08 Dec 2016

Centuries of sibling rivalry between Offenbach and Frankfurt have led to such things as the totally unwarranted nickname ‘Awfulbach’ or the determined conviction of Frankfurters that Offenbachers cannot drive. (The OF license plate is said to mean ohne Führschein – no driver’s license).

This competition can be dated back to 917, since the first documented mention of Offenbach, but in truth, Offenbach is simply its own friendly little town just outside the city of Frankfurt. One could call it a suburb of Frankfurt but for fear of being verbally abused by an Offenbach resident who prefers to think of it as its own great entity. There are plenty of parallels between the two cities: Both sit nicely along the Main (making Offenbach a perfect destination to get to by bicycle); second only to Frankfurt, Offenbach has the next highest population of foreign residents in Germany (13 per cent), and this remains a defining aspect of life in each city; and both are dependent on banking and other service industries for their survival. No doubt Frankfurt is the larger city with far more opportunities for nightlife and sightseeing, but Offenbach manages a friendliness and neighbourly atmosphere that the colder streets of Frankfurt could never manage.

Shopping in Offenbach is calmer and friendlier than shopping in Frankfurt although with essentially have the same shops – Offenbach does boast the only Toys ‘R’ Us in the area though. The Füssganger Zone runs along Frankfurterstrasse and Herrnstrasse making up the heart of the district. In summer one can generally find a beer festival or two on, with fresh fruit and vegetable stands dotted around. For the best and freshest produce, meats and cheeses, head down to Wilhelmsplatz. Every Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday from 08:00 - 14:00 fresh foods are brought in for the Farmer’s Market. For classic kitsch, one never knows what one might find at the Offenbach Flea Market, directly along the Main every Saturday from 07:00 - 14:00.

There is no specific Old Town area, although a walk through the city gives you plenty of buildings to see that managed to escape bombing during the war and/or have been restored to full beauty. In the heart of town, just between the shopping area and the Main, is Lilipark and Lilitemple, named after Goethe’s beloved wife Lili Schönemann, an expansive piece of land with playgrounds for children. The Büsing Palace, now part of the Arabella Sheraton is a classic example of neo-Baroque architecture, but its interior is only accessible via the hotel. There is also a Baroque castle in Rumpenheim, with its castle gardens (Schlosspark), just outside of Offenbach, directly on the Main, but it now serves exclusively as domestic dwellings, so you may only look, but not touch. To get to the castle in Rumpenheim, take bus N°101 from Marktplatz to Marstallstrasse, and walk about 100 metres up the road to reach the castle and gardens. There is a fairly nice German restaurant and café called Zum Schiffchen (Schmiedgasse 8, 86 55 01) just next to the castle, which is ideal for cake and coffee in the afternoon.


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