is the financial hub of Europe, home to the German Stock Exchange, the European Central Bank
and gleaming skyscrapers. But that doesn’t mean that a trip to Frankfurt will break the bank: Here are interesting sights and attractions in Frankfurt that won’t cost you a dime.
Set in a historic building from the 19th century (with the Bear and the Bull statues in front), the 400-year old Deutsche Börse, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, welcomes interested visitors and offers a glimpse into its daily business; you can take part in guided tours and then watch the bustling trading floor of the third largest trading exchange in the world. Don’t forget to make reservations (at least one day in advance) and bring your ID.
The Römerberg ("Roman Mountain") is the historic heart of Frankfurt and home to its City Hall called Römer, which dates back to 1405. Flanked by half-timbered houses, this historic square used to be the place for Frankfurt's first trade fairs in the 13th century. Although most of the Römerberg has been destroyed in the Second World War, the historical buildings were reconstructed to their original splendor. Make sure to take a peek into the adjacent street Saalgasse (across from the Historical Museum) - the postmodern colorful houses create an interesting contrast to the historical center.
The Gothic St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral, erected in the 14th and 15th century, is one of the oldest and most important churches in Frankfurt, and German kings have been elected here since 1356. You can visit a museum, set in the medieval cloister, that shows exhibits from the cathedral’s treasury, and if you are up for it, climb 324 stairs all the way to the top of the church tower, where you’ll be rewarded with sweeping vistas of Frankfurt (church tower only open in summer).
4. The Old Town of Höchst
Take a walk through Frankfurt’s neighborhood “Höchst”, located in the west of the city; set on the banks of the river Main, you’ll find a beautiful Old Town filled with timber-framed houses, city gates, towers, and winding medieval streets. Highlights of the Höchst district are the Höchst Castle, which was the former residence of the archbishop of Mainz
, and the Baroque Bolongaro Palace with its royal park. If you are here in June and July, come for the annual “Castle Festival” with music and special events.
Every last Saturday of the month, admission to many of Frankfurt’s museums is free; during the so-called “Satourday”, museums and galleries offer guided tours, special events, and workshops for kids and families. Just make sure to check out the participating museums that offer free admission at Satourday Family Program
6. River Main and Museums EmbankmentTake a walk along the river Main, which runs through Frankfurt's city center and is lined on both sides by some of best museums in the country; among them the superb German Film Museum and the fine art Städel Museum, which focuses on the old masters. This area is called Museumsufer, "Museum embankment", and on Saturday mornings, you can hunt here for treasures at Frankfurt's largest flea market (until noon).
The "Waldspielpark" is a great destination for the whole family – a large adventure playground set in a wonderful park, complete with a shallow pool and a nature maze for young kids; adults can climb the nearby "Goetheturm", which was built in 1931 and is one of the highest wooden viewing towers in Germany. The view of the Frankfurt skyline is fantastic from up there. (Due to renovations, the tower is closed until 2013)
Paulskirche, St. Pauls' Church, built between 1789 and 1833, is the cradle of German democracy: The church was used for political meetings and became the seat of the first freely elected German parliament in 1848. Today, the Paulskirche houses an exhibition dedicated to the history of democracy in Germany and is used for special events.
Every spring, Frankfurt celebrates its annual spring "Dippemess", one of the largest folk festivals in the Rhine region. The fair dates back to the 14th century, when it was a medieval market for pottery, especially ceramic bowls and pots (called "Dibbes" in the Frankfurt dialect). Today, the spring fair is well known for rides, roller coasters, and fireworks and is a great event for the whole family.