The beautiful river city of Frankfurt in Germany is globally recognized as a major financial center and the base of the European Central Bank — but it’s also an exceptional destination for family travel. Both the city and its surrounding area offer a wide selection of charming diversions and entertainment choices, from historic castles to contemporary museums.
History & Culture
The banks of the broad, winding River Main in the middle of the city are rimmed with an astounding selection of world-class museums that include more than 35 choices, such as the massive Städel Museum (Germany’s oldest museum) and the Deutsches Filmmuseum, a tribute to the world of moving images. A few streets away, you can discover historic sites such as the Goethe-Haus and Goethe-Museum, dedicated to poet, writer, statesman and Frankfurt native Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Don’t miss two of Frankfurt’s best-loved treats: Grüne Sosse, an herbal green sauce served cold with everything from potatoes to fish; and apple wine poured from ceramic Bembel jugs. In the Sachsenhausen district of the city, make time for a tasting at Apfelweinhandlung JB, a wine shop devoted entirely to apple wines, with selections from Jens Becker, the shop’s proprietor. Book a walking tour that takes in iconic local spots including Bitter Zart Chocolaterie und Salon, a candy shop and café that would make Willy Wonka swoon with envy. In nearby Miltenberg just outside the city, stop in for a pint and a tour at historic, family-owned Brauhaus Faust, established in 1654.
Frankfurt’s City Forest provides residents and visitors with nearly 5,000 hectares of wooded green space. Once part of the Imperial Forest that wound across Germany’s landscape, the City Forest includes 279 miles of well-maintained paths and trails for walking, hiking, running and cycling.
Take a sightseeing break to book a reviving therapy or soothing massage at two of Frankfurt’s finest spa hotels, both centrally located: the modern Sofitel Frankfurt Opera, and the classic Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof, located on Kaiserplatz.
Book an opulent room at the magnificent Schlosshotel Kronberg or the elegant Castle Hotel Kranichstein, and dine on site. Whichever property you choose, the luxurious rooms, stellar culinary offerings and wine list make for an outstanding romantic retreat. During the day, take a scenic boat tour with the Primus-Linie operators on the River Main, then walk to Frankfurt’s Eiserner Steg Bridge to leave a love lock on the rails as a memento of your visit.
A great way to tour Frankfurt’s downtown area is in a Velo Taxi, a pod-shaped pedal cab perfect for narrow byways. Head a few kilometers out of town to explore the Hessenpark Open Air Museum, a collection of authentic buildings that range from a 15th-century church to a 1950s pub. More than 100 buildings have moved to this 160-acre site, which includes a small farm with endangered heritage pigs, chickens and other animals. Next, visit the Messel Fossil Pit, a World Heritage-listed site where thousands of fossils have been discovered — including a prehistoric crocodile, bats and a multitude of early equine bones. Take your crew to Mespelbrunn Moated Castle just beyond the city, where you can spend the night at the Schlosshotel Mespelbrunn on the green, forested estate. Before you tour the well-preserved armory with its hunting and battle weapons, make arrangements at the hotel for an interactive experience with actors who play a band of Robin Hood-like forest bandits, who will surprise your kids with a short play and musical interlude.