Frankfurt is a charming city in the middle of Germany. While it’s the main political and economic hub of the country, it’s still a fantastic city for tourists to visit. Once you step foot in downtown Frankfurt, you’ll quickly realize what a dynamic city it is. An appealing aspect of the city is its central location within Western Europe, making it very easy to get to. Though often overlooked for other German cities, Frankfurt is definitely a destination worth visiting. I hope this Frankfurt travel guide will help plan your budget trip.
You may be wondering, however, is Frankfurt expensive to visit? Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be! You can experience just about everything on offer without having to compromise or be limited by your bank account. Follow along this budget travel guide for Frankfurt to learn how you can enjoy your time in Frankfurt on a budget.
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The best time to visit Frankfurt
There is no bad time to visit Frankfurt, but of course, you’ll find certain times of year are more pleasant than others. Early spring and early autumn are the best times to visit, so try to book your trip for April, May or September. You’ll beat the big summer crowds and be able to enjoy many mild, sunny days.
The weather during summer and winter is unpredictable and changes quickly. Although Frankfurt holds one of Germany’s largest Christmas markets, it’s during one of the least affordable times of year to be a traveller. To stick to your budget, stay away during December!
What to expect in Frankfurt
You’ll be pleased to know that Frankfurt (and the rest of Germany) uses the euro as its currency. For good service at your hotel, you should tip a few euros per night. That being said, if you’re staying at a budget hostel, you won’t need to worry about this. Tipping is expected in restaurants, though five to 10 per cent of the total bill is enough. Unless you’re somewhere particularly fancy, you’ll likely seat yourself at cafes and restaurants. If you’re at a table with spare seats, it’s not uncommon for another couple to join you, so don’t be alarmed when you find yourself with some extra dinner companions!
You should also tip your tour guides 10 per cent. However, you could offer to leave a review in lieu of cash. Positive feedback on TripAdvisor will help out the guides a lot, and will save you some extra cash! It’s not common to tip taxi drivers, but you can round up the fare if you like.
While the official language is German, the locals speak a Hessian dialect called Frankfurterisch. This means even native German speakers may not understand many words or phrases they hear. However, in the centre of Frankfurt, English is commonly spoken and you won’t have any problems communicating.
How to get around Frankfurt on a budget
There are numerous public transport options that will help you explore Frankfurt on a budget. Transport in Germany is notorious for being reliable and efficient, so you’ll never find yourself waiting too long to get to your next attraction.
Firstly, there’s the U-Bahn, an underground subway. There are seven different lines running 22 hours per day. The tram is also a popular option for short distances. Frankfurt also has 42 bus lines, as well as nine dedicate night buses. Wherever your destination, you’ll quickly find a route to take you there, take this into consideration when planning a trip to Frankfurt.
All single tickets cost 2.40 euros, or only 1.50 euros for short trips less than two kilometres. If you know you’re going to be catching public transport a lot, you can pick up a pass for 6.20 euros that’ll last you the entire day. There are also group passes available for as little as 9.50 euros.
Of course, you may not need to use transport much at all. The centre of the city is very pedestrian-friendly, and a lot of attractions are found in downtown Frankfurt. You might even like to rent a bicycle from Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, the main railway station in the city.
When travelling to and from the Frankfurt airport, you can catch S-Bahn train lines S8 and S9. The journey will take 40 minutes and cost you 4.65 euros. There are also a dozen buses that can take you to the city in 30 minutes. Avoid taking a taxi, as the fare will set you back a minimum of 50 euros.
Budget things to do in Frankfurt
If you want to do a bit of shopping but avoid overspending, look no further than the flea market. Your best choice is the one that runs every second Saturday along the Main River. Since it’s the most popular market, it’s worth a visit even if you don’t plan on buying anything. You’ll find the market along a street named Schaumainkai. It’s open from nine in the morning to four in the afternoon, so there’s no need to rush there. Just remember to bring your bargaining A-game!
The market is walking distance from Museumsufer, a row of historic art museums. At the centre is the Städel Museum, which houses one of the most important art collections in all of Germany. There are over 700 years worth of art, including over 100,000 drawings, 2,700 paintings and 600 sculptures. Admission on weekdays costs 14 euros, with a guided tour available for only four extra euros. Reduced fees are available for students, and admission is free for anyone under the age of 12.
There are many other museums and galleries worth adding to your Frankfurt itinerary. Others along the south riverbank of Museumsufer include:
- Liebieghaus: A collection of ancient Greek and Renaissance sculptures
- Museum Giersch: A permanent collection of 19th-century artworks
- Portikus: A free exhibition that holds small contemporary art exhibitions
- Museum of World Cultures: An ethnological museum featuring over 67,000 artefacts from indigenous cultures around the globe
On the north side, there are well-preserved collections at the Jewish Museum, plus modern and contemporary artefacts relating to Frankfurt’s history at the Historical Museum.
To continue the German experience, you should absolutely try some of the local cuisine. Eating what the locals eat also happens to be the most affordable. Kleinmarkthalle is the ultimate food paradise in downtown Frankfurt. This large indoor market sells fresh food and produce with many regional delicacies to sample. It’s open from eight a.m. to six p.m. each day except Sunday. There are over 60 vendors, so it’s a lot of fun perusing the stalls and seeing what you might like to taste.
Which local dishes should you try, however? A Frankfurter sausage is perhaps the most well-known snack from this part of the world. This smoked sausage is made from pork and eaten with bread and mustard. A dish called grüne soße is another specialty in Frankfurt. It’s made using seven herbs, a sour cream base and hard boiled eggs.
