What To Do On a Long Layover in Frankfurt

Do You Have Time to Spend Away From Frankfurt Airport?

things to do in Frankfurt on a long layover

There’s more to Frankfurt than just a sprawling airport.

Frankfurt Airport is one of the busiest in Germany. If you are travelling 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?

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 “Deutsch” in terminal 1. You can get a perfectly cooked schnitzel with fried potatoes and wash it down with a cold, tasty beer for under 20 euros, not a bad price for an airport eatery. I really don’t eat anywhere else inside of security at Frankfurt FlughafenTterminal 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. 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 really should 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 Regionalbahnhof (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.

Things to do in Frankfurt on a long layover

You’ll find the trains into Frankfurt City Center in Terminal 1, Hall B, downstairs.

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.

Things To Do In Frankfurt On Your Long Layover

What is there to do when you have a long layover in Frankfurt? Click here for the best recommendations...Things to do in Frankfurt | City Guide | City Center | Train to Frankfurt

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. Since you’re still reading, I’ll let you in on a secret tip here. 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 on a long layover

The Gothic Alt Nikolauskirche is one of the sites in Frankfurt center.

Start your tour leaving the station through the Ziel exit. This brings you up into the Frankfurt pedestrian zone or Fussgangerzone. 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.

things to do in Frankfurt on a long layover

The plaque marks the spot of the big book burnings in Nazi Germany, a reminder that the past must be remembered.

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 (be sure and have a cup of Gluhwein).

What is there to do when you have a long layover in Frankfurt? Click here for the best recommendations...Things to do in Frankfurt | City Guide | City Center | Train to Frankfurt

The Romer is used now for exhibitions and weddings.

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.

things to do in Frankfurt on a long layover

The view from the Eiserner Steg foot bridge. Bring a lock and seal your fate (err, love).

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.

things to do in Frankfurt on a long layover

Go for a walk along the Museumsufer if the day is nice. There might even be a flea market!

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. Walking a bit further into the neighborhood you’ll come across the famous Kleinerittergasse, 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!

things to do in Frankfurt on a long layover

If you have enough time, walk another 10 minutes to Sachsenhausen where the Apfelwein culture reaches its peak.

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!

What is there to do when you have a long layover in Frankfurt? Click here for the best recommendations...Things to do in Frankfurt | City Guide | City Center | Train to Frankfurt

Make the time to finish your tour of Frankfurt at the excellent Restaurant Klosterhof.

things to do in Frankfurt on a long layover

The best schnitzel in the world, but don’t worry there is a very good vegetarian menu, too.

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.

Pin your layover in Frankfurt for later!

What is there to do when you have a long layover in Frankfurt? Click here for the best recommendations...Things to do in Frankfurt | City Guide | City Center | Train to Frankfurt

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32 Comments

  1. Sounds like there’s plenty to do on a layover! Although I have never been to Germany so maybe would just try and spend more time here – you’ve tempted me too much with the idea of so much schnitzel haha

  2. I’d definitely be spending my time in a Gasthaus or a Keller having a tall Weissbier!

  3. My home country! Now I miss Germany…. Although Frankfurt is not my home, I passed through so many times…. You captured the city very well, great photos! Thanks for sharing!

  4. our family and friends are all in the south. so we typically land in Frankfurt, rent a car and start driving. We ought to hang around a bit in Frankfurt some time. I expected the city to be very modern so your photos are a surprise. This gives us some good ideas for what to stay and see for a day.

  5. I am flying to Frankfurt in a couple of weeks on the way to Kassel. I heard there are two train stations in Frankfurt terminal and with my train ticket I can use any of them. Both train stations are in Terminal 1, hall B? Thanks

  6. I love long layovers. I made one in Istanbul on my way to Thailand and it was really worth it. I’d love to visit Frankfurt and the rest of Germany, never been there. The architecture is so beautiful.

  7. what a great and thorough guide – thanks! I like that you talked about staying at the airport as an option – and then gave an opinion that it wasn’t worth it. super helpful! thanks!

  8. Great post! I’m all about making the most of ANY time I get in a new city, even if it’s just a short layover. Great pictures too–I’ve never been to Frankfurt.

    1. Carlie, In Frankfurt, I would say 4-6 hours would be fine, but we’ve done layovers in quite a few places…and some a couple days and you’ve seen the country (like Qatar).

  9. Frankfurt is really only a city I’ve passed through and often seen as a transit hub/modern city. It’s nice to be reminded that it’s more than that and that you can even see a bit of it with a long enough stop over. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Okay, you need to write a post like this for every airport in the USA and Europe. Genius approach to being able to get out of the airport and still get back in time. I always want to do this but have only been successful once (Iceland and loved it!).

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