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What You Need To Know

Frankfurt is the largest city in the German state of Hesse (Hessia) and the fifth-largest city in Germany. Frankfurt is a global hub for commerce, culture, education, tourism and traffic. It is the most important financial centre of the European continent, with the HQs of the European Central Bank, German Federal Bank, Frankfurt Stock Exchange, Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, DZ Bank, KfW, several fintech startups and other institutes. Messe Frankfurt is one of the world’s largest trade fairs. Major fairs include the Frankfurt Motor Show, the world’s largest motor show, and the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest book fair.

Frankfurt is culturally and ethnically diverse, with around half of the population, and a majority of young people, having an immigrant background and a quarter of the population being foreign nationals. It’s the birthplace of writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, whose home is now the Goethe-Haus museum which, like much of the city, was destroyed during World War II and rebuilt afterward. The reconstructed Altstadt (Old Town) is home to lively Römerberg Plaza, which hosts an annual Christmas market.

Area: 95.87 mi²
Population: 687,775 (2013)

Currency

  • The official currency of Germany is the Euro (EUR).
  • The euro comes in coins of 1ct, 2cts, 5cts, 10cts, 20cts, 50cts, 1EUR and 2EUR. Paper money comes in bills of 5EUR, 10EUR, 20EUR, 50 EUR, 100EUR, 200EUR and 500EUR.
  • You can exchange currency at any bank throughout the city, as well as at train stations or at the airport.
  • You will be able to use your credit card at most places in Frankfurt, but it is advisable that you carry cash as well. ATM machines will allow you to withdraw cash quickly and hassle-free. There is no general rule to determine which kinds of shops accept credit cards.

Climate

Frankfurt has a temperate oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb) with moderately cold winters and warm summers. Its average annual temperature is 10.6 °C (51.1 °F), with monthly mean temperatures ranging from 1.6 °C (34.9 °F) in January to 20.0 °C (68.0 °F) in July.

Language

Although the official language of Frankfurt is German, you will quickly notice that there are many phrases and words used in Frankfurt that are no easily understood in other parts of Germany. This is because most Frankfurters speak a dialect called Frankfurterisch, which is related to the Hessisch dialect.

Health

  • The German health care system is on par with the majority of modern western nations and as such provides top-notch care, which prevents the need for vaccinations.
  • Frankfurt offers modern health care at all of its hospitals, which possess state-of-the-art medical facilities. Clinics specialize in a variety of areas.
  • Each hospital has an emergency service, which will take patients who need immediate treatment for any kind of illness. Insurance generally covers this service. Pharmacies operate on a rotating schedule and one is always open in each neighbourhood. Each pharmacy has a list in its window of the nearest pharmacy that is open on any given day. The pharmacies at the main train station and at the airport have extended hours.
  • Water safe to drink, although many Germans are used to drinking bottled water, generally sparkling water.

Safety

Frankfurt has had the highest per capita crime rate of all communities in Germany for years. So, for German circumstances the city is quite dangerous, but violent crime is not as common as in some cities of the United States and South Africa, among others. The high crime rates of Frankfurt can partly be explained with some statistical reasons: smuggling and similar offences at the airport as well as anything concerning credit card fraud anywhere in Germany is registered in Frankfurt, since the main credit card clearing company is based in Frankfurt.

Physical crime is in general concentrated in the red-light district around the central train station, which also is the hangout of many drug dealers/junkies. The Gallus area west of the central station doesn’t have the best reputation, either. Nevertheless, Frankfurt is still safe and it is highly unlikely that you will face armed robbery or other violent crimes. Use your common sense and avoid drunken or aggressive people at night. If you have a problem or are being harassed, ask the police for help.

DON’T

  • Make jokes involving “German” stereotypes. Germany is a diverse place, and many Hamburgers simply don’t relate to Schnitzel-eating, Lederhosen-wearing mountaineers. Feel free to make jokes about Bavarians.
  • Run a red traffic light. Whether driving, biking or walking: Red means stop, and it is not okay to ignore the traffic lights. At least mind the children!
  • Spit on the ground. This is considered very rude and should be avoided at all times.
  • Make noise on Sundays. By German law, Sunday is considered a “Ruhetag” or “quiet day”. The absence of loud disturbances is taken quite seriously, so it’s best to refrain from drilling holes in the wall, and check with your landlord before throwing a garden party on a Sunday.

DO

  • Make eye contact and politely smile to your waiter if you need them. Unlike in some other countries, it’s considered good manners in Germany to leave customers in peace while eating.
  • Greet and thank cashiers, waiters and cleaning staff. Late in the afternoon, a courteous “schönen Feierabend” (wishing people an enjoyable time-off) is appreciated.

Getting Around

  • Make eye contact and politely smile to your waiter if you need them. Unlike in some other countries, it’s considered good manners in Germany to leave customers in peace while eating.
  • Greet and thank cashiers, waiters and cleaning staff. Late in the afternoon, a courteous “schönen Feierabend” (wishing people an enjoyable time-off) is appreciated.