7 Things to Do in Mainz, Germany
Mainz may be the capital city of its state, but many travelers in Germany overlook this small university city for its larger and more famous neighbors of Cologne, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart. But Mainz is arguably more beautiful and vibrant than any of these cities. If you’re in the region, make sure you tick off these things to do in Mainz.
7 things to do in Mainz
1. Visit St. Martin’s Cathedral
The St. Martin’s Cathedral, also known as Mainz Cathedral, is an impressive 1000-year-old church located near the heart of the city. It’s predominantly a Romanesque church, but ongoing additions and improvements over the years have altered its appearance and influences. Still, it’s a beautiful church that’s perfectly situated if you are exploring the city on foot.
Insider tip: Pay special attention to the supporting pillars inside the church. Many of them are decorated with statues of German and French saints.
2. View the blue Chagall windows at St. Stephan’s Church
St Stephan’s Church sees an impressive 200,000 visitors a year. It’s another religious establishment in Mainz worth visiting. The belfry in this gothic church was the highest location in the city for centuries, but the stunning blue Chagall choir windows are the true drawcard of this impressive structure.
Insider tip: Entry into the church is free, but you can pick up an information leaflet for a small fee that will explain the various features.
3. Walk the Old Town
Mainz’s Old Town is charming and inviting. It’s full to the brim with beautiful half-timbered houses, appealing open squares, and interesting museums and churches. It also has dozens of small boutique shops selling local goods and other curios. The town is the perfect size for exploring on foot. You can fit in a walking tour to most of the top attractions in just a few hours.
Insider tip: If you only have one hour to explore the Old Town, follow this itinerary from Mainz Tourism.
4. Explore four thousand years of writing history
The Gutenberg Museum in Mainz will take you through thousands of years in writing and printing history. Johannes Gutenberg, who lived in Mainz, played an important role in the writing process when he invented the printing press with moveable type. This is one of the oldest and most celebrated museums of the printing world.
Insider tip: Consider picking up an audio guide for €3.50. It highlights important facts and details in a personal and entertaining manner.
5. Take a cycle
Mainz sits on the Rhine, the largest river in Germany, which is perfect for a gentle cycle. There’s a well-developed network of cycle paths along the river and even out into the valley. These range from comfortable circular routes through to more demanding trips up into nearby vineyards. Whether you’re looking to push the limits or simply coast around to the best sights in the region, there are few better ways to do it than on the back of a bike.
Insider tip: If you’re just looking to get around town, then Mainz has an excellent bike share scheme in the form of MVGmeinRad. If you’re looking to travel further afield by bike, MapMyRide has a good selection of user-generated routes.
6. Have a drink on the Rhine
Mainz has a vibrant student population, so a good bar is never hard to find. During the warmer summer months, you’ll see street art collectives, live performances, and laid-back beach bars that pop up along the Rhine. It’s perfect for reflecting on your time in this idyllic region.
Insider tip: Mainzstrand is one of the most popular bars in the city, and they host regular specials. Visit their Facebook page for updates (in German).
7. Travel the famous Rhine Valley route by rail
Mainz is the start (or end) point for one of the most scenic train rides in all of Germany, if not Europe. The Rhine Valley scenic line will take you on a tranquil journey along the banks of the iconic river, past the ruins of old fortresses and through the shadows of beautiful castles. You’ll also pass through the quaint cities of Bacharach, St. Goar, and Rüdesheim. All are worth a visit – if only for a glass of wine sourced from nearby vineyards.
Insider tip: The Rhine Valley scenic line is short enough to do as a return day journey from Mainz, but you can easily connect to the nearby city of Cologne as part of an extended German rail trip.
While Mainz doesn’t feature alongside the likes of Hamburg, Berlin, and Munich in many German bucket lists, this small, beautiful and energetic city is a perfect stop off for a few days on a German rail adventure. Follow these 7 things to do in Mainz and it’ll be a visit well spent. And if you combine it with a trip up the Rhine Valley, it’ll be imprinted in your memory as a true highlight of your trip.
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