I am a big fan of Couchsurfing. Although I have never hosted or slept on someone else’s couch, I admire the idea of travelers helping each others, and the ability to organize local meet ups. Having lived in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, for the last 9 years now, I can consider myself almost to be a true Frankfurter. And as such, I have received some requests from travelers, who are visiting Frankfurt on a top-over, what can be done within one day.
Actually, Frankfurt is located 30 minutes by train from the airport (the airport code for Frankfurt Airport is FRA. Many low-cost carriers flight to ‘Frankfurt Hahn’, which is not located even somewhere near the city, and should not be confused with FRA), and it is only a small walking distance to the city center by foot from the railway station; it would be a great pity not to visit the city, if you have that possibility.
My personal, very favorite, route to the city center is from the railway station, through the Kaiserstrasse, by foot. It does take you somewhat through the red light district and past a number of sex shops, and although I would not withhold myself from taking a look, what draws me most are the old buildings in that area. The architecture is quite well preserved, something which is quite scarce in Frankfurt, since the city had been heavily bombed during World War II. The Kaiserstrasse will take you directly to the Hauptwache and Zeil, the main shopping street of Frankfurt. Near the Zeil is also the Goethestrasse, where most well-known and upper class brands are located.
From the Zeil, it is only a few minutes walk to Römer, the most ancient place in Frankfurt, and typical tourist attraction. You may opt to take a few pictures, and perhaps on a sunny day continue for a stroll along the river Main. Especially during the weekends or late afternoon in summer, the Main is packed with people of all sorts. At the south side of the Main, the Deutschherrnufer offers a wide variety of different museums, if you are interested. Else, you may want to continue to the Maincafe, where you can get a cold beer, wine, soft drinks and something small to eat, and chill outside directly at the river.
Another noteworthy area of Frankfurt is Bornheim, if you are looking for something not so mainstream. The small streets and familiar atmosphere invite for a bit of shopping at the Berger Strasse, of for some relaxing at one of the many cafes. Should you visit Frankfurt on a Friday, you may want to visit Friedberger Platz, during late afternoon or at the start of the evening; it is packed with people who want to enjoy their start in the weekend, and surely you would find the opportunity to make a few interesting contacts or friends.
Myself, I highly appreciate Frankfurt for the contrast it provides; the city has an image of a great metropolitan city and Europe’s main banking capital on the mainland, yet is houses just under 700,000 people. Frankfurt has some impressive skyscrapers, yet it has has areas with older buildings and character. Frankfurt has fine and chic bars and restaurant where I’d be hesitant to enter with a jeans, yet it offers great alternative bars and clubs.