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Frankfurt Attractions - Free Things to do in Frankfurt

Top Frankfurt Attractions

Top rated Free Frankfurt Attractions and Paid Attractions list

1. Staedel Museum (Paid)

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This popular art gallery holds one of the largest collections in Germany, with masterpieces going back to the 14th century. It covers the Renaissance, Baroque and Impressionist eras, going up to the present day. Among the artists whose work is displayed are Botticelli, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Holbein, Monet, Picasso and Degas.

Founded in 1815, the gallery sits on the Main river and is now a part of the Museum Embankment having seen other museums grow up around it. It was damaged by bombing in World War II and rebuilt in 1966.

The museum contains 2,700 paintings, of which 600 are displayed, 100,000 drawings and prints and 600 sculptures. It is still being developed, with the addition of new wings in 1990 and 2012 to showcase contemporary art.

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2. Senckenberg Natural History Museum (Paid)

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A fantastic place to take the family, this museum is home to full-size dinosaur skeletons guaranteed to enthral the kids. Among them are the T-Rex, the

But there is much more to see. The museum contains preserved animal remains going back to the very beginning of life on earth. Among these are the fossil of an ancient relative of the horse that was less than 60cm tall. The intention is to create an overview of how life has evolved based on the changing conditions of the Earth.

The upper floors contain many displays of stuffed animals, including an extremely rare quagga, which died out in 1883.

The Senckenberg also focuses on the present with an aim of education on the preservation of our planet. The reptile exhibit includes a rainforest tree which offers different views of the rainforest, in order to impart a flavour of how these animals have adapted to survive.

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3. Main Tower (Paid)

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This 200m-high tower offers breathtaking panoramas of the city from its observation deck. This encircles the tower, giving views in every direction. There are 56 floors, but you can take the lift for most of the way, with only one flight of stairs to climb to get to the viewing platform.

There is a restaurant and bar on the next floor down, which also offers 360? views, making an ideal alternative on rainy days or if you want to enjoy a delicious meal, coffee or cappuccino while gazing out at the city. Evening visits are also recommended, when you can see Frankfurt beautifully lit up.

The other floors consist of office space and a television studio, but there is also some artwork accessible to the public. In the foyer, you will find the video installation “The World of Appearances” created by Bill Viola, and the wall mosaic “Frankfurter Treppe” (“Frankfurt Steps”) by Stephan Huber.

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4. Palmengarten (Paid)

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These fascinating botanical gardens display a diverse variety of plant life from all around the globe, supported by recreations of their own climates. It is the largest garden of its kind in Germany, covering 22 hectares.

First opened in 1871, the Palmengarten was the brainchild of landscape gardener Heinrich Siesmayer, who wanted somewhere to grow exotic plants. The gardens were created with the help of public subscription. Remodelled after damage during the war, today they are one of Frankfurt’s most popular attractions. View interesting examples of tropical plants in the Tropicarium, from rainforest species to desert dwellers such as cacti.

The palm house is also a must-see: built between 1868-69, it is an 18-metre-high iron and glass structure containing many species of palm.

Elsewhere, there are many flowerbeds, fountains, and a lake. There’s also a playground and even a miniature railway, highly popular with kids.

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5. Cathedral of St. Bartholomew (Free)

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Known as Dom St. Bartholomaus in German, the cathedral dates from the 14th century and was the site of coronations of the Holy Roman Emperors for 300 years. The altar is said to contain the skullcap of St. Bartholomew.

The cathedral is one of the buildings that suffered severe damage during the war, so the interior decoration is recent. It still makes for an impressive sight and has the advantage of free entry. However, you can ascend to the top of the tower from April to October for a small fee (2 Euros) to take in the sweeping views. It’s quite a climb with 324 steps, so be prepared. The 95-foot tower only came about during rebuilding after an 1867 fire, but the plans dated from 1415.

A museum in the cloister holds several interesting displays from the museum’s treasury as well as the fascinating remains of the grave of a girl, which date from the church’s earliest incarnation as a Merovingian chapel.

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6. Goethe House (Paid)

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The birthplace of one of Germany’s most famous writers in 1749, this museum not only provides a fascinating insight for lovers of his work but also a look at what life was like inside a Frankfurt townhouse of the 18th century.

The house is of an impressive size, with five floors, four of which are open to the public. It was originally two houses, dating from around 1600, but these were joined together by Goethe’s father in 1755.

Although Goethe left the house aged sixteen, he returned now and again and wrote some of his earliest works there. His study and writing desk are on display, and you can even see examples of his handwriting.

Like many of Frankfurt’s buildings, it was destroyed by bombing in World War II. Thereafter, it was rebuilt as faithfully as possible and the original furniture was restored, having been hidden for safekeeping. Next door is the Goethe Museum.

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7. Frankfurt Zoo (Paid)

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One of the largest zoos in the world, it is home to over 4,500 animals representing more than 450 species. From lions to crocodiles to monkeys to rhinos, all thriving in authentic recreations of their natural environments with plenty of space to roam. A fantastic place to take the kids on a sunny day.

Founded in 1858, it is one of the oldest zoos in the world and achieved its current high quality through the diligent efforts of director Professor Grzimek, who was in charge for almost 30 years after the war. The Grzimek building is named in his honour and features a range of nocturnal creatures such as aardvarks and bats.

The Exotarium (aquarium and reptile house) has snakes, seahorses and fish, and the Borgori Forest ape house has a realistic rainforest environment in which to view our primate friends. Also make sure you catch the Seal Cliffs, where you can view these popular animals’ playful antics through windows that look into the water.

