Frankfurt’s dense core along the Main and its huge collection of skyscrapers gives the city one of the most unique skylines in Europe. Some of the best places to see the skyline in all its glory are while walking on the bridges that span the Main River – the ones to the east give the best view. You can also catch a great view of the skyline while riding on the subway from the airport – stay on the right side of the train as you approach Frankfurt Central Station. Of course, you can also get great views of the city from above by climbing one of those skyscrapers. The Main Tower is the only one open to the public and its observation deck is 200 meters up! The best time to go is right before sunset, so you can watch the colors of the sky change and the city’s nightlife snap awake. Even Frankfurt’s sunsets are unique and picturesque, owing to the air pollution that collects in the valley and refracts the sun’s light.
Don’t confuse authentic frankfurters with North American hotdogs. Locals are proud of their culinary heritage, which is the bedrock of fast food chains, eating competitions, and even some haute cuisine. You can’t go wrong at Best Worscht in Town, a chain where you’ll get your frankfurters sliced and served with your pick of condiments. The specialty is curry-wurst, and they have some extremely spicy flavors as well. While you’re wolfing down your frankfurters (don’t call them wieners – that’s what Austrians do), try some Ebbelwoi, an apple wine that’s a local delicacy.
Frankfurt has an enviable museum scene, and you should take some time to see some of the great modern collections. The Deutsches Architekturmuseum (German Architecture Museum) displays exhibits ranging “From Primordial Hut to Skyscraper” – and there’s no city in Germany that’s more proud of its skyscrapers. Down the street is the Museum für Angewandte Kunst (Museum of Applied Arts), has large collections of European and Asian craftworks from the middle ages to the present day. The boat-shaped Museum für Moderne Kunst (Museum of Modern Art) has a collection of well-known artists like Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol as well as changing exhibits of cutting-edge, very current work.
The Palmengarten Botanic Gardens the largest garden of its kind in Germany on 22 hectares in the Westend-Süd district, was completed by the architect Heinrich Siesmayer, and opened to the public in 1871. The American entertainer Buffalo Bill brought his Western Show here in 1890. Between the 60s and 1992, a major reconstruction restored and expanded halls destroyed in the war. Exotic flora from around the world can be found growing here, from lush green moonsoon rainforests, to mangroves swamps and dry desert cacti. The Goethe Garden pays homage to Frankfurt's most famous son, poet and a gardener who once wrote an ode to the gingko tree. Location: Siesmayerstraße 61.
The nearby Frankfurt Botanical Garden, of Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt (Goethe University), displays tropical and subtropical botanical exhibits organized according to their origin, in free-air or climatized greenhouses, an arboretum, an alpine garden, and sand dunes. Located at Siesmayerstraße 72, the gardens open daily in the warmer months. Also see website.
Grüneburgpark, at August-Siebert-Straße in the Westend district of Frankfurt, derives its name from the "Green Castle" which stood here in the 14th century. The city's second largest park, it is laid out in English landscape style, with wide open meadows and tree-shaded paths. Completed in 1877 by Heinrich Siesmayer, the park was expanded to 29 hectares after the war; now a popular place for Frankfurters, especially in summer months. At the northwest corner is the Botanischer Garten der Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt. Take U-Bahn trains 6 or 7 to Westend Station.
Frankfurt’s old town is centered around the Römerberg (city hall square). Most of the buildings here are said to date from the 14th and 15th Centuries, but are actually reconstructions of buildings that were destroyed during World War II. The city hall, called the Römer (meaning “Roman”), got its name because Holy Roman Emperors were crowned there. Cafes and shops in the area make it a nice place to stroll and watch the city go by. St Bartholomew’s Cathedral – a misnomer since it’s not actually a bishop’s seat – is one of the main attractions of the neighborhood, but it too is a reconstruction of the church where emperors were elected, after the original perished in a fire in the 1867. Next to the cathedral is the Archäologische Garten (Archaeological Garden) which has remains of ancient Roman settlements. The nearby Eiserner Steg (Iron Bridge) is a nice pedestrian bridge over the Main River from which you can get excellent skyline views.
MyZeil opened in 2009, a huge multi-level shopping center featuring a distinctive funnel-shaped glass facade, it has Europe’s longest free standing escalator. Part of the PalaisQuartier development, its main entrance is on the Zeil, the central shopping street of Frankfurt, one of Germany's most famous and busiest commercial districts. The western pedestrian zone lies between two large plazas, Hauptwache in the west and Konstablerwache in the east, each with U-bahn and S-Bahn stations, tram and bus stops.
The “Hauptwache,” a Baroque-styled building at the center of its plaza, once housed the Stadtwehr militia headquarters and prison when Frankfurt was an independent city state. One of few old-style buildings in a heavily damaged area, it was reconstructed after the war and moved to a location above the U-Bahn station. Today the Cafe Hauptwache occupies the building with terrace tables in the plaza. Their website has photos showing the area in pre-war years. The Mantis Bar & Grill with roof garden is a more modern restaurant, owned by the same group, just beyond St. Katharinen Kirche.