A list of (mainly wine) festivals local to Frankfurt, sorted by date from July to October.Read More
Starting on November 26th 2018 the heart of the Frankfurt Christmas market is on the Römerberg in the old town. Here you will find the town hall, the 30 meter Christmas tree and plenty of stalls to browse. Glühwein is available at just about every other stall, but read on for a few tips on the best places to try this warming, hot mulled wine. The map below details the different areas where the Christmas market is hosted. This link will take you to the interactive map
Frankfurt Christmas market on the Römerberg
The main hub of the Frankfurt Christmas market is indicated by the orange area at the southern tip of the map above. It's the traditional site of the market, on the Römerberg, dating all the way back to the 14th century. Prior to browsing the stalls and commencing with the drinking, peak behind the huge Christmas tree to find the entrance to the town hall and step inside to for the annual Christmas arts fair (7th - 21st December). Local artists sell their wares directly to the public and there is a lovely mix of jewellery, pottery, sculpture as well as framed pictures and photographs.
A highlight of the Christmas market on the Römerberg is the carousel. It's not just for children so you should definitely have a quick ride before moving on. From the carousel, if you head toward the Schirn Art Gallery you'll pass a few stalls on your right. One stall sells hand-made wooden decorations which can easy be packed into luggage if your travelling this Christmas, and make great mementoes. Beyond the wooden decoration stall and to the left is a row of small sheds. This is where you'll find some of the best home-made Glühwein in Frankfurt. The locals hang out here, sipping a cup of hot wine after work and it gets busy! At the other end of the row of sheds is the Bethmännchen stall selling baked marzipan treats, only to be found in Frankfurt.
Frankfurt Christmas market on Paulsplatz
Another area of the Christmas market to explore is on Paulsplatz. (the area marked in purple on the map). Next to the St. Paul's church is Wagner's honey house. It's a traditional timber-framed (fachwerk) house converted especially for the Christmas market. Upstairs is a variety of honey based drinks and liqueurs to buy whilst downstairs has an amazing variety of honey. St.Paul's church also hosts a Christmas arts fair in it's cellar, which is worth a browse (27th Nov - 22nd Dec). Back outside the church, follow the church walls round into the Christmas market stalls. Here you will find one of my favourite hot chestnut sellers and directly opposite is the Lion's Club Glühwein stall selling a good quality Glühwein. There is also a traditional Tiroler wood carver stall, Bachmann selling hand crafted nativity scenes and figures.
Frankfurt Christmas market on Friedrich-Stoltze-Platz
From Paulsplatz head over to Friedrich-Stoltze-Platz (marked on the map in pink), it has outdoor seating and a great selection of things to eat from vegan specialities to traditional Reibekuchen (potato cakes with apple sauce). At this "Platz" you will also find the best Feuerzangenbowle, a potent Glühwein containing caramelised sugar and rum. Every time someone leaves a tip, the bell is rung and more rum is poured over the caramelising sugar. Like I say, it's potent!
Frankfurt Christmas market on Hauptwache
From Friedrich Stoltze Platz, head to Hauptwache (outlined in Blue on the map) for more Christmas cheer. Close to the children's Christmas train is a lovely stall selling traditional wood toys. Head towards the Zeil and you will find another "Wagner's Honey House". The novelty in this location is how the house contains a large statue of David and Goliath within it - go inside and take a look!
Frankfurt Christmas market on at the Thurn und Taxis Palace
The markets close by 9pm but if you are still hankering for one last Glühwein before you head home, go to the Weihnachtsmarkt at the Thurn und Taxis Palais (top of the map outlined in green. Opening dates: 26th Nov - 22nd Dec 2018) Thursday to Saturday the market stays open until 11pm (10pm on other evenings) and offers yet more food and drink for the late night party lovers.
After a night out at the Frankfurt Weihnachtsmarkt it's sure to be a Merry Christmas!
The 2018 Rheingau Weinfest, hosted on the Freßgass' in Frankfurt, is a great opportunity to familiarise yourself with classic German wines. Put any preconception of sweet wine out of your mind. Good German wine is a whole new World waiting to be appreciated, however the German wine classification can feel complicated to novices so, to get the most out of the wine festival, below are some hints and tips to launch you into your voyage of wine discovery.
Dry or Sweet
Trocken is the word to look for if you want a dry, crisp wine. If you find the wine too crisp and minerally you might want to try a halbtrocken or feinherb wine which contains a small amount of residual sweetness, but are not sweet wines! Lusciously sweet wines, the ones you associated with dessert wines, carry the labels Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein or Trockenbeerenauslese.
