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Frankfurt is one of Europe’s busiest transport hubs. Its main airport, Frankfurt am Main (or simply Frankfurt Airport), accounts for much of this traffic. Frankfurt Airport (IATA Code: FRA) is the home of Lufthansa, Europe’s second-largest airline. There’s a strong possibility that anyone travelling to Europe or through Europe with Lufthansa will transit through this airport.
Frankfurt Airport is excellent for a long layover, and by long I mean more than 7 hours with luggage checked through to the onward destination. The airport is located only 10-15 minutes by train from Frankfurt city centre.
This post is a guide for passengers with a long Frankfurt layover and gives a sample itinerary of what to see in the city centre.
NOTE: Frankfurt’s second airport, Frankfurt-Hahn, is located approximately 77 miles (124km) from Frankfurt city centre. A stopover of at least one day would be required for the following itinerary if transiting through Hahn.
GETTING FROM FRANKFURT AIRPORT TO CITY CENTRE
Frankfurt Airport has two train stations: Regionalbahnhof catering for short distance trains and Fernbahnhof for long-distance trains. Both train stations are located in Terminal 1.
To access Frankfurt city centre, take either the S8 or S9 trains from the airport’s Regionalbahnhof to Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (main railway station). The journey costs a few euros and tickets can be purchased at the station.
Buses depart from outside Terminal 1 as do taxis. But as the S8 and S9 only take 10-15 minutes, train is the most convenient way.
From the Hauptbahnhof, take trams 11, 12, or 14 to get to the heart of the city.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN FRANKFURT
Frankfurt is synonymous with finance as skyscraper office blocks dominate the horizon. Such a skyline is unusual for Germany. In the shadows of the skyscrapers one will find Frankfurt’s gems.
The following itinerary will take one day so chose from the below sights and activities depending on time available.
ROMERBERG: Frankfurt city centre experienced massive damage during World War II but small sections have been carefully and lovingly restored, none more so than the Romerberg, a square whose original dated back centuries. This is Frankfurt’s main sight so head here first.
LANGER FRANZ: The trams from the Hauptbahnhof to the Romerberg pass along Bethmannstrasse where one will see this skywalk bridge connecting the buildings on either side of the road. The tallest of these buildings is called Langer Franz.
KAISERDOM: A couple of minutes east of the Romerberg is Frankfurt’s Kaiserdom (Cathedral). It’s a Roman Catholic place of worship dating back to the 13th century.
SHOPPING: Frankfurt is a great city for shopping, particularly for clothes. From the Kaiserdom, head north along Hasengasse until the Zeil is reached. Every city has its famous shopping boulevards and the Zeil is Frankfurt’s.
There is also a plentiful supply of shops on Biebergasse and Keiserstrasse streets, and on the streets leading from Goethe Platz.
EATING: Frankfurt has a plentiful supply of cafes and restaurants (shoppers must re-fuel!) but for a dining experience in a unique structure head to the Eschenheimer Turm medieval tower.
GOETHE-HAUS: Frankfurt is the birthplace of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the colossus of German literature. His play, Faust, is based on the German legend of a frustrated scholar with whom the Devil makes a pact to deliver happiness in return for Faust’s soul, hence the term Faustian Pact. Given Goethe’s cultural significance, the Goethe-Haus is a must-see attraction and also incorporates the Frankfurt Goethe Museum.
FRANKFURT LAYOVER: OVERNIGHT STAY
Given that Frankfurt is a business-oriented city, hotels on weekdays are expensive. Accommodation in Frankfurt is much cheaper on the weekends when the expense-account customers head home.
Hotel Europa Life near the Hauptbahnhof is an excellent budget option that I regularly stay in. However, if you want to stay near the airport and feel like splashing the cash for top-notch luxury, the Steigenberger Airport Hotel Frankfurt comes recommended by well-heeled acquaintances.
As tempting as the lounges and leisure zones at the airport are, a trip to the city centre is worth it on a long Frankfurt layover.
Given Frankfurt’s reputation as a travel hub I expected a city frantically coping with masses of commuters and travellers. The reality is actually the opposite and I was pleasantly surprised with its laid-back, organised and friendly vibe.
Visit my Germany Travel Tips post for further travel tips and advice.