What is Mainz, Germany, known for? Are there interesting things to do in Mainz? Well, stick around to find out.
Like many other cities in Germany, Mainz has its share of beautiful sites and exciting activities to offer. The city, which serves as the capital of Palatinate federal land near Frankfurt-am-Main, is famous for many things.
From its old quaint houses, a famous cathedral, a museum, and its rich history spanning over 2,000 years, Mainz tourist attractions are endless.
The city is also the motherland of Johannes Gutenberg. He’s the German goldsmith, inventor, and publisher who introduced mechanical movable-type printing presses to Europe.
As an industrial center and the wine capital of Germany, you can never run out of things to do in Mainz. You just need to find your way there. The ancient city is home to several globally renowned festivals, such as Mainzer Fastnacht (Mainz Carnival).
This famous 19th-century festival attracts crowds of more than half a million spectators during winter. That said, here are some of the things to do in Mainz and the surrounding areas.
Fun Things to Do in Mainz
1. Tour Mainz Cathedral
The phenomenal six-towered Mainz cathedral stands tall in the center of this ancient town. It’s one of the remarkable accomplishments of Romanesque architecture on the upper Rhine. Its construction began in AD 975, and it’s a wonder that it still reigns supreme today.
The climax of your visit will be an opportunity to view the numerous monuments and tombs of once-influential archbishops and princes, along with several centuries-old religious sculptures.
Consider visiting the Cathedral Museum too. Amid its captivating collections are many documents and artifacts regarding the building’s unique history. Visitors can participate in occasional mass services.
2. Tour Mainz State Museum
The Mainz Museum’s history goes back to 1803 when Napoleon Bonaparte (a French military general, the country’s first emperor, and one of the world’s prominent leaders) reigned.
He transformed military organization and training, reorganized education, sponsored the Napoleonic Code, and rooted the long-lasting Concordat with the Pope.
Nowadays, situated in the ancient stables of the previously Electoral Palace, the museum has developed numerous artworks and antiquities from all over Europe. It features multiple Stone Age tools and a 25,000-year-old sculpture.
Other features are its gothic department, pieces made of pure ivory and several ancient paintings, and its Baroque and Renaissance collections. These collections originate from Italy, Germany, France, and Netherlands. Mainz is one of the best must-see places in Germany even its other cities like Berlin, Munich, and not to miss things to do in Freising.
3. Go to Marktplatz
The Marktplatz, or marketplace, is Mainz’s central square in front of the cathedral. It’s one of the city’s most attractive spots, surrounded by charmingly painted and half-timbered buildings. Touring the market on Saturdays is one of the best things to do in Mainz.
The Christmas market hijacked the square every December and made it livelier. As the advent starts, the marketplace changes into a winter dreamland. With all the market stalls and fairy lights lit up, the place looks stunning.
It has booths from several countries beaming with cookies, gluhwein, decorations, candles, and all manner of amazing goodies. The market is live with many colorful stalls merchandising fresh products and flowers together with locally produced crafts.
If you visit the market during December, your shopping experience will double up with carol singing and other types of Christmas entertainment.
It’ll be wonderful to see such old houses in the marketplace still in good shape after all those years. Marktplatz is a great place to sit and relax as you plot your next move. It’s full of people plus students who are just shopping, eating, and walking. These people’s positive energy is infectious and welcoming.
You’ll find all sorts of fantastic gifts here, interact with locals, and might as well hear German jokes from locals. Be sure to try their potato pancake (kartoffelpuffer), and take it apple sauce as it’s a slice right from heaven’s gates.
4. Visit Gutenberg Museum
The Gutenberg Museum is dedicated to the legendary Johann Gutenberg. He’s the guy who fundamentally changed the publishing concept. He devised a movable-type printing machine in the 15th century, which revolutionalized the whole concept.
This museum is home to the oldest known woodblock print from 1771, unique prints dating back to the 15th century, and three of the twenty-nine Gutenberg bibles available today.
