Frankfurt may be big and cosmopolitan, but it lacks the spit and spirit that animates the nightlife in places like Berlin and even nearby Cologne. It’s not dull, exactly, but it’s geared to banking and bankers rather than the young and young at heart. But that’s not to say that you won’t be able to find anything to do after dark. You will—but not with the choices you’d find in other German cities. For details about what’s happening in Frankfurt, pick up “Journal Frankfurt” at newsstands throughout the city. “Fritz” and “Strandgut,” both free and available at the tourist office, also have listings. To purchase tickets for major cultural events, go to the venue box office (Kasse) or to the Touristinfo office at the main train station or in the Römer. One of the best ways to spend an evening is at an apple-wine taverns in Sachsenhausen.
Sachsenhausen & the Apple-Wine Taverns
Sachsenhausen, the district south of the River Main, has long been known for its taverns where Apfelwein, not beer, is the special drink. At an apple-wine tavern, everyone sits together at long wooden tables and, sooner or later, the singing starts.
Apfelwein (pronounced ebb-el-vye in the local dialect) is a dry, alcoholic, 12-proof apple cider. The wine always is poured from a blue-and-gray stoneware jug into glasses embossed with a diamond-shaped pattern. The first sip may pucker your whole body and convince you that you’re drinking vinegar. If drinking straight Apfelwein is too much for you, try a Sauergespritzt (sour spritzer), a mixture of Apfelwein and plain mineral water, or a Süssgespritzt (sweet spritzer), Apfelwein mixed with lemonade-like mineral water.
Although available year-round, Apfelwein also comes in seasonal versions. Süsser (sweet), sold in the autumn, is the dark, cloudy product of the first pressing of the apple harvest. When the wine starts to ferment it’s called Rauscher, which means it’s darker and more acidic. You’re supposed to drink Süsser and Rauscher straight, not mixed.
The Apfelwein taverns in Sachsenhausen display a pine wreath outside when a new barrel has arrived. The taverns usually serve traditional meals; hard rolls, salted bread sticks, and pretzels for nibbling are on the tables, too. What you eat, including the snacks, goes on your tab. The following are traditional Apfelwein taverns; all of them are Gartenlokale, meaning they move their tables outside in good weather:
Zum Eichkatzerl, Greieichstrasse 29 (tel. 069/617-480), open Thursday to Tuesday from 3pm to midnight. Fichtekränzi, Wallstrasse 5 (tel. 069/612-778), open Monday to Saturday from 5pm. to midnight. Zum Gemalten Haus, Schweizer Strasse 67 (tel. 069/614-559), open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to midnight; closed mid-June to the end of July.
On Saturdays, Sundays, and holiday afternoons throughout the year, you can hop on the Ebbelwei-Express (tel. 069/21322425), an old, colorfully painted trolley, and ride all through Frankfurt and over to the apple-wine taverns in Sachsenhausen. The entire route takes about an hour and costs 6€ for adults and 3€ for children up to 14. The fare includes a glass of apple wine (or apple juice). You can buy tickets from the conductor. Catch the trolley at Römer, Konstablerwache, or the main train station; service starts about 1:30pm and ends about 5pm.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.