- Download our Moving to Frankfurt Guide (PDF)
Frankfurt is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and prides itself for being one of the largest financial centres in Europe.
Famous for its breathtaking skyline along the River Main, Frankfurt is one of the most international cities in Germany and attracts many expats in search of high salaries and career advancement.
The city is charming and brimming with history and culture, complete with sought-after shopping outlets, impressive museums, interesting historic sites and world-class opera theatres to enjoy.
Frankfurt offers working professionals an attractive work-life balance – employees can expect to receive 30 days of annual leave every year. This allows expats to not only discover nearby towns and cities, but also the chance to travel to neighbouring countries, given that Frankfurt has excellent rail connections and one of the busiest airports in Europe.
Eating out in Frankfurt
One is always spoilt for choice when it comes to dining out in Frankfurt. The restaurant scene reflects Frankfurt’s multicultural nature. Like many cities in the world, eating out can be expensive so it is essential to know where to look if budget is a concern.
The Fressgasse pedestrian street is the place for traditional German food, while the Westend and Nordend boast a great range of stylish and upmarket restaurants. For those who seek more of a cafe or pub atmosphere, Berger Strasse in Bornheim are both brimming with options.
Nightlife in Frankfurt
Despite the city's financial reputation, the nightlife in Frankfurt is not dominated by swanky hotel bars and upmarket establishments. Indeed, the city's nightlife scene is incredibly diverse, boasting every kind of entertainment imaginable, from casinos, bars and cocktail lounges to live music venues and dance clubs. Jazz clubs are particularly popular in Frankfurt and there are regular performances taking place all over the city.
Much of the city’s nightlife is centred in the north of the city in Fressgasse, Zeil and Römerberg, while Sachsenhausen is a good place to find Latin, Irish and local joints.
Shopping in Frankfurt
Frankfurt’s main shopping street is Zeil. Here, shoppers will find their regular high-street stores such as H&M, Zara and Promod, as well as department stores such as MyZeil, Galeria, Karstadt and Parfümerie Douglas. The Apfelwein district in Sachsenhausen is the place to find traditional German buys, while Goethe Strasse sells top-end designer goods and is packed with jewellery stores. Schweizer Strasse has beautiful boutiques and independent stores aimed at a trendier clientele.
Outdoor activities and sport in Frankfurt
Frankfurt is among Germany’s greenest urban cities and, as such, it offers a wide variety of outdoor pursuits for residents to get involved in. The city is cyclist friendly, with plenty of urban bike paths in addition to mountain trails. There is also no charge for taking bicycles on board public transport.
More than 50 parks and green spaces grace Frankfurt, most of which are suitable for walkers and runners. Some parks in the city even have designated areas for roller-skating, ping pong, football and basketball. Expats who enjoy water-based activities will be pleased to know that Frankfurt is home to a number of water parks, large indoor swimming pools and open-air pools, all of which are extremely popular during the summer months.
See and do in Frankfurt
Expats moving to Frankfurt will be pleased to discover that the city boasts a multitude of exciting attractions and activities for just about every taste and budget.
Dating back to the 15th century, the Eschenheimer Turm is one of the few remaining medieval portions of the wall that was built to encircle Frankfurt. Expats new to the city should climb to the top of the 154-foot high (47m) Gothic tower to admire the spectacular views of the city.
Well of Justice (Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen)
Built in Frankfurt’s central square of Romerberg in 1541, the Well of Justice has changed a lot over the last few centuries and the original sandstone statues were moved to the Museum of Local History. Still, the historical site is worth a visit for anyone new to Frankfurt.
Botanical Garden (Botanischer Garten Frankfurt am Main)
Spend a day strolling through the beautiful Botanical Garden in Frankfurt and enjoy the journey through its different sections of flora and fauna. This is a great spot to enjoy a picnic while relaxing in the sun during the summer. A perfect outing for the whole family.
German Film Museum (Deutsches Filmmuseum)
One for the film buffs, this museum is constantly screening old films from its collection, and expats eager to learn about the country’s movie history should head to the Deutsches Filmmuseum to look at the exhibits, models and images.
This is Frankfurt’s most important gallery and contains some exquisite European works of art. The institution features everything from 19th and 20th-century German painters, to French impressionists such as Renoir and Monet. The most impressive piece in the museum is Jan van Eyck's Madonna (1433).
Nearly destroyed in World War II, with only 20 animals surviving, this ethical sanctuary has added more than 3,200 furry and feathered friends. Today the zoo features the popular Big Cat Jungle and the Exotarium, a collection of exotic and aquatic animals, as well as some uber realistic replicas of many of the creatures' natural habitats.
What's on in Frankfurt
Expats thinking of relocating to Frankfurt can rest assured they won't ever be bored, as the city has a slew of activities, festivals and events to keep them entertained in their free time. Below are some of main events and festivals on Frankfurt's calendar.
Fasching is a Mardi Gras-style festival celebrated throughout Germany each February. A lively parade takes place in the Frankfurt city centre and there are plenty of outdoor activities for residents and visitors to enjoy, accompanied by good food and music.
Spring Dippemess (March)
This started out as a traditional market of household crafts and is now a giant fair that attracts some 500,000 visitors who come to enjoy fairground rides, great food, wine tasting and games. The fair ends with a giant fireworks display that is certainly not to be missed.
River Main Festival (August)
This annual event sees spectacular fireworks launched from the bridges crossing the River Main. It also includes a variety of other activities to keep attendees entertained such as a regatta and the roasting of oxen.
Frankfurt Marathon (October)
With more than 10,000 participants ranging from professional athletes to average joes, the Frankfurt Marathon is a great opportunity for expats to hit the streets and support the runners and cheer them on as they cover the 26.2 mile (42.2km) distance.
Frankfurt Christmas Market (November to December)
The Frankfurt Christmas Market is probably one of the most celebrated Christmas markets in Germany. The creative stand decorations and the scent of gingerbread cookies, candy floss and hot mulled wine will definitely get expats in the Christmas spirit.
Family and kids in Frankfurt
Expats moving to Frankfurt with a family may discover that the city is not necessarily Germany's most child-friendly locale, but nonetheless, there is still plenty to see and do with the little ones.
An ideal attraction for kids is Eissporthalle Frankfurt. There are two ice-skating rinks here in winter, which are used for inline skating in summer, so it's a fun outing for the whole family.
Parents can take their children to explore the Frankfurt Zoo or devote a day to the Children’s Museum, where kids can learn about geology, biology and architecture in an interactive and fun way.
For those who are a bit older, the Senckenberg Museum of Natural History is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a wonderfully fascinating place to visit.
On warmer days, pack a picnic and head to the Palmengarten to enjoy the wide open spaces, or take a trip to the Rebstock Bath to take advantage of the slides and pools – the little ones will certainly be cooled off and tired out.
►Check out our list of the city's best international schools
"Compared to Oxford, we get more for our money in Frankfurt. Being an international city, we get to meet people from all over the world. It is definitely not difficult to meet people in similar shoes. I love the fact that it’s just so easy to travel around Frankfurt. Having a good public transport network is very important to me." Read more about Singaporean expat Yolande's experience of Frankfurt.
Are you an expat living in Frankfurt?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Frankfurt. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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