The Rheingau is renown for it's riesling, the king of grape varieties. Many people underestimate riesling however Masters of Wine highly rate it for it's complexity and amazing ageing qualities. Gently sniff the bouquet of your riesling and you'll be amazed at the variety of scents ranging from floral, fruit, honey, herbs and the very distinct 'petrol' nose of an aged riesling. The Rheingau offers some other grape varieties which might be more familiar once you recognise their English names: Grauburgunder = Pinot Gris and Weissburgunder = Pinot Blanc. If you have the chance also try a Scheurebe a truely unique German grape created in 1916 by Dr. Scheu. He combined two grape varieties, riesling and bukettraube (of silvaner heritage) resulting in a wine which is dry with gentle fruit overtones.
Spätburgunder, aka Pinot Noir, dominates red wine production in the Rheingau. The style produced varies from a light finesse, which reflects the cool climes of the Rheingau area, to a richer, darker wine from grapes nurtured in the vineyards using select harvests. The difference is easy to spot in the glass, a light transparent red wine of the old style and a rich deep red of the new style.
Some producers belong to the elite VDP association. VDP (Verband deutscher Prädikatsweingüter) started in 1910 and serves to promote quality viticulture focussed on regional grape designation, quality production and vineyard management working in harmony with nature. Wine producers have to meet with strict requirements before they can carry the VDP eagle on their bottles. There are a few VDP producers at the Rheingau Weinfest. One repeat visitor is F. B Schönleber and Weingut Hamm is another renown producer which has also achieved the organic certification.
This is a list of this years participants, and all offer great quality wines. All along the Freßgass will be the wine stands interspersed with food stalls making it a great place to head for an evening out with friends.
The 2018 Apfelweinfest, Frankfurt
The 2018 Apfelweinfest is being hosted on Roßmarkt, in Frankfurt, until August 19th. If you are coming to Frankfurt then you should definitely try a glass or two of this beverage famed as the local drink of Hessen and commonly called Äppler. The name however is misleading being more like a cider than a wine with an average alcohol content of 4%. Also be aware it has a sour flavour which is why you often see the locals ordering a bottle of sparkling water, along side their bembel (jug) of apple wine, which they use to top up the drink and soften the sourness.
How to order your apple wine
When ordering by the glass, apple wine 'pur' means it is pure apple wine. If you want your glass topped with a little water, then order an apple wine 'sauer' and if you need a little sweetness, then order an apple wine 'suss', in this case the glass is topped with a little lemonade.
Bembels (jugs) of apple wine always come 'pur' and you order by the number of glasses. E.g if you are with a group of 6 friends you might order a '6er' bembel which holds six glasses of apple wine. Don't forget to order a bottle of sparkling water for those in your group who want to soften down the flavour. Better still go to Kelterei Heil, a known and respected brand in Frankfurt, and they'll include a bottle of water with your bembel.
One joy of the Apfelweinfest is trying apple wine from a variety of producers. Each brand has it's own flavour. Some producers offer unfilterred apple wine which is cloudy and labelled 'naturtrüb' whilst the more regular applewine is clear. Two producers offering naturtrüb at this years festival are Hofmann's and Trageser. My favourite regular apple wines offering a fresh taste are by Nöll, Walther and Stier This year Nöll, Walther and Stier have their stalls side by side, so not too far to wander to sample from all three! Rosé apple wine is another variety worth a try and has a less sour taste. Nöll offer an Apfel-Secco which is milder and naturally sweet.
Apple wine is always served in a 'gerippte' glass. The pretty diamond shape etching serves a practical purpose - it's to stop the glass from slipping through your greasy fingers, which is a very likely peril after a bratwurst or two. This year the Apfelweinfest is hosting a variety of foods, including vegetarian and vegan, fish and chips, traditional green sauce and the ever present Schwenkgrill (swinging grill over an open fire) for the meat eaters.
If you've missed the festival but still want to try apple wine, try visiting one of the famous apple wine taverns in Sachsenhausen - a few of my favourites are on my web page, click on the link and scroll down to Applewine taverns in Sachsenhausen to see a list.
What is Federweisser?
(A printer-friendly pdf file, with written content but no pictures -> What is Federweisser?)
Federweisser suddenly appears at the end of September in towns and cities within the German wine regions. Some towns host a Federweisser Fest whilst in cities like Frankfurt Federweisser appears at the local farmer's markets. The season is short, so enjoy it while you can.
