14 hour layover in Frankfurt on Dec. 23: realistic day trip ideas?
November 12, 2018 10:35 AM   Subscribe

What are some ideas for day trips near Frankfurt I could take? Will things be open on Dec. 23? It is also a Sunday. More details below.

I will be landing in Frankfurt at roughly 8 AM on Dec. 23 and taking off again that evening at 10 PM. I will be traveling on an American passport and am building in 3 hours in either direction for security (getting out of the airport, getting back in). Any tips on where to go for the day if I want to get out of the airport? Will anything be open? I was thinking of taking a train to Heidelberg to check out the architecture, but will there be anything to do there/will anything be open? Other ideas? Thank you!

Additional note: Been to Germany one time, for a weekend, northeastern part. So, not very familiar with Germany and would like to do a daytrip that will feel memorable. I like walking around and do not necessarily require museums for a day trip, though those are always welcome. Generally open, would just like to go somewhere new and do something new.
posted by dubhemerak3000 to Travel & Transportation around Frankfurt, Germany (7 answers total)
You won't need 3 hours to get out, Frankfurt is a sprawling airport but it's not that bad, and you can be downtown in 20 minutes. I would absolutely go to the Christmas market. The kitschy Sachsenhausen district is also worth a walk around, or you can just sit in one of the restaurants and enjoy "ebbelwoi" (sparkling hard cider) and sausages.
posted by wnissen at 10:46 AM on November 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

Go to Mathildenhöhe in Darmstadt, it's one of the cradles of modernism and charming. Actually, there are tons to do and see in Frankfurt proper, so maybe just go in and visit a couple of the museums there along with the Christmas Market.
posted by mumimor at 11:02 AM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would say that you should definitely go to the Christmas market - however I think Frankfurt's main Christmas market closes after Dec 22nd according to the link above so I think you'll just miss it. There might still be some stuff open on the 23rd but expect it to be winding down.

That being said, I would definitely go check out a Christmas market if you can find one that's still open - they are by far the coolest part of being in Germany around the holidays. Here's one in Mainz, website says it's open "till Dec 23rd" so unfortunately I'm not sure if it'll still be open or not. Maybe ask the tourism office? Mainz is fun to walk around either way, and quick to get to from the airport (the airport is about halfway between Frankfurt city center and Mainz)

Even if you miss the Christmas market, Frankfurt still has tons to do for a day. There's numerous museums, good shopping, or just head down to Sachsenhausen and get some apple wine. If you're looking for something a bit more organized (and don't mind a little walking) the Frankfurt on Foot walking tours are fantastic! They know some awesome historical spots that are harder to find, and cover a lot of ground in a few short hours. I think they start at 10:30am daily.

Darmstadt is pretty cool as well, one of my favorite day trips when I lived in Frankfurt. Darmstadt and Mainz are both on the S-bahn (commuter rail lines) from Frankfurt, so not too hard to get back to the airport.
posted by photo guy at 11:23 AM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

You're going to hit the jet-lag wall about 2 or 3pm, so I wouldn't go very far. Any chriskindlmarkt would be a nice place to visit and the fresh air will keep you awake. I'll second the Mainz Weihnachtsmarkt. This site does seem to confirm it's open until 8:30pm on the 23rd. The Gutenberg museum there is also really nice.

Just a note that a lot of grocery stores in Germany are closed on Sunday. However there is a tegut market in the lower level of Terminal 1C (landside near train depot) that is open and even has a hot bar for meals. And wnissen is right, you don't need 3 hours to clear immigration. I've never needed more than 45-60 minutes to clear and get my bags.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:27 AM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Plan for a big lunch or early dinner. I visit Germany once or twice a year and every time I am blown away by the great food. Haven't been to Frankfurt, but in happens in every place I visit. German cuisine is vastly underrated.
posted by ouke at 4:16 AM on November 13, 2018

Response by poster: Thanks for the help, all! Sounds like a nearby Christmas market is the way to go!
posted by dubhemerak3000 at 1:16 PM on November 14, 2018

Response by poster: Just wanted to revisit for any future readers: I ended up going to Mainz and going to the Gutemberg Museum. It was a truly lovely museum. I even got to participate in a demonstration on how to use a (replica) printing press and got to keep the page of the Gutemberg Bible we printed! I was elated! I then walked around Mainz and to the Christmas Market, which was still open (Dec. 23 is the last day) and, even despite the rain, was really lovely. I would highly recommend Mainz. Also, the Frankfurt airport has showers, and they're worth every single Euro (all 6). Getting to Mainz was super easy (40 min. train ride straight from the airport), and it was the perfect distance: once I hit a wall around 4 PM local time, I grabbed some more coffee, lasted another 2 hours or so, then easily got back to the airport to very slowly find dinner before my flight.

Thanks, all, for the super helpful suggestions!
posted by dubhemerak3000 at 2:37 AM on December 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

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