Frankfurt Airport is one of the major international hubs of the world. If you’re landing in Frankfurt and planning to visit the city whether it’s for a long airport layover or for a few days, this post will detail everything you need to know about getting from the airport to the city.
In short, living in Frankfurt has been amazing for many reasons. One of them is the proximity of the city to the airport. Coupled with the incredibly easy options of getting to the airport, makes getting out of the city and exploring all of Europe so easy. Sure, the security check line in Frankfurt airport is probably the worst I’ve ever seen, and shoots down all claims of German efficiency, but getting between the city and the airport is a breeze.
By Train from Frankfurt Airport to Frankfurt City
In my opinion, this is by far the easiest and certainly the cheapest way to get from the airport to the city. Germany is known for its solid mass transportation and you’re in Europe anyway, so might as well take advantage of it!
From Frankfurt Airport, you will need to take the S-Bahn into the city. The S-Bahn is a medium distance train that travels within Frankfurt and to neighboring towns. I’m not sure what the S stands for but I call it the Suburban train. The U-Bahn is the equivalent to the NYC subway or the London Tube and only travels within the city limits of Frankfurt. The long distance ICE trains travel between Frankfurt and other major cities like Cologne, Heidelberg, Munich, and Berlin.
The S-Bahn is located in Terminal 1 which is the Lufthansa and most other Star Alliance airlines. The S-Bahn train is located near the entrance to the terminal and you won’t have a hard time finding it as there are clear signs marked all over the airport to find it.
In the arrivals area, walk to Concourse B and you’ll find signs for long distance trains as well as regional trains. Take the escalator down and you’ll want to keep following signs for the regional train until you find the signs for the S-Bahn.
It’s hard to miss because there are literally signs for Frankfurt City which is the train you want.
The only S-Bahns that come to the airport is the S8 and S9 trains. You won’t get confused because no other Sbahns will come here. Make sure you are on the right side (the side going to Frankfurt and not Mainz/Wiesbaden) and if you’re not sure, just look for the much bigger crowds and it’s a good sign you’re on your way to the city.
How much is the S-Bahn?
The S-Bahn is €5 for a one way train ticket to anywhere in Frankfurt city. It takes roughly 15 minutes to Frankfurt city center. You can buy tickets at the platform while you wait for your train. Cards, cash, mobile payments are all accepted.
The S8 and S9 come every 15 minutes so you’ll never be waiting too long for a train.
How to get from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 in Frankfurt Airport
If you’re arriving in Terminal 2, you’ll have to make your way to Terminal 1 in order to take the S-Bahn.
This means you’ll have to find your way to the Airtrain that takes you to Terminal 1 (and vice versa). This train is located outside of the gates and you’ll see clearly marked signs pointing to Terminal 1.
The train is only a few minutes. When you get off, walk down the stairs and head straight towards the entrance of the airport where you’ll see an escalator with clearly marked signs for the train. Take the escalator down and the first sign you’ll see will be a sign for Frankfurt City.
All in all, this will take about 10 extra minutes.
Lounges in Frankfurt Airport
If you’re debating between going into the city on a long layover or just hanging out at at one of the many Priority Pass lounges, don’t worry I’ve visited almost all of them.
- Priority Lounge in Terminal 2
- Primeclass Lounge Terminal 2
- Air France Lounge Terminal 2
- Sky Lounge Terminal 2
By Taxi from Frankfurt Airport
For those that don’t want to mess with the public transportation, then the taxi options are your next bet. To be honest, the train is the same speed if not sometimes faster than a taxi, especially if you catch the train as you arrive to the platform. However, if you have a specific destination in Frankfurt that’s not the main areas, this will be your best option.
As I write this in 2020, there are three taxi options to speak of: The official Frankfurt taxi system, Uber, and FreeNow Ride.
The official taxis in Frankfurt are nice Mercedes C class vehicles that run on a meter. This is by far the most expensive option and actually the only option available up until a year ago.
These cars will be waiting outside of Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 in the arrivals section waiting in line ready to pick you up. You don’t need to get any tickets before hand, simply walk up to them outside the terminal.
From Frankfurt Airport to the Innenstadt city center is roughly €35.
Uber from Frankfurt Airport
From 2018, Uber was allowed to operate once again in Frankfurt. This is subject to change at any moment because I’m sure the addition of Uber does not sit well with the traditional taxi union (like every other city in the world).
Ubers are readily available in Frankfurt now and are allowed to pick you up from the airport. In Terminal 1, most of the Ubers will want to pick you up in the departures area which is the top floor. This is because there is far less traffic than at the arrivals section. In Terminal 2, there is only 1 floor so it will pick you up outside of the terminal. Terminal 2 has a D and E pick up area but they are located next to each other so it is not too far to walk in between them if you don’t know where you are.
Cost for Ubers are around €20-25 to the city center. It’s variable as Uber still uses surge pricing.
Freenow from Frankfurt Airport
Freenow, which is the official ride hailing up for the Frankfurt taxis, introduced a “Ride” option in 2019. This ride option let’s any average Joe drive their own cars as opposed to requiring them to use an official taxi. Essentially, this is Freenow’s answer to Uber. Since living in Frankfurt, I’ve used Freenow Ride almost exclusively as I find it to be generally a tiny bit cheaper than Uber and sometimes you can get nice cars.
Freenow Ride cabs will pick you up from the same areas as Uber (Terminal 1 departures, and Terminal 2 out of the terminal). The cost is around €20 from Frankfurt Airport to the city. I’ve never seen surge pricing from Freenow as far as I’ve used it.
If you don’t have the app, download it from the Appstore or Play Store, and add the promo code johnny.che1. This will get you a free €20 to use on one right with no restrictions. Perfect for an airport transfer as it will essentially be free!
By Bus from Frankfurt Airport
I actually didn’t even know this was an option until recently. The other options are so good, cheap, and reliable that I never bothered to look at bus transportation.
If I’m traveling solo, I opt for the train as it’s only €5. If I’m 2 people or more, then the taxi is a no brainer at €20 or so.
However, there are also buses that travel from the airport to the city. If you’re visiting the main touristy sights, the train is better as it drops you off nearby the main attractions like the Central train station, Hauptwache, Zeil, Altstadt etc.
However, if you need to go to the Sudbahnhof in the Sachsenhausen district, then the bus is probably better. The S8 and S9 do not go to the Sudbahnhof and you’ll need to transfer to a local U-Bahn train elsewhere so if this is your final destination, take the bus.
There are several bus lines which can take you to Frankfurt city centre: 61, 77, 72, 58 and 62 bus lines (daytime buses) and 81 and 7 bus lines (night buses). The 61 is the main bus you’ll want to take. Note that the bus takes 30 minutes to the city vs less than 20 minutes on the train.
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