Many of Frankfurt's museums are free on the last Saturday of the month

SaTOURday - free entry

On the last Saturday of every month the museums of Frankfurt open their doors and offer free entrance and this month the last Saturday falls on November 26th. This event is known as SaTOURday. There are a few exceptions to this monthly event as follows:

  • In August and December there is no SaTOURday

  • The following museums do not participate in SaTOURday and still charge an entrance fee, but check the Museumsufer website in case additional museums are added to the list:

    • The Film Museum (Deutschen Filmmuseum)

    • EXPERIMINTA Science Centre

    • Goethe House Museum (Goethe-Haus)

    • Communication Museum (Museum für Kommunikation)

    • Senckenberg Natural Science Museum (Naturmuseum Senckenberg)

    • The Palm Garden (Palmengarten)

    • The Städel (although not on the Museumsufer exemption list, a reader recently reported that he had to pay despite it being SaTOURday)

A huge variety of museums within walking distance

During the winter months the museums are great places to go and get away from the cold outdoors and there are 34 museums to choose from. Information about the museums can be found, in English, on the Museums Embankment website.

The variety of museums is astounding; modern art, classic art, photography, film, natural history and many of them are within walking distance of each other along the Museumsufer on the south bank of the River Main (see image below and this map link will take you to the original map)

The curators have done an incredible job of raising the profile of Frankfurt's museums and World class exhibitions regularly visit the city, for example the Schirn Art Hall has worked in conjunction with the Tate and the Centre Pompidou. Many of the museums have a cafe, accessible without paying an entrance fee, that offer freshly made lunch options, drinks and cakes too.

Map of the Museums located centrally in frankfurt

Value for money cards

If you live in Frankfurt and like to visit the museums frequently then the Museums Embankment card is great value for money.  Costing 95€ annually (2019), it offers free entrance to 34 museums and all exhibitions. A family of two adults and two children can buy a card for 165€. Just ask for a museums card at the reception of any museum when you visit. You'll be issued with a temporary paper pass which is usable until your official pass is sent in the post.

Students and youths gain free entry in some museums

As from 2017 many of the museums are offering free entrance for students and youths under 17 years of age. However, the are some notable exceptions: The Senckenberg-Museum, The Städel, The Liebieghaus, The Kunsthalle Schirn, The Deutsche Filmmuseum, The Museum Giersch and The Museum of Communication.

Value for tourists and visitors

If you are simply visiting Frankfurt then an alternative option is the Museumsufer ticket  It costs just 21€ (2019) and offers free entrance to the 34 museums and exhibitions for two full days. For a family of two adults and two children, a ticket costs just 32€. Again, just ask at the reception when you visit the first museum and they will issue the ticket. If the museums are closed on one of the days you are visiting (museums are shut on Mondays) then the ticket is valid for the following day.

The Städel museum, opposite the Holbeinsteg (bridge) on the Museumsufer

The Städel museum, opposite the Holbeinsteg (bridge) on the Museumsufer

Cycle along the Nidda river

The Nidda river originates to the east in Vogelsberg and runs downstream to joins the River Main at Frankfurt-Höchst. The river arcs around the north of Frankfurt and has an excellent cycle path offering a gentle, almost no gradient, cycle ride with lots of varied and interesting sights along the way.

The cycle path is accessible from many points around Frankfurt, and you can cycle along the river bank for as far, or as little, as you like. One option is to cycle in one direction and travel back on the S-bahn train. S-bahn stops along the way: Bad Vilbel, Frankfurt-Berkersheim, Frankfurt-Eschersheim, Frankfurt-Rödelheim, Frankfurt-Nied and Frankfurt-Höchst.

From Höchst to Bad Vibel (about 23km)

Whether you start or finish your cycle ride in Höchst, the old town is worth a look around. The old castle is impossible to miss and at the heart of the pretty medieval town square. However, the cycle path is on the Schwanheim side of the river, so you will need to catch the small ferry boat (approx. 1€ fare) to cross over to the Höchst side.

