When people think of Frankfurt, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the city’s skyscraper-crowned skyline – a testament to its status as a European centre for business and finance. But when you live here, you see a different side to Frankfurt, and my first thoughts of my home city are of its vast, leafy parks, its bustling boutique shops where you can always find something out of the ordinary, and the magnificent iron footbridge spanning the Main.
Frankfurt is also a city of great taste, with some of the very best restaurants in Germany, superb museums and cultural landmarks and a world-renowned opera house. In this guide, I’d like to show you the very best of the city I call home.
Sightseeing and relaxing
While tourists typically head straight to the Roemerberg, the historic heart of Frankfurt and the seat of its government for many years, I recommend making the Main Tower your first port of call. This 56-storey skyscraper is the home of banking powerhouses like Merrill Lynch and Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen, but the real reason to visit is for the unrivalled panoramic view from the top – from here you can see almost the whole of the city stretching down along the Main River, a sight that’s equally stunning in the day or the night.
More than half of Frankfurt is covered in parkland, and visitors should certainly spend a day relaxing as the locals do in one of our splendid green spaces. Frankfurt’s 8,000 hectare green belt is a joy to explore in the spring, when the beech and oak trees are in bloom and you can best appreciate the spectacular landscapes of meadows and orchards that surround the city.
Zeil, Frankfurt’s most popular shopping street, is where the city’s discerning residents do their shopping at its many boutique and department stores. This pedestrianised shopping zone is home to Europe’s largest beauty store, with an array of quirky fashion and jewellery stores just off the main street. Be sure to pay a visit to the Zeilgalerie, a ten-storey shopping mall with a rooftop terrace.
If you really want to bring something unique and luxurious home from your trip, I advise heading to Goethestraße, where many internationally-renowned brands cater to big spenders. With outlets like Cartier, Armani, Versace and Tiffany’s, it’s often described as Frankfurt’s answer to Fifth Avenue in New York.
Museums and culture
One of Frankfurt’s cultural gems, the Alte Oper is a superb place for anyone who loves the finer things in life to visit and take in a show. This stunning Renaissance-style building was originally the city’s opera house, although it now serves as a concert hall that regularly hosts concerts and plays, and is particularly well-known as the home of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. Alternatively, the new Frankfurt Opera House is an award-winning venue where visitors can see classic and contemporary opera in sumptuous surroundings.
While you are in Frankfurt, I very much recommend visiting the former home of one of our city’s most famous children: the author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Goethe House, which can be found in the Altstadt district, has a pictorial gallery that gives a fascinating insight into this extraordinary writer and the society he grew up in. Like many old buildings in Frankfurt, it was partially destroyed during the Second World War, but has been carefully restored and retains some of its original furniture, such as Goethe’s writing desk.
Michele Schinella is Director of Guest Services at Kempinski Hotel Gravenbruch Frankfurt.