Frankfurt is much more impressive than most people expect. It is the most international city in Germany, which may be why visitors pick it as an entry point to Europe.
Enjoy this guest post by Big tiny World Travel and discover their choices for the ultimate single-day Frankfurt itinerary…
As a major financial hub, Frankfurt has many flights from all over the world and could easily make for a quick stopover. There is a lot more than banking and tall buildings in this city though.
There is also a rich history, stunning views, restaurants, festivals, and beer.
Speaking of beer, the best hefeweizen we’ve ever had was in Frankfurt. So tasty! We spent a few days exploring the city and we’ve narrowed it down to an ultimate single-day itinerary of our favorite things to see and do.
Frankfurt Free Walking Tour
Frankfurt is a beautiful city with modern architecture since it was rebuilt almost completely after World War 2. The Main River winds its way through the center with its many bridges.
With just one day, there are many options to explore the city and find its treasures. A great place to start is the Frankfurt Free Walking Tour to get acquainted with the city.
This walking tour is run by a group of local students who are passionate about Frankfurt and want to share their information with visitors from around the globe. Tipping is not required, but it is appreciated, if not expected.
The tour offers a balance of history, interesting stories, and even recommendations on where to eat and drink. And the best part: each guide has a unique take on the city, will lead groups to different spots, and tell a wide variety of historical stories.
It was good to see the city by foot and get some insight to all the things that have happened in Frankfurt. The history before and after World War 2 was fascinating, and we even learned a lot about American influences post-war.
It was interesting to find out that Frankfurt was rebuilt like an American city because of the American occupation and rebuilding initiatives.
We walked through the red light district as part of the tour and it was eye-opening. Frankfurt and the rest of Germany have a long history of prostitution that dates back hundreds of years.
Did you know that a euphemism for visiting a brothel is “climbing stairs”? This is because brothels begin on the second level in Frankfurt, above the lower level shops.
At the end of our tour, our guide was very helpful in suggesting a place to go eat afterwards. So we then headed to Kleinmarkthalle (small market hall) for lunch with our fellow tourmates.
It was enjoyable meeting other travelers and we would highly recommend doing these tours in other cities as well.
Tip: €0 to €15 per person depending on how much you enjoyed the tour
Tour Length: 2.5 Hours
For over 150 years there has been a market hall at this location. The current version of the market was built in 1954 after the previous one was destroyed in 1944.
It still thrives today and it is full of local vegetables, breads, beers, meats, and also plenty of lunch options for us.
We each ordered a schnitzel with green sauce, which is pretty typical for Germany. A schnitzel is basically a thin slice of meat (chicken, pork, beef, etc.) that is coated in breadcrumbs and fried. It is traditionally served with fried potatoes, or potato salad.
Sometimes they are served with fries as well. Yum! Frankfurt is also well known for its Apfelwein (apple wine), so next we headed to the Sachsenhausen district across the river where we could sample the best the city had to offer.
Average Meal Cost: €6-€8
During our walking tour, we discovered the apple wine culture of Frankfurt and wanted to try it out for ourselves. The wine is made from pressed apples and fermented with yeast to make it into alcohol. It tasted kind of like an apple cider, but without the bubbles.
We went to Struwwelpeter and were able to get a 10% discount using our Frankfurt Cards. They had plenty of patio seating which was lovely.
But then the clouds came and it started to rain. We ducked into the restaurant for another round while we waited out the heavy downpour.
Frankfurt History Museum
When it is rainy in Frankfurt, going to a museum is a great way to spend the day. We planned on hitting about 3 museums during our time there. That didn’t happen.
We only saw the Frankfurt History Museum, but it had so much to see. Some of the highlights are a full-scale miniature of Frankfurt, coins dating back a thousand years, paintings of various sizes, armor, swords, vases, and archaeological artifacts.
We enjoyed seeing a giant snowglobe upon first entering the museum. A robotic arm lifts up 8 different views of Frankfurt from different times and places.
This is controlled by the viewer who selects which view to see. The various scenes were very realistic and fun to examine.
Entry Fee: €12 per person (Last Saturday is free each month except August, and a 50% discount is available with the purchase of a Frankfurt Card)
Dinner at Wirtshaus im Ostend
A great place to finish off your day, sample some German beer, and have a good meal is at Wirtshaus im Ostend.This tavern has many typical dishes and was reasonably priced.
With outdoor seating available, it was great to relax from a day of walking around town. Here we tried hand cheese for the first time, which was a unique appetizer of cheese topped with raw onions.
Fellow diners informed us that you are supposed to eat this cheese with a knife (to spread it on bread, which is also provided), and never a fork.
It is locally known as “Handkäse mit Musik” which translates to ‘hand cheese with music.” We were confused by this unusual name until our walking tour guide informed us that there was no mistranslation.
The “music” is what happens after you’ve eaten the cheese and onions.
Average Meal Cost: €15-€20
We ended our evening at the top of Main Tower. It is the only building in Frankfurt where there is public rooftop access. It can be quite popular so plan for that.
When we went, we saw some incredible views of the city, but were almost sent back down due to local thunderstorms. Luckily, conditions improved and we were let back up to the roof for evening light and a lightning show off in the distance.
Entry Fee: €8 per person (20% discount with a Frankfurt Card)
Buying a Frankfurt Card will allow discounts up to 50% off on all museums in town, as well as savings on other activities. This is an excellent way to reduce expenses and get into several museums on a budget since they can be quite pricey.
We also got discounts on the Main Tower, and even the apple wine. There are so many other deals available for theater, shops, the zoo, segway tours, and even the botanical gardens. It also includes free travel on all public transport.
The card can be purchased for 1 to 2 days and is available at the Frankfurt Tourist information center or online. We didn’t get the full value out of the card, but if you want to experience everything the city has to offer, it is a good value.
Frankfurt Card Cost: €10.50 (1 day), €15.50 (2 days)
There is a lot to see in Frankfurt, and the few days we had weren’t even enough for us to see everything. If you have extra time, you can tour historic Römerberg.
This square was originally built in the 13th century and then rebuilt after the war to look like it did before Frankfurt was bombed. It is also home to Frankfurt’s city hall.
There are also plenty of museums to see. The Senckenberg Museum has the largest Dinosaur Skeleton in Europe and has exhibits showcasing fossils and Egyptian mummies.
Other museums feature modern art, German film, and cultures. Frankfurt has enough museums to keep you busy for weeks, so make sure you see ones that interest you the most.
You might also walk around the waterfront and over the bridges to enjoy your day. Especially in the summer, there is always something going on on the banks of the Main River.
With only a day, you can still get a taste of this beautiful city and even save a little money with some free or low cost activities.
If you only had one day in a city, which activities would you prefer?
Big tiny World Travel
BIG tiny World Travel are a couple who have quit their jobs, sold their stuff, and dropped their kitties off with family.. all to explore the world for a year! They’re on a mission to squash the fear of travel and inspire others to seek out foreign lands. See how they’ve become full-time travelers, and join them in all their travels by visiting www.bigtinyworld.com and following them on social media (@bigtinyworld or @bigtinyworldtravel). This big world really is smaller than you think!