So you’re going to Europe (insert: gush, ooh, ahh, pure jeally). If you’re looking for the economical route, using airline miles or are kicking off your journey in Deutschland, it’s very likely you’re going to pass through the Frankfurt airport. While in Frankfurt, is it worthwhile to stop and take a look around? Or, is it better to just hop on to the next destination?
On our 2015 Euro-trip, our destination was London – but using flight miles, it was most practical to fly into Frankfurt and take the train to our major stops. Without enough days on the itinerary to venture further into Germany (otherwise we’d have visited Munich, Berlin or Hamburg), we figured why not explore Frankfurt since we’d be right there? And so, explore Frankfurt we did.
Doing so was beneficial as it allowed us some cushion time for unexpected travel delays, a meeting spot (we were on different flights), and offered us a small snack-size taste of Germany. Though our visit was brief, we let ourselves get lost walking around the city. Just wandering around for one day, we managed to hit the majority of the hot spots and stumbled upon a few surprise gems. Including:
More than six centuries old, this square originally was a major center of trade for the city. The six side-by-side town homes on the West side of the square are characteristic of old German architecture. This charming little square was complimented by an incredible sky on this bright sunny day. We learned after leaving Frankfurt that the town homes are actually not original structures, but replicas using the original plans. The original buildings were destroyed during World War II.
We stopped at one of the many beer gardens in the square to kick off the trip with a weiss beer and schnitzel! It was my first time eating schnitzel. I didn’t love it. No, not exactly. But, it wasn’t horrible, just texturally not ideal. The weiss beer however, it was good and of course not my last. Katy liked it too:
There weren’t huge crowds, or unmanageable lines for restaurants, but there were ample supply of bachelorette and stag parties. Katy pictured here with one of the many hanging around Römerberg. Pro tip: Frankfurt is not the hopping touristy town you’d expect for being the location of the third busiest airport in Europe. While it provides for a more authentic experience, those who speak only English will need to rely on other communication methods as your servers likely only speak German.
Searching for Sachsenhausen
In trolling Pinterest for must-see Frankfurt destinations, I kept hearing mention of a cobblestone street lined mecca of beer gardens and good times. Katy and I wandered all around Frankfurt in search of Sachsenhausen, and then we wandered some more. On our journey we stumbled upon these great finds:
This little pub was everything you’d want to a German pub to be. The decor was adorable and walking into the bar almost felt like crawling into a little hobbit hole. If you’re not one for confined spaces, it might be a little snug for you. But I thought it was cozy and cute! Pro tip: cash is a must [pretty much everywhere in Frankfurt] and ATMs are not around every corner. If you decide to visit, pull out some cash at the airport or train station.
We obviously weren’t in Italy – but as we passed this precious little Gelato shop we had to indulge for a throwback to our days wandering around Rome, Florence and Venice. Pro tip: never pass up an opportunity for gelato in Europe, or anywhere. Gelato is everything.
Nearly every city we visited in Italy had some location where you’d find a collection of love locks, so we weren’t all that surprised that Frankfurt had a dedicated love lock bridge either. I will say I was surprised by the sheer quantity – this entire bridge just covered in locks and stories of promised eternal love.
We’d ran into some locals who suggested we try out some apfelwein. This German cider is made from pressed apples and has an alcohol content around 6%. There was an area near the river where there was a concentration of apfelwein beer gardens, and so we ventured in. They were all bustling with what appeared to be the after work happy hour crew, so we found a table inside. I generally try to stay positive about experiences in my posts – but this stuff was real disgusting. The only way to describe the taste is band-aids. Gross band-aids. We ended up forgoing the remainder of our glasses to again seek out the Sachsenhausen promise land.
We learned that Sachsenhausen is made up of two districts (North and South) – the bars we were looking for just lined two streets. If you’re visiting and looking for the bars, just do a Google maps search for Hooters Frankfurt. That’s ultimately (and embarrassingly) how we inevitably found it. But not to worry, we did not go to Hooters Frankfurt.
We found Sachsenhausen to live up to our expectations of cobblestone streets, beer gardens and lots of people. It was a mecca for bachelorette and stag parties. I unfortunately didn’t take pictures, but the customized group shirts game was on point. We were happy to make a few friends hanging at the beer garden. A group of wild and somewhat overly interested, non-English speaking stag party goers stole our attention for awhile until we managed to sneak out on account of spilled beer.
We also met an interesting mom/daughter/boyfriend trio who filled us in on the Frankfurt scene. Excited that we were visiting from America, they shared a list of things we would need to see while in Frankfurt. All of which we’d already seen or experienced in the aforementioned as we wandered around on our first day.
Knowing that we were on to Amsterdam next, we decided to cut our time in Frankfurt short and catch an earlier train. Doing so was an excellent decision as I ended up falling absolutely in love with Amsterdam in an instant. The extra time was invaluable to us.
So… should you stop in Frankfurt on your layover?
Stopping in Frankfurt definitely worked out for us as we did experience some travel delays due to weather in Chicago. Frankfurt was not the most exciting place we’ve ever visited – but was worth the visit [at least until we can make it to more of Germany]! If you decide to make the stop, one day is plenty to experience all the city has to offer.