Heading upstream along the Nidda and on the right bank, away from Höchst, the next place you'll come across is Schwanheim. Those of you with an interest geology might want to detour to the Schwanheim dunes, an area of sandy deposits in stark contrast to the usual flora and fauna found in the these parts. Schwanheim is very small but has a local historical museum and a children's zoo open on the weekends.

Continue along the cycle path and past the Grill'sche Weg Nied, where there is a small lake and a picnic spot for grilling. Just beyond Nied you pass under the motorway bridges (which are very low, so duck down as you cycle under!) After the bridges are numerous Schrebergartens to your left, and signs and pathways pointing to various Gaststätte. All the Gaststätte offer hearty food and refreshment, Haus Biegwald, and Gaststätte für Jedermann to name but two. You'll also see a few of the gardens have bee hives and one even offers honey for sale.

Next, the path leads you through Solmspark, a park with beautiful, soaring, trees and then onto the well maintained Brentanopark. On the left bank of the river, opposite Brentanopark is the pretty Petrihaus, a former place of 'retreat' for the Brentano family and saved from demolition in 1999.

At the end of Brentanopark, the cycle path takes you onto a bridge and across to the leftbank of the river. If you stop on the bridge, you might catch sight of the coypu who populate the Nidda. The local Gaststätte at the bridge has a biergarten and terrace overlooking the river (and has Weizenbier for 3,20€). However, if Indian food is what you are craving then cycle on for another kilometre to find Restaurant Nidda, with a terrace overlooking the river and serving plates of delicious Indian cuisine.

The next section of the river offers open fields and meadows, a real feel of escaping the city but it's not long before you discover yet another urban point of interest along the Nidda - Römerstadt! On the left bank, as you continue to cycle upstream, you'll spot some more Schrebergartens and a large fortress like wall. Beyond this wall is Römerstadt, a former Roman settlement and better known today as an area of 1930's housing designed by the architect Ernst May. The Ernst May Haus is open to the public, but check opening times.

After Römerstadt, use one of the bridges to cross over to the right bank and continue on your journey. In 5km you reach the old Bonames airfield, an area of conservation. The airfield itself is on the left bank. The old runway and air traffic control tower are still there along side the excellent Tower Cafe. If you are cycling through on a Sunday morning, the Fire Engine Museum is also open from 09:30 to 12:30.

The final stretch of this cycle ride takes you back along the right river bank through bucolic scenery and onto Bad Vibel. A small town famed for it's natural water source. It has a cute little old town, a pretty park and is rightly proud of it's Burgfestspiele, an old castle converted to an outdoor concert venue. It also has a quite a few ice-cream cafes, Eiscafe Milano is one of my favourites, and after that long cycle ride you deserve a treat, right!     

     

A day out at the Frankfurt zoo(s)

Frankfurt has two zoos which are open every day of the year. Even in winter they offer a great day out with plenty of indoor exhibits as well as the outdoor pens where the animals roam.

The City Zoo

Located just 1 km east of the city centre the city zoo has it own U-bahn stop, "Zoo" on the number 6 and 7 lines and tram number 14 also stops right outside.

The zoo houses 450 species of animals and birds, including Kumar and Vanni, the lion and lioness. There's a monkey house, an exotic bird house and even peacocks strut freely around the grounds. A bonus for those with young children is the opportunity to hire a pull-along cart (3€), which is ideal for carrying backpacks and even tired children and there is a special petting area with goats and sheep. The zoo has various pit-stops offering snacks and drinks along the way and an indoor cafe.

The "animal of the month" feature showcases an animal each month and has special events such as supervised feeding times and information sessions by the keeper. Regular daily feeding times for the other animals is detailed on-line, http://www.zoo-frankfurt.de/ihr-zoo-besuch/fuetterungszeiten/ 

The zoo website offers some basic details in English, such as entrance fees and visiting times. Late night opening until 8pm is available on the last Friday of every month (except December). During the late night opening you can wander round at your leisure or join a tour (in German) which is themed each month. All this with a special 2€ price reduction on the regular entrance fee.  

