When traveling full-time, every dollar saved is another day traveled, so we’re always looking for ways to save money while traveling. Frankfurt happened to be the cheapest entry point into Europe from southern Africa, but we quickly discovered it has a lot to offer on its own! If Frankfurt is on your list, the Frankfurt Card is the best way to see the top sites on a budget. Read on to discover how it works and why you should pick one up for your visit.
What is the Frankfurt Card?
The Frankfurt Card is basically a discount card available for purchase as either a day or two-day pass. Presenting this pass at local restaurants, museums, and shops grants the visitor admission and goods at reduced rates. This is especially good if you want to check out the local attractions and hit the popular spots. Fortunately, many cities in Europe offer these cards. Frankfurt was the first place we got one, but it certainly wasn’t the last!
Beyond discounted access to attractions – and most importantly for us – these cards serve as a public transit pass. This, alone, made the card worthwhile, as each one-way trip on trains and trams would have otherwise cost us €2-3. Hopping all around the city, we almost saw a return in the value of our two-day passes before the second day (but we also have a tendency to pack our days with a lot of activity).
How does it work?
It’s simple, really! Just purchase the card at the local tourism office or online for an upfront fee. Then present the card at local attractions when purchasing admission tickets for the advertised discount. Cards come in individual and group varieties, and they’re good for either one or two days.
You can also choose to get a card that either does or does not include public transit. We found that this was the greatest value granted by the card (see below), so I would highly recommend you get the one that includes transit.
What did we use the Frankfurt Card for?
When we first arrived in Frankfurt, we had high ambitions of wandering around the city, exploring at least four museums, taking a walking tour, sampling the local beer and pretzels, and discovering the beauty of the Main River (pronounced like “mine” – when two German vowels go walking, the second does the talking!). Long story short: we overcommitted ourselves (does that ever happen to you, too?).
We spent our first evening in town meandering all over the city and along the waterfront. There were several festivals either being torn down or going up. Many people were just enjoying the sunny afternoon. Before we knew it, we were clear across town and exhausted from a full day of traveling. We’d start anew the next day with some museum visits.
The Frankfurt History Museum
Our plan with the new day was to visit the History Museum in the morning, find a quaint restaurant for some quiet lunch and a beer, and then hit the Staedel in the afternoon. Then we could possibly wrap up the day with a quick pop into the Schirn or the Filmmuseum.
That didn’t happen.
By around 1pm, we were still at the History Museum (50% off with the Frankfurt Card), and we had several floors left to explore. It was quite clear that two more museums just weren’t going to fit into the day.
It was 4pm before we finally left this remarkable museum. We dragged our worn-out, starving bodies to the closest cheap food we could find (it was Thai and simply delicious).
And then we sought out the flagship Haagen Dazs – this is Frankfurt, right? Google led us to the train station, which evidently was not the original.. nor was it a location at which we could take advantage of the 20% discount with our Frankfurt Card. Oh well.. it was still tasty!
On our feet the entire day, we just didn’t have the energy for another museum. We resolved to visit the Staedel the following day, instead, after our planned walking tour.
Our second full day in Frankfurt, we woke up bright and early, treated ourselves to some flammkuchen (flatbreat pizza), and headed to the meeting spot for the city’s free walking tour (popular and available in many European cities). This would occupy our morning, concluding about midday – plenty of time for us to visit another museum in the afternoon.
That didn’t happen.
The walking tour was fantastic, and we learned quite a lot about the city and some of its local secrets. (Did you know the euphemism for visiting a brothel is “climbing stairs”? This is because most brothels in Frankfurt begin on the second level, above streetside shops.)
But once it ended, we got to talking with a few of our fellow tourmates and decided to grab lunch together at the local Kleinmarkthalle (an indoor food hall and market). This led to venturing across the river in search of apfelwein (a non-carbonated wine made from apples for which Frankfurt is famous – not the same as hard cider). We saved 10% on our visit to Struwwelpeter as part of our Frankfurt Card and indulged in some local apfelwein.
And then it rained.
We ducked into the restaurant for another round to wait out the sudden downpour. By the time it was all said and done, it was nearly 4pm again. We didn’t want to rush through a museum that late in the day, so we gave up.
Instead, we opted for an evening visit to the Main Tower to view the city from 56 stories up (discounted 20% with the Frankfurt Card). The plan was to arrive a little before sunset to photograph the city in the evening light and then have some time to shoot the city lights just after dark.
That didn’t happen. (Sensing a theme yet?)
We got there on time, alright, but about 20 minutes after our arrival, we were all ushered off the observation deck. A storm was moving in, and they were concerned the tower (obviously the tallest thing around) would be struck by lightning, endangering those outside.
We were super disappointed to be forced to leave so soon after arriving, but we didn’t give up just yet. We stuck around with the mumbling crowd, and sure enough, they reopened the deck to let us back outside.
But because of the clouds and the distant rain, we didn’t get any sunset to speak of. In fact, we got some of that rain on us.. and our cameras.
But we also caught some lightning. And I did still shoot the nighttime city lights, so it all worked out.
How much did we save?
All in all, we saved about €1 on the apfelwein, €3 on the tower, and €8 on the museum. We also didn’t have to pay for any public transit, which likely would have cost us about €10 each, bringing the total up to €32. When we went, two-day Frankfurt Cards for two people cost €31 (you can find current prices here), so we pretty much broke even.
However, we didn’t visit as many museums as we intended. We also didn’t take advantage of the many other various possible discounts of the card (including theater, shops, botanical gardens, the zoo, and segway tours). If you are interested in any of these things or even just plan to use public transit a lot while in Frankfurt, the Frankfurt Card is likely a worthwhile investment.
Is the Frankfurt Card worth it to you?
At the time of this writing, 2-day cards are available for one person at €17 and for a group (of up to 5 people) at €34.
Here are some examples of the potential savings the Frankfurt Card can provide you for a few of the most popular attractions (check their website for the most current information). Total up the discounts (per person) for the activities you’re looking to do within one or two days to determine if it’s a good fit for you.
- Main Tower: save €1.80
- German Film Museum: save €3
- EXPERIMINTA ScienceCenter: save €6.50
- Frankfurt History Museum (highly recommended!): save €6
- Senckenberg Natural History Museum: save €6
- Palmengarten Botanical Garden: save €4
- Frankfurt Zoo: save €2
- Papageno Music Theater: save €6
- Segway Tour: save €17.20
- River Cruise: save €2.70
- Plus, if you take mass transit like us, expect to save around €5 per person per day
There’s a lot to see and do in Frankfurt, and even two days wasn’t enough to truly see everything. When the next cheaper flight takes us to Germany, we’ll know what to do next and how to save money doing so!
Disclaimer: Frankfurt Cards were provided to each of us free of charge by Frankfurt Tourism. We thank them as this enabled us to explore more of the city than we would have otherwise, but as always, our experiences and opinions of the service are entirely our own.
What kinds of activities do you most enjoy doing in a new city?
Psst… planning a trip to Germany? You might also enjoy these:
- Heidelberg Germany: The Perfect Fairytale Town
- A Taste of the Cologne Cathedral
- 11 Things to Amaze You at the Frankfurt History Museum
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