Cruising along the Main River, Frankfurt

One of the best ways to become acquainted with the city of Frankfurt is by taking a sightseeing boat trip up and down the Main river. This way, you can see the famous Frankfurt skyline with its modern glass-clad skyscrapers and old churches as you learn about historic and important parts of the city from the tour commentary.

On Wednesday this week, I met my visiting Italian in-laws and a close friend of theirs at Römerplatz (the “Roman Square”) in the middle of Frankfurt, excited to do some sightseeing with them. I arrived a bit early and so I roamed about snapping pictures, and I noticed that there were several civil weddings going on at the town hall that morning. One couple released a bunch of red, heart-shaped balloons into the sky after their wedding pictures; another wedding party released white doves a bit later, causing gasps of delight from the wedding guests and tourists alike.

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We walked across from Römerplatz to the river (about 5-10 minutes walk) and decided on a 100 minute river tour that would take us up and down the river (East and West) in one round trip. We used Primus-Linie, a sightseeing cruise company, and paid €10,90 for 100 minutes. For a 50 minute trip, you pay €8,70 (adults) and can choose whether to go to the East or the West.

The route of the tour – East is at the top, and West at the bottom. The boat departs from the middle and makes two loops on the long trip (i.e., returning to the middle point each time).

As the boat travels along the river, you will hear pre-recorded commentary in both German and English informing guests about what they are seeing along the banks of the river.

Below is the old bridge, or “Alte Brücke”, which used to be the only way of crossing the Main river to get to the centre of Frankfurt. Residents would charge a toll fee for using the bridge to fund its construction.


You’ll also see the “Dom” (Frankfurt Cathedral/St. Bartholemew’s), a spectacular church that dates back to the 15th century. It is worth a visit, and you get great views of it from the river.


Towards the East Port (Osthafen), you’ll see the quirky green art deco style bridge and the large and imposing Europäische Zentralbank (the European Central Bank, or EZB). Frankfurt is the financial capital of Germany, and it is known as a city of bankers and ambitious businessmen and women.

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Towards the end of the first 50 minutes of the tour, you’ll see the Osthafen (East Port), with its cranes and noisy machines offloading building materials such as sand and gravel. The sightseeing boat turns around here, and slowly makes it way back to the starting point (near Römerplatz). As we had bought the 100 minute ticket, we stayed on board, and the boat then went on its West loop.


On the way back to the starting point, you get amazing views of the skyline and the river. The West trip has the best skyline views, although if I had to choose, I’d go for the East trip (past Sachsenhausen, the Dom, into the Osthafen, and past the EZB) as it’s more interesting. However, if you have time, the 100 minute tour is lovely. You can have coffee or a glass of wine and watch Frankfurt slip by at a leisurely pace. There is both indoor and outdoor seating, as well as food available for purchase, and toilets on board.

The Westhafen Tower (West Port Tower), or the “World’s Biggest Apfelwein Glass”.

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After our relaxing and informative tour, we walked around Römerplatz once again, and then walked to Hauptwache before calling it a day. Below are a few photos of Römerplatz and the Ratskeller (City Hall Cellar) from our walk back.

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All in all, it was a great day of sightseeing, with lovely company. I’d highly recommend a river cruise on the Main, departing from Römerplatz and seeing both East and West ends of the river.


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  1. jeanine says:

    I lived in Frankfurt for over a year (albeit nearly 40 years ago) and never took that cruise. What a shame. Wonder if it existed in those days.

    1. I just checked, and it’s been around since 1880! Haha – link here with history of the cruise: 🙂 Well, a passenger steamer boat that went up and down the river with tourists. It’s a pity you didn’t go on it, maybe one day you can 🙂

      1. Marie N. says:

        We at Primus Linie really enjoiyed reading your blog entry about our sightseeing tour!
        Thank you so much for a wonderful summary and lovely pictures.
        The shipping tradition has indeed been part of our family since 1880, but we actually only started offering our sightseeing and day excurisions in the late 1960s. It’s become quite a tradition of its own since then and we enjoy showing visitors our beautiful city while cruising along the river.
        Wishing you all the best for your future travels and blog entries!

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