A Layover Guide to Frankfurt
Arts & Culture
During a recent long layover in Frankfurt, I took advantage of it and refreshed and recharged at an airport hotel for a few hours and then set out into Frankfurt to see what I could squeeze into a few hours. Sometimes extended layovers, like this one in Frankfurt, are a delightful bonus and you get to see a new city on top of your vacation destination. I really enjoyed my afternoon in this underrated German city.
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A layover trip can be a great way to add extra adventure to your trip. With a bit of planning you might even end up looking forward to that annoyingly long layover. Here are some things to factor into planning your layover in Frankfurt.
Germany does not require a Visa to enter for citizens of most countries including the United States as long as your stay falls within their 90 day limit. If you are not a citizen of the US, I would recommend checking the Visa requirements for your country before leaving the airport.
Minimum times required:
MInimum time to rest and/or refresh and leave the airport and visit Frankfurt: six hours.
My layover was 10 hours. My breakdown was close to this:
- Three hours rest and refresh
- 30 minutes to access luggage check point (I carried on my luggage) and check luggage
- 30 minutes to clear immigration
- 30 minute train ride to Frankfurt
This left about two and a half to three hours to explore the old town in Frankfurt and then head back to the airport. You can still do this with a six hour layover; you just won’t have time to rest.
Are you connecting to a Schengen country or a Non-Schengen country? That will factor into your rest and refresh plan.
Rest and Refresh:
First things first, if you are not headed to a Schengen zone country, your first decision will be whether or not you have enough time to get some rest and take a quick shower before you head into Frankfurt. If you do, you can head over to the MyCloud transit hotel behind Terminal One at Frankfurt Airport. What’s great about MyCloud is that it allows you to book for a little as three hours up to 24 hours. Just make sure you set an alarm so you make it to Frankfurt and don’t miss your flight.
You won't be left out if you are headed to a Schengen zone country though. If you are and still want to freshen up before heading out to Frankfurt, the Frankfurt Airport has multiple shower locations in both Terminal One and Terminal Two.
The showers cost €6 and include a towel, shower get and use of a hair dryer so really everything you need to refresh. The hours of operation are from 6am to 11pm. More information and locations and a map can be found on the Frankfurt airport website.
I was headed to England so I booked a pod room at the MyCloud Transit Hotel for a three hour nap and a quick shower. After a 10 hour overnight flight from the west coast of the United States it was a welcome respite.
I mostly carry-on so I needed to store my luggage prior to heading out of the airport. You still may want to store your plane essentials so this storage is still a great option.
If you are transiting and you checked bags your luggage is most likely checked all the way through but if you have any carry-on luggage you will most likely want to store it and luckily there are some great options.
Luggage storage counters: These are located on level two of Terminal One and offer storage for €5 per bag per 24 hours. This is a convenient option if you just need a few hours of storage while exploring the city. I opted for this storage and it worked out perfectly.
Airport lockers: These automated lockers start at €8 per day and are located throughout the airport terminals. They provide secure, self-serve 24/7 luggage storage. Look for the Lock&Go or Left Luggage signs when in the terminals.
Getting to and enjoying Frankfurt:
To get your brief taste of Frankfurt, taking the train from the airport arrivals area was definitely the fastest route. At 15 minutes to the main train station, it's speedy and departs every few minutes.
- Purchase tickets from kiosks or the Deutsche Bahn app to save time
- Validate tickets prior to boarding
- Sit on the left side of the train for best skyline views approaching the city
Once at Frankfurt Central Station, the beautiful Old Town is right outside. With limited time, focusing your exploration here is wise. The historic Römerberg square, cathedral, and pedestrian shopping areas give you a little taste of Frankfurt's charms before hopping the train back to continue your travels.
I chose to spend my time wandering the Old Town and then had lunch in Römerberg square. For lunch I decided to try some local specialties - grüne sosse sauce (green sauce which was actually really delicious), frankfurter ripchen (pork ribs), apfelwein. I also had a “frankfurter”. Couldn’t pass up having one in Frankfurt.
Some other options to consider:
Top Attractions for Short Layovers
- Old Town (Römerberg) - town hall, cafés, shopping
- Cathedral (Kaiserdom) - impressive Gothic-style cathedral
- Main riverfront (River Main) - lovely promenade with views
- Kleinmarkthalle - indoor market with food shops and eateries
Best Areas for Long Layovers
Museum embankment (Museumsufer) - more than a dozen museums in one area
Westend - mix of high end shopping, restaurants, tree-line streets
Sachsenhausen - quaint neighborhood with famous Apfelwein taverns
Keep an eye on your time! It is easy to become mesmerized and lose track of time in this magical little city so make sure you leave enough time to get back to the airport and to clear security and pick up your luggage if you stored it before heading to your gate.
All of the logistics for this layover were very simple and it really made that long layover much more enjoyable and I was able to see another city on my vacation.
Need to Know
I recommend this if your layover is a minimum of seven hours. Keep in mind when planning that you will need to clear immigration and then clear back through security and pick up your stored luggage so you need to factor time for both of those when planning your layover trip.
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