After living in Frankfurt for a few months, I’ve been able to really explore the city and get to know the neighborhoods. The concept of “neighborhood” in Frankfurt is not as strong as say New York or London, but the distinctions are definitely still there. Frankfurt is a tiny city compared to other financial hubs and I always consider it a village compared to my previous home in NYC. In this post, I go in depth of each of the central neighborhoods that many ex-pats like myself would consider living after moving to Frankfurt.
For those planning or thinking of moving to Frankfurt, make sure to also read why I absolutely love living in the financial capital of Germany!
If you are planning or are moving to Germany, make sure to also read about my experiences living in the country. This post is also a part of my guide to living in Frankfurt, Germany where I list out all the things you need to know as an expat in Frankfurt and Germany.
Neighborhoods are very small in Frankfurt
Compared to cities like New York or London, neighborhoods are not as distinct and individualistic in Frankfurt. Living in NYC, residents are violently defensive about their neighborhoods. For some, the neighborhood is their identity. I don’t get that vibe from Frankfurt. It is such a small city that every neighborhood is very close to the other. With a bike, you’re never more than 30 minutes from any other neighborhood and there are so many bike share and e-scooter programs. The U-Bahn and the Tram brilliantly connect all the neighborhoods so it is quite easy to get from place to place.
Below is a picture with all of Frankfurt’s neighborhoods. The yellow highlighted neighborhoods (+Bockenheim) are the most popular, central, and expensive of the neighborhoods. I will largely be focusing on these neighborhoods as the other ones are more residential and largely places I’ve not visited.
Deciding on which neighborhood you want to live in is still important here, but just realize that even if you do not get your dream neighborhood, visiting that dream neighborhood will never be too far if you live in Frankfurt.
Comparing Frankfurt to New York and London
I will also compare the neighborhood of Frankfurt to what I think the closest equivalent is in London and New York City. As Frankfurt is the European financial hub, I think it is a fair comparison to make against the major Western financial hubs in NYC and London. Of course Frankfurt is just a fraction of the size of NYC and London, and the neighborhoods are also quite small in comparison. Frankfurt is also considerably cheaper than these other two cities.
For example, my apartment in New York in Chelsea (very desirable and central location) was a 1 bedroom 1 bath, 700 sqft (65 sqm) first floor unit with no thrills. It would be considered a nice apartment in New York but it’s certainly not something you would walk in and be wow’d by. Before moving to Germany, I subletted this apartment out for over $4,000 a month. Yes, $4.2k for a 1 bedroom apartment.
In contract, my apartment in Frankfurt is almost twice the size and is an absolutely beautiful Altbau (old house) in Nordend, which is comparably just as desirable and central of a location as Chelsea is in New York. It has 3.5m (13 ft) ceilings with stucco, and is about 125 sqm (1300 sqft) of total space and even has a balcony. I am paying about €1,900 for this apartment which. This is still very expensive by German standards but compared to New York, I am paying half the rent for twice the space and an infinitely nicer apartment.
Westend is one of Frankfurt’s most popular and wealthiest neighborhoods. Located nearby to all the financial institutions of the city, it is seen as the neighborhood for posh bankers and wealthy families. I would attribute Westend to be like London’s Mayfair district or New York’s TriBeCa district.
It is a very pretty district, especially the area north of Bockenheimer-Landstrasse and is adorned with beautiful Wilhemenian Altbau’s, tree-lined streets, and numerous parks. Because of it’s proximity to work, a plethora of luxurious residences both new and old, Westend is a favorite for expats looking to be close to the office and enjoy a nice neighborhood.
Local parks like the Grüneburgpark provide excellent outlets for the residents to relax and enjoy quality time with their families. In fact, Westend and Nordend are probably the neighborhoods I see the most strollers in. Don’t let that fool you if you are childless however. There is a plethora of fantastic restaurants and bars in Westend.
NYC comparison: Tribeca
London comparison: Notting hill
Bockenheim is another fantastic bohemian neighborhood of Frankfurt. Located in the northwest of Frankfurt past Westend, to me it feels like the Bornheim of the west side. Leipziger Strasse is the main street that runs through the neighborhood adorned with countless bars and restaurants, similar to Bornheim’s Berger Strasse.
It is on the edge of the inner ring but thanks to its good transport network, with bus stations in most streets, it is well connected to the rest of the city. Bockenheim is also close to some of the best parks in the city, like the Palmengarten Botanical Garden, that offer a place to escape the stress of work in a haven of nature just within the city.
In comparison to other central neighborhoods of Frankfurt, Bockenheim has generally cheaper rents. If you’re okay with a slightly longer commute (5-10 minutes more), then you can find quite the steal in Bockenheim, which is also adorned with beautiful traditional Frankfurt style houses.
New York Equivalent: East Village
London Equivalent: Shoreditch
The Eschenheimer tower is the last surviving gateway from Frankfurt’s medieval fortifications, one of the oldest remaining medieval structure in the city center and point of entry from Westend and Nordend.
