Flying visit: 48 hours in Frankfurt

With its welcoming apple wine taverns, magical Christmas markets and a fabulous array of first-rate museums, Frankfurt is well worth a flying visit. Emma Lahiffe recently spent 48 hours in the German city…

DAY ONE

STRAIGHT TO THE TOP: Start your trip with a visit to Main Tower, one of Frankfurt’s tallest buildings and the city’s highest vantage point. Take the elevator to the 56th floor observation deck for picture-perfect panoramas of Frankfurt and its impressive skyscrapers. You’ll soon see why Frankfurt am Main is nicknamed Mainhattan.

Frankfurt skyline
Frankfurt skyline

LUNCH WITH A VIEW: Pop into Main Tower’s luxurious 53rd floor restaurant and lounge for a sky-high lunch. Enjoy fresh local dishes and 360 vistas of the metropolis below. Make sure to book a table in advance.

EXPLORE THE OLD TOWN: A ten minute stroll takes you to Römerberg, Frankfurt’s central plaza in the heart of the Altstadt.

Old Town, Frankfurt
Old Town, Frankfurt

The square is lined with beautifully-restored half-timbered houses and leads onto charming lanes and cobblestone courtyards. Stop into the low-lit Old St Nicholas Church and listen out for the bells at 12.05pm, 3.05pm and 5.05pm.

The Römerberg makes a spectacular backdrop for the city’s beloved Christmas markets, which light up Frankfurt each December.

COFFEE WITH THE LOCALS: Head to nearby Wacker’s Kaffee, the family-owned café which has been serving Frankfurt’s finest coffee for more than a century. The rich aroma of freshly roasted coffee and the clatter of cups will greet you as you step through the busy door.

Try the ‘latino’ coffee with a Wacker dark chocolate or piece of marzipan on the side. As the charming barista told me as I ordered, ‘If you love something good, drink Wacker’s coffee.’

Christmas markets, Frankfurt
Christmas markets, Frankfurt

THE EMPEROR’S CATHEDRAL: The distinctive red sandstone Cathedral and its 95-metre high tower can be seen across Frankfurt. The Dom is steeped in history. Kings of the Holy Roman Empire were chosen and crowned within its walls during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Head inside to admire the soaring sandstone arches and ornate altars. For more panoramic views of the city, check out the Cathedral’s observation platform.

FINE DINING: A four-course gourmet dinner at the cosy Restaurant Medici (next door to Wacker’s Kaffee) is the perfect way to round off the day. Friendly staff, impressive Italian cuisine and a great wine menu await.

AFTER-DINNER COCKTAILS: Hop in a cab and head for The Parlour, a hidden gem in the centre of Frankfurt. Choose from an extensive list of expertly crafted cocktails in a luxurious setting. The Berry Moscow Mule is a must-try.

DAY TWO

Take a trip across the river Main to the charming Sachsenhausen district in the southside of the city. Start the day with a stroll along the tree-lined museum embankment.

700 YEARS OF ART: The Städel Museum is a real treat for art lovers. Housing masterpieces by Botticelli, Vermeer, Picasso, Jan van Eyck and many more, the beautiful museum is a must-visit on any trip to Frankfurt.

Städel Museum., Frankfurt
Städel Museum., Frankfurt

Start in the basement for a superb collection of post-1945 paintings and sculptures. Look out for Andy Warhol’s eye-catching portrait of Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Germany’s greatest literary hero and Frankfurt’s most famous son.

The dazzling Matisse-Bonnard exhibition, ‘Long Live Painting’ runs until mid-January 2018 and tells the story of the friendship and work of the two French modern masters over two floors of colourful galleries.

Don’t miss Rembrandt’s masterpiece, ‘The Blinding of Samson’ on the top floor.

ELEGANT LUNCH: Take an art break for some fine dining in Holbein’s, the Michelin restaurant within the Städel Museum. With its floor to ceiling glass windows, exposed brick arches and fabulous selection of digital artwork, this is the perfect place to relax after a busy morning.

During summer months ask for a table on the terrace for pretty views of the museum gardens, or enjoy private dining in the sushi lounge.

Order one of the restaurant’s signature juices – a Julia Roberts, a Nicole Kidman or a Paul Newman. The waiter I spoke to delighted in telling me that although none of the actors had ever visited the museum, the juices had been on the lunch menu for more than a decade!

Traditional apple wine stall
Traditional apple wine stall

SAMPLE SOME APPLE WINE: Explore the pretty streets of Sachsenhausen before stopping in at Adolf Wagner’s famous apple wine tavern.

Prepare to be greeted by long benches of locals enjoying jars of apple wine and hearty traditional dishes. Make sure to book ahead if you’re visiting over the weekend.

Menu highlights include the signature Wagner Schnitzel and the warm apfel strudel with vanilla sauce.

SKYLIGHT RIVER TOUR: There are dozens of cruise options to choose from, so pick the one that works best for you. Try the evening Skylight cruise for excellent views of the city’s seven bridges and skyscrapers. The city has spent more than €6 million on its lighting. Sit back with a piping hot glass of glühwein and take it all in.

Eiserner Steg footbridge, Frankfurt
Eiserner Steg footbridge, Frankfurt

SLEEP: The cool and quirky 25 Hours The Goldman in east Frankfurt is a delightful place to unwind on a city break. The beds are luxurious, the breakfast is excellent and the staff are welcoming. The hotel’s restaurant offers some of the best food in the city in a snug setting.

Aniis café, a five minute walk from the 25 Hours, and just across the street from the European Central Bank, is the perfect place for a pick-me-up coffee.

FLY DIRECT: Choose from daily direct flights from Dublin to Frankfurt with Aer Lingus.

Planning your next city break? Check out Europe’s Best Christmas Markets for 2017 or read our guide to 48 Hours in Lisbon.