Germany’s most underrated city, thousands of travelers pass through Frankfurt every day. Though being the “Gateway to Europe”, most travelers only pass through the airport, using the city’s central location as a convenient layover to reach the rest of the continent.
These travelers are missing out.
Mixing glittering skyscrapers with traditional medieval towns, Frankfurt is a city of sharp and constant contrasts, and unlike any other German city around.
From the business hub known as ‘Mainhattan’, to the ‘cosy apple-wine taverns serving hearty regional food’, Frankfurt is one that, given the chance, travelers will undoubtedly love.
Being a unique city, there are a couple of things you should know before traveling to Frankfurt; tips that you won’t typically find in any guide book.
Things They Don’t Tell You About Traveling to Frankfurt
Don’t Worry About Learning German
It’s a sign of respect to learn at least some phrases in German, and make an effort to converse with locals in their native tongue, but most Frankfurt locals speak very good English.
If their English is not good, they’ll at least speak some.
Germans Tip Modestly
Europe has recently taken America’s lead when it comes to tipping, though Germans tip quite modestly.
Don’t worry about leaving a huge tip if you’re eating out at a restaurant; you can just round the bill up by a couple of Euros, and include it when you pay (don’t leave change on the table).
Think about it as less than the US, but more than the UK. It’s not very common to tip more than 10-15 %
Shops Close on Sundays
Especially if you’re planning a short weekend getaway in Frankfurt, make a mental note that most shops are closed on Sundays.
If you are wanting to work in some souvenir shopping, plan this for another day of the week, and schedule your sightseeing for Sunday. Tourist sites and restaurants are all still open, just not the shops.
Locals Are Not Being Rude
German frankness is often mistaken by international tourists as being rude, but in fact locals are a friendly bunch, and even though it’s in their culture to be honest and direct (often brutally so), this should not be misconstrued.
Germans tend to consider small talk and over-politeness as a waste of time, and they’ll only smile when they want to. Smiling at a stranger they pass in the street is considered weak.
Local frankfurters might appear to be standoffish, though are in fact very approachable. Remember that neutral facial expressions here are normal.
Serviced Apartments vs Hotels
Being a business and finance hub, Frankfurt has long catered to corporate travelers, and this means that you can often find fantastic serviced apartments in Frankfurt for the same price you would pay for a hotel suite.
Apartments offer far more facilities than hotels do, often with modern designed furniture and integrated living, kitchen and bedroom areas that are more spacious, and offer all the comforts of home.
Even if you’re only visiting for a short break, there’s nothing better than having your own space where you can comfortably rest, prepare your own favourite meal and take a soothing bath.
Get Used to Cigarettes
Germans smoke like it’s Europe. They love their cigarettes, and one of the first things you’ll notice about Frankfurt is the presence of cigarette smoke.
While the ban on smoking in public places is now nationwide in Germany you’ll sill likely encounter it in Frankfurt restaurants, bars and even clubs.
It’s a good idea to pack knowing that you’ll only get one use out of an outfit, as you’ll need to wash out the smell of smoke.
OUR FAVORITE GERMANY TRAVEL GUIDES: CLICK TO LOOK INSIDE↓