Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Frankfurt Christmas Markets ~ A Magical Trip on a Budget that Feels Like Anything But!



If you follow either CherrySue or Stone Travel on social media you’ll have seen that our annual Christmas Markets trip brought us to Frankfurt this year. In true Stone Travel style, I'm here to tell you exactly how much we paid, what we thought of it and how you can visit too! 


Getting there:

We opted for a Ryanair flight to Frankfurt Hahn as they had scheduled flights at the times we wanted; costing €44.86pp including all taxes and charges for the 1 hour 40 minute flight it also suited our budget. Just be aware Frankfurt Hahn is located 120km outside Frankfurt. Depending on the time of your flight you can either catch a train or a bus. 



As we arrived late on Friday night the only option for us was a Flibco bus. I had pre-purchased our tickets online costing €30pp return including insurance. Unfortunately a flight from Tangier arrived into the airport at the same time as our flight so we were delayed getting through passport control. We got to the bus stop with 10 minutes to spare to find they had resold our tickets and about 30 others that were on our flight so we had to wait over an hour for the next bus! Customer service was shocking and the rep was downright rude to anyone who questioned her. The journey time to Frankfurt am Main is 1 hour 45 minutes but on our return journey our driver did it in 1 hour 20 minutes.

Aer Lingus fly Dublin-Frankfurt main airport located just 10 minutes outside Frankfurt. While the flights were over €100pp extra at the time we were booking I think we might be flying Aer Lingus next time! 


Where to stay in Frankfurt:

It’s always a bit of a nightmare trying to find a decent central hotel when trying to stick to a budget so I usually trawl the hotel comparison sites first. That’s where I found Hotel Excelsior a 3* hotel located directly across the road from the train station in the financial district of Frankfurt am Main. The Flibco bus arrives and departs a mere 2 minute walk from the hotel.

Rooms are basic but spotless; we were given a room with a set of bunk beds and two very comfortable single beds. While the rooms and hotel itself are dated it really doesn’t take away from the comfort of your stay as they offer a host of free extras such as free Wi-Fi, free drinks and snacks available in reception all day, free buffet breakfast and a free mini bar in every room that’s restocked daily (I know!). 


Breakfast is served from 5am-11am in a large restaurant on the ground floor. They’ve a wide variety of food on offer as they take influence from breakfasts around the world. You’ve a choice of cereals, breads, crepes, eggs, cold meats, cheeses, smoked salmon, fresh fruit, yoghurts even soup, vegetable noodles or sweet & sour veg with boiled rice so you’re sure to find something you like to fill you up before hitting the markets. We paid €67.45pp for 2 nights B&B; I booked directly with the hotel through their website as they had the best price.


What are the Frankfurt Christmas Markets like?

Dating as far back as 1393 Frankfurt has the oldest Christmas Markets in Germany not only that, they also have the tallest Christmas tree. There are a few different markets dotted around the city: Römerberg, St Paul's Square, Mainkai (Main Quay), Hauptwache and Friedrich-Stoltze-Square.


The main market is Römerberg; this is where the massive Christmas tree is on display, if you can try to make it there on a Wednesday or Saturday at 6pm as they have live Christmas music from the balcony of St Nicolas’ Church. The sights, smells and sounds as you enter Römerberg after dark take your breath away. Rows and rows of wooden stalls beautifully lit with thousands of tiny white lights, a Christmas tree towering above the square, the sound of Christmas music being played by the oversized carousel, the smells of glühwein, cinnamon and gingerbread all with a backdrop of the iconic German traditional half timber buildings instantly gives you that warm fuzzy Christmassy feeling.


In other Cities we’ve been to the same stalls are usually repeated numerous times around the market. Frankfurt is the first market we’ve been to that we actually bought a lot of stuff as the market stalls sell a variety of beautiful and useful products at good prices. We always choose the last weekend in November to visit the Christmas Markets as this is usually the first weekend they open so they’re not that busy, Frankfurt however is the exception as it’s the most visited market in Europe, it’s always busy. 


There is so much delicious food to choose from as you peruse the markets, for lunch Sue decided on a bowl of chilli & I chose a bowl of beef goulash both came with fresh crusty bread for dipping and were priced at just €5 each. For dinner we needed a sit down as we were on our feet most of the day so we chose one of the many restaurants with outdoor seating around the old square. While they didn’t have heaters they did have blankets for our knees, 4 large beers and 2 pizzas cost us just over €33


Any Stone Travel tips?

If you’re feeling the cold and/or just want a sit down I’d highly recommend a visit to Galeria Kaufhof, it’s a huge department store right beside Hauptwache market. I bought my most prized possessions of the whole trip there, two huge nutcrackers for a bargain price of just €12.99 each(!). 


Not only is it great for a spot of shopping the rooftop bar & restaurant on the 7th floor is the perfect place to sit and recharge your batteries while enjoying a spectacular view of Frankfurt’s skyline. The glühwein is actually cheaper than in the market at €2.50 a mug, or you can opt for Prosecco at €2 a glass. They’ve heaters and a DJ on the decks. Pizzas start at €7, while warm ham & cheese pretzels are a mere €2. What’s not to love?! 



Have you been to Frankfurt Christmas Markets? What did we miss that we need to do next time?

Were you following along on Snapchat? Anything you loved or anything you'd like to see more of? We're taking notes before we fly out to Highclere Castle this month for the Downton Abbey Christmas Fair (Eep!)
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