Subways – the U-Bahn
The fastest way of traveling within the city of Frankfurt is the subway or U-Bahn. There are nine U-Bahn lines, and they cover most of Frankfurt, from Südbahnhof in the South even out to the foot of the Feldberg in Hohemark in the North. The lines are designated by numbers, as in U1, U2, all the way up to U9.
LRT – the S-Bahn
The S-Bahn network is designed to connect Frankfurt to the cities that orbit it, most notably Darmstadt, Wiesbaden, Friedberg and Hanau. It thus serves most of the suburbs in all cardinal points. In fact, two S-Bahn lines each go all the way to Wiesbaden (one track runs north of the River Main, the other south) and Offenbach, the town that borders Frankfurt to the east, and onwards through to Hanau, while the route to Darmstadt connects the leafy towns of Neu-Isenburg and Langen along the way.
Streetcars – the Strassenbahn
Frankfurt has boasted a streetcar (Strassenbahn) network since 1872, and the system is highly popular to this day. At one time, one streetcar route actually ran down the middle of the Zeil pedestrian area, its bell ringing to keep people off the tracks. It typically connects downtown to districts closer in and not served by the subway. During demonstrations or large festivals in the city, the one or other Strassenbahn line may be temporarily closed. One special streetcar is itself destined for festivities – the party ‘cider streetcar’ known as the Ebbelwoi Express.
Getting Away – Rail Travel
Deutsche Bahn is the German national railway system. Frankfurt happens to be one of its key interchange points, with Frankfurt’s Main Railway Station (Hauptbahnhof) its key hub. This huge, impressive structure is the busiest train station on the European continent; and you can catch trains here for most towns in FrankfurtRhineMain as well as highspeed connections to all the major cities in Germany and throughout Europe.
There are many business travelers and holidaymakers who will vouch for the fact that it is not only cheaper, but also faster and more convenient to take the train rather than to fly to many destinations in Germany and neighboring countries. Why? Because after you have calculated the time it takes to get to and from airports, the time required to check-in, drop off/collect your baggage and pass security, as well as any departure delays, a medium-distance train will probably get you where you are going more quickly. Plus, the comfort of rail travel, especially in first-class, certainly exceeds that of short-haul planes – and is far more environmentally friendly into the bargain.
A lot of people seem to have reached this conclusion, as rail travel on key routes can get very crowded. For that reason, it is strongly suggested that you reserve a seat during peak travel periods (you must reserve at least 24 hours before departure; a reservation cost € 3 per person per journey). Peak periods include Friday afternoons, Sunday evenings and the afternoons at the start of and evenings at the end of holidays. If you do not reserve, you are likely to find yourself joining others sitting or standing in the aisles. Deutsche Bahn also runs an excellent, multilingual website complete with travel planner, special fares, and special deals.