Things To Do On a Long Layover in Frankfurt (FRA)

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.

Frankfurt Airport – Should You Stay or Should You Go?

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Things to do on a day in Frankfurt is to take a tour boat down the Main.
A tour boat on the Main River.

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!

The Nikolauskirche is one of the best things to see in Frankfurt.
Don’t miss the gothic Nikolauskirche in the center.

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.

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).

Mural of grape picking in Frankfurt Center.
One of my favorite pasttimes is looking for great wall art, like this grape harvesting mural in the Frankfurt City Center.

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.

Frankfurt Map For a Long Layover

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.

Truly gorgeous half-timbered buildings in the Old Town, worth a layover in Frankfurt.
Gorgeous half-timbered buildings in the center.

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

Love locks on the bridge crossing the Main River.
Love locks on the bridge crossing the Main River.
Best way to get to downtown Frankfurt from the airport is by S-bahn train.
Best way to get to downtown Frankfurt from the airport is by S-bahn train.

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).

Gorgeous architecture, like these gabled buildings, is one reason for a layover in Frankfurt Germany.
Gabled roofs and flags flying, a beautiful day in the Romerberg.


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 is a great place to visit on a layover, especially if it's raining or bad weather.

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.

For lunch on a day touring Frankfurt try some local apple wine in restaurants such as this in Sachsenhausen.
For lunch on a day touring Frankfurt try some local apple wine in restaurants such as this in Sachsenhausen.


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.

A day in Frankfurt includes a walk over the Main River to Sachsenhausen for events like this flea market.
A flea market set up on the Sachsenhausen side of the Main River.

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!

says Alexa from 52 Perfect Days

Beer signs behind bars, closed until nighttime, is one of the must-do things to do in Frankfurt - the Kleine Rittergasse.
Beer signs behind bars, closed until nighttime, is one of the must-do things to do in Frankfurt – the Kleine Rittergasse.

Kleine Rittergasse

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!

The Klosterhof restaurant exterior.
One of our favorite places to indulge in a filling schnitzel, the Klosterhof.
One of the many schnitzel dishes on offer at the Klosterhof restaurant in Frankfurt.
One of the many schnitzel dishes on offer at the Klosterhof restaurant in Frankfurt.

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!

A train rolls past baroque buildings in Frankfurt's pedestrian zone.
A train rolls past baroque buildings in Frankfurt’s pedestrian zone.

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 Hotel Frankfurt Airport 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.

Don’t forget to pin a Layover in Frankfurt!
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41 thoughts on “Things To Do On a Long Layover in Frankfurt (FRA)”

  1. I have a 4.5-hour layover in FRA coming up on December 28 which is a Saturday and really want to do at least one activity in Frankfurt and worried I might not have enough time. We get there very early in the morning (0535) and our flight leaves 1000 which is usually when most things start opening on Saturdays. Any suggestions for me please will be appreciated!

  2. The S-8 and the S-9 go to Frankfurt from track 1 at the Regional train station. The end destination is not always Hanau. Sometimes it is Offenbach. Regional trains also stop here and you can ride them to the main train station.
    For 2 or more people, get a group day ticket. At 16.60€, this is cheaper than 2 single day tickets. They are valid for up to 5 people. Write your names on them. There are many more sites to visit in Frankfurt, like the Kaiserdom, the Alte Oper, the Jewish Holocaust Memorial Wall, go up on the Main Tower, visit the Karmeliter Cloister, the Klein Markt Halle and the farmers’ markets on Thur. Fri. and Sat.

  3. Great article. Will have a long layover in FRA in June. How is security at the airport? How much time should I allow to go through it when we head back?

    1. FRA security has been very up and down. There’ve been times when we just walked through and other times where it took over an hour. We tend to stick to the airline recommended “time prior to departure”.

  4. We enjoyed Frankfurt a lot. We stayed a few days prior to a Rhine River cruise and explored the Christmas Markets.

  5. 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!).

  6. travelsewhere

    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!

    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).

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. WhenTwoWander

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

  14. 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

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