Finding free things to do in the city that’s home to Europe’s Central Bank and one of the world’s largest stock exchanges, isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Nick-named ‘Mainhattan’, the steel, glass exterior of Frankfurt’s thriving CBD has a hidden gem buried inside it. Layered in history and traditional charm, the medieval Altstadt is boiling over with beautiful half-timbered buildings, outdoor cafes, museums, parks and paths that stretch along the River Main. Discovering Frankfurt on a budget has never been easier with our list of the best free attractions in Germany’s most international city.
Sitting along the promenade stretching the length of the River Main, is the cultural hub of the city. Home to a plethora of free museums, the embankment is a great place to discover something new and take a stroll alongside some of the city’s sights. Possibly the most famous museum on the strip, the Straedel is known for its Impressionist works and modern-classical paintings. There’s something for everyone on the river bank with the varied collection of exhibitions displayed in the German Film Museum, the Leibieghans and the museum of Applied Arts, to name a few. If you’re in town for the month of August make sure you check out Museumsuferfest, when all the museums host an array of special events including concerts and a firework display.
Dating from the 14th century, the Roman Catholic Gothic church was the site of the coronations of Holy Roman Emperors for centuries. As the largest religious building in the city, its 95 foot tower, built during the reconstruction after the second world war, dominates the skyline. Wander round the museum in the cloister, which features displays from the museum’s treasury and take a look at the altar that’s said to hold the skullcap of St. Bartholomew himself.
The charming public square is located in the historic heart of the Altstadt and provides an escape from the towering office blocks framing the city. Centred by the Fountain of Justice, the square is home to Romer Town Hall which dates back to 1405. On the south side, visit the Historiches Museum and look to the east to see the beautiful Ostzeile – a row of six half-timbered houses. If you’re visiting the city during the winter months you’ll find the world-famous Christmas markets in this square as well as other smaller events throughout the year.
Famous for being the birthplace of German democracy, the church is a political symbol for the city and was the first rebuild to take place post WWII. No longer operating as a place of worship, the modern interior of the building has been the setting for numerous special events such as the Goethe Prize. The red-stone neo-classical building makes for a great photo opportunity and is completely free to walk around.
Grab your ID, book a guided tour and imagine you work at one of the world’s largest stock exchanges for the day. Located in the Innenstadt district of the Bankenviertel, the 19th century building guarded by the iconic Bear and Bull statues is home to the Deutsche Borse and is open for public tours. Visit the viewing gallery, look down at the trading floor below and watch as stocks across the world rise and fall. A completely unique experience, this is a must-see when visiting the German city.
On the banks of the river, west of the city, is the traditional neighbourhood of Hochst. Leave the hustle and bustle behind for the day and take time out to appreciate the beautiful old half-timbered houses, towers, city gates, and twisted medieval streets. See the former residence of the archbishop of Mainz, Hochst Castle and stroll through the royal park at the Baroque Bolongaro Palace. In the summer months, enjoy the music and events of the annual Hochster Schlossfest. With some of the most picturesque streets and houses in the city, an excursion to Hochst is definitely worth your while.
Grab a picnic and head to the idyllic forest-like surroundings of Waldspielpark for the ultimate family day out. With its shallow pool, large adventure playground, beach volleyball and nature maze, there’s plenty to keep you busy. Climb to the top of Goetheturm, one of the highest wooden viewing towers in Germany and look down over the city. An oasis in the middle of a high powered finance and business hub, step into the park for a bit of fresh air.
A lengthy vibrant street in the Bornheim district, Berger is a hive for shopping local goods and experimenting in eclectic eateries. Discover the Chinese Gardens at the south end of the street and walk along the rows of 16th century half-timbered houses lining the road. The local-feel combined with the cosmopolitan atmosphere due to its steady flow of international visitors, makes this street a really intriguing visit.
Connecting the city centre to the Sachsenhausen, the iron footbridge is an iconic landmark. Spanning the river Main, the bridge was completed in 1869 and has been rebuilt twice as a result of war bombings. Cross over the pedestrianised walkway as the sun is setting to see the light bounce off the steel high-rise towers in Bankenviertel. Another victim of the love lock craze, every available railing on the bridge is covered with love note clad padlocks. Stand on the bridge and look back on incredible views of downtown and the museums that line the riverbank.
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Flights to Frankfurt
- Lucy Norris