By Train to Frankfurt am Main, Mainz, Wiesbaden, and Cologne (Köln)
What is there to do on a stopover at Frankfurt International Airport (FRA), Germany? Plenty, as fast trains make trips to downtown Frankfurt am Main, Mainz, Wiesbaden, and even Cologne (Köln) possible.
Frankfurt International Airport (FRA), the busiest airport in continental Europe, is slick and modern with good facilities. However, travelers with stopovers can use Germany’s reliable public transportation system for more interesting excursions than hanging around in the airport’s duty-free shops and departure lounges. Frankfurt am Main is the most logical destination but many travelers prefer the pleasures of more relaxed Mainz and Wiesbaden. Even Cologne (Köln), with its huge Gothic cathedral, Romanesque churches and excellent museums, are within easy – if a bit expensive – day-trip range. My Driver gives online quotations for private airport transfers without first requiring personal details or flight numbers.
Train Stations at Frankfurt International Airport
Trains are generally the fastest, most reliable, and cheapest way to get from Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) to nearby cities. Always factor in waiting time and possible delays. The train trip from Frankfurt to the Airport takes only 10 minutes but delays are always possible and it may be a long walk from the airport station to the departure gate.
Frankfurt Airport has two separate but connected train stations. From the airport terminal, follow the covered walkways and signs “Zu den Züge” (To the Trains).
- The Regionalbahnhof (Regional Trains Station) is closest to the airport terminal and used by regional and S-Bahn trains. The most useful are S-Bahn trains S8 and S9 that connects Wiesbaden and Hanau via Mainz (only S8), Frankfurt Airport (Flughafen), Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, and Hauptwache amongst others. Around 4 trains per hour run on this route from 4 am to 9 pm, less frequent at night and on Sundays.
- Slightly further away is the Fernbahnhof for long-distance trains – although many of these also go to Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, these high-speed trains are much more expensive and actually slower over this short distance. (The longer, heavier trains need more time to brake!)
By Train from Frankfurt Airport to Frankfurt am Main Downtown
From Frankfurt Airport, take any S-Bahn train in the direction of the Frankfurter Hauptbahnhof (Main Station). All S-Bahn trains also continue to Hauptwache, two stations further, which are in a more pleasant part of town and closer to the old town area than the main station. (The red light district and a boring business area is between the main station and the more attractive old town ara.) Frankfurt am Main is a modern city with a small old town, good museums, and parks to stroll in.
- Traveling times from Frankfurt Airport to the Hauptbahnhof are 11 minutes, and 4 minutes more to Hauptwache. Getting to the Frankfurter Messe Exhibition grounds is also easy from the airport. My Driver gives online quotations for private airport transfers without first requiring personal details or flight numbers.
By Train from Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) to Mainz and Wiesbaden
Many visitors find Frankfurt am Main too modern and without a romantic old-town feel. Other easy excursion destinations from the airport include Mainz and Wiesbaden, which are only minutes further from the airport than Frankfurt is.
- Mainz has a history dating back to Roman times. The old town of Mainz on the banks of the Rhine across from the mouth of the Main River is particularly attractive with an old Romanesque-Gothic cathedral, a few old town streets, Roman museums, and fantastic Chagall church windows. (The Gutenberg Museum is somewhat sterile and disappointing.)
- Wiesbaden is an elegant provincial capital with mostly low-key sights. It is less modern than Frankfurt with lovely parks, a casino (jacket and tie required but available at reception!), and spa baths.
From Frankfurt International Airport (FRA), take S-Bahn train S8 towards Mainz (26 minutes). (ICE, IC, and RB trains do the journey in less than 20 minutes but less often and at a significant surcharge.) To Wiesbaden, S8 takes 38 minutes and S9 takes 34 minutes – same price.
By ICE Train from FRA to Limburg, Cologne (Köln), and Heidelberg
The super-fast Deutsche Bahn Inter-City-Express (ICE) trains bring Limburg, Cologne (Köln), and Heidelberg within an hour’s travel from Frankfurt International Airport (FRA). Due to the price of ICE tickets, these cities are best reserved for full-day or multiple-day trips while on longer stopovers.
However, for many travelers who may have only a single chance to see the Kölner Dom, it may be money well spent.