Often seen as simply a business city and airport hub, many travelers dismiss Frankfurt as being a soulless financial center not worth visiting. And while yes, Frankfurt is a major international city, commercial metropolis, and home to Germany’s largest airport, beyond all that there is a city with a proud heritage and a culture that is quite a treat to experience.
This Frankfurt itinerary is designed to show you everything you need to see with just 1 day in Frankfurt. So, let’s get to it, shall we?
Recommendation: Make sure to get the Frankfurt Card to enjoy free public transportation and discounts at museums, city tours, restaurants, and more.
Best Time to Visit Frankfurt
To make the most of your visit to Frankfurt you should take time of year into consideration. Frankfurt is a city with four seasons, so you’ll be met with very different weather and crowds depending on when you go. While it’s not as popular as cities like Berlin and Munich, you can expect Frankfurt to still be busy with tourists during high season.
It’s widely regarded that the best time to visit Frankfurt is from April through May as well as October. These times give visitors comfortable weather for sightseeing without the hassle of high season crowds. In October there’s the added benefit of the Frankfurt Book Fair which is the largest book fair in the world.
Summertime is also a good time for festivals and fairs, but you’ll have to contend with high season rates and Frankfurt at its hottest. The other time to keep in mind is December which sees the arrival of the city’s fantastic Christmas Markets, even if that time of year can get quite chilly.
How to Get Around Frankfurt
Frankfurt may not be a vast, sprawling city, but it’s large enough that it pays to know the best ways to get around. While visiting Frankfurt you’re likely going to spend the majority of your time in the Old Town and Downtown areas. That doesn’t mean though that you won’t need to reach other areas during your stay, especially depending on where your accommodation is. Even within the city center you may not necessarily want to walk everywhere, so getting to know Frankfurt’s public transport is worthwhile.
To get around Frankfurt you can make use of the city’s public transport network which is made up of the U-Bahn metro, S-Bahn urban trains, trams, and buses. As a tourist you’ll likely find the city’s U-Bahn and S-Bahn the most useful for quickly getting around. Tickets are shared across all the networks and start at €2.75 for a single trip. Tickets can be bought from ticket machines at stations and stops or through the RMV app.
Recommendation: Another great way to get around for tourists is on the hop-on hop-off double-decker bus. You can hop on or off the buses as often as you like at any of the stops along the route, sprinkled throughout the city’s most interesting areas. It’s a great way to learn about Frankfurt’s main attractions while on the bus, or explore the city’s beautiful sights at your own pace. You can purchase your hop-on hop-off bus tickets here.
If you’re flying into Frankfurt it’s easy to reach the city center from the airport either by train or by bus. The fastest, cheapest, and most frequent option is to take the U-Bahn metro, with a trip into the city taking 10 minutes and costing €2.75. There are also several bus lines which run both day and night to the city center. The bus takes around 30 minutes and costs €4.35.
Where to Stay in Frankfurt
An important part of planning a trip to Frankfurt is deciding where in the city you’re going to stay. It’s best to organize this as far in advance as possible as options in Frankfurt may become quite limited and expensive during the city’s busier periods. After all, you want as many options as possible when choosing where to stay in Frankfurt to ensure the accommodation suits your style of travel.
When looking for places to stay in Frankfurt, location is definitely an important factor to keep in mind. Ideally, you want to stay close to the Old Town and Inner City, but depending on your budget that may not be possible. Other areas worth considering include Sachsenhausen and Ostend. Bahnhofsviertel, which is Frankfurt’s red light district, still has a bit of edge to it despite efforts to clean it up, but if you do choose to stay there, it’s best to avoid the area of Taunusstrasse.
To live it up, the Sofitel Frankfurt Opera is one of the best places to stay in Frankfurt. Located downtown, this five-star hotel offers guests spacious and stylish rooms, access to a spa and gym, as well as professional and attentive staff.
For a balance of affordability and quality you can’t beat Motel One Frankfurt-Römer just off Frankfurt’s main square. This clean and comfortable hotel will be a welcome sight after a long day of sightseeing and is exceptional value for money.