Opel Zoo

Opel Zoo is located in Kronberg, a 15 minute drive outside of Frankfurt. Easily accessed by car, it can also be reached by taking the S4 train from Frankfurt to Kronberg Bahnhof and then either the bus lines 261, X26 and X27 to the bus stop "Opel-Zoo".

The zoo is set out in a large park, which is perfect for a gentle stroll through all the themed areas. A highlight at the Opel Zoo is feeding the animals. The zoo sells small packs of food and actively encourages the feeding of various animals. At the elephant house you might be lucky to see the elephant holding his trunk straight up in the air, as a sign he wants another carrot!

There is a lot to see here, the elephant house, the giraffe house, a petting zoo with sheep, goats, ponies and donkeys, and lots of other species. For young children there is even the opportunity for a pony or camel ride. Throughout the park are kiosks offering refreshment. The Sambesi cafe has great views across the park, or you can even bring your own food and make use of the picnic facilities provided.  

Wetzlar, World of Leica and Braunfels

A must for all camera enthusiasts - World of Leica at Leitz Park nestled on the outskirts of Wetzlar, a pretty little town in it's own right so, first, let me tell you a little more about Wetzlar.

Wetzlar

Wetzlar is a 60 minute train ride from Frankfurt (travel details at the bottom of this page). Formerly an imperial free city, and the seat of the imperial chamber court, Wetzlar held status during the medieval period. Today, that imperial legacy leaves behind an old town, medieval layout of streets, timber-framed houses and a green belt of parkland around the old city walls.  Situated on the river Lahn, Wetzlar has it's charms and makes for a great day-trip especially if you tack on a trip to the Leitz Park. 

Map from the Wetzlar tourist information brochure,  linked here .

Map from the Wetzlar tourist information brochure, linked here.

First port of call should be the Tourist Information, Domplatz 9. They have a wonderful, free leaflet, in English, detailing the beautiful buildings of Wetzlar and suggested walks through the town and around the old wall and parks. Wetzlar is particularly proud of it's connections with Germany's literary giant, Goethe, and his novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther. I won't repeat the information the tourist office has already put together, but add that from the cathedral, through Fischmarkt, Kornmarkt and onto the old bridge there are medieval sights galore.

There are plenty of places to stop and eat or grab a coffee. With so little traffic in the old town, sitting outdoors in the summer is a joy. Around the cathedral, on Domplatz, the eateries have a good reputation and plenty of outdoor seating. On Fischmarkt 2, the Ratsschänke serves traditional cuisine out of a beautiful old timer-framed house. Another iconic building is Conny's Binding, Eisenmarkt 7, a bar come cafe, serving small plates into the early hours and it's located at a central point where street artists often perform and entertain. Head towards the old bridge and there are few riverside cafes. On the way to the bridge Eiscafe Rialto, Lahnstraße 27,  renown for making their own ice cream. Bröker's cafe, on the bridge itself, offers breakfast until 12 noon and a daily lunch menu.  On the opposite side of the bridge is the Paulaner Wirtschaft, with a large garden terrace along the river, offering regional and Bavarian specialities.

World of Leica at Leitz Park

This amazing, new, complex offers free photographic exhibitions, exhibits of Leica products and for a small fee, a guided tours of the Leica factory. However, if you do not have time for a tour, it is possible to view the assembly and manufacturing rooms through panoramic windows. The site itself is architecturally stunning both inside and out. There is a Leica store and a cafe on-site. The only difficulty at the moment is getting to Leitz Park without a car. It's a 3km walk from the town centre or a bus ride from Wetzlar station on Bus 11. My advice, if you have no car, is to take the bus toworld of Leica (because it's uphill all the way) and wander downhill back into town. For full local transportation details, check the RMV web site.

