Each month our resident business travel expert Mark Frary writes the Heathrow Express travel guide to a major city. This month: Frankfurt
Business travel buzz
Frankfurt, in the German state of Hesse, is the country’s financial powerhouse – generating more than €200 billion in GDP each year. The city is home to almost 250 banks, including the German Bundesbank and the European Central Bank. You’ll also find EUREX, the world's biggest futures and options exchange, in the city by the Main River.
Image: European Central Bank © European Central Bank
The Frankfurt Rhine-Main region – which includes Mainz and Darmstadt – is home to 5.8 million people. However, the city of Frankfurt itself is rather smaller than its reputation on the European stage, with a population of around 670,000.
But Frankfurt is more than just a financial centre. With some 3 million people attending 60,000 events each year, it’s a major draw for conferences and trade fairs. Paperworld, the world's leading fair for the stationery and office supplies industry, opens on the last Saturday in January each year, while Ambiente – the biggest fair in the world for consumer goods such as homewares and gifts – takes place in the city in mid-February. Later in the year, the city welcomes the world's publishers and literary agents for the Frankfurt Book Fair, again the largest of its type.
Image: Frankfurt Trade Fair © Torsten Krüger, Deutsche Zentrale für Tourismus
Think it’s all about the traditional industries? Frankfurt also has a dynamic video gaming and biotechnology sectors.
Frankfurt is the fourth busiest route out of Heathrow, with around 1.5 million people annually travelling to the German financial capital. Lufthansa operates 12 services from Terminal 2 every day while British Airways flies between three and six times daily from Terminal 5. Flights take around 1 hour 40 minutes.
Frankfurt Airport is only 7.5 miles (12km) from the city centre and you can easily travel between the two by train. Services from the Flughafen Regionalbahnhof run every few minutes and the journey takes about 11 minutes. Expect to pay €4.55 for a single. Take a taxi and you’ll be in the city centre in 20 to 30 minutes. It’ll cost around €35 to 40.
Image: Frankfurt Skyline in the afternoon © Jochen Keute, Deutsche Zentrale für Tourismus
Getting around Frankfurt itself is simple thanks to a modern and integrated public transport system which includes nine underground and nine tram lines. Single tickets cost €2.75 while a day ticket is €6.80. Taxis charge an initial €2.75 and then €1.65 per kilometre.
Frankfurt's financial heritage means a visit to the Deutsche Börse (stock exchange) is a must. You’ll find free 45-minute introductory tours at 10 and 11am and 2pm daily. The tours are popular too, so book in advance. Presentation comes in German as standard – but you can request English.
Time between meetings? Visit the Deutsches Filmmuseum for a grounding in the history of filmmaking. Exhibits are in both German and English. You’ll find it at Schaumainkai 41.
If you need a break from the office, Frankfurt's Palmengarten botanical gardens at Siesmayerstraße are perfect for a breath of fresh air and the 19th century Palm House is particularly impressive. Entrance is €7 and the gardens are open from 9am.
Image: Frankfurt Palmengarten © Foto-Design Ernst Wrba, Deutsche Zentrale für Tourismus
The black book
Business travellers to Frankfurt paid an average room rate of €185.89 during the first half of 2014, according to the HRG Hotel Survey.
And with the city's business credentials, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of international chains here. Jumeirah, Westin and Kempinski are particularly good for business travellers. Meanwhile, stylish Villa Kennedy, the former home of an influential banking family and named after the US President's visit to the city in 1963, is one of the best places to stay in the city – if your travel budget runs to it.
Frankfurt is well known for its cider or Apfelwein restaurants. Atschel at Wallstrasse 7 has been around since 1849 and is a great spot for an informal lunch of sausages or ribs washed down with aSchoppen of appley amber nectar.
After something a little more classy? Try Heimat on Berliner Straße. The tiny building betrays its roots as a snack bar, but the food from chefs Gregor Nowak and Tanja Sönke is a world apart. The menu varies according to what is available but might include guinea fowl or veal – rest assured that the presentation and taste are both exquisite.
For a coffee, the Frankfurt institution is Wacker's, which has been on Kornmarkt for a hundred years and is frequented by city bankers charging up on espresso. If you are looking for free WiFi with your coffee, try Coffee Fellows at Kaiserstraße 14.
Follow these Frankfurt social media influencers to make your city stay more enjoyable:
- Fein am Main is the local blog of Frankfurt residents Daniela Netzel & Andreas Zehfuß and it’s got great insider tips on restaurants and things to do in the city. The blog is in German but plug the URL into Google Translate to help you find their tips.
- Michael Steen head of comms at the European Central Bank and former Frankfurt bureau chief for the FT
- Frankfurtmylove a regularly updated Tumblr of beautifully composed photos of the city
Read more #SMART stuff
#Smart interview with Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington
New holiday ideas for 2015 from Simon Calder
App-solutely brilliant? – Vital statistics are all about… apps!