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8. Museum of Modern Art (Paid)

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This triangular building (nicknamed the Piece of Cake) holds an expansive collection of modern art pieces, with over 4,500 items in the permanent collection. Among them are works by Andy Warhol and Roy Liechtenstein. It is the youngest of Frankfurt’s museums, being opened in 1991.

The unique building design was created by Viennese architect Hans Hollein, using every inch of the space available. At the narrow end, the rooms are wedge-shaped. In total there are 4,000 square metres of exhibition space.

There are also frequent temporary exhibitions, so it’s worth checking the website to see what’s on when you visit. The MMK Zollant is a supplementary space housed in a building opposite the main museum that was once occupied by the City of Frankfurt’s Main Customs Office. It has been completely remodelled and since 2007 has featured exhibitions by unknown and upcoming artists. Admission is included in the ticket price.

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9. St. Paul’s Church (Free)

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This church is known as the birthplace of German democracy, as it is where the first parliament was held in 1848. The oldest part of the building dates from 1789 and it was completed by 1833. After being heavily damaged during the war, it was the first building in the city to be rebuilt, using public subscription. The interior was redeveloped in a modernist style, due to the low budget, but the exterior is mostly original.

No longer used as a church, nowadays it hosts various exhibitions and special events such as the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade and the Goethe Prize, which are awarded in the first-floor assembly hall.

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10. Museum Embankment (Free)

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This promenade along the south of the river Main (known as the Museumsufer in German) marks the cultural heart of the city, flanked as it is by a high concentration of museums and galleries. You can take your pick as to which to enter, or simply stroll along the river, taking in the sights and perhaps enjoying a picnic on a summer’s day.

Perhaps the most famous of the embankment’s museums is the Staedel (link), with its famous Impressionist works and modern-classical paintings. However, there is something to suit every interest, from the German Film Museum, to the Icon Musuem, the Architecture Museum, the Liebieghaus with its classical sculptures, the Communication Museum and the Museum of Applied Arts with furniture dating to the 10th century.

If you’re around at the end of August it’s well worth catching the Museumsuferfest when all the museums host a plethora of special events, including boat races, concerts and a fireworks display.

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11. Römerberg (Free)

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The historic heart of Frankfurt’s Altstadt (Old Town), this charming square offers many delights to the visitor. Chief among these is the Römer, the Town Hall, dating from 1405, with its ornate gold leaf decoration and portraits of kings and emperors.

You can also see the Ostzeile, a row of six beautiful half-timbered houses on the east side of the square. They were first built in the 15th and 16th centuries and painstakingly reconstructed after Allied bombing in 1944.

The Fountain of Justice stands in the middle of the square, with the goddess Justitia facing the Römer.

You can see scale models of the Römerberg as it looked during various ages in the Historiches Museum, just south of the square. These include a representation of the medieval era, what the area looked like post-war and as it was following reconstruction.

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12. Berger Strasse (Free)

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This lengthy, vibrant street located in the Bornheim district is a central point for shopping, eating and people-watching. An array of small, locally owned shops offering a diverse range of goods awaits you, and the area is particularly pleasant for an evening meal in the summer as many restaurants offer outdoor seating.

There are numerous other points of interest. At the south end of the street, nearest to the city centre, you will find the tranquil Chinese Garden. Berger Strasse also contains many original half-timbered houses dating from the 16th century, so it’s well worth checking out the architecture. All in all, the area has mostly retained a pleasantly local feel, without too much intrusion from larger chain stores and supermarkets, while embracing the cosmopolitan atmosphere brought by its eclectic eateries and international visitors.

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13. Waldspielpark Goethe Tower (Free)

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This tower, constructed completely from wood, stands 43 metres high and offers stunning views over Frankfurt. It is located at the northern end of the Frankfurt City Forest.

The attraction was inaugurated in 1931, in time for the centenary of Goethe’s death the following year. It replaced an earlier tower, half as tall, which fell into disrepair after the First World War.

The area is extremely popular with families, not just for the tower itself but for the large playground and water park, with heated pool and water slide, situated at its base among idyllic forest surroundings. There is also a restaurant with outdoor seating, and a maze.

The tower, which is used for mobile transmissions, is currently undergoing renovations and is expected to be reopened in April 2014. The playground facilities remain open.

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14. Frankfurt Stock Exchange (Free)

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One of the most important and busiest stock exchanges in the world, it is open to visitors who are curious to see the ins and outs of stock trading and what goes on in such a place.

Upon entering, you must first go through security. It’s possible to phone ahead and book a free tour, which is advisable in order to gain a deeper understanding of what you will see. The tour begins with a Powerpoint lecture, followed by a visit to the viewing gallery, from where you can look down on the trading floor below. The tour guide will answer any questions you may have. Stocks are listed on LED boards in the gallery, and are lit up either green for stock up or red for stock down.

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15. Freibad Stadion (Free)

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This large outdoor water park located near Frankfurt’s Football Stadium is a great place to spend a hot summer’s day. There is a selection of pools to cater for all swimming abilities, including a fun pool with long slides, a lazy river, a waterfall and a water cannon. There are also massage jets and floor jets. Separate to the rest is a 118m giant slide.

For divers, there are several springboards at various heights including 1m, 3m, 5m, 7 ½ and 10m. Away from the water, a restaurant offers snacks and drinks at reasonable prices, and there are also table tennis facilities, a bowling green and a playground.

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