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FRANKFURT

Is Frankfurt a good place for foreigners to live?

Frankfurt has been ranked as one of the world's best cities to live in. We recently asked readers what it's like to live in the Hesse city and surrounding area. Here's what they had to say.

People sit on the banks of the Main river in Frankfurt.
People sit on the banks of the Main river in Frankfurt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Hannes P Albert

Home to around 790,000 people – with more than half of the population having a migrant background – the central German city of Frankfurt am Main is a bustling place. 

With a lively hospitality sector, a strong jobs scene and lots of surrounding nature, it’s no wonder the city was named the seventh best place to live in the world in 2022 in a ranking by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

READ ALSO: Frankfurt among the ‘world’s most liveable cities’

In a recent survey by The Local, respondents told us that Frankfurt is an international city with a small-town feel. 

Richard Davison, 45, who lives in the Sachsenhausen area of Frankfurt, said: “In my opinion Frankfurt is a special city as it is very international. As people come for work, it seems that it is very welcoming as many people are new, or have not lived in the city for a long time.

“There is a wide variety of affordable cuisine, bars and hospitality. It is a big city feel in a small city. What makes it special is the green spaces and surrounding nature: Taunus, Spessart, Odenwald and the Rhine and vineyards. Trains and flights are also so easy from Frankfurt.”

Natalie, 39, who lives in the Taunus area, said the best things about Frankfurt are “the beautiful, green Taunus surrounding areas, the mixture of new architecture and old, the riverfront and beautiful bridges, the airport and HBF (main station) which are awesome access points to so many places in Europe.”

Our readers – many of whom are non-German themselves – said they recommended Frankfurt as a place to live, and even gave some recommendations on where to put down roots. 

Michael Schacht, 31, said Frankfurt is “absolutely” a good place for international residents. “I believe I’ve read it’s the most international city in Germany and you hear all sorts of languages when walking around the city from English to French to Arabic and Mandarin.

“It’s really international and when living here, it’s easy to meet and make friends with people from all over the world.”

Smruthi Panyam said: “Frankfurt has a good expat population in the finance industry. It is a comfortable city to live in and the best city if you want to have ease of travel.”

A plane above the Frankfurt’s skyscrapers at sunrise on approach to Frankfurt Airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

Natalie, in Taunus, said Frankfurt is “very international”.

“Every store employee or barista speaks English in the city,” she said, adding that there are lots of international schools and expat meet-ups. 

A few readers said Westend Süd and Nordend were good areas to live because they are well connected, while hotels close to Römerberg were recommended for visitors. 

READ MORE: ‘A megacity on a small scale’: An insiders’ guide to Frankfurt

Cara Schaefer said Bockenheim was “close to to the main station and Frankfurt Fair, but far enough away to be a bit quieter and out the way of all the hassle and bustle of city centre”.

Simon Slade, 70, in Wehrheim, said Bornheim is a great area for city people.

He added: “The other side of the Taunus (is good) if you want peace and quiet and beautiful countryside but easy access to the city – 30 minutes drive or S-Bahn.”

And there’s a strong argument for getting out into other areas of Hesse around Frankfurt. 

Alison Ward, 69, moved from Scotland to Frankfurt in 1981 when “trams still ran through the Hauptwache”.

Ward then went onto live with her late husband in Hofheim am Taunus and she recommended the city on the outskirts of Frankfurt, as well as Bad Homburg.

“The nicest thing about Hofheim is that it actually has a ‘Stadtmitte’ (town centre) where you really feel that you are in the heart of town,” said long-time Hofheim resident Ward. 

READ ALSO: My time in Germany – How a year in Marburg changed everything

“As with all towns everywhere, there is a lot of history hidden in the bricks and mortar. Visit first of all your neighbourhood, and expand from there!”

The Bahai'i temple in Hofheim (Hesse) near Frankfurt in April 2017.

The Bahai’i temple in Hofheim (Hesse) near Frankfurt in April 2017. Photo: picture alliance / Frank Rumpenhorst/dpa

What could be improved?

Like everywhere, life is far from perfect in Frankfurt and a lot of things could be better. 

Some people said they would like to see cleaner and more modern transport facilities, as well as better public transport links round the clock. 

Other readers said they’d like to see improvements to areas such as the Bahnhofsviertel, which is known for drug use.

Angeeka Biswas, 34, said the rent situation needs to be improved. Like other cities in Germany, rents are high – and climbing – in Frankfurt, and it can be difficult to get a flat. 

Simon Slade urged authorities to reduce the speed limit in the city to 30km per hour.

Some readers said they’d like to see more events for English speakers. 

Others pointed to cultural differences – like the strict German custom of closing shops on a Sunday. 

“Frankfurt has improved a great deal since I first moved here, although supermarkets open on a Sunday would be great,” said Nichola.

Meanwhile, Alison Ward said the cost of public transport should be reduced to make travel around the Frankfurt area and surrounding cities cheaper. 

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DISCOVER GERMANY

8 of the quirkiest Christmas markets in Germany

Want to try something different from the classic German Christmas market? Here are eight unique alternatives.

8 of the quirkiest Christmas markets in Germany

1. Erotic Christmas market – St. Pauli, Hamburg

If you want to spice up your advent this year, then head to “Hamburg’s hottest Christmas market” in the city’s Sankt Pauli district.

Alongside the typical festive offerings of Glühwein and traditional stands, this market also hosts regular strip shows and features numerous stands selling erotic gifts and sweets.