Good budget accommodation in Frankfurt isn’t the easiest to come by, but a&o Hostel Frankfurt Ostend is one of your best options. Close to public transport and located in a safe neighborhood, this hostel offers dorms and private rooms and benefits from super friendly staff.
For more accommodation options in Frankfurt check out Booking.com. They continuously offer the best rates and their custom service is on point.
The Perfect 1-Day Frankfurt Itinerary
One day to explore an international city like Frankfurt may not seem like all that much, but Frankfurt is much more of a commercial city than a tourist destination which means it’s the perfect amount of time. Over a day you can easily make your way around the inner city and take in the best of Frankfurt.
However, before we get to our Frankfurt itinerary and the best things to do in Frankfurt we just wanted to remind you to purchase travel insurance. You never know what will happen and trust us, you do not want to get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills. As a wise man once said, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” So don’t leave home without it.
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Having taken you through that important bit of advice, let’s get right into our Frankfurt travel itinerary and have a look at what to do in Frankfurt in 1 day to maximize your time there.
Recommendation: If you want to learn more about Frankfurt’s fascinating history, consider joining a guided walking tour. On this tour you will stroll through the historic old town with a certified guide and learn about the city’s incredible buildings and monuments. You can book a guided walking tour of Frankfurt’s Old Town here.
The ideal place to begin your visit, the gorgeous Römerberg square is right at the top of the list of the best places to visit in Frankfurt. Römerberg is the central square of Frankfurt’s Old Town and is named after the Römer building, which has been Frankfurt’s Town Hall since the 15th century. Around the square you can admire gabled half-timbered buildings that look like gingerbread houses, faithfully rebuilt after WWII to their medieval appearance. In the middle of the square are two fountains, the Fountain of Justice and the Minerva fountain, around which the city’s Christmas market is set up each winter. There aren’t many more traditional buildings in the Old Town beyond the Römerberg, but there are some others along the Markt pedestrian street.
Following Markt you’ll soon reach another major historical landmark of the city, the Frankfurt Cathedral. Despite its name, this immense red Gothic church isn’t actually a cathedral, but its great size and historic importance have earned it the title regardless. Churches have been built on this site since the 7th century, but this current church was not constructed until 1550 and was effectively rebuilt following WWII.
From 1562 to 1792, Holy Roman Emperors were crowned the King of Germany within the Frankfurt Cathedral, making the church a major national symbol during that time. Besides entering the church to appreciate its vast interior, it’s also possible to climb the 95-meter tall tower and enjoy views of Frankfurt’s cityscape.
Eiserner Steg and Main River
Next, move down to the lovely riverfront area along the Main River which is one of the city’s most popular green spaces. Paths for cycling and walking line the banks of the Main River, not only providing an escape from the bustling city streets, but also offering a nice view along the river to the city’s modern skyline.
One of the most important landmarks on the river is the Eiserner Steg bridge, the city’s second bridge to cross the river. The bridge has become a popular landmark on the river thanks to its modern metal design, so much so that it was quickly rebuilt following its destruction by the Wehrmacht at the end of World War II. Walking out on the footbridge, you’ll not only have a fantastic view along the Main, but you’ll also be able to spot countless locks which have been left on the bridge by romantics.
For spectacular views of Frankfurt’s skyline, consider taking a boat cruise on the Main. Boat trips depart from Eiserner Steg and can be booked in advance here.
Historisches Museum Frankfurt
To learn more about the city and its history, head to Frankfurt’s Historical Museum. Since 1878 this museum has highlighted the history of both Frankfurt and Germany through its collections. Exhibits here explore different periods in Frankfurt’s history, from medieval Frankfurt right up to the start of the 21st century. On display you’ll see artwork, artifacts, and treasures from the city’s different eras.
Goethe House and Museum
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is perhaps the most famous person to come out of Frankfurt. The acclaimed German author and poet was born in Frankfurt where he lived until the age of 16. During that time he lived in a building that is now known as the Goethe House. Once his family home, this building where Goethe was born is now a museum dedicated to showing you what family life would have looked like back then. Next door to the Goethe House stands the Goethe Museum which features a picture gallery of artwork from the “Goethe era” that inspired the author.
One final museum you won’t want to miss in Frankfurt is the highly esteemed Städel Museum art gallery. For over 200 years this museum on the banks of the Main River has given visitors the chance to admire art pieces from some of Europe’s finest masters. Among the collections you can see works by such names as Rembrandt, Picasso, and Monet, plus plenty more stretching all the way back to the Middle Ages. The Städel Museum also features highly anticipated temporary exhibitions, so be sure to check what is being held during your visit.
Something that sets Frankfurt apart from many other European cities is its modern skyline of skyscrapers. So, why not climb one of those skyscrapers for a look at Frankfurt’s signature cityscape? Your best option for this is Main Tower, the city’s fourth tallest building which stands 200 meters tall. Main Tower is the only Frankfurt skyscraper with a public viewing platform from which you can admire the city below.
Have More Than 24 Hours in Frankfurt?
Just because you have seen the main sights of Frankfurt on your first day doesn’t mean you have to move on. Thanks to its location near the center of Germany, Frankfurt is perfectly positioned for day trips into different corners of the country. You’ll actually get a lot more out of your trip if you take this opportunity to uncover the other great destinations found in this part of Germany. So, to help you get started, here are some ideas for when your first 24 hours in Frankfurt are up.
1. Rüdesheim am Rhein
One of the most popular places to visit from Frankfurt is Germany’s nearby Rhine Valley, home to vineyards and charming towns like Rüdesheim am Rhein. Known as much for its wine-making as its fairytale architecture, Rüdesheim is a destination that has no trouble winning over visitors.
You’ll find grapevines clinging to delightful half-timbered houses that don’t look like they’ve changed a bit in centuries. It should be no surprise that there are many wineries lining the old narrow streets, with Riesling wines being the local specialty. Seek out Drosselgasse, a street in the heart of Rüdesheim, to see the town at its prettiest.
Watching over town stands the Niederwald Monument which honors the Unification of Germany and can be reached either by cable car or on a walk through the vineyards. Another way to experience this countryside is on a cruise down the Rhine, taking in the world around you as you go.
If you’re looking to experience one of Germany’s most enchanting destinations, look no further than the town of Heidelberg. Found to the south of Frankfurt, Heidelberg is a historic town known for its distinguished university and captivating cityscape.
Begin in the heart of Heidelberg’s Old Town with its Marktplatz, the main square surrounded by traditional buildings and the Heiliggeistkirche church. Elsewhere in the lovely Old Town you’ll come across quaint buildings like the incredible Haus zum Ritter. To the north of the Old Town lies the Neckar river, across which spans the picturesque Old Bridge.
Finally, watching from a nearby forest-covered hill is the town’s most recognizable landmark, Heidelberg Castle. The castle is in ruins but what is left of this grand Renaissance structure is truly remarkable, and a trip to explore it is not to be missed. Reward your sightseeing with a drink at one of the many student bars before returning to Frankfurt.
Another day trip option that will show you another side to Germany is the Black Forest spa town of Baden-Baden. An old-fashioned spa resort, Baden-Baden boasts a charm and atmosphere that make it a real pleasure to visit.
Before getting to the heart of Baden-Baden, start with a wander down the leafy promenade of Lichtentaler Allee to get a feel for the town. It should become immediately obvious why people have long visited the town to relax and unwind. Soon you’ll reach the central buildings of the spa complex, including the lovely Trinkhalle and its colonnaded arcade.
But the center of life in Baden-Baden is the Kurhaus, a magnificent building that hosts the grand Baden-Baden Casino, Germany’s oldest casino. If you’re not feeling like getting a spa treatment or going gambling, take a walk through the gardens and make your way to the Fabergé Museum, where you can see some exquisite Faberge eggs on display.
For even more day trip ideas, make sure to take a look at our guide to the best day trips from Frankfurt.
So there you have it, all you need to know to properly explore Frankfurt in 1 day. Visit the places mentioned and you can feel confident you’ve seen the best of what the city has to offer.