Frankfurt Airport is one of the busiest in Germany. If you are traveling to Europe, and especially to Germany, there’s a good chance you’ll have a layover in this massive, sprawling airport. So how can you spend your time? What is there to do in the airport? Are there any things to do around Frankfurt Airport?
Whether you have a short or long layover in Frankfurt, you will find that it’s easy to get into the city. If your bag isn’t checked through to your destination, drop it off in the left luggage, grab your pre-packed day trip kit, and head down to the S-Bahn station. There are plenty of things to do in Frankfurt on a layover.
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Frankfurt Airport – Should You Stay or Should You Go?
If your time is limited, say under four hours, you really should just stay in the airport. I would suggest a hearty German lunch or dinner at “Kufler & Bucher” in terminal 1. You can get pretty good grilled pork knuckle with crackling and wash it down with a cold, tasty beer for around 20 euros, not a bad price for an airport eatery.
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I really don’t eat anywhere else inside of security at Frankfurt Flughafen Terminal 1. Options are better outside of security, with Thong Thai offering a good Pad Thai.
While there is plenty to keep you occupied there in the airport with several restaurants and loads of shopping, unlike some other airports, there really isn’t anything spectacular to occupy your time. If you have the time to get out and explore Frankfurt you really should do so.
Enjoy Your Layover in Frankfurt
With four or more hours between flights you can escape the airport and take a trip into the city. Getting from Frankfurt International Airport to Frankfurt city center is as easy as hopping on a train. Although you do need to buy the ticket first!
Frankfurt Airport to Frankfurt City Center By Train
Leaving your gate, follow the signs to the exit and baggage claim. For international flights outside of the Schengen area, the first stop is border control. Show your passports and give a friendly “Guten Tag” to the Polizei checking your documents and then continue on your way.
If your bags weren’t checked through all the way to your destination you’ll need to retrieve your luggage here. Don’t worry, however, as you can store your luggage at the storage counter downstairs in the B or C hall after leaving baggage claim.
Follow the signs for the Regional bahnhof (Regional Trains), marked with the large green letter S. Buy your ticket at the machine before heading down to the track to catch the S-9 in the direction of Hanau Hbf.
Which Ticket Should You Buy to Get From the Airport to Frankfurt?
So which ticket should you buy? For those travelers on a layover and returning to the train station on the same day, one of the day tickets is the way to go. If you are alone, then a single ticket is good. If there are two or more of you in the group (up to 5) then the group ticket is the better deal.
Remember, if you do buy the Frankfurt public transport system group ticket, anyone in the group can use it for the day, but you must have the ticket with you when you travel (you can’t split up and go off in different directions without purchasing another ticket).
Once on the train, sit back and enjoy the 25 minute ride to the Hauptwache station. Don’t worry about validating your ticket as Frankfurt is one of the few German cities that doesn’t require you to time stamp your ticket. Do be sure and have your ticket with you at all times, though, since the fine is an immediate 60 euros and they do check occasionally.
Get off the S 9 at Hauptwache to visit Frankfurt city center. Here you are in the heart of the city. There is a major shopping center, MyZeil, and several major tourist sights easily accessible from this station.
Pro Tip: I mentioned earlier that you can leave your luggage in the storage kiosk at the airport, however, to save a few euros you could also drag your luggage to this point and stuff it into one of the lockers in the Hauptwache station. Either way, you should not need to drag your suitcase around with you while you tour the best of Frankfurt.
Things To Do In Frankfurt in One Day
- Head to the historical center – the Römerberg.
- Take in a museum on history, architecture, German film and more.
- Eat the best schnitzel at Restaurant Klosterhof.
- Try the famous apple wine on Kleine Rittergasse.
- Shop, shop, shop, especially if it’s Christmas Market time.
What to do in Frankfurt
Fussgangerzone or Pedestrian Zone
Start your tour leaving the station through the Zeil exit. This brings you up into the Frankfurt pedestrian zone or Fussgangerzone. In the center of the city, this is where you will find great shopping and lots of cafés and restaurants. We love to sit outside and watch the world go by as we are sipping an aromatic German kaffee (coffee).
Continue east past the Gallery and turn right (south) on Liebfrauenstrasse towards the river. Continue down this walking street and you’ll eventually find the famous Romerberg.
Frankfurt was a major target for Allied bombers during World War II and most of this part of the city was completely destroyed. Major reconstructions afterwards have brought the historic center back to its earlier medieval splendor. The square is lined with towering, ornately decorated half-timbered houses, a beautiful Gothic church, and the old town hall.
During the Christmas season you’ll also find a colorful Christmas Market, a stop on the Germany Christmas Market cruise, where you can sip some traditional gluhwein.
Frankfurt History Museum
Continue down towards the river and consider a visit to the Frankfurt History Museum, (Tue.-Sun. 10:00-17:00) where you’ll see the Johannes Schöner globe from 1515. This is the oldest globe showing “America” on the southern half of the New World. Aside from this and other treasures you’ll find, the museum complex displays over 700 years of Frankfurt architecture.
From the History Museum it’s time to cross the Main river. If you’ve brought your soul mate and a padlock you could join the hundreds of other couples and lock your love to the bridge. Please don’t throw the key into the water, however, as I’m sure this is really not so good for the environment. While you’re on the bridge, take a moment to enjoy the splendid city views along both banks.
On the other side of the Main river you’ll find yourself in Sachsenhausen and walking along the Museumsufer, or Museum Bank.
Here you’ll find more interesting museums that might catch your fancy. If there is time, I recommend the German Film Museum as an entertaining hour visit.
Germany is famous for its beer and beer gardens, but Apfelwein (apple wine) is the quintessential drink of Frankfurt. In the old city section of Frankfurt, you’ll find apple wine pubs. Many of the pubs serve traditional dishes such as schnitzel with the handmade apple wine. This is one of the best (and most fun) food experiences you’ll find in the city!
Walking a bit further into the neighborhood you’ll come across the famous Kleine Rittergasse, whose entire length is devoted to small Apfelwein bars and restaurants. This is a hopping place to end the night. Just don’t drink so much you forget to catch your train back to the airport!
It was too early in the day for us to spend too much time in Sachsenhausen, and we had a better option in mind for lunch and our taste of the apple nectar. Heading back across the bridge and past the Architecture Museum (another worthy stop) we made our way to Restaurant Klosterhof.
Their beer, wine, and apfelwein surely has been blessed by the connected monastery as it is some of the best I’ve ever tasted. But the real star here is the schnitzel. If you eat pork, you owe it to yourself to pig out on the Schlägler Chorherrenschnitzel. It’s a mouthful to say, and several unforgettable mouthfuls to eat!
Back to the Hauptwache Train Station
From here, you can slowly make your back up through the pedestrian zone to the Hauptwache station and then back to the airport. You’ll be packed full of memories, photographs, souvenirs, and delicious food and drink. Even the longest, long haul flight will be tolerable after your short visit to Frankfurt.
Looking For a Good Frankfurt Airport Hotel?
If you’re staying over in Frankfurt for the night, I would suggest the ACHAT Comfort Airport – Frankfurt for a hotel near Frankfurt Airport. It is comfortable, has good value for the cost, and an excellent breakfast. This is a hotel with free shuttle service to the airport and is also very near to an S-Bahn stop for convenient train service into Frankfurt.
If you only have one day or a layover in Frankfurt, you will be happy to know that there is plenty to do. With just a few hours, you can take the train to the old historical part of town and eat, drink, play, visit museums, shop, and enjoy a truly traditional German atmosphere.