Two hundred and twenty seven banks, countless skyscrapers and Europe’s third biggest airport. And it is the birthplace of Goethe, Anne Frank and Yiddishe sex therapist Ruth Westheimer. It is also the first German city to have a Jewish mayor.
MUST STAY: Maritim Hotel. Close to the historic festival hall and the famous Trade Fair Hall this hotel is an ideal starting point for a weekend city break. Its three restaurants offer some of the best dining in Frankfurt — miso soup and marinated pickles at 9am, anyone? Rooms are spacious, service is exemplary and there’s live music in the neon-lit cocktail bar. And because we are in Deutschland, the staff all speak English. www.maritim.de
MUST DRINK COFFEE: in Cafe Wacker in Kornmarkt 9, one of Frankfurt’s oldest coffee houses and the place where Frankfurt’s most famous son, Goethe, used to buy the family milk. Later in the day, have another caffeine shot in one of Frankfurt’s remaining literary cafes, The Laumer, which was established in 1919. The high-backed mahogany chairs and heavy linen table cloths are classic Old Middle Europe. And the apple strudel is to die for. www.cafelaumer.de
MUST EAT: Choose a restaurant on Fressgass or Schillerstrasse, Frankfurt’s car-free culinary mile, is a good place for lunch, but the Table Restaurant in the art gallery Schirn Kunstalle Frankfurt really is top-drawer. For dinner, amble down to Sachsenhausen, a historic district featuring pinched alleyways, half-timbered buildings and apple wine pubs. Frankfurt’s indigenous tipple has been quaffed by Frankfurters for 1,200 years. It is traditionally drunk with Handkas mit Musik, cheese simmered in cider and served with onion, or with hard-boiled eggs and potatoes smothered in Grune Sosse a sort of green bechamel made with seven herbs.
MUST DO: Large stretches of Frankfurt are as green as its aforementioned emerald sauce. Forests sprawl some 5,000 hectares of this city which has 48 parks and gardens. The Palmengarten, botanical gardens, has a wide range of exotic flora and in the summer months it hosts open-air jazz and theatre performances. Frankfurt’s long museum row stretches along the banks of the majestic River Main and includes world-class institutions such as the German Architecture Museum; the Stadel Museum (fine art); and the Museum of Modern Art.
MUST PRAY: Before the Holocaust, there were eight synagogues: only the Westend Synagogue, which celebrated its centenary in 2010, survived Kristallnacht. The large art deco building is used by all three communities – Chassidic, Orthodox and Reform.
MUST TAKE: A guided city walk, starting daily at 2.30pm. Alternatively, hop on and off one of the city’s red double-decker tourist buses to take in Frankfurt’s star attractions which include St Paul’s Church, Frankfurt Cathedral, Goethe House, the financial district, the Old Opera House, the museum embankment, Sachsenhausen and the Palmengarten.
MUST SHOP: from designer to high street, this city is an Eldorado for shopaholics. Goethestrasse is Frankfurt’s most exclusive shopping strip: more affordable threads are to be found on streets such as Schweizer Strassse in Sachsenhausen and Berger Strasse. Souvenir shops jostle for space near the Romerberg district.
MUST SEE: Frankfurt is famous for its skyscrapers, and you can scale one of them, Main Tower. On top of its 200 metre-high summit, you will be rewarded with stunning views .
MUST EXPLORE: Jewish Frankfurt. The Jewish Museum and its branch Museum Judengasse at Borneplatz examines the social and religious life of the Jewish community between the 12th and 20th centuries. Foundations of 19 buildings from the Frankfurter Judengasse, the Jewish ghetto which existed from 1462 to 1796, were excavated in 1977 and five have been incorporated into the site of the branch museum. You will gasp at the tiny footprint of buildings where multiple families lived atop each other. There is a Jewish cemetery on Battonnstrasse dating back to 1180. It served the community until 1828.