From Frankfurt (FRA) airport into Frankfurt city

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Frankfurt is the ideal airport for a layover. It only takes 20 minutes, by train, to travel from Frankfurt airport into the heart of Frankfurt and then spend the day sight-seeing, shopping and grabbing a bite to eat before heading back to the airport for your connecting flight.

Train station at the airport and buying a ticket

The train station for local trains into Frankfurt city centre is downstairs in Terminal 1 under Hall B. Once downstairs, the first thing to do is buy a ticket from one of the ticket machines. There are two banks of ticket machine - make sure you use a green machine (for local tickets) and not the red machines. You then have several choices of ticket:

  • single journey tickets which cost 4,90€ (a return = 9,80€).
  • a day travel card which costs 9,55€ (cheaper than buying a return ticket) This ticket permits you to travel on all the city transport for the whole day.
  • a group travel card which costs 16,60€ and permits up to 5 people to travel together on all the city transport for the whole day, and is excellent value if there are two or more of you. 

You will need cash, or a credit/debit card with a PIN to purchase tickets from the ticket machines.

The video below shows you how to buy a ticket:

Which train?

S-bahn trains, S8 & S9, run every 15 minutes from Platform 1 and travel directly to Hauptwache and Konstablerwache, the two most central stations in Frankfurt.

After you have bought your ticket, head downstairs to Platform 1 and wait for an S8 or S9. Frankfurt has a barrier-free transport system so you just show your ticket to the inspector on the train during your journey.

It's five stops and 20 minutes to the centre of town. The stops on the way are: Stadion, Niederrad, Hauptbahnhof, Taunusanlage, Hauptwache and Konstablerwache. Alight at Hauptwache or Konstablerwache for the centre Frankfurt.

If you need to get to another location, look up stations and tram-stops using local travel maps  on the RMV local transport pages.

In Frankfurt city centre

Once in Frankfurt there is plenty to see and do. The old town is down by the river near the cathedral, museums are centrally located and there are plenty of restaurants, cafes and bakeries selling food and drinks. On a fine day you can take a Primus Line, local river cruise which only takes 110 minutes, or head up to the top of the Main Tower and enjoy the views across the whole of the Frankfurt and beyond. Click on this link indexing various blog pages offering detailed information on places to eat and more ideas.

Over the summer months there is usually an outdoor festival being hosted in the city centre and whatever the theme of the festival you can be sure to find bratwurst, beer and local wine.

Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday the city has a Farmers' market (details listed here). Thursday and Saturday the market is on Konstablerwache, and on Friday it's on Schillerstraße, close to the Stock Exchange. These markets really do hibit a slice of local Frankfurt life and are well worth a visit.   

Returning to the airport

For your return journey to the airport go to either Hauptwache or Konstablerwache station and follow signs for the S-bahn. Wait on platform 3 for the S8 or S9 train which run every 15 minutes.



Where to stay in Frankfurt for maximum access to the sights

This is not a hotel guide, it's a location guide; which location to choose in Frankfurt to maximise being out and about and seeing all the highlights. Frankfurt is a small city with a great local transport system. However, if you want to step out of your hotel and walk into the old town, where do you stay?

There are three key areas that tourists find themselves in. First, the Bahnhofsviertal by the main railway station (Hauptbahnhof) which is close to the Messe for the trade fairs and highlighted in red on the map below. Second, the Innenstadt and old town which is the heart of the city and highlighted in blue on the map. Lastly, Old Sachsenhausen famed for its apple wine taverns and lively nightlife, and known as the Brückenviertal highlighted in purple on the map. 

The Innenstadt, old town and heart of Frankfurt

This is the place to stay if you want to step out of your hotel and explore the heart of the city (highlighted in blue on the map). The area is geographically identified by a green park that circles the city centre and the park is the path of the old medieval city walls. Any hotel in this area is central. There are plenty of bars and restaurants in the heart of the city and all are accessible without the need for transportation. Walking to the river bank will take a maximum of 10 minutes and from there you have access to the south side of Frankfurt, Sachsenhausen, with its museums and apple wine taverns. At the end of the night, if you're too tired to walk, a taxi is going to cost less than 10€ to get you back to your hotel. From the airport, getting into central Frankfurt is easy using the S-bahn. The S8 and S9 trains from the airport will bring you to three stops in the city centre - Tanusanlage, Hauptwache and Konstablerwache. My one caveat for this area is the eastern end of the Zeil where the Zeil meets Breite Gasse. This very small, contained area is seedy and run down, so worth avoiding.

Frankfurt Bahnhofsviertal, Hauptbahnhof and Messe

The main railway station is 1km to the west of the city centre and it has the biggest concentration of hotels. Unfortunately it's also the red light district and struggles with a drug problem. The area is outlined in red on the map. The concentration of hotels is a legacy from when the railway station was first built and, at that time, the area was one of the nicest in the city. Post war, Frankfurt made a name for itself hosting World class trade fairs and the trade fair exhibition centre is about 500 metres north of the railway station. These days it is still the place where most tourists book a hotel room, but the reality is you will need to use local transportation to explore the nicer parts of Frankfurt unless you are a keen walker. The area around the station is slowly improving with a few trendy bars and some good Thai and Chinese eateries, not to mention the excellent Turkish restaurants on Münchener Strasse. The hostels in this area, which cater for backpackers, are well maintained, safe and security conscious. If you are booking a hotel close to the railway station then my recommendation is to book one south of Kaiserstrasse. The drugs and red light area tend to be north of this street. The added advantage of being south of the station is that you are close to the river bank, which offers a lovely walk into the old town.
Hotels very close to the Messe (trade fair centre) are also away from the problem areas near the main station. However, this area is geared towards the business traveller and doesn't have much to offer except chain restaurants and a sterile environment.

Old Sachsenhausen, the Brückenviertal

There is very little provision of hotels south of the river in Sachsenhausen (the area with a purple outline on the map.) The international youth hostel is here and very well located for enjoying the night life and offering a quick walk across the bridge into Frankfurt city centre. Being residential, Sachsenhausen is the sort of place to stay if you prefer quieter areas, with plenty of local bars and restaurants but without the city noise. A short walk over the Eisener Steg will bring you to the heart of the old town, or use the local transport system to get around.