Alright, so maybe Frankfurt isn't the prime tourist hub in Germany, and maybe it didn't come up in your "where's my next vacation?" conversation, but it's got a huge international airport and it is an important hub for business. So how are you going to spend your time if you have a huge layover or have to roll into town on business? Well, I relied on my Frankfurt friends to take me around and show me why they love Frankfurt.
If you only have a few hours to spend in Frankfurt, you're in luck. The train from the airport is really fast and easy to take. You can be at the main train station in the city in 15 minutes.
If you like bus tours, you're in luck because the tour starts right outside the train station. I would recommend this if you're only in Frankfurt for a short while and want to get a glimpse of all the highlights and orient yourself a little. If you have a few days to explore, I'd skip the bus tour as the main sights in Frankfurt are within walking distance.
If you're looking for a little retail therapy, head to the Zeil. The Zeil is Frankfurt's mile long pedestrian shopping area that has everything from department stores, to specialty shops, to high end boutiques. It was also the only crowded space I encountered in Frankfurt and was perfect for sitting in a cafe and watching the people stroll by. There is also a cafe at the top of the main shopping center from which you'll get a spectacular view of the city.
If your main interest is history, then be sure to check out the Römer. The Römer is Frankfurt's town hall. Some sections of the hall date back to the 15th century and the time when Kaisers were coronated there. While you're in the area, you should probably stop off at the Cathedral, which predates the Römer. You can continue your cultured look at Frankfurt by visiting one of their two opera houses.
If you need a little rest and relaxation, go for a stroll by the river. They've done a great job of creating green space by the water that is enjoyed by pedestrians and cyclists. You can end your promenade with a meal at Oosten. It has a large patio on the water and the food is super tasty. It gets busy, so if you plan to stop in for dinner I would suggest a dinner reservation.
If you want to get your drink on, check out one of the bars in Sachsenhausen. There are many bars lining the cobble stoned streets to suit all musical tastes and level of "casualness" and sticky floors. On Friday and Saturday nights there is a buzz in that whole area as the parties spill out of the bars and onto the streets. This is where I had my first tastes of mispelchen and applewine and where I assume many
Frankfurt youths have had their first displays of public drunkenness. If bars aren't really your scene, you can also check out one of Frankfurt's dance clubs. We went to the Gibson and I got my fill of house music for the next three years.
If you're looking for something tantalizing check out the red light district. I have an important note here. Frankfurt is not a huge city, which means that you can walk from one part of town to the other in no time. This means that one second you're in the financial district and the next, you're a woman in a red dress walking through the red light district alone at night. Don't make the same mistakes I have. To be fair, aside from a few leers and some comments in German that I didn't understand, it was fine. I didn't ever feel threatened, but I definitely had my guard up and am not eager to do it again.
Important info: the red light district is also really close to the train station, so if you only have time for a bus tour and a lap dance, you've come to the right place!