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Frankfurt

Updated: Sep 20, 2011 04:03 PM EDT


By Caroline Sieg & Christopher N. Anderson

Cosmopolitan and bustling, Goethe's hometown flanking the River Main is the undisputed financial powerhouse of Germany. It rightly earns it its nickname "Mainhattan," but it's a fun-loving city at heart. Frankfurt's also known for luring 1.5 million visitors annually to its international trade fairs. The best known is the International Book Fair, when some 5,500 publishers from nearly 100 countries converge, lending the city a distinctly intellectual reputation. Overall, Frankfurt is surprisingly contradictory -- soaring skyscrapers sit next to half-timbered houses and frenetic shopping streets hide cozy apple wine taverns.

Things to Do

Start at the Altstadt (old town) in the city center and admire the Römerberg's (square) 14th and 15th-century half-timbered houses. Nearby is the Goethe-Haus, the writer's birth abode showcasing his original desk and library. Gaze down at the Altstadt from inside the elegant, Gothic tower of Dom St. Bartholomäus, then meander south over the pretty Eiserner Steg foot bridge to the museum-lined Museumsufer embankment. Don't miss Städel Museum, full of works by Renoir and Monet, and 14th to 16th-century masterpieces.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Nightlife centers around Sachsenhausen, south of the River Main. This entire area feels like one big open air bar at the weekend -- stroll along Schweizer Strasse or Textorstrasse for the widest selection of drinking spots, from cocktail bars to wine taverns. To indulge in German Rieslings and other varietals and to try Frankfurt's famously tart Ebbelwei (apple wine), drop by Wein Dunker, a tiny, ancient wine cellar north of the center.

Restaurants and Dining

Small bites like sausages with rolls fill the food-minded Fressgasse (literally "Munch Alley") northwest of the Altstadt -- it's lined with snack stalls and small restaurants. Or choose from Asian menus on banker-populated Schillerstrasse. Sample regional Hessian cuisine like Tafelspitz (boiled beef) or pork schnitzel; try either with green sauce (a mix of seven herbs including parsley and chives). Both are available south of the Altstadt at Historix, a historic wine cellar with modern, vast glass windows.

Relaxation

Stroll through the park and botanic garden Palmengarten in the Westend, especially its Tropicarium, a brilliant explosion of tropical vegetation. In summer, take your towel to Frankfurt's Main River lidos; the shady Freibad Brentano is a favorite. Or lounge on the open deck aboard the Primus Line, while it takes you down the river through the city. For a leisurely tour, passengers on the Apple Wine Express lumber through town on a tram and sip local apple wine.

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