Frankfurt Layover – Get Out of the Lounge

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Star Alliance flyers know Frankfurt well. I am still new to Star and took advantage of a long, 9-hour layover to check out Frankfurt.

Frankfurt 10

Welcome to Euroland

Layover options include:

  • Frankfurt am Main (the city)
  • Wiesbaden for the hot springs
  • Mainz of Gutenberg printing press fame
  • A number of UNESCO World Heritage sites within a short drive (Abbey and Altenmünster of Lorsch the closest, with several more to the east, west and south of the airport)

My original inclination was to a UNESCO grand tour. In I think a wise recognition of my limits I knew I would be utterly exhausted from the trip over to Bangalore, India and all-day to late night client negotiation and entertainment, so I limited myself to the city.

I passed up the Lufthansa arrivals lounge and only hiccup I had was locating the tourist information welcome desk to purchase the Frankfurt Card, which has 1/2-day versions for EUR 9.90/14.90 that includes unlimited public transport and many museum discounts, including the most popular museums. A delightfully dour lady at the desk was brutally honest about Frankfurt’s attractions, “Well, the natural history museum cannot compare to London or New York…or even Berlin.” We settled on the Goethe House and Deutsches Filmmuseum.

Frankfurt 01

Resist the pull of the lounge

Frankfurt 02

Welcome Center in Frankfurt Airport

I did a walk roughly following Rick Steves’ route from the main train station, through the red light and junkie district, on to the deserted financial district, through pedestrian streets and the post-WWII rebuilt historic center. Ending across the river at the row of river facing museums. I had a nice time. Not a city screaming big attractions, and nearly overwhelmed on a lazy August Friday by tourists representing Star Alliance’s dominant countries for leisure tourists (e.g. China), though the relaxed European vibe was a nice counterpoint to a week of work in India. Even a 4 or 5-hour layover would be enough to dip a toe into the city.

Frankfurt 03

Main train station

Frankfurt 04

Between the station and the financial district

Frankfurt 05

Schiller on capitalism

Frankfurt 06

New ‘old’ town

Frankfurt 07

Goethe cabinet

Frankfurt 08

Early German comedy film

Frankfurt 09

Film editing interactive

Frankfurt 11

A light German lunch

Readers, where do you go on Frankfurt layovers, and don’t say the lounge!

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8 years ago

I did the same as you, returning from India, four or five hour layover, went downtown. Very, very, very pleasant after India….

Leana @ Milesforfamily

We had a 24 layover in Frankfurt, and I actually decided to skip Frankfurt altogether and stay one night in Mainz instead. No regrets. I very much enjoyed seeing the original Gutenberg bible in person. Plus, it was nice touring the old city of Mainz.

8 years ago

Wow — can’t believe you wasted a whole day in a foreign city when you had an airport full of lounges you could have visited! 😉 My experience (admittedly somewhat dated at this point — as am I!) is that you can walk from the terminal to the airport entrance and hitchhike from there. Heidelberg is a nice town although somewhat touristy, less than an hour from Frankfurt. I also have very fond memories of a visit to Tubingen, a University city just south of Frankfurt. Google maps indicates it’s three hours to get there from FRA, however, so best… Read more »

8 years ago

I used to overnight frequently in the Frankfurt area on my way back to the US from various European destinations (IMHO instead of getting up at the crack of dawn for a connecting flight to FRA, it’s better to fly the previous evening, do an overnight, and then have time for breakfast before catching your flight.) I’ve stayed in Frankfurt Mitte, Mainz, and Offenbach. Of the 3 locations, Mainz was usually the winner. It’s a cute little town with character, has 2 Hiltons, some good sights and restaurants, and just seemed a lot more interesting than Frankfurt. Frankfurt is just… Read more »

8 years ago

I went to the same restaurant at Frankfurt. Made a silly mistake and didn’t bring enough cash to cover the bill and tip, so stiffed the waitress by mistake. I figured they would accept CCs but that wasn’t the case…

8 years ago

No Stadel? It’s not the Rijksmuseum, but there are quite a few nice Dutch master pieces. The main exhibitions were empty when I was there in June as all the Germans were crowded around the Nolde retrospective drowning in purple.

8 years ago

My wife and I did a similar stopover a couple of months ago and we chose Mainz with the Gutenberg museum. we also chose to use points to stay at the hyatt Mainz as a base to leave our stuff, take a shower and chill out at during the day. Mainz is a compact town with lots of history we don’t regret going there. As teachers we loved picking up the world smallest book souvenir at the Gutenberg museum.

8 years ago

I actually really enjoy Frankfurt because it’s not overly touristy, and am happy to spend several days on layover there. Within Frankfurt city, the Palmengarten gardens are very nice — and walkable from the main train station (or hop the metro to Bockenheimer Warte). A walk along the Main river is nice, as well — and across the river from the city centre are more museums and galleries. The Frankfurt Zoo (metro station Zoo) is actually fairly good, and there’s also a nice small Chinese Garden a few blocks away. The Zeil is the big shopping (pedestrian only) street, and… Read more »

8 years ago

I had the dubious honor of buying a two day transit card for Frankfurt and almost being arrested because the trainee thought my pass was expired. It seems that the two day version is relatively rare and it was assumed the date of purchase was the same as expiration date.
Once beyond that issue do as I do; rush to the ZEIL and shop like crazy. You will never settle for American brand underwear again!