For sit-down meals, head to Margarete, Salzkammer or Gaststätte Zum Storch. These are only a few of the incredible restaurants that offer affordable German cuisine.
Places to visit in Frankfurt on a budget
Frankfurt’s old town is home to some wonderful attractions that you can visit for free. This area is known to be one of the most stunning examples of timber frame Gothic-style architecture in Germany. Following the destruction from air raids in 1944, the old town has undergone significant reconstruction. The recently completed Dom-Römer Project breathed new life into the quarter between the Römerberg square and the cathedral. Great care was taken to restore the buildings using original construction materials and craftsmanship.
The Imperial Cathedral of Saint Bartholomew, known simply as Frankfurt Cathedral, is the largest religious building in the city. For many years, it played an important role in imperial politics and was considered a symbol of unity within Germany. The remarkable Gothic spire tower still stands 95 metres tall, well above the rest of Frankfurt. Though the building was originally built in the 7th century, it was restored in the 1950s after severe damage.
Next, you have the area of Römerberg. The famous Römer landmark has been Frankfurt’s main city hall for six centuries. The medieval complex is comprised of nine houses and takes up 10,000 square metres. The impressively unique facade and main entrance faces the Römerberg square. You can find the Fountain of Justice here too, a stunning 17th-century depiction of the goddess Lady Justice. You simply can’t spend time in Frankfurt without paying this area a visit.
Alte Oper is another building that will blow you away. The concert hall and former opera house is a gorgeous example of Renaissance architecture. Only the exteriors survived World War II, though it opened again to the public in 1981. You can find the building easily by catching the U6 or U7 and getting off at the Alte Oper subway station.
If you want to spend more time enjoying the outdoors, Frankfurt has two luscious botanical gardens. The easiest to get to is Palmengarten, which covers 22 hectares and showcases many palm and orchid plants. To get to the gardens, you can take a short walk from Westend or Bockenheimer Warte subway stations. You’ll find a picturesque greenhouse and a tropicarium with cacti and other tropical plants. It’s a calming oasis and the ideal place to spend a relaxing and sunny afternoon. It’s open year-round and costs only five euros to enter, though those eligible for concession can get in for only two euros.
You might also like to see Bethmann Park, a small and tranquil Chinese garden. Take a tram to Hessendenkmal and wander around the beautiful pagodas and bridges.
Where to stay in Frankfurt on a budget
Finding the right accommodation is crucial for keeping your trip affordable. Fortunately, there are a ton of cheap hotels and hostels to stay at that’ll allow you to stick to your budget. Whichever place you choose, you’ll be able to find the most affordable rate available, there are plenty of Frankfurt hotels and hostels in Frankfurt. We have also written an extensive guide on Where to stay in Frankfurt.
Five Elements Hostel is the perfect accommodation for any backpacker. The hostel is located in the red light district, only a three-minute walk from the main train station. The rooms are modern and clean, and there are numerous options available. You can sleep in a dorm for the lowest price, or stay in a more private single or double room. There are also affordable apartments if you’re travelling with a group and prefer a bit of space. Free homemade dinners are available every night if you want to save on the cost of eating out.
A&O Frankfurt Ostend is another fantastic option for backpackers or any budget-minded traveller. Unlike a lot of hostels, each room includes a private bathroom with free toiletries. The spaces are well-designed with impressive interiors. Choose between a six-bed dorm, a family room, or a single, twin or double bed. While it’s a little further out from the main city centre, it’s mere metres from the Schwedlerstraße light rail station.
Cheap tours to do in Frankfurt on a budget
Frankfurt is split by the Main River, so if you want to see the beautiful city skyline, a river cruise is the tour for you. Luckily, they are quite affordable! The 100-minute sightseeing cruise costs only 13 euros and is ideal for first-time visitors. You’ll spot the Frankfurt Cathedral and other beautiful landmarks on your way upstream to Gerbermühle or downstream to Griesheim. There’s also the romantic nighttime cruise that leaves from the Eiserner Steg bridge. The skyline is beautifully illuminated in the evening, and you’ll receive commentary about the wonderful city.
There’s also the Frankfurt Free Alternative Walking Tour. No matter the weather, a group of students meet every day at 10 a.m. and two p.m. to show you the real personality of the city. It’s a great way to meet locals and hear some interesting stories. You won’t only learn about the highlights of Frankfurt, but get a real insight into what goes on. Though the tour is technically free, the guides are not paid, so you’ll be expected to leave a tip at the end.
As you’ve learnt from this guide, it’s very easy to experience Frankfurt, Germany without spending too much. With affordable attractions in such a central location, it’s a superb destination to visit on a weekend getaway.
Want to learn how to travel on a Budget? Check out our dedicated “Budget Conscious Travel Guide”
Recommend budget tours in Frankfurt
- Eltz Castle Tour from Frankfurt with Rhine River Dinner
- Heidelberg and Rothenburg Day Trip from Frankfurt
- Heidelberg Half-Day Trip from Frankfurt
- Frankfurt City Tour
- Guided Rothenburg Day Trip from Frankfurt
- Frankfurt City Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
- 7-Day European Highlights Tour From Frankfurt: Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria And Switzerland
- 1-Day Frankfurt Card
- Munich and Nuremberg Day Trip from Frankfurt
- Black Forest and Strasbourg Day Trip from Frankfurt
- Frankfurt Super Saver: City Highlights Tour plus Full-Day Rhine Valley Trip and Cruise
- Frankfurt Super Saver: Neuschwanstein Castle and Rothenburg Day Trip