If you are interested in discovering the book press and the rich history of book printing, enlightenment, and communication, visiting, the museum will be worthwhile.
You can even hop in with your kids above four years. They will be reasonably excited about the visit. The children may enjoy seeing various types of presses and how the paper is produced.
It’s fascinating to see the historical displays of various printing presses, concepts, and advancements in printing equipment. The exhibits of different historic printing machines are impressive.
Given the evolution of printing presses and their impact on our daily lives, the museum provides a crucial perspective on how it all started and where we are today.
A guided tour would be beneficial in offering additional information about the printing process and its history.
5. See what the Hype about St Stephen’s Church is All About
You’ll walk for 15 or 20 minutes from Gutenberg Museum to get to the church, and it will not be in vain. Mainz is generally charming in every way. You’ll come across several shops and markets on your way.
The blue in Chagall’s windows is breathtaking. You’ll have a pleasant 20-minute visit. If you’ve seen Chagall’s windows in Zurich or Israel, you’ll know how rare these are. Chagal painted all the windows with a predominance of blue and abstract designs.
You may have seen many gorgeous windows, such as those in Sainte Chapelle in Paris. Still, I bet you have never come across abstract stained glass brought to such a level of beauty.
When you visit the church, you’ll find peace bathed in blue.
The church sits on top of a hill. So, it’s a sizable climb from the city, but the climb will be worth each step that you take.
Apart from its breathtaking windows, you get to see the old town and river from a lofty location.
St. Stephen’s is not as big as the famous St Martin’s Cathedral. Still, it’s such a magnificent church containing 176 square meters of stained glass Marc Chagall designed.
The beautiful light shining through the ever-glowing blue stained glass brings about a magical feeling inside the medieval church. Though the Second World War almost brought it to its knees, it still stands tall today after several renovations.
It remains the only church in Germany where Chagall had the privilege of designing its windows. Don’t miss visiting the church as the beauty and the experience will stick with you for the rest of your life. It’s among the best things to see in Mainz.
6. Botanischer Garten Mainz
The 25-acre Botanischer Garten is a source of pride for both the University of Mainz and the city. While strolling through the garden’s walkways, you can see over 8,500 different species of flowers and plants from all over the globe.
Visitors particularly enjoy touring the alpine garden and the conservatory. Visit the park in summer or spring and enjoy the little paradise. It’s such a quiet place to sit and picnic. You can read a book or stroll around and marvel at its beauty.
7. Pass by the Iron and Wood Towers
The building is an eye-catching Gothic-style tower. It wouldn’t surprise me if bats flew out of the top turrets. If you’re planning a walk through the old town, it’s worth including it on your list of what to do in Mainz.
In this city, there are only three of these ancient towers left. Initially, Mainz had thirty-four of these towers and fortifications when they were first built. They were initially built as part of the old city walls in the early 15th century.
The tower has markings to depict how high the Rhine has flooded over the past years. Since the building is just a short walk away from the Marktplatz, you can combine your visit with other Mainz attractions.
It was constructed as a watchtower and city gateway. It also served as a prison. However, it is now being used for art exhibitions and community events.
The Holzturm, or Wood Tower, was a more recent addition named after the wood stored next to it on the Rhine’s banks. Its current Gothic style dates from the 15th century.
8. Go to Farmer’s Market and Market Breakfast
You’ll always find stuff to do in Mainz. When you need to prepare food in your apartment, make your way to the farmers’ market and see what you can get.
Each Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, a farmer’s market on Liebfrauen Platz sells local and regional produce. It also sells seasonal vegetables such as fresh fruit, dairy products, spices, or meat.
And most likely, you’ll find everything you need for a tasty home-cooked meal. From April to November, local vintners provide a market breakfast on Saturdays where you can try new wine flavors while also enjoying sausages, bread, and other delicacies.
See Related: Best Things to do in Mannheim
9. Tour Landesmuseum
Landesmuseum, also known as the Mainz state museum, is home to a vast collection of items and artifacts ranging from art and culture. And touring the museum certainly is one of the most fulfilