Often called Bankfurt because it is the financial centre of Germany, Frankfurt has more than 300 banks and the European Central Bank, German Federal Bank, and stock exchange. Another nickname is Mainhatten, due to its skyscrapers that include the Commerzbank Tower, Deutsche Bank Twin Towers and Maintower (with observation deck at 200m). It is a fantastic and little-known city to visit on a weekend break. Cheap flights to Frankfurt depart from several UK airports and its hotels' weekend rates are competitive.
It is where the Romans and Charlemagne held court and where kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire were crowned. German democracy was born here in 1848. Its Christmas market, held in Romerberg Square, dates back to 1393.
In common with other German cities such as Munich and Berlin, Frankfurt was bombed during the Second World War, but small pockets of its original Old Town remain and a meticulous building programme has restored it to its medieval glory.
Frankfurt provides more support to the arts than any other city in Europe. The Sachsenhausen stretch of the main embankment boasts 16 newish museums focusing on subjects such as art, natural history, film, communications and ethnology.
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Summers are warm and fluctuate between sunny and rainy. Spring and autumn are mild with temperatures in the 10s and teens (Celsius), and winter is cold with wet days. July and August are the warmest months with temperatures usually in the mid-20s. January is the coldest month with below-zero temperatures.
When to fly to Frankfurt
The tourist season runs from May to late October, and the major convention season covers March through May, September, and October.
Even with the heat, rain, and crowds of June and August, you can find cheaper Frankfurt flights than in the spring and autumn. The cold and stormy weather of November through February generally brings fewer visitors than the rest of the year.
Getting around Frankfurt
Frankfurt has a great public transport system. The RMV (Rhein-Main Verkehrsverbund) sends efficient, modern subways, trams and buses all over the city. You can get unlimited travel around Frankfurt with a Frankfurt Card. Renting a car is an option. You can find reasonably priced parking downtown, but battling traffic, construction and accidents could eat into your sightseeing time.
Frankfurt insider information
- Not just a financial centre, Frankfurt is also a trade-fair centre, hosting fairs and festivals throughout the year. These events include the International Music Trade Fair, International Jazz Festival, Wilhelmstrassenfest Theatrium street festival, the world’s largest Book Fair, and a month-long Christmas Fair — to name just a few. Check the Trade Show and Events calendar to see what will be in town while you’re there.
- Many of Frankfurt’s museums are closed on Mondays, but several have free admission on Wednesdays.
- Frankfurt is the place to shop for high-quality electronics and sports equipment; top-of-the line European fashion; and the best of European wines, breads, cheeses, and sausages.
- Two popular outdoor activities are swimming and inline skating. Swimming centres often have slides, waterfalls, and other amusements. "Freikörper" or "FKK" on a sign indicates that the park or beach allows nude sunbathing. Tuesday nights, from March until October, thousands of inline skaters are on the road. The event starts at the Ignatz Bubis Bridge and is 42km (26 miles) long, but the route always changes. The event is free and anybody can join.
- Bicycling is also a popular activity in Frankfurt. The Stadtwald has paths that are well-tended and flat. There are many bike paths along both sides of the Main River and also the Nidda River (in the Heddernheim, Eschersheim, Hausen, and Rödelheim districts). For something more strenuous, try the paths of the Taunus Hills.
- As a techno centre, Frankfurt has no shortage of dance clubs, and you can dance the night away at many clubs. Frankfurt is also a leading centre for jazz, and jazz musicians can be found anywhere from cafés to the Old Opera House. Sound of Frankfurt is a giant, outdoor music festival held every July with live bands, DJs, and techno, house, rock, rap, and Latin American music. Party goers fill the pedestrian zone around the Ziel, and there’s enough space for each concert to have its own party.
- Sachsenhausen (Frankfurt's "Left Bank") is where you’ll find Apfelwein (apple wine) taverns. Apfelwein dates back to the late 790s, and a tavern with a pine wreath over its door makes its own apple wine.
- You’re in a large city and need to stay on the alert for pickpockets, particularly around the Hauptbahnhof, and the Hauptwache and Konstablerwache subway stations. When traveling by subway at night, choose a car where there are other people. Security personnel travel in the front car after 9pm. Women are rarely bothered, and women often enter Frankfurt bars and clubs alone. Also, many car parks have a Frauenparkplätze, women-only, section.
- Frankfurt has designated the area around the Hauptbahnhof for the sex trade and illegal drugs. Junkies can take, but not sell, drugs, and clean needles are distributed. In all likelihood you will see drug use during your visit, but the police and private security patrols help to keep things under control. The crime rate in these areas is low as it is in the rest of the city.