Making the most of Frankfurt's 2018 Christmas market

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

Map of Christmas market areas around central Frankfurt

Map of Christmas market areas around central Frankfurt

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.

Frankfurt Römerberg - town hall and Christmas tree

Frankfurt Römerberg - town hall and Christmas tree

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.

Glühwein stand at the back of the Römerberg - popular with the locals!

Glühwein stand at the back of the Römerberg - popular with the locals!

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!

Potato cakes with apple sauce and a cup of Feuerzangenbowle

Potato cakes with apple sauce and a cup of Feuerzangenbowle

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!

(This link highlights special events, by date, at the 2018 Frankfurt Christmas Market)

Frankfurt Höchst

Sometimes written Hoechst, this little town in the western suburbs of Frankfurt has beautiful, timber-framed, medieval housing, an old town square, a delightful castle (the former residence of the Archbishop of Mainz), and a beautiful riverside along the Main.

Höchst is just 15 minutes by train from Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof and can be reached using the S1 or S2 trains. It is within the Frankfurt travel zone area and the trip is covered by daily, weekly and yearly travel cards. To find the old town, alight at Frankfurt Höchst, exit the station to the south and head along Justinuskirchstraße.

It is also a very pleasant cycle ride to Höchst travelling west, out of Frankfurt, along the south bank of the river Main towards Schwanheim. As you draw level with Höchst, on the opposite riverbank, there is a small ferry boat which shuttles passengers to and fro, across the river, for just 1€. Once on the Höchst riverbank, you are directly in front of the old city gate and walls. Walk through the gate and you enter the old town. Alternatively, you can take refreshment at the Alteschiffsmeldestelle, an open air cafe 100m to the west of where the shuttle boat docks.

Höchst castle has some lovely grounds to explore and is in the heart of the old town. The small square as you approach the castle has plenty of quaint places to eat and relax. From the square it is possible to walk down, through the gate of the old town walls and to the river bank.

Close to the castle is Justinus Church, one of the few, almost complete, early medieval churches in Hessen. Open to the public from 2pm- 5pm, Tues - Sun during the summer months, it also has a pretty flower and herb garden worth visiting too. 

Just taking a walk through the streets of old Höchst will provide the quaint sight of beautifully restored medieval, timber houses. Streets of note are: Burggraben, Antoniterstraße, Kronengasse, and Alt-Höchst. At Alt-Höchst 7, stands a quaint, traditional weinstube (wine bar) Alte Münze , serving light bites and local wines. It's open daily (except Tuesday) from 4pm. On Bolongarostraße 152, is the Kronberger Haus which hosts the Höchst Porcelain Museum. The museum is small but it's a must for anyone interested in porcelain and pottery manufacture, open Sat & Sun from 11am - 6pm. 

On Tuesday, Friday and Saturday morning a market is held at Höchster Markt, lots of fruit and vegetable stalls and a flower market outdoors. In the indoor market is a good variety of diary, meat and delicatessen stalls. The coffee stand is particularly popular.  Outside, on the north-eastern corner of the market place is Cafe Piccolo, serving delicious ice-creams. At the eastern side of the market place is a large, ugly, pink building which is an old air-raid shelter built during World War 2. However, it is the former site of the local synagogue which was destroyed to make way for the shelter. Take a look through the binoculars stationed outside the bunker to see image of the former synagogue as it previously stood.

Whilst in Höchst, take some time to visit the church of St. Josef, on the corner of Hostatostraße and Justinuskirchstraße. Plain on the outside but a treasure of early 1900's architecture on the inside.

Frankfurt: from Konstablerwache to Sachsenhausen

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.

Fahrgasse, starting at Konstablerwache in the heart of Frankfurt

Fahrgasse, starting at Konstablerwache in the heart of Frankfurt

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.

An der Staufenmauer, at the junction of Fahrgasse and Töngesgasse

An der Staufenmauer, at the junction of Fahrgasse and Töngesgasse

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.

Ikonen Museum, Frankfurt.

Ikonen Museum, Frankfurt.

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!