Don’t make the mistakes I did. What not to do while visiting Frankfurt:
- Expect to drink tons of German beer
I’ll admit it; I didn’t do a lot of research before coming on this trip. But before leaving this weekend, I compiled a brief list of things to do, during which I discovered I had to try Frankfurt’s apple wine. What I didn’t realize is how important apple wine is to Frankfurt. Any restaurant you eat at will serve it in the signature glass with the diamond pattern on the sides. The selection of beers, however, is slim to nonexistent.
- Stay in an Airbnb outside of central Frankfurt
While I had no issues with the apartment itself, I felt a bit isolated being out of the main part of the city. The 10-minute walk to the nearest metro stop and the scarcity of nearby commerce made it a bit inconvenient. The choice of Airbnb over hostel also limited our interaction with other travelers, but we managed to make a few friends through other activities.
- Miss out on the museums
I only had enough time to visit one museum during my time there, but it was a great one. The Städel museum has a healthy collection of art spanning the 1500s to the 21st century. There are over 30 other museums ranging from natural history to Judaism to a children’s museum. You can gain free access to almost all of them with a museum pass that’s under 20 euros. The majority are all in a row called the Museum Embankment.
- Leave your cash at home
While I can get away with using my visa at most places in Paris, Frankfurt is less plastic-friendly. Especially when it comes to American plastic. Definitely have a good amount of euros on hand before visiting to avoid having to stop at an ATM every 5 minutes.
- Visit the Frankfurt zoo
Every website I checked urged me to visit the Frankfurt Zoo, which “isn’t just for kids.” I was hesitant because I generally have mixed feelings regarding the morality of zoos, but my friend was eager to go. As much as I loved the animals I saw, I was incredibly disappointed by the holding situation. Many mammals, such as lions and giraffes, were kept indoors in areas that were too small and could have been much more accurate to their home habitat. I don’t doubt that the zookeepers take good care of the animals, but I hate to see animals being forced to live somewhere that isn’t optimized for their needs.
- Buy a metro pass
Okay, this one is up to you. I did take the metro every day but never once did I have to swipe or show my card. My friend informed me that if caught without a ticket there is a €70 fine, but I’d say that might be worth it depending on how long you’re staying. Okay, okay, I’m not encouraging you to break the law. But if you follow the advice from #2 you won’t even need a metro pass because everything within central Frankfurt is walking distance.
- Forget to look for the hidden Spidermen
While on a free walking tour (which I recommend to anyone for any city while traveling on a budget), I learned that Frankfurt is known as “Main-hattan” because of its beautiful skyline. They embraced this nickname and an anonymous artist has installed 7 Spiderman sculptures mounted to buildings throughout the city as an homage to New York.
- Be afraid to try local delicacies
I’m not a huge meat eater, so I was worried I wouldn’t have many choices in a country known for its sausage and schnitzel. While those two dish were very present, I found a couple local vegetarian dishes that didn’t disappoint!
Frankfurt’s second claim to culinary fame (after its apple wine) is its 7-herb green sauce. Often served with hard-boiled eggs and roasted potatoes, this refreshing sauce adds plenty of flavor. The second German dish I ate wasn’t Frankfurt-specific. My au gratin spätzle noodles were deceptively filling. Though the plate wasn’t very big, the soft noodles were so dense that I couldn’t even finish them!
- Let this list discourage you
While I may not have planned my trip as well as I could have, I definitely had a great time! You will love what Frankfurt has to offer: it’s a huge international hub, so you’re sure to meet people from all over. I learned so much about a previously unfamiliar culture in just a couple days, and I didn’t break the bank while doing it. Since I have yet to visit other cities in Germany I can’t tell you how it compares, but don’t write it off just yet!
Samantha Pinsky is a junior in the Paris Internship Program. As a dual degree student in Advertising and European Studies with a French minor, she considered this a perfect opportunity to experience the French lifestyle. Some of her favorite things are traveling, visiting art museums, and writing. You can find the first two on her travel Instagram.