Start in the infamous Bahnhofsviertel, the red light district, which is neatly situated on the doorstep of the Hauptbahnhof station. Lined with sex shops, budget stores, kebab joints and the odd brothel, it’s certainly got character – but why bother visiting? Because the “train station quarter” is the city’s hottest district, full of edgy coffee shops, clubs and bright young things.
For a taste of the scene, check out Amp (Gallusanlage 2; ampyourself.de), which pumps out caffeine by day and tunes by night, studio-cum-café and bar Plank (Elbestrasse 15; barplank.de), and Maxie Eisen (Munchener Strasse 18; maxieeisen.com), a deli and cocktail bar named after Maxie Eisen, a 1920s German-Jewish gangster from Chicago. In true speakeasy style, many of the hippest hangouts are not easy to find. Underground supper haunt Club Michel lies above a thrift and luggage store at 12 Munchener Strasse and is well worth a visit.
If you’re lucky, you may also catch the Taunusstrasse Arts and Bites festival (tab-ffm.de), a monthly art market in the 1970s Kaiserpassage.
Hungry? Head towards the Untermainbruke, past Willy Brandt Platz and over the bridge to the south bank, and you’ll find Lohninger, one of Frankfurt’s best-kept lunchtime secrets. This family-run restaurant offers well-heeled locals a concise menu of classic Austrian cuisine, including the best wiener schnitzel in town and a fluffy, caramelized kaiserschmarrn that will make you question everything you thought you knew about pancakes.
The “Radetzky menu,” so called after Strauss’s double-quick march, is the best bet if you’re tight for time or get stuck into a simple but effective pastrami sandwich with pickles. Schweizer Strasse 1; lohninger.de.
3 Frankfurter Senfgalerie
Continue south on Schweizer Strasse for a couple of minutes and you will arrive at Frankfurter Senfgalerie. An homage to mustard, this tidy shop sells more than 150 varieties of the stuff, along with salts, spices, vinegars, oils and chutneys. All products are of the finest quality and predominantly produced in Germany, with many mustards still made in historic mills around the country.
Local specialties include an apple wine mustard, with added oomph from the city’s famous tipple, and herby green sauce mustard made from parsley, chives, chervil, cress and sorrel, produced exclusively for the shop. Splash out and glitz your next sausage with the perfect Frankfurt souvenir. frankfurter-senfgalerie.de.
A 12-minute walk along Schaumainkai and north over Frankfurt’s oldest bridge, the Alte Brucke, will lead you to the island home of Portikus. First conceived in 1987 and associated with the renowned art academy Stadelschule, the current space was designed by Christoph Mackler in 2006 and enjoys a reputation as one of the world’s leading centers for experimental art, dedicated to exhibiting, publishing and discussing both emerging and established avant-garde artists.
This year, Portikus is celebrating its 30th birthday with a special program of exhibitions. Anniversary project Portikus XXX is an evolving show that aims to connect Frankfurt to the gallery with new works presented in urban spaces throughout the city. Don’t miss the unique atmosphere of Portikus. Open Tues, Thurs-Sun 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM, Wed 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM; free entry. portikus.de/en
5 Condit Couture
Continue north over the bridge, take a left on Mainkai and a right on Fahrtor. It’s only about an eight-minute stroll but should be enough to warrant a cheeky pick-me-up at at Condit Couture. This confectioners and bakery creates sweet sensations at haute couture level, fusing traditional French techniques with 21st-century imagination and flair. There’s everything from black forest pies and sachertorte to unicorn meringues and lemon and rosemary gateaux. Warm apple strudel and a creamy hot chocolate is a must. conditcouture.com.