10 best attractions in Frankfurt, Germany

(CNN) — Frankfurt is the financial capital of Germany, but if you think it’s all business and no play there, let’s disabuse you of that notion right now.

This city of more than 700,000 people has offerings for the recreational traveler too — from museums and history to scenery and wine.

So whether you travel here for business and need a break or you’re planning to come here solely for a casual holiday, here are 10 of the best attractions in Frankfurt (and we’re just scratching the surface):


The Römerberg has been the center of Frankfurt's social and civic life for centuries.

The Römerberg has been the center of Frankfurt’s social and civic life for centuries.

Frank Rumpenhorst/dpa/AP

This cobblestone square in the old town has been a hub of Frankfurt life since the ninth century. It ha served as a venue for many of the city’s most important events, from imperial elections and medieval jousting to public executions and Christmas markets.

Here are found historic buildings including the Old Nikolai Church, St. Paul’s Church and the structure from which the square takes its name — the exquisite Römer, home of Frankfurt’s city government for more than 600 years. The Imperial Hall displays the portraits of the 52 Holy Roman emperors.

Frankfurter Römer, Römerberg 27, 60311 Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany

Historiches Museum Frankfurt

Due south of the square is the Historiches Museum Frankfurt. It’s highlighted by the permanent collection, “Collectors and Donors of Frankfurt,” which features the private art and artifact collections of a dozen well-known Frankfurters.

Among the things you’ll find here are exhibits on furniture, musical instruments and technology. This is an excellent place to learn about Frankfurt’s history and character as well as take in classic art.

Alte Oper

Would you believe this beauty was nearly wiped out in World War II?

Would you believe this beauty was nearly wiped out in World War II?

Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Frankfurt’s old opera isn’t nearly as ancient as it looks. The handsome neoclassical structure was heavily damaged during World War II and was only rebuilt in the 1980s after a public outcry saved it from demolition.

The building now hosts around 300 events per year ranging from opera, ballet and symphony to modern dance, Broadway musicals and even the occasional rock concert.

The 2,450-seat Great Hall is the main venue, while smaller events unfold in the 720-seat Mozart Hall. Both are renowned for their plush decoration and superb acoustics.

Old Opera House, Opernplatz 1, 60313 Frankfurt, Hesse Germany; +49 69 13400

Frankfurt Zoological Gardens

One of Europe’s oldest zoos (1858), Frankfurt Zoological Gardens is also one of its largest and most prestigious, with more than 4,500 animals from 450 species. The zoo has become a leading force in global conservation, including the preservation of the Serengeti plains in East Africa.

Among its anchor exhibits is the Exotarium, housing an eclectic array of fish, birds and reptiles from the around the world. Chimps, gorillas and orangutans dwell in the Borgori Forest, a 10,000-square-meter indoor habitat flush with waterfalls and rainforest plants.

Museum Embankment

The Städel Museum should satisfy a range of art fans from European masters to modern enthusiasts.

The Städel Museum should satisfy a range of art fans from European masters to modern enthusiasts.

Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images

Arrayed along the River Main’s southern bank is a row of nine museums, each specializing in subject matter ranging from art and architecture to movies and natural history. Foremost among them are two important art collections.

Housed in an imposing neo-gothic villa, the Liebieghaus showcases sculpture from ancient Egypt through to the 18th century, as well as works from Europe, Africa and Asia.

The massive collection of the Städel Museum includes works by European masters from the 14th century to the early 20th, including Rembrandt, Bosch, Vermeer, Botticelli and Degas.

Liebieghaus, Schaumainkai 71, 60596 Frankfurt, Hesse Germany; +49 69 650 0490
Städel Museum, Schaumainkai 63 60596 Frankfurt, 60596 Frankfurt, Hesse Germany; +49 69 605 0980

Main River

In recent years, Frankfurt's done more to make the River Main a prime place for recreation and cruising.

In recent years, Frankfurt’s done more to make the River Main a prime place for recreation and cruising.

Paul Mayall/dpa/AP

With a renowned airport and busy train station, it’s easy to forget that Frankfurt is also a river city. It’s only in recent times, however, that the River Main has come into its own as a recreational outlet and tourist attraction.

Primus Line runs a variety of trips along the Main in modern triple-decker river boats including short sightseeing cruises, dinner cruises and after-dark skyline tours.

Its full-day trips include a river tour of romantic castle towns along the Middle Rhine Valley.

Primus-Linie, Mainkai 36, 60311 Frankfurt, Hesse Germany; +49 69 13 38 370

Frankfurter Flohmarkt

Frankfurt’s popular Saturday flea market now rotates between two waterfront locations — the Schaumainkai promenade on the river’s south side and another site on Lindleystrasse around the Osthafen docklands.

Hundreds of stalls hawk a heady blend of new arts and crafts, vintage clothing, antiques and genuine junk, as well as food and drink. Merchandise often changes by the season, with yuletide decorations, gifts and foods all the rage in the run-up to Christmas.

Frankfurter Flohmarkt, Schaumainkai promenade or Lindleystrasse near Osthafen docklands, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

Main Tower

See far and wide from the top of the Main Tower.

See far and wide from the top of the Main Tower.

Frank Rumpenhorst/dpa/AP

If you want the highest views of the city’s skyline and beyond, then make your way to (and up) Main Tower.

Its observation deck offers a bird’s-eye look at the urban center. On a clear day, arrange to be here at sunset and enjoy a drink or two in the bar below the observation deck.

Main Tower, Neue Mainzer Str. 52-58, 60311 Frankfurt am Main, Germany; +49 69 36504878


Delicious German foods are just the start at the Kleinmarkthalle.

Delicious German foods are just the start at the Kleinmarkthalle.

Roland Holschneider/dpa/AP

The Kleinmarkthalle is a delightful mix of a traditional German market and an international melting pot.

It’s a great place to pick up fresh food, smoked sausages, wine, cheese olive oils, flowers and more among its more than 150 stalls. There’s a restaurant here too, if you’re visiting with no way to cook.

Markets like these are always a great place to watch and meet locals. It’s open every day but Sunday.

Kleinmarkthalle, Hasengasse 5-7, 60311 Frankfurt am Main, Germany; +49 69 21233696


The Rheingau wine country sprawls along the Main and Rhine to the west of Frankfurt, producing what many oenophiles consider the world’s best Riesling.

While white grapes are the area’s bread and butter, the Rheingau also produces excellent Spätburgunder (pinot noir).

Legend holds that Charlemagne mandated the planting of the first vines more than a thousand years ago, but it was Queen Victoria who brought the region’s wines to world attention when she became enamored with the Riesling produced by the vineyards around Hochheim village.

A sampling of the region’s renowned wineries:

CNN’s Forrest Brown contributed to this article.

2019-05-13 14:33:57

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