Located on the Main River, Frankfurt is a city of financiers and philosophers, of gleaming skyscrapers in the central business district and timber-framed houses in the old town. Come October, writers, literary agents, book publishers and traders descend on Germany’s financial hub to take part in the world’s biggest book event. From Oct. 10 to 14, some 7,000 exhibitors and about 300,000 visitors to the Frankfurt Book Fair (buchmesse.de) will cram the gargantuan halls of the Frankfurt exhibition grounds. Plan to join them? Here’s advice from three longtime residents on how to get the most out of your stay.
Isabelle de Pommereau, founder, Frankfurt Writers’ Group
Start your day with breakfast at the Schiffercafé (schiffercafe.de). It’s just across the street from a small park, which has a great children’s playground. A short walk away, on the southern bank of the Main River, is an area known as the Museumsufer (Museum Embankment), which has around 10 museums, most housed in centuries-old villas. On Saturdays, the southern riverfront turns into a giant flea market.
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For lunch, head to the Liebieghaus sculpture museum and enjoy a salad in its garden café (cafe-im-liebieghaus.de). Gourmets shouldn’t miss Kleinmarkthalle (kleinmarkthalle.com), a two-story indoor market dating back to the 1890s. With more than 60 stalls selling anything from German wurst to Italian pastries, Iranian dates and Turkish pistachios, it’s a cornucopia of colors, scents and tastes.
Spend the rest of the afternoon browsing books at the Lesecafé (Diesterwegstrasse 7), tel: (49-69) 621 428, a reading-cum-coffee nook in a hidden courtyard. Dinner is in Jasper’s Restaurant (jaspers-restaurant.de). In this elegant brasserie, Alsatian chef Michel Bodemann whips up a carefully thought-out menu, with few highlights from his home region, like bäckeoffe, a mix of lamb, beef and pork marinated in Riesling with vegetables. The restaurant also has an exquisite wine list. End the night with the much raved-about cocktails at Schweizer’s Bar & Café (schweizers.de).
Max Hollein, director, Städel Museum
In the morning, I love to cycle along the river Main with our three kids. Going upstream, we’d have breakfast at the Gerbermühle, a centuries-old estate that Goethe frequently visited. The refurbished building is now a restaurant and hotel, complete with a beer garden.
I oversee three museums—the Städel (staedelmuseum.de), Schirn Kunsthalle (schirn.de) for contemporary art and the Liebieghaus sculpture museum (liebieghaus.de)—but in my free time, I’ll still take the children to see art shows at them, or at the Museum of Modern Art (mmk-frankfurt.de), which exhibits the works of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Joseph Beuys. The museum was designed by my father Hans Hollein, has a triangular shape and is therefore nicknamed “the piece of cake.”
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Afterward, I’d pick up my wife Nina from her women’s and children’s fashion boutique (ninahollein.de) in the Sachsenhausen district, and we’d go to the nearby Emma Metzler restaurant (emma-metzler.com) for a lavish lunch and great wines. It has the best service in town and a great garden, where I can play soccer with the kids.
I enjoy wining and dining in the Heimat restaurant (heimat-frankfurt.com), housed in a glass pavilion that brings to mind Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks painting. My nightcap would be a Moscow mule at the Plank (barplank.de) in Bahnhofsviertel, the area around the main train station that has inspired many Frankfurt novelists. It’s a stylish bar and the perfect spot to watch how this commercial district slowly turns into a melting pot at dusk.
Hans-Michael Fenderl, former international project manager, Frankfurt Book Fair
My perfect day would start at Ypsilon Buchladen & Café (y-buchladen.de). What began as a leftist bookstore in 1978 is now a bookshop-café with a unique atmosphere. It’s famous for its wide choice of coffee, wonderful breakfast and extensive but inexpensive brunch on Sundays. Its literary clientele includes former activists who took part in the 1968 student movement that swept West Germany—Frankfurt was one of the hot spots—and the old decor retains the spirit. Its walls are adorned with slogans and quotations from that period.
Afterward, I’d stroll to the nearby Bethmann Park and its Chinese garden, an idyllic 3-hectare refuge from the busy city. Then, I’d read a book over coffee and cake in the Operncafé (operncafe-frankfurt.de), which is also great for people watching.
Dinner should be at a cider tavern, Frankfurt’s specialty. My favorite is hidden in the midst of Alt-Sachsenhause, the leisure quarter: Lorsbacher Thal (lorsbacher-thal.de), run by the same family since 1803, serves traditional dishes like rippchen mit kraut (pork cutlet with sauerkraut) and, of course, the refreshing local cider called apfelwein.