The city centre – together with the Altstadt – is an area surrounded by the Wallanlagen, which includes historic buildings, the steel and glass skyscrapers of the financial district and the main shopping area. The Zeil and the more up market Goethe Strasse are situated in the Innenstadt. Great place to enjoy a coffee or a light meal and watch the hustle and bustle of Frankfurt’s more elegant society is along the “Fressgass” or on the close by “Opernplatz” (Old Opera square).
For a fantastic bird’s eye view, of the Innenstadt and a lot more, visit the platform of the 200 meter high Maintower or have a drink at the rooftop of the Galleria mall.
Surprisingly, there are some delicious restaurants in the Innenstadt like Goc Pho which I think is the best Vietnamese in the city. The Schillermarkt happens every Friday and the famous Kleinmarkthalle is a daily occurance with Saturdays being the biggest day full of wine vendors and food stands.
New York Comparison: Midtown (but not as terrible as Midtown)
London Comparison: Westminister
Nordend – West Village | Sloane Square/Notting Hill
Nordend is definitely one of my favorite neighborhoods. Located just east of Westend and north of the Innenstadt, Nordend is in a perfect location for those looking for the true local experience. It is also where I lived in a WG flat share for a month, and subsequently where I found my long term apartment as well.
I would compare Nordend to London’s Notting Hill and New York’s West Village. It’s seen some extreme gentrification over the past few decades as 70s era artists, activists, and hippies give way to young professionals.
I think Nordend and Sachsenhausen have the most picturesque streets in Frankfurt. If you are into traditional German style buildings with beautiful accents, colorful exteriors, tree-lined streets, then Nordend is your neighborhood. It is also close to the Innenstadt but still retains a sense of cozy neighborhood community that you won’t get in other areas.
There are also some outstanding restaurants, wine bars, and parks in Nordend. Superbros is my favorite destination for Pizza, Onomia is delicious Greek food with outdoor seating and Weinstube is a neighborhood favorite for enjoying a glass of wine among many others.
The Friedberger Platz is home to an awesome outdoor market/party on Friday afternoon’s in the summer. They also have the best trinkhalle at the Eschenheimer Anlage Park (Fein Trinkhalle) which is an amazing place to relax and have drinks in the summer.
New York Comparison: West Village
London Comparison: Chelsea
Bornheim – Greenwich Village
Bornheim is located adjacent to the east of Nordend. It is very similar to Nordend in terms of appearance and neighborhood feel but has the famous Berger Strasse which is a street chalked full of restaurants, bars, and shops. There is also the popular Farmer’s markets on Wednesday and Saturday by the clocktower where you can buy fresh produce, breads, wursts, and enjoy a nice glass of wine.
Bornheim is one of the most desired areas for young professionals because it offers close proximity to the Innenstadt, and offers tons of entertainment and nightlife. It has perhaps the highest concentration of restaurants and bars as a neighborhood.
What to do?
Bornheim has the famous Bergerstrasse market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Loads of vendors serving everything from wursts, to artisan breads, to fresh vegetables will be here. I always get a good wurst sandwich from this market if I’m in the neighborhood during this time.
Where to eat and drink?
This is an impossible question because Bornheim probably has the highest concentration of bars and restaurants in the city. Bergerstrasse is literally an entire street full of restaurants and bars so it’s impossible to choose. However, I do have a few places that I like more than others here.
Rabbit Mezcal Bar: I didn’t think I would find Mezcal in Europe but I’m mistaken. Frankfurt has everything apparently and this Mezcal bar dishes out some absolutely delicious cocktails that remind me of my time traveling around Oaxaca City in Mexico. Prices are quite reasonable as well.
Thai Eck Imbiss: This is just a little hole in the wall but the one old Thai guy that works here really knows his craft and makes some of the best Thai food in the city.
New York Comparison: Greenwich Village
London Comparison: Sloane Square
Sachsenhausen, pronounced “Saxon-House-in” means House of the Saxons. It comprises the area south of the Main river and is split into two parts (Sachsenhausen Nord and Sud) separated by the Sudbanhof. Within Sachsenhausen-Nord, it is characterised by two areas, the old historic Sachsenhausen, a tourist attraction and in the 70s and 80s playground for GIs on leave, and the more modern and elegant area of Schweizer Strasse. The old Sachenhausen (or Alt Sachsenhausen) is nowadays characterized by loads of bars that draw in college aged kids and general debauchery on the weekends.
Sachsenhausen enjoys the same beautiful altbau’s and quaint streets that neighborhoods like Nordend and Westend do, but also with close proximity to the Main. In the summertime, the Main river is the spot to be with many outdoor bars, boat bars, and restaurants serving people looking to relax by the river. Many of the traditional German restaurants are also in this area, like Adolf Wagner, Ebbelwoi, Apfelwein-Wirtschaft Fichtekränzi and more many more.
Sachsenhausen is extremely sought after for its close proximity to the downtown, and it’s great collection of restaurants and bars. You can expect Sachsenhausen to command some of the most pricey rentals especially in Sachsenhausen Nord. I would say Sachsenhausen is the next more expensive neighborhood in Frankfurt after Westend.
