Frankfurt was the first destination of my Europe trip. I spent a day here before continuing to my final destination, Vienna. It is a great city to do a stopover between flight and see the modern German city. Below is my itinerary for downtown Frankfurt in one day.
Frankfurt Central Station
German: Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof
It was only a 15-minute train ride from Frankfurt Airport to the Central Station. This is why Frankfurt is an ideal city for stopovers or long layovers. The train station is massive with 24 train platforms and several underground ones for S-Bahn and U-Bahn. There are lockers available near platform 24 to store luggage. They are convenient but remember to have some coins.
The Central Station is two stations away from the historic downtown area, so I took the U-Bahn instead of walking. I bought the €15 Frankfurt Card for two-day unlimited travel in the city and between the city & the airport. The card also provides various discounts to popular destination and museums, so it is very useful. However, I could’ve bought a one-day train pass for €5.35 and a one-way train ticket the next day, which would be less than €10 in total. I didn’t visit any of the destinations with admission, so the Frankfurt Card was actually not the best option for me.
Getting a SIM card
I planned to get a local SIM card here, but I couldn’t locate a specific store that offers EU SIM cards. Luckily, I found this “Handyladen Zeil” cellphone store when I was walking from Konstablerwache U-Bahn Station to Kleinmarkthalle. They had many providers with different rate plans. I picked up the plan with 4GB data, some talk time, and unlimited text messages for €25. It was way cheaper than using Koodo’s international roaming plan for an additional $12 CAD per day!
Local markets are great places to learn about the local food and culture. Unfortunately, I didn’t do enough homework and didn’t really know what to look at in this popular market, Kleinmarkthalle. Fresh meat, vegetables, fruits, cheese, wine, sweets, and many more are available here.
I walked and browsed around the market and didn’t find anything worth buying. I was about to leave empty-handed, but I thought I needed to get something out of it. I noticed a line up at a sausage shop, so I joined it and grab a pork sausage and a bun. It was quite delicious! The mustard dipping was pretty light and added just enough flavour to the boiled sausage. I was full after finishing everything.
Wacker’s coffee shop
German: Wacker´s Kaffee Geschäft
Next, I walked to Wacker’s coffee shop. I was sleepy due to the overnight flight and needed coffee badly.
I found Wacker’s when I was searching for coffee shops in Frankfurt. It was highly recommended on the internet, and many people commented that it is the best coffee shop in town. I agreed with this statement. The latte macchiato I had was perfect.
They also roast coffee beans from all over the world, and there were more than 20 kinds of coffee beans available to purchase. It was so difficult to choose. I probably stood in front of the counter for more than 15 minutes while I finish my drink. In the end, I chose the espresso.
St. Paul’s Church
St. Paul’s Church is just two blocks south of Wacker’s coffee shop. This was where I started to see a lot of tourists and tour buses. It is free to enter. There were quite a few tourists and groups on Saturday afternoon, but it wasn’t crowded.
This church is a memorial of the 1830 revolution, the beginning of German democracy and freedom. The representatives of German states gathered in this church during that time. The exhibitions about this process are on the ground floor.
Römerberg is the old city/town centre of Frankfurt. The pictures of this plaza are in every books or postcard about Frankfurt. As the biggest old Gothic town in Central Europe, it was heavily bombed during WWII. Thus, the medieval-looking buildings here are actually quite new. The plaza was crowded, and it was impossible to take a picture without people in it.
The Old St Nicholas Church (German: Alte Nicolaikirche) is at the south tip of the plaza. It was free to go in, so I spent a few minutes there.
Main is a branch of Rhine that flows through Frankfurt. Everyone goes onto the Iron Bridge (German: Eiserner Steg) and enjoys the beautiful view of the river. Unfortunately, it was cloudy when I was there, and I couldn’t snag a great photo on the bridge.
It was still early after going to the above destinations, and a long break was much needed. The river bank was a very nice place to sit down, relax, enjoy the breeze, and look at the Frankfurt skyline.
I had dinner at Gaststätte Atschel, a local restaurant serving German cuisine. I will review the food here in a separate post.
Official name: Imperial Cathedral of Saint Bartholomew
German: Kaiserdom St. Bartholomäus
Before I headed back to the hotel, I stopped by Frankfurt Cathedral. The tower is 95 metres (312 ft) high including spire, which makes the cathedral very visible. The building can be dated back to the 7th century, and it remains to be a Roman Catholic church even though Frankfurt is a Protestant city.
There were church activities in the early evening, so the entrance hall was all I saw. In some reviews, people said the interior is more interesting than the exterior. There are some distinctly German touches, such as the crests decorating the walls.
Frankfurt may only be a connecting city for many travellers, but Frankfurt actually has more to offer than an airport hub or a financial centre. The old downtown and Main are for sure worth a visit. Half a day was actually too short for me. I need to visit the Natural History Museum and the Botanical Garden in my next stopover!