Frankfurt is the financial centre of Europe, but there’s far more to the place than the bulls and bears of banking.
It’s a fascinating city full of contrasts where old romanticism lives in harmony with cutting-edge style. Its 2,000-year-old centre was built around both banks of the River Main and reached its zenith during the Roman Empire.
The city is still bristling with historical and architectural gems, many of them restored after the destruction of the Second World War The Römer square of medieval timbered buildings is a beautiful example, where all except one solitary surviving building had to be reconstructed.
The Germans have got public transport completely sorted, so getting around is a doddle. The trains, trams and buses all operate as one system using the same ticket, and if you’re staying for a while, a weekly pass is a bargain. There are discounted family tickets too, so you can swipe one ticket for everyone in your group.
Try to go in the summer months of June to September when the weather is at its best. The snowy winters are picturesque, but tough on your fingers, toes and nose.
Frankfurt follows Central European Summer Time, with clocks going forward an hour to GMT +2 from the last Sunday in March, and back to GMT +1 on the last Sunday in October.
Germany uses the Euro. ATMs are ubiquitous, and credit and debit cards are a common way of paying.
Temperatures often dip below freezing from December to February and it’s only from May to August that there’s much chance of getting a suntan. June to September is nicely temperate, January is bitterly cold and August is the wettest month.
Electrical sockets are the Europlug variety with two round pins. Voltage: 220-240V.
The phone systems are excellent and wifi hotspots are common, although some hotels charge for wifi. Many coffee shops and bars operate free hotspots and there are some internet cafes.
The overground and underground trains are a great way to get around because they’re fast and easy to use. The maps are understandable and the employees are helpful if you’re struggling. The bus system is equally good and costs about the same. There are trams too, and they’re all interlinked, so one ticket covers a whole trip even if it involves a change of transport. Tickets can be bought from ticket machines that have instructions in English.