Travel to Wetzlar

There are regular trains from Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof to Wetzlar (RB40 & RB99) running approximately every 30 minutes throughout the week. Travelling by car is the easiest option of you wish to visit World of Leica which is 75km north of Frankfurt. By train or car the journey time is 60 minutes.

Add on a trip to Braunfels

An additional trip, you might be interested in, is to Braunfels. Accessible by bus from Wetzlar, or a 15 minute trip by car, Braunfels has a quaint castle with a small, almost fairy-tale like village at it base. Even their own tourist information calls the village "enchantingly beautiful". Schloss Braunfels (the castle) offers tours at set times and down in the village, Kleines Cafe am Markt opens at 9am for breakfast and has a reputation for great cakes in the afternoon. There is a Tourist Information office on Marktplatz (at the foot of the castle) and of course an ice-cream parlour, Eiscafe Chintemi.

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.

A day out in Bad Homburg

Bad Homburg, spa town to royalty and Russian nobility during the 19th century, is a short train ride from Frankfurt (train details details below). It's a great place to spend the day enjoying the beautiful Kurpark, the Schloss Homburg gardens, the great variety of architecture, and the numerous cafes and restaurants for refreshment.

Bad Homburg Kurpark

In the 19th century, the Russian nobility flocked to Bad Homburg to enjoy the spa baths and casino located in the Kurpark, a beautiful park landscaped by Peter Joseph Lenné and lovingly maintained to this day. The park has a Russian orthodox church and two Siamese temples. The first Buddhist temple, inaugurated in 1914, was sent as a gift by King Chulalongkorn of Siam. Later in 2007 the Thai royal family sent another temple to commemorate the long standing ties between the town and Thailand. Back in the 1800's the German royal family constructed a spa house in the park. The Kur Royal Day Spa, is still open to the public and and there is also the more modern Taunus Therme baths. After the Kurpark wander along the streets nearby e.g. Landgrafenstraße towards the high street, which are filled with fine examples of art nouveau architecture.

Bad Homburg High Street

Bad Homburg high street (starting at the southern end of Louisenstraße) is pedestrianised, which makes for a pleasant, traffic free stroll up toward Schloss Homburg. There are plenty of places to grab a coffee and have a break, of particular note is Eiscafe De Pellegrin, Louisenstraße 9, serving excellent ice-creams. Don't forget to check the side streets for some 'off the beaten track' restaurants (Audenstraße has quite a few).

Schloss Homburg

At the northern end of the high street is the Schloss Homburg, the summer residence of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Today, the gardens are open to visitors and the main entrance is on Dorotheenstraße. Beside the main entrance is the Erlöserkirche, commissioned by the Kaiser, with a lavish interior presenting a mix of byzantine and art nouveau styles.

Edward VII was a regular guest at the Schloss and is credited with making famous the Homburg hat, which is still produced in Bad Homburg today. The original Homburger Hutsalon (hatters shop),  is on Rathausstraße 8, in a beautiful 16th century building, surrounded by other beautifully restored timber-framed houses. 

If you enjoy architecture, on returning back to the station, instead of walking along the high street, take the route along Dorotheenstraße, starting at the Schloss, and enjoy the lovely examples of 18th century Baroque housing. Along the way is the beautiful church of St. Marien.

Trains to Bad Homburg and map

Bad Homburg can be reached in 21 minutes by taking the S5 from Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (or directly from Frankfurt city centre at Hauptwache and Konstablerwache) Trains run every 15 minutes on weekdays and every 30 minutes at weekends. A single ticket costs 4,80€, a day card costs 9,35€ or, if there is between two to five people travelling, a group card is only 16,40€ (prices correct as from June 2017) If you have a Frankfurt travel-card, you will need to pay a 2,95€ supplement each way. The Bad Homburg tourist information web page has lots of additional information.

Bad Homburg - click on map will enlarge it and this link is the searchable web version.