Visitors walk through the Santa Pauli Christmas Market on Spielbudenplatz. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Bockwoldt

The Spielbudenplatz stage in the market also plays host to live music almost every evening throughout the season.

On Mondays, a special Glühwein “pharmacy” offers unicorn mulled wine – a glittery pink beverage with a choice of special flavours. 

Open from November 14th to December 23rd

2. Underground Christmas Market – Traben-Trarbach, Rhineland-Palatinate

The town of Traben-Trarbach in Rhineland-Palatinate is home to a particularly special type of Christmas market.

The Mosel Wein Nachts Markt, as it’s officially called, takes place underground in a series of former wine cellars which date back to the 18th century.

A festively decorated wine cellar in Traben-Trarbach – at the Moselle Wine Night Market. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Weinkeller Traben-Trarbach | Jan-Gerrit Baumann

As the name suggests, this Christmas market has a lot to offer in terms of wine, as it is set in the heart of the Mosel region which is famous for its Riesling.

READ ALSO: 5 things you need to know about German Glühwein

There’s an emphasis on art, antiquity and culture in this market too. International and national artisans and exhibitors sell decorative items, antiques, clocks and creative fashion and jewellery.

Open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from November 18th to December 18th, 2022

3. Forest Christmas market – Velen, North Rhein-Westphalia

For a fairytale festive experience, visit the forest Christmas market in Velen, North Rhein-Westphalia.

The market has been running here on the land of the Krumme family in North-Western NRW since 1999 and is well-known throughout the region for its special brand of Christmassy magic.

Huts scattered throughout the forest serve up culinary delights and homemade goods and those wanting to warm up can visit the historic farmhouse café or nestle inside one of the winter huts.

Children can ride on the nostalgic train, bake stick bread at the crackling fire or meet Santa Claus.

Open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from November 25th to December 18th, 2022

4. 19th Century Christmas market – Werben, Saxony-Anhalt

The Biedermeier Christmas Market in Werben is one of the most beautiful and unusual markets in northern Germany.

The theme is the Biedermeier period from 1815 to 1848 and, accordingly, stall owners, local theatre groups, merchants and friends of the town, participate in creating this early 19th century themed market.  

The Biedermeier Christmas market in Werben an der Elbe takes visitors back in time. Photo: picture alliance / dpa-tmn | Jürgen Sturtzel

The market is always bustling with men in tailcoats and top hats, and ladies in long dresses and bonnets and is full of stalls selling contemporary knickknacks. There are theatrical and musical performances and, in the evening, candle lanterns and kerosene lamps bathe the hustle and bustle in atmospheric light.

Open on December 10th and 11th, 2022

5. Ecological Christmas Market – Berlin

For those feeling bad about the excesses of Christmas already, the Ökomarkt at Kollwitzplatz in Berlin is a good place for guilt-free shopping and celebrations.

The assortment of sustainable stalls ranges from Christmas decorations to textiles, toys and jewellery from all over the world that meet social and ecological standards.

READ ALSO: Seven unmissable Christmas markets that open this week in Germany

There is also a wide range of organic and fair trade food on offer, from sweet treats such as crêpes, vegan waffles and pastries to hearty dishes such as bratwurst and pizza.

Open on November 27th, December 4th, 11th, and 18th

6. Japanese Christmas Market – Berlin

Since 2014, the Japanese community in Berlin has been laying on a colourful celebration of Japanese culture with a Japanese Christmas market.

Stalls selling paintings, photography, ceramics, illustrations and fashion cover traditional and modern designs – from kimonos to kawaii, from kokeshi to kendama. A taste of Japanese cuisine is also on offer along with hot sake.

There are workshops for those wanting to deepen their knowledge of Japanese culture and the entertainment program includes Japanese music, karaoke, dance and sumo.

Opening in December – dates not yet released (check here for updates)

7. Pink Christmas Market – Munich

The pink star amongst Munich’s Christmas markets will be back again this year on Stephansplatz in the heart of the Glockenbach district in Munich. 

The Pink Christmas on the Stephansplatz in Munich. Photo: picture alliance / dpa-tmn | Pink Christmas

With its elegant white pagoda tents and atmospheric light design – and abundance of pink – this Christmas market is a special spot to enjoy the festive season. Organisers call it “the place to be” for the LGBTIQ* community, neighbours, friends and Christmas market fans from all over the world.

READ ALSO: How do Germans celebrate Christmas?

Stalls offer delicious food, drinks and gifts, while unique, nightly shows keep the bustling crowds entertained. 

Pink Christmas is open from November 21st – December 23rd. 

8. Christmas Market by boat – Spreewald, Brandenburg

Spreewald is a magical place to visit at any time of the year but at Christmas, it’s something truly special.

The Spreewald Weihnacht – zwei Märkte, eine Kahnfahrt (two markets, one boat ride) offers a very unique Christmas market experience.

Visitors wait at the port of Lübbenau (Brandenburg) to take a Spreewald barge to the Christmas market in the open-air museum of the Spreewald village Lehde. Photo: picture alliance / Patrick Pleul/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa | Patrick Pleul

The first port of call is the Great Spreewald Harbor, where – amongst the usual Christmas market offerings – stalls and booths sell smoked fish, Christmas plinse and hot grog. Then, market-goers are taken on a wintry boat trip to the open-air museum in Lehde through the tranquillity of the Spreewald nature in hibernation.

In the Open Air Museum Lehde visitors can taste regional delicacies at the market stalls, stroll along the craftsmen’s market and meet some ancient mythical figures who offer good wishes for the coming year.

Open on November 26th, 27th and December 3rd and 4th

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