Frankfurt am Main Germany

Layover in Frankfurt: Old Town in a Couple of Hours

Römerberg @ Frankfurt, Germany
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Frankfurt am Main — not to be confused with Frankfurt an der Oder — is the largest city in the state of Hesse and 5th in Germany. Also known as Mainhattan due to its importance as one of the main financial hubs in the world, it has a rich cultural heritage and a restored historical center after being severely damaged during World War II. This area has been settled since probably the 1st century and has been referred to by name for the first time back in 794, when Charlemagne presided over an imperial assembly.

On a more practical side, though, Frankfurt is the main hub of Lufthansa. That means that sooner or later, you'll end up here for a flight connection. And with so much to see in Europe and its reputation as a financial city, I doubt I would ever dedicate a pleasure trip to Frankfurt... So I recently jumped at the chance to hop into the city for a quick walkaround before catching my onward flight.

Here's what you need to know to make the most of it:

FRANKFURT am Main

Cheat Sheet

  • starting/end-point: Frankfurt am Main Airport (FRA)
  • transport: RMV | single or group Day Tickets
  • route: S8/S9 from Frankfurt (Main) Flughafen Regionalbahnhof to Frankfurt (Main) Hauptwache (6 stops)
  • don't miss: Römerberg and Dom-Römer Project

GETTING THERE

Best option for solo travelers: RMV Day Ticket
Best option for groups of 2-5 persons: RMV Group Day Ticket

There are frequent direct connections between Frankfurt (Main) Flughafen Regionalbahnhof and Frankfurt (Main) Hauptwache.

The RMV Day Ticket costs €9.75, valid for an unlimited number of journeys on the selected day. Considering the single ticket for this route costs €5 each way, it's already a bit cheaper — and definitely more practical — to choose the day ticket.

Meanwhile, if you are traveling in a group of 2-5 persons, you'll get a significantly more economical option with the RMV Group Day Ticket. It costs €16.70 and is valid for any number of trips on the RMV network on the selected day. Bear in mind, the names of the travelers must be written on the ticket, so it's not transferable.

You can purchase both types on the machines at the airport or through the RMV app [available for iOS and Android].

Follow the signs in the airport to the Flughafen Regionalbahnhof and hop on the S8 or S9, in the direction of Hanau Hbf. After 6 stops, you'll arrive at the station Hauptwache (attention: not Hauptbahnhof), the closest to the historical center, Altstadt.

ARRIVING

Hauptwache, and its homonym station, is a central point in Frankfurt and one of its most famous squares. From there, it's a short 500m walk to Römerberg, the heart of the Altstadt.

Hauptwache

EXPLORING THE ALTSTADT (Old Town)

The most convenient way to explore the heart of the Altstadt is on foot. You'll walk past several shops and restaurants on the way to Römerberg, so it's easy to grab a bite to eat.

Find on the map below some points of interest and follow the pins for further information.

RÖMER

Dominating one of the sides of the Römerberg square, the Römer is a medieval building complex that has served as the city hall since 1405. Heavily damaged during World War II, it was rebuilt in a simplified manner, but reflecting a wide range of Frankfurt's and German history.

Römer @ Frankfurt, Germany, by Travel After 5

Römer

On the far left, you can see Frankfurtia, the female embodiment of the city. In the middle, four significant kaisers of the Holy Roman Empire to its history are celebrated: Frederick Barbarossa (1122–1190, the first king to be elected in Frankfurt); Louis the Bavarian (1282–1347, who gave convention rights and allowed an expansion of the city); Charles IV (1316–1378, who made Frankfurt the location of the Kaiser selection vote); and Maximilian II (1527–1576, the first kaiser to be crowned in Frankfurt cathedral).

RÖMERBERG

The Römerberg is the rebuilt Altstadt main square. It was the site of Imperial coronations, trade fairs, and, nowadays, holds a Christmas market. On the south side, you find the 15th century Old St. Nicholas Church, which suffered only minor damage during the WWII bombing.

Römerberg @ Frankfurt, Germany, by Travel After 5

Römerberg

As well as looking front and up, don't forget to look down too:

Römerberg Plaque @ Frankfurt,Germany

Here, on May 10, 1933, National Socialist students burned the books of writers, scholars, journalists, and philosophers.

That was just a prelude, where you burn books, you end up burning people.

DOM-RÖMER PROJECT

Start walking towards the Dom (cathedral) through Markt; just look up and you can easily see the tower from Römerberg. Shortly you'll stumble upon the rebuilt and absurdly cute Hühnermarkt, with tables out in good weather. A bit further ahead, right before the Dom, there's the restored historical Goldene Waage Coffee House. This corner house stands there since the early Middle Ages, with the earliest mention of a year as far back as 1323.

 

Closing up...

It goes without saying that Frankfurt has much more to be explored, so if you have more time, you should definitely go beyond Römerberg and its immediate surroundings. But the idea here is just a quick hop to stretch your legs when you have at least 3h to kill.

If you've never been, I hope this post has inspired you to skip the waiting around in the airport in favor of hopping into the Altstadt for a couple of hours outdoors in beautiful surroundings. If you've already been, how did you find it? What was your favorite part? Any other tips?

Comment below and let me know!

 

See also:

Berlin 101: Arriving & Getting Around

Munich 101: Arriving & Getting Around

Vienna 101: Arriving & Getting Around

Paris 101: Arriving & Getting Around

Brussels 101: Arriving & Getting Around

Amsterdam 101: Arriving & Getting Around

 

Pin this post and happy travels!

Pinterest Pin_Frankfurt Layover, by Travel After 5

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