Ernst May architecture and a lovely day out

The ernst-may-haus

Within the Frankfurt travel zone a little north of Frankfurt is an area known as Römerstadt (take U-bahn U1 or U9 to Römerstadt). Today, it is known as a 1920's housing project conceived and planned by Ernst May. Centuries ago, it was a an area of Roman activity. With an original 'ernst-may-haus' to visit and offering some beautiful countryside along the path of the river Nidda, the Römerstadt makes for a great day out. It's also accessible via several cycle routes. (I've added notes below)

First port of call is the ernst-may-haus (Im Burgfeld 136), run and maintained by the Ernst May Society. Directions to the house are well signposted from the Römerstadt U-bahn station. The ernst-may-haus is a sample house which re-creates the original interior and features of Ernst May's concepts and has a very informative video, in English, about his ideas and planning for the New Frankfurt, as it was called. Other exhibits are in German however, one can still enjoy the aesthetics and ideas which went into creating this 1920's home. In the house is an original kitchen, designed by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, a bathroom, a cellar and bedrooms. Rooms are decorated in the original colours from 1928 to give authenticity to Ernst May's vision.

Once you leave the ernst-may-haus, you'll notice how the housing on every street conforms to the Ernst May principles, front lawns, back gardens, flat roofs and long terraces of identical buildings. Next you'll notice the amazing amount of greenery and nature incorporated into this residential project.

Nearby walks

My recommendation is that after you have visited the mayhaus, you walk back along the street, Im Burgfeld, towards the U-bahn, but instead of going into the station keep walking down the street (Hadrianstraße). Eventually, on the left you'll reach a road called "An der Ringmauer", walk beyond this street and take the next left which is a pathway leading you around the back of the housing and along the Schrebergartens. (Schrebergartens are small allotment gardens) The individuality of the Schrebergartens themselves are are pretty sight in the summer and the other unavoidable view are the imposing boundary walls, to the left as you walk, jutting out like battlements. Walk up upon one and capture some great Frankfurt skyline views.Find a path that takes you through the Schrebergartens and to the banks of the river Nidda. Suddenly you are transported away from housing and into the heart of the country-side with large green vistas and nature all around. Head toward the small bridge signposted as, "Am Bubeloch" and enjoy the views. For a pleasant walk, cross the bridge and walk down stream, in under 2km you reach another bridge where you can cross over, explore Steinbech (a small water inlet) and then walk back up towards Römerstadt. An alternative walk from "Am Bubeloch" is not to cross the bridge but to follow the bank of the river Nidda upstream for 3.5km and you will reach the old Bonames airfield which is today a nature reserve and has the excellent Tower Cafe, serving lunches and home-made cakes. (From The Tower Cafe it is possible to walk into town and catch the U2 or U9 trains at the Kalbach station.)

To incorporate a walk along the river, on route back to Frankfurt, turn left at Am Bubeloch and follow the river path upstream. The path will eventually take you up onto a road bridge. Turn right onto the bridge and cross the Nidda river. Turn right onto Niedwiesenstraße and then left onto Am Brückengarten. Turn left at the T-junction, at the end of Am Brückengarten, and you'll see some steps leading up. Follow the steps up and you'll find yourself on a busy road (Am Weißen Stein). Turn left and you'll see the S-bahn station Eschersheim. Turn right and follow the road down toward the U-bahn stop called Weißer Stein. This stop is served by the U1, U2, U3 and U8 trams. For a treat head to the Lido ice cream cafe, just behind the U-bahn stop. They make the ice cream on-site and the quality is top notch.

For cyclists

The cycle along the Nidda river, from Frankfurt heading north east is lovely. There is a small bridge at Am Bubeloch allowing you to cross over into Römerstadt where upon the Schrebergartens and Ernst May housing is directly ahead of you. Turn left at Am Bubeloch and follow the Nidda downstream and under the road bridge. The ernst-may-haus is across the fields heading north away from the river. After visiting Römerstadt head back to the river turn left and follow the Nidda upstream to Bonames and it's old airfield to rest and grab a bite to eat at the fabulous Tower Cafe.