best known event today, the Book Fair, was first organized in 1480.
German kings were crowned in Frankfurt and by 1372 it became a Free Imperial City, and thus became a member of the Reichstag, a self-governing city-state, directly subordinate to the Holy Roman Emperor and not to any regional ruler or local nobleman.
The town had a population of 10,000 people by early 14th century and a new city wall had to be constructed. In 1460 a Jewish district was formed where all Jews had to be relocated. In 1533 Reformation was introduced, and thus public practice of Catholicism was prohibited for the next 15 years.
The Exchange was established in 1585. By the end of the Middle Ages, Frankfurt was already among Germany’s richest towns and most prominent trading spots.
Social unrest in 1614 caused by constitutional conflict led to aggression, some of which was aimed at the Jewish population. At the same time the town was occupied by the Swedes – during the ‘Thirty Years war’. In 1630s the plague broke out in the city. After the 1848 revolution the city became the seat of the first German democratically elected Parliament but the establishemt failed after 1 year.
On August 28, 1749 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the city’s most famous son, was born. As a prominent poet, writer and philosopher, he left an important mark in the history of world literature. His best known works are the drama Faust and the epistolary novel The Sorrows of Young Werther.
After the French Revolution in 1789 Frankfurt took sides of the royalists and was consequently destroyed by Napoleon’s troops. After the fall of Napoleon’s empire in 1814 Frankfurt became the permanent seat of the Council of the German Federation.
In May 1848 the first German National Assembly met in the Paulskirche. The passing of constitution failed as did the choosing of a new German Emperor. Revolts were suppressed by the Prussian troops.
The city lost its independence during the Austrian-Prussian War, as it was attacked in 1866 and annexed to Prussia.
The Second German Reich was founded in 1870-71 and brought about a major economic boom. During this period many of Frankfurt’s iconic landmarks emerged, for example Alte Oper, Hauptbahnhof and Städel.
MODERN (20TH CENTURY)
The WW I hardly touched Frankfurt. The city’s University was established in 1914. In 1920 the Trade Fair was re-established.
During the 1930s Nazi rose to power and the destruction and deportation of the city’s Jewish community begun in 1941. The city suffered heavy allies’ bombing during the latter years of WW II.
After the war the city was rebuilt, with numerous housing and industrial complexes, as well as hundreds of skyscrapers in the Banking Quarter. The city continued to develop and became a major economic center, home to over 400 banks and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
Today Frankfurt has become the financial and transportation centre of Germany.
The Germans like quick, firm handshakes and apply them when arriving and departing. When meeting a group of people shake hands with each individual person, including children.
Close friends kiss on both cheeks in informal situations.
Do not be late for appointments or for social meetings, as Germans tend to be very punctual and will see even a small delay as an offence. For really important meetings it is better to arrive 5 to 10 minutes before the scheduled time.
VAT and service charge are included in the bill but it is nevertheless customary to round it up.
If you are invited to someone’s home bring small gift such as flowers, chocolates or imported wine.
Germans are extremely environmentally aware. Garbage is separated for easier recycling.
Wait until your host invites you to sit down and show you your seat. Do not start eating until someone says ‘gutten apetit’ (good appetite). The first toast is given by the host. Later, the guest of honor should also make a toast.
People say ‘Zum Wohl!' when toasting with wine and 'Prost!' when toasting with beer.
Frankfurt is a relatively safe city for travelers. Armed robberies and other violent crimes are rare. Petty crime is prevalent in the train station (a drug dealer/junkie hangout) and the red lights district.
Use common sense and your visit should be hassle-free. If you find yourself in trouble, contact the local Police for help.
Frankfurt is most pleasant from late spring to early autumn. The best time to visit the city for sightseeing is during the summer when days are long and temperatures pleasantly warm.
If you are a business traveler, then visiting during the fairs is the obvious choice. During these times accommodation can be scarce. The biggest gigs are the Frankfurt Motor Show (biannually in mid-September) and the Book Fair (held annually in mid-October).