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Uncover lustrous gems among the glass towers

On first glance Frankfurt is perhaps not the most tourist-orientated of German cities, but the country’s financial powerhouse and home of the European Central Bank has more to offer than the countless glinting skyscrapers that make up ‘Mainhattan’. A bustling international trade show hub, the city is home to over 40 art galleries and museums, an attractive riverside promenade and intriguing multicultural neighbourhoods full of surprises.

Start out at Romerberg, the attractive main square, which though bombed in World War II, has been pleasantly reconstructed. The original Romer city hall still stands beside modern additions, such as the Historical Museum and modern art gallery Schirn Kunsthalle. Stroll along the banks of the Main River calling in at a few of the dozen or so cultural institutions occupying big villas that comprise the ‘Museum Embankment’, including the Stadel Art Museum, which showcases masterpieces from the likes of Durer, Rembrandt, Rubens, Renoir, Picasso, Cezanne, Francis Bacon and Gerhard Richter.

Amid the Westend business district you’ll find botanical garden Palmengarten, an exotic oasis bursting with plants and trees from across the globe spread across 22 hectares. Stop by the Kleinmarkthalle for a slice of local life. This vast food market has over 150 stalls representing every kind of cuisine, from German bread and meats to Middle Eastern and Asian flavours. Sample delicious regional delicacies like Frankfurt Green Sauce, made from seven herbs and served cold, usually with boiled eggs and potatoes. In the lively taverns of former working-class district Sachsenhausen pull up a pew at a communal bench in a courtyard and sink a local apple wine while soaking up the neighbourhood vibe.

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Carefully selected Frankfurt hotels

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Best hotels in Frankfurt for all types of traveller

We have a great selection of quality hotels in Frankfurt to recommend. Hampton by Hilton Frankfurt City Centre Messe is located next to the Messe Frankfurt trade fair hub, just steps away from restaurants and the Skyline Plaza shopping mall. Facilities include a small gym, casual dining area and a free hot breakfast.

Holiday Inn Express Frankfurt Messe is another good value option for the Messe area. The hotel offers two meeting rooms, charging points for electric vehicles and an inclusive continental buffet breakfast.

Holiday Inn Frankfurt – Alte Oper sits in Frankfurt’s financial district, ten minutes’ walk from the Altstadt, Old Opera and Romerberg Square. Savour favourites in their American diner Francis, sip cocktails in the open lobby and unwind in spacious rooms with a nature theme.

Innside Frankfurt Ostend is a four-star-superior city-centre hotel offering an inviting lobby bar, expansive terrace and a fitness centre with sauna area.

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Frankfurt holiday FAQs

Make the most of your Frankfurt holiday

Experience a little piece of the Med in the heart of the city at Nizza Park. Named after the German word for Nice, Nizza is a unique mini-landscape and microclimate on the northern banks of the Main River where fig trees, palm trees and lemon trees flourish. Nizza, one of the largest Mediterranean public gardens north of the Alps, contains specially chosen frost-resistant species that can bloom year-round.

What are the best things to do in Frankfurt?

  1. The Goethe House is the birthplace and childhood home of one of Germany’s most celebrated writers, the poet and playwright Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The 17th Century house museum is decorated with beautiful period furniture and paintings and is famous as the place where the writer penned several of his best-known works, including the Sorrows of Young Werther and Urfaust. Your entrance ticket also gets you into the German Romanticism Museum right next door.
  2. Kaiserdom St Bartholomaus is Frankfurt’s impressive red sandstone ‘imperial cathedral’ dominated by its 95-metre-high Gothic west tower. The tower houses the second heaviest bell in Germany. Climb the 328 steps to take in fine Old Town views, look out for the skull altar where Holy Roman Emperors were once crowned, see the tombs of famous Frankfurters, peruse the small museum holding liturgical items including the grave goods of a 7th Century Merovingian girl and catch one of the organ recitals or concerts held here regularly.
  3. One of Frankfurt’s more intriguing museums is Dialogue in the Dark, an innovative exhibit which reverses the roles of sighted and vision impaired people by having the former guided through a series of lightless themed rooms by the latter. This award-winning social enterprise has proved so popular that it’s been exported as a franchise exhibition all over the world. Don’t miss the KlangRaum, where visitors immerse themselves in total darkness to a surround sound installation on specially designed sound furniture.
  4. The two life-size dinosaurs guarding the entrance to the Senckenberg Museum give you a clue as to what you can discover inside Frankfurt’s impressive natural history museum. Inside this grand early 20th Century neo-Baroque building you’ll stumble across a vast selection of dinosaur fossils, many fossils from the nearby Grube Messel pit, including an early horse that lived around 50 million years ago, a cast of Lucy, a virtually complete skeleton of an upright hominid and extensive collections covering geology, animals and plants from each era of the planet’s history.
  5. Very little of old Frankfurt survived World War II intact, but one notable exception is the Eschenheimer Turm, the city’s oldest building. This impressive Gothic medieval tower, standing 47 metres tall, was once part of the city’s fortifications and was built by master cathedral architect Madern Gerthener in the first half of the 15th Century. Today it houses a swish cafe, while several rooms also host events.
  6. If you’re looking for the ideal place to take in Frankfurt's skyline, you can’t go far wrong with a saunter across the Eiserner Steg or iron bridge. The neo-Gothic bridge, originally built over the Main River in 1869 but rebuilt after being bombed in World War II, connects the city centre with the Sachsenhausen district and sees around 10,000 daily visitors. Many of these have deposited love locks over the years and you can often be regaled by buskers on this spot.
  7. Frankfurt’s main Christmas market, held on St Paul’s Square with the grand backdrop of Romerberg town hall and a colossal Christmas tree at its centre, is one of the finest and largest in Germany. A festive market has been held here as far back as 1393. Today it stretches from the Rosmarkt across the Zeil shopping promenade all the way down to the Romerberg and the Main River and features a Christmas Arts and Craft Market with work by local artists, an inclusive ‘Pink Christmas’ theme, advent concerts, chiming church bells and even a visit by old St Nick himself.