New York Comparison: Brooklyn Heights
London Comparison: Hampstead or Islington
Frankfurt’s Bahnhofsviertel (train station area) is mainly known for its red-light district and drug scene. The former is today restricted to a very small area in the north-west corner, and the drug scene, as result of a harm-reduction oriented approach, is considerably less visible in the streets.
Nowadays, the Banhofsviertel has seen a bit of a revival. The neighborhood has seen a significant amount of gentrification as the city looks to polish what is a tourist’s first impression of the city walking out of the Hauptbanhof. Real estate in this neighborhood is not cheap at all as proximity to the banks and transportation makes it a desirable place to live for professionals. The Kaiser Strasse is a wide Parisian-like street filled with restaurants, bars, and street fairs every Thursday.
The Bahnhofsviertel is considered the “sketchy” neighborhood of Frankfurt by many still. It is also most tourists first impression of the city as it is the first neighborhood you see walking out of the Hauptbahnhof towards the city center. However, I think the neighborhood is totally fine as far as safety goes. Just avoid the taunusstrasse which is where the brothels are located and you’ll be fine. It’s not even dangerous per se as druggies just keep to themselves. In the summers, they have a huge festival called the Bahnhofsviertelnacht where the whole neighborhood is packed with people.
New York Comparison: Lower East Side
London comparison: Camden Town
Gallusviertel & Europaviertel
Gallus is the district surrounding the main railway station. It unites industrial and commercial quarters with residential areas. In recent years, it has become a focus of great interest for apartment hunters because of its new quarter Europaviertel, where you will find the newest, most modern apartments in all of Frankfurt. It’s proximity to the financial area makes it particularly attractive for expats that want a close walk to work and live in modern new construction.
In recent years, development for this area has really exploded with many luxury high-rises, hotels, corporate apartments, and the Skyline plaza. Rent here is also slightly cheaper than the rest of the neighborhood as there still isn’t that much in terms of restaurants and bars, and it is the perfect place to live in modern construction for cheaper.
I’m not a big fan of the Gallus district because it doesn’t feel like a neighborhood to me. There is no soul and really not Frankfurt to me. It is a new neighborhood that mostly caters to short term residents and business travelers. It’s a serviceable place to live for those staying for a short period but otherwise, you’ll be much happier living in a real neighborhood with history and entertainment.
From living in New York, Gallus feels very much like Hudson Yards which was once home to abandoned warehouses and now has been redeveloped into heaps of highrise condos, offices, and a huge shopping center. To me, Hudson Yards is the place to go if you need to live in high rise apartments for an “affordable” price but it has no character and nothing else to do around it.
New York Comparison: Hudson Yards or Long Island City
London Comparison: East London or Wembley
The Ostend – which gate of entry is the city’s Zoological Gardens – is a district in radical transformation. In the 19th century already on the east town periphery, and close to harbor and market, a classic working class district, the Ostend has undergone a face change like no other area in town. Accelerator of these developments undoubtedly the move of the ECB to new premises erected on the areal of the former market, but it all started in the early 90s, when industrial lofts were transformed into modern offices for style conscious advertising dudes and furniture warehouses.
Today the wide Hanauer Landstrasse – formerly a colourless pin-straight road through factories and junkyards is, with trees and street life, gaining elements of mediterranean city flair. Only remembrance, yet certainly to survive the gentrification, of its proletarian past is Gref-Völsings a traditional old butcher shop specialized in “Rindswurst” (beef sausage) but also great Bratwurst on Hanauer Landstraße 132.
My favorite place in Ostend has to be Oosten, a bar/restaurant with fantastic views of the Frankfurt skyline on the Main river. I love coming here on a lazy Sunday afternoon to enjoy a drink and views of the city. The place is never too packed and the drinks are reasonably priced for such an establishment.
New York Comparison: Battery Park City
London Comparison: Canada Water
Cost of Real estate in Frankfurt neighborhoods
If you’re reading this post, you may be looking to move to or are already living in Frankfurt. Frankfurt is not a cheap place to live as you can see by my detailed breakdown of the cost of living in Frankfurt. In fact, it is ranked the second most expensive city in Germany after Munich. Living in the Frankfurt city center is not cheap but there are disparities depending on your neighborhood. If you’re looking to rent an apartment in Frankfurt, make sure to read my apartment hunting guide. Similarly, if you’re looking for a cheaper flat share with roommates, make sure to read my guide on WGs in Germany.
These are perhaps the most desired neighborhoods in the city with a fantastic collection of Altbaus (old style buildings), new buildings, and an abundance of green space. Westend is always thought to have the most expensive real estate but I would argue that it is about the same price compared to Nordend, Bornheim, Sachsenhausen and Ostend. This is assuming you’re looking for a standard 2-3 room Altbau apartment without any over the top things.
I think Westend has a bigger collection of really high end and luxurious properties as it is closer to the financial district. I think these luxury properties skew the numbers but these won’t apply to 99% of renters.
I’ve found that Bockenheim and Ostend are generally cheaper than the other neighborhoods.
Gallusviertel and Europaviertel behind the Hauptbanhof is cheaper, especially as you can find an abundance of modern new construction apartments.
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