Federweisser is known as "new" wine. After the juice has been extracted from the harvested grapes, yeast is added to the must (juice) and fermentation begins. As fermentation progresses, the alcohol levels are monitored and once they reach 4%, the juice can be drunk in the form of Federweisser. The wine is still actively fermenting, so expect a glass of cloudy, refreshingly prickly wine which has a natural sweetness to it. The name means "feather white" and derives from the white'ish appearance of small yeast particles floating in the glass which, some say, looks like small white feathers. Don't be fooled by it's sweet taste though, Federweisser can achieve an alcohol content of up to 10%.
In the Rhineland you'll see Federweisser written Federweißer. In other regions it is also known as Süßer, Sauser and Neue Wein. Roterweisser is the same product but made from red grapes hence it has a deep pink appearance. Because the wine is still fermenting and releasing carbon dioxide, bottles cannot be fully sealed and are left partially open to let the gas escape. As a result transportation of Federweisser is a delicate business and this is why it is rarely available outside of the wine regions. Occasionally you can find a bottle in local supermarkets, but be warned - if the bottle is unsealed (a sign of good quality) you'll have to carry your precious cargo upright all the way home!
Traditionally Zwiebelkuchen (onion cake) is eaten with Federweisser and it's a heavenly combination. The Rhineland version of Zwiebelkuchen is a thin base of bread like dough topped with a good depth of soft, sweet onions, sautéed with speck and a sprinkling of caraway seeds. This recipe http://mybestgermanrecipes.com/german-onion-tart/ is the most authentic I have found.
Where to find Federweisser in Frankfurt
In Frankfurt the Liebfrauenberg is hosting a 10 day Federweisser Fest starting on September 29th 2017. Federweisser is also available at the Rollanderhof wine outlets at the Kleinmarkthalle, the Thursday and Saturday farmer's market on Konstablerwacher and the weekly market on Schillerstraße (details about market days can be found here). In addition, Weinschirn, Römerberg 8 (an excellent wine bar close to the cathedral), stocks Federweisser so there is plenty of opportunity to try the new wine before the season finishes!
It can be difficult to find vegetarian, vegan and gluten free restaurants in the centre of Frankfurt so I've listed some of the places that I like, which offer something for alternative appetites.
I've used the following markers at the beginning of each restaurant for easy identification:
V = Vegetarian
VG = Vegan
GF = Gluten free
Near the main station (Hauptbahnhof) and Willy-Brandt-Platz
V - Saravanaa Bhavan (Kaiserstr. 66) is 100% vegetarian and serves the best Indian food in town. Try the dosa, it's a good as any in India! Close the main station in the Bahnhofsviertal.
V - Urban Kitchen (Kaiserstr 53 & Börsenplatz 14) with two centrally located restaurants in the city, Urban Kitchen is a little formulaic but offers a choice of dishes, e.g. pizza, noodles, salads and it clearly identifies vegetarian options on the menu.
V, VG & other allergens - Kaiserzeit (Kaiserstr. 59) close to the main station is an organic bakery which opens early (7am) to cater for the breakfast crowd. It identifies all manner of options and allergens including wheat-free and lactose-free (no GF though!)
V, VG, GF - Im Herzen Afrikas (Gutleutstr. 13) The concept is simple, the food tasty and gluten-free flat breads are available.
V, VG, GF - Vevay (Neue Mainzer Str. 20) Vegetarian restaurant and predominantly vegan too. The menu clearly denotes other allergens. Very close to the New Opera house and city theatre on Willy-Brandt-Platz.
V, GF - Pizzeria Scicilia (Niedenau 9) on request this tiny, basic pizza place serves up excellent, gluten-free, pizza. Close to the Bahnhofsviertal however it is slightly off the beaten track.
In the city centre and old town
V, VG, GF- Mainkai (Mainkai 15) is just south of the Cathedral in the old town. It's known for it's breakfasts and offers plenty of choice for vegetarians and also some gluten-free and vegan options. At the weekend reserving a table for breakfast is advised!
V, VG, GF - Metropol Cafe (Weckmarkt 13-15) is right behind the Cathedral. Plenty of seating inside and on a sunny day it has a lovely garden to relax in. Metropol is popular with the locals at the weekend and has the option of a vegan breakfast. Vegetarian and vegan options are also available at other times of the day.
V, GF - Baltique (Heiligkreuzgasse 31 ) is a pancake cafe offering gluten free buckwheat pancakes in both savoury and sweet varieties. It's close to Konstablerwache and has a late kitchen (22:30).