Where are the best places to stay in Frankfurt?

Bohemian Sachsenhausen has some of the city’s oldest half-timbered architecture, along with the Museum Embankment. One of Frankfurt’s livelier enclaves, its narrow pedestrianised streets are lined with cosy bars and pubs where you can sample the local brew of apple wine. Call in at Bonechina a tiny, sleek speakeasy bar where you can pour your own drink, browse the alternative shops and don’t miss Schaumainkai, a bustling flea market held on alternate Saturdays crammed with stalls selling bric-a-brac, arts and crafts, antiques, used bikes and locally-made fashions.

Bahnhofsviertel, the area surrounding Frankfurt’s central train station, has shaken off its seedy reputation and is now a happening area packed with some of the city’s best nightlife and international dining. The main strip is buzzy Kaiserstrasse, a wide boulevard lined with some of the city’s oldest handsome 18th Century buildings. Sink an inventive cocktail at Plank Cafe-Bar-Studio, a cool bar named after legendary music producer Conny Plank and festooned with local art and hip decor. Catch a cabaret show at Pik Dame or scarf down some of the city’s best Neapolitan-style pizza at Pizzeria Montana. There’s a good choice of inexpensive hotels in the area too.

Bornheim is where the locals go to shop and people watch, its maze of cobblestone streets and small alleyways are complimented by scores of al fresco cafes and restaurants spilling on to the streets come summer. Most of the action centres around Bergstrasse, which houses historic town hall Bornheimer Rathaus with its ornate carvings, half timbers and Baroque door and shutters. Bethmannpark has a delightful Chinese garden full of pagodas, footbridges and a giant dragon keeping a watchful eye on proceedings. Swing by Mosaik bar for some cool jazz tunes paired with a fine selection of whiskeys and then check out the tasty twice-weekly farmers’ market for amazing cured meats and traditional German rye bread.

The sedate and glamorous Westend is the main business district where the city’s high-flying financiers hang out. Stand-out buildings include Alte Oper, the city’s splendid Italian Renaissance opera house, and by contrast, Messeturm, the 63-storey-high trade tower that’s Germany’s second tallest building. The streets here are dotted with grand 19th Century villas built during the reign of Emperor Wilhelm II. Take a stroll among the Palmengarten’s 200,000 square metres of tropical blooms and then savour a leisurely lunch in the cafeteria of the Goethe University Frankfurt housed in a striking modernist masterpiece designed by Hans Poelzig.

Nordend is one of Frankfurt’s most desirable areas famed for its gamut of great but inexpensive eateries, scores of inviting apple wine pubs and beautiful green spaces. Make a beeline for Holzhausenschlosschen, a moated 18th Century country villa and summer retreat that hosts a wide range of cultural events. Play volleyball or go climbing in pretty Gunthersburgpark, once owned by the Rothschild family. Shop for the latest local ladies' fashions and designer statement pieces in Kleidoskop and treat yourself to a glass of something at Weinstube Nordend, a local’s haunt serving over 40 European wines by the glass at very reasonable prices. Nordend is also an electronic music hotspot where clubs like Ponyhof pump out the latest bangers.

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