Frankfurt International Airport is Europe’s third largest, but unlike Paris’s Charles de Gaulle and London’s Heathrow, it’s very close to the center of town, meaning if you have a few hours between flights in this major hub you can sample its compact core.
First, a quick train ride from the airport to the city’s main station (just over 10 minutes). Leaving the station, walk straight ahead along Kaiserstraße. If you’re after a memento you’ll find souvenir shops along here, otherwise keep going until you reach the green stretch of the Gallusanlage, from where you have a view of some of Europe’s tallest office buildings.
They tower incongruously over the birthplace of the writer Goethe, a must-see. Nearby Paulskirche, with its distinctive round nave, is an important monument to early German democracy, having served as a seat of parliament. Head south and you’re right in the center of town: Römerberg. Evocative church towers and venerable old half-timbered facades belie the damage suffered by Frankfurt during the war – much of this square has been rebuilt.
Continue on to Frankfurt’s cathedral; turning towards the river you pass another impressive Gothic remnant which houses a museum of caricatures. Cross the River Main at the Alte Brücke and if time allows stop at the museum of icons on the south bank. Otherwise, continue along the museums of Schaumankai which you can pick based on your interests and the time allotted: choose from applied arts, anthropology, film, architecture or art. If time is short head straight for the Städel Museum, a world class art collection.
If you still have an hour or two to spare at this point, duck into the Sachsenhausen district, find a bar and treat yourself to a local specialty, apple wine. Then cross the river again, head back to Hauptbahnhof and entrain for the airport.