V, VG, GF - Viapiano (Goetheplatz 1-3) in the heart of the city centre, this might be a chain restaurant but it clearly identifies vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options on it's menu.
V - Leib & Seele (Kornmarkt 11) this is the staple "go to" restaurant if you want to try traditional German fair but need to cater for vegetarians in the group too.
V, VG - Lebegesund (Kleinmarkthalle) A market stall perfect for lunch tucked away at the back of the Kleinmarkthalle. Lebegesund offers a variety of vegan dishes to take away.
V, VG - Langosch am Main (Fahrgasse 3) Lots of vegan options in this laid back, kinda restaurant come bar. Nice area of outdoor seating too.
Old Sachsenhausen, south of the river, is a unique part of Frankfurt. Today the area comes alive at night, crammed as it is with bars, clubs and apple wine taverns but take a closer look and you will notice traditional cobbled streets, gas lamps and old medieval houses.
First mentioned in a document back in the 12th century, old Sachsenhausen became the place where the fishermen, weavers, and the other poorer classes lived. The area survived the devastation of the second war and today offers a glimpse into the Frankfurt of old.
The easiest way to get to old Sachsenhausen is to walk cross the Alte Brücke (notes on other routes are at the bottom of this page). Once on the south side of the river, look in the direction of 10 o'clock and you'll see a side street (Große Rittergasse) running behind the youth hostel. Follow the side street and you'll suddenly find yourself standing next to the Kuhhirtenturm, the cowherds tower. Today it serves as a museum dedicated to the composer Hindemith, who converted the tower into accommodation and whose family lived here from 1923 until 1943. Only open on Sundays, it a great little museum offering information in English and German. The link above offers more details.
Wander along Große Rittergasse. Many of the bars and building you see are old timber frame houses but the facades were covered over in a post war attempt to modernise the rickety old buildings. At the junction of Frankensteiner Straße stands one of many traditional water fountains you can find around old Sachsenhausen. These pink sandstone pillars, decorated on top with statues of people, animals and, in one case, even an artichoke were meticulously restored by Georg Krämer in the 1950/60s. Every year since 1490 the local folk of Sachsenhausen host a fest (during the 3rd weekend in August) to celebrate the fountains and their vital source of water.
If you are in the mood for a coffee stop by the Libertine cafe which offers home-made cakes in the afternoon. It also offers breakfast and in the evening the cafe becomes a trendy bar!
Next, wander up the cobbled lane of Kleine Rittergasse. If you're here in the evening stop by the street lamps and take a close look. Many of these old lamps are still lit by gas, if you're not sure whether it's a genuine old lamp or not, have a listen and you'll hear the gentle hiss of gas. Near the top of Kleine Rittergasse, turn left into what looks like a dead end. Ahead of you is the back entrance to "Lorsbacher Thal" one of the traditional apple wine taverns, with a good reputation too. An idea place to stop and enjoy traditional fare such as Handkäse, grüne Söße and of course, apple wine.
Never heard of apple wine? More information is available on my apple wine blog post, but back the business of old Sachsenhausen...
From the back entrance of the Lorsbach Thal, you can turn the corner and head left onto Klappergasse. More old houses and gas lamps, but this lane is particularly famous for it's statue dedicated to Frau Rauscher, who spits water at unsuspecting passers-by. She was a local character, known for drinking a little too much apple wine and even has a poem dedicated to her antics, this English version isn't a direct translation but works well as a rhyme: Mrs Rauscher’s been found with a bump on her head. Whether from apple wine or her old man, at least she ain’t dead.
Next to the statue stands the Frau Rauscher Apfelweinlokal, which is another good place to stop and have a traditional meal if you're hungry. A little further down the street is an unassuming door at number 3, but it's a great little jazz club, Summa Summarum. Once you walk through the door you descend the stairs into a deep cellar dating back to at least the 17th century. The club isn't always open so check the link to see if any acts are playing during your visit.
Wander back on yourself up Klappergasse and keep your eyes open for brass apples in the cobble stones which are a nod to the apple wine heritage of the area. At the end of the street join Kleine Rittergasse and walk towards Paradiesgasse. Turn left and in 30 metres turn left again for more apple wine taverns including, Dauth Schneider, with it's tree growing through the roof, and Klaane Sachsenhäuser with it's lovely courtyard. Alternatively, turn right and cross over the road into Wallstraße for the opportunity to explore more of Sachsenhausen as detailed in my other blog post, Konstablerwache to Sachsenhausen.
