The Long Layover: Frankfurt International Airport

On my last trip to Africa from the US, a change in flight schedules resulted in long layovers at Frankfurt International Airport of more than 8 hours on both flight rotations. That left plenty of time to kill between flights so I had to think of ways to make the most of the situation. Hopefully, you’ll find these tips useful if you find yourself in a similar situation.

Tip 1: Don’t underestimate the value of a day room during a long layover.

En route to Namibia, I had two long overnight hauls (Denver to Frankfurt and Frankfurt to Windhoek). I can’t sleep sitting upright so I knew I had to find a place to catch some zzz’s during my layover. There is a Sheraton at the airport, but when I checked pricing for a day room it was the same as an overnight stay (approximately $250 USD). That was a bit steep for my daily budget so I opted for the Holiday Inn – Frankfurt Airport (http://www.holidayinn.com/hotels/us/en/frankfurt/frais/hoteldetail) a 10-minute drive away for just under $85 USD. That price included airport transfers, a comfortable room with hot shower, and free wi-fi in the lobby. Definitely worth it!

Tip 2: Explore other areas outside of your departure gate terminal at large airports.

When I left the airport for the Holiday Inn, I exited through the main section of Terminal 1. This part of the airport had a wide variety of restaurants and shopping options on offer. If I hadn’t left the airport, I may never have known about all of these businesses. My Air Namibia flight was out of Terminal 2 and that area of the airport doesn’t have near the number of choices once you pass through the Passport Control checkpoint.

During my layover on the way back, I was sitting next to another traveler that was complaining about how Frankfurt was the worst airport for a long layover. He had five hours before his next flight and we were near the Z gates. Admittedly, there isn’t much near the Z gates so I suggested he head for the main part of Terminal 1. You have to show your passport when you exit and return, but it’s a quick process and not reason enough to stay put. Check out the airport’s website for more details: http://www.frankfurt-airport.com/content/frankfurt_airport/en/shop_enjoy0.html.

Tip 3: Explore the surrounding area outside the airport.

If you don’t need sleep and you don’t want to spend hours at the airport, leave and explore. There’s a train station at the airport (http://www.raileurope.ca/europe-travel-guide/germany/frankfurt/train-station/frankfurt-airport-train-station.html) and you can get to Frankfurt’s Main Station in less than 15 minutes and Downtown in less than half an hour. Your long layover may end up being a mini-vacation in itself.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. I have a layover at Frankfurt, Germany airport too. Your suggestion for the Holiday Inn sounds lovely. Was there a shuttle available at the airport that took you directly to the holiday inn? If so, how often did it run and was it easily accessible? Your blog is very helpful! Thanks!

    Claire

  2. Hello,
    Many thanks for these useful tips. I have a 16 hour Layover at Frankfurt airport. Do I require a transit visa for going out to a day room? If yes, how much is Transit visa cost? My flight is Lufthansa- Economy class.

    Anshul

    1. I was traveling on a US passport and did not require a transit visa. You should double check entrance requirements if you’re traveling with a passport issued by another country.

  3. You could also arrange a Layover tour with a Frankfurt on Foot Walking tours, rated #1 on Trip Advisor. Reasonable prices and they meet you at the airport, bring you into the city for a 3-4 hour tour (your choice) and bring you back to the airport. More information on their website:
    http://www.frankfurtonfoot.com

  4. Hello,

    My husband and I are traveling from Salt Lake City to Windhoek in May and also have a layover in Frankfurt. We plan to leave the airport to have dinner in the downtown area. Can you give me an idea of what the process and estimated time frame we should budget to come back into the airport toboard our flight to Windhoek? Thank you!

    1. You should arrive to the airport a couple of hours prior to departure. The process of getting back through the Immigration line was fast, but don’t cut it too close.

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