Stopping over in Frankfurt

Frankfurt is a central hub for many European flights, and I am often asked about things to do or places to stay for short “stop-over” visits.

The trouble with short visits of only a few hours is that you have to get from the airport to Frankfurt itself, and then back again in time to check-in for your flight. Although there is a good train connection between the airport and the city centre (a line called the “S8”) you need to allow plenty of time for delays finding your check-in desk and gate. The airport may not be as big as in some European cities (eg. Heathrow or Barajas), but it is complex enough still the same. If you are flying from Terminal 2, you will need to get off the train and onto the monorail to change terminals.

But if you do have a few hours to spare, then you can always buy a one-day rail ticket and travel around Frankfurt by train to see the sights. If you are visiting at the weekend, you might even like to take a ride on the Ebbelwoi Express – a tram that runs around Frankfurt serving traditional local snacks and drinks. The ride takes about an hour and goes through most of the older parts of the city.

Of course, if you have a bit more time to spare then you might like to sample the nightlife of the big city and stay in a hotel for the night. Generally speaking, hotels in Frankfurt should be booked in advance as they tend to fill up quickly if anything is on in the city such as trade fairs or concerts. The best way of finding a good hotel at a reasonable price is often to ask for recommendations. But if you don’t know anyone to ask, then you need a good online resource to give you some alternatives.

I have booked hotels online in the past, only to find out that people I met later with local knowledge had better options for me that were not available in the booking system.

So I was interested to find a site called Hotels Combined, where in Frankfurt alone they have over 300 hotels in their system! I had a look at what was available at short notice for the coming weekend, and found offers starting at around 30EUR per night, which sounds very good value for money.

The fact is, that Hotels Combined are not actually booking your hotel room – they are searching through different booking systems to find you the best offer. Once you have selected a hotel and price, they forward you to the relevant system so that you can book your room. But wait! Before you do that you can read reviews that other users have put in the system after their say. For example, you might be interested to find our where you can free WLAN access, or how far the hotel is from the main train station.

What is also interesting about the site, is that it covers some of the smaller towns outside of Frankfurt. I am a big fan of staying outside of the city centre in places such as Bad Homburg and Königstein, the latter of which I visited myself recently.

I word of warning if you are travelling on budget airlines, though. Frankfurt is not the same as Frankfurt-Hahn – that is over 100km away! But don’t worry, even around Hahn there are lots of things to do and places to see (such as trip on the Rhine). And there are hotels there as well…

Frankfurt by train

Today the Monday Podcast combines two ideas. When I was younger, I used to enjoy going out for a day and just riding on trains in cities like London or Rotterdam. Now it was time to try this with my daughter in Frankfurt.

Secondly, I often read questions in forums about visiting Frankfurt for only a few hours, eg. between flights, and I wanted to see how much of Frankfurt it was possible to see using the trams and U-Bahn lines.

Listen to the podcast to hear where we went and what we saw:


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Frankfurt-Hahn Airport

One of the questions that frequently comes up when talking to people who want to come to Germany is “where is Frankfurt-Hahn”?

Hahn is in an area of Germany called the Hunsrück, and is 126km by road from Frankfurt itself. Hahn used to be an American Airforce base, but for a number of years has now been used by budget-airlines such as Ryanair.

It takes about 90 minutes to get to Frankfurt city centre by car, but when travelling to Hahn by car allow plenty of entry time as the motorway from Mainz to Koblenz can get very busy, expecially on a Friday evening.

There is also a bus transfer to Frankfurt for the airport which takes about 1h 45min – see their homepage for details of times and costs.

Most people either travel through Hahn and continue to their final destination, often via Frankfurt. If, however, you would like to see more of the area then you could consider taking of the buses to the nearby towns. You may also like to do this if you have a long wait in Hahn, but be aware that the buses are often Bedarfsfahrten, ie. they only run when necessary, so be prepared to have to take a taxi back to the airport if necessary. This area of Germany is very sparesly populated, so the taxi may be coming from another town to collect you. Book in good time!

This is wine-growing country and you can get excellent wines in the area, sometimes at a fraction of the price that they would cost elsewhere in Germany.

My favourite places to visit are Alf and Cochem. Both are on the river Mosel.

Alf is 21km from Hahn and there are cruises on the river starting there. I can personally recommend the Ristorante Pizzeria Italia in the Koblenzer Straße and the Eiscafe Acquario in the Brückenstrasse. Buses to Alf are signed as “Bullay”.

Cochem is 41km from Hahn and you should plan the good part of a day to see it all. It has a lovely castle overlooking the river and is on the border between the areas “Mosel” and “Hunsrück”. There are tours around the castle, and the old town is almost traffic-free. There are lots of cafés at the waterfront and places to buy local wines near the town square.

If you are planning on travelling further into Germany, then you will probably want to catch a train to your final destination. Apart from the shuttle bus to Frankfurt, there are other buses to Mainz, Koblenz and even Cologne. Check the Deutsche Bahn homepage for details of further connections from there.

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