Map and directions
A larger map detailing highlights of this blog is linked here. To get to old Sachsenhausen using public transport, take tram number 14 or 18 and alight at Frankensteiner Platz, or take the S-bahn or U-bahn to Südbahnhof and exit via Diesterwegplatz.
If you are in the area, don't forget the flea market, held every fortnight on a Saturday along the Museumsufer. Click on this link and scroll down to Weekly markets entry for up to date information.
The Museumsufer, which runs along the south bank of the river Main, offers plenty of museums to visit. This museums link will tell you more.
January, February and March are cold months in Frankfurt. Even so it's still possible to explore and, by browsing a shop or two or enjoying a new cafe, you get the chance to intermittently warm up. The walk I'm suggesting for such a Winter's day takes you into what appears to be an unassuming part of town, filled with 1950's post war architecture but delivering some lovely cafes, galleries and views which you might otherwise never notice. The walk is simply a straight line from north to south and over the river.
Starting at Konstablerwache, if it's Thursday or Saturday you have the chance to peruse the farmers market, eat a bratwurst and have a glass of Glühwein from one of the wine stalls. From Konstablerwache head south, down Fahrgasse.
Within 100 metres, you'll notice a large wall on the left hand side of the street. It's a fragment of the old medieval wall from the 12th century, the Staufenmauer. It also served as the northern entrance to the Jewish Ghetto, the Judengasse, decreed in 1462 and the first Jewish ghetto in Europe. Destroyed in the late 1800's, nothing remains of the ghetto today.
Carry on heading south and the first half of Fahrgasse has a variety of Asian stores and if it's lunch time you might want to stop by one of the authentic restaurants, e.g. Mikuni, and have a bite to eat. If you prefer a coffee then carry on down Fahrgasse, crossing over Berliner Strasse and towards the river. This half of Fahrgasse has antique shops and galleries on both sides of the street that are worth a browse.
Part way down the street, on the right hand side, is a small street called Weckmarkt. At the very entrance of this street is a modern jewellery store called "feinform" which offers some interesting contemporary pieces and is worth a peek. Back onto Fahrgasse and a little further south is a whiskey shop, Whiskey for Life which is every whiskey drinkers dream. If you're lucky you might catch a tasting. Opposite on the other side of the street is the Holy Cross Brewing Society, reputedly one of the best coffee stops in town. In fact, you're spoilt for choice for places to relax and eat in this area. Check out Cafe Sugar Mama , Naiv and Langosch.
If you're not quite ready for a stop then walk to the end of Fahrgasse and onto the Alte Brücke. As you step onto the bridge look to your left to see the fine statue of Karl der Grosse, aka Charlemagne. He was the King of the Frankish tribesmen and the first person to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor. He's also gave Frankfurt it's name which means, 'the ford of the Franks'. As you cross the bridge, take in the view of the ECB, European Central Bank on the left hand side and get your camera ready for the classic 'Skyline' view of Frankfurt to your right. Once over the river, keep to the left hand side of the bridge and at it's end, cross over the road (Sachsenhäuser Ufer) and head straight down the side street which is the beginning of Brückenstraße. Almost immediately you'll discover the entrance to the Ikonen Museum which has quite the collection of religious artefacts. Next door is the Deutschordenskirche. It's usually open by 12 noon, so step inside and take a look around. If it's January you're in for a special treat because the nativity scene is quite something to behold.
From the church, continue down Brückenstraße, over the junction. You're now in the heart of Sachsenhausen. Immediately to your left is the Brücke Cafe, serving coffee, home-made cakes, drinks and meals late into the evening. Further down the street are clothing boutiques and plenty of stores for window shopping. One highlight is the Portuguese gourmet shop at number 60 - Casa de Portugal Here you can buy groceries, port, terracotta pots and freshly baked Portuguese specialities. It's a great little place. Down at this corner of Brückestraße is another great cafe, Schiller Cafe, serving breakfasts and meals all day.
Wander back up Brückestraße, and turn right (east) along Wallstraße. Again, this street hosts an array of independent shops, restaurants and in particular two classic apple wine taverns, Fichtekranzi and Atschel (Atschel is usually open at lunch time) Next door to Fichte Kranzi is a traditional pottery shop, Töpferei Maurer, selling all things pottery related to Frankfurt's apple wine scene. On Saturdays there is also Markt im Hof, a small venture hosting a couple of food trucks, apple wine tastings and an indoor canteen with innovative choices of food. It's a real favourite with the locals!
By now you've probably seen a few places where you'd like to stop, eat and relax. If you're still in the mood for exploring then look out for my next blog post which will take you across the road and into the heart of Old Sachsenhausen!