Most of Frankfurt is a cosmopolitan wonder, but you lose yourself in the city’s history in its Old Town, or Altstadt. There, the Römerberg remains a testament to Frankfurt’s ingenuity, industry and artistry over the centuries. In fact, this fascinating Old Town is often one of the first stops for visitors after disembarking from their cushy first class seats at the avant garde Frankfurt Airport. The Römerberg is the square enclosed by the half-timbered Altstadt buildings and a lively spot for pedestrians to wander, friends gather and visitors to admire. Since the 9th century, locals have set up markets, celebrated coronations, revels in festivals and observed executions here in the square. Around the square are some of Frankfurt’s most historic buildings, including the Römer, the old city hall. There are traditional frame houses, New Town Hall and old St. Nicholas Church. The square is especially appealing at night when the charming buildings are illuminated brilliantly.
If you’re used to the pale white to dark gray stone cathedrals of medieval Europe, you’re in for a special treat with the Frankfurt Cathedral. Sometimes called the Emperor’s Cathedral, it's a bright pinkish-red spot of color towering over the Main River and the old city. This captivating hue is thanks to the Carolingian cathedral’s beautiful red sandstone. Built between the 13th and 15th centuries, this gorgeous cathedral is a key figure in European history. It’s the site of Holy Roman Empire elections and coronations from the 14th to 18th centuries. Stunning art fills the church, including the 16th-century Crucifixion sculpture by Hans Backoffen and a beautifully rendered Baroque altar. The spectacular red color of the exterior continues inside, up along the towering walls, pillars and the ribs of the vaulted ceiling.
If you’ve brought the whole family along on your cheap business class flight to Frankfurt, make time to visit the Senckenberg. Kids and quite a few adults are captivated by the museum’s collection of large dinosaur skeletons. In fact, the museum holds the largest collection of dinosaur remains in Europe. It also happens to boast the country’s second largest natural history exhibition. There’s a compelling stuffed bird collection, with more than 2,000 birds providing bright color and flamboyant plumage. There are Komodo monitors, Japanese spider crabs, stuffed anacondas and ancient mummies. The museum’s Geopark is another surprising delight, where kids fancy measuring their strides against the embedded dinosaur tracks and exploring the geologic formations. If you’re running out of daylight, the museum is open late on Wednesday evenings.
Riotous flowers, towering stalks of greenery, grand structures and immense reflecting pools are just a few of the delights of Palmengarten. Covering 54 acres, these magnificent botanical gardens are the perfect place to stretch your legs and enjoy abundant nature after you’ve reveled in the luxury of your last minute deals to Frankfurt. The gardens were created in 1871, almost a celebration of the dawn of the German Empire. Plants from all over the world thrive here, from subtropical plants to hothouse palms. Savor the sights of the underwater aquarium, rainforests and monsoon forests, mangroves and deserts. The Palm House is the treasured highlight of the gardens for some. Built in the tradition of the great glass palaces of London and Paris, the Palm House is humid and warm a tropical rainforest climate replicated indoors. The artificial rainfall drips onto the massive tropical plants, replicating the sounds of the tropics. There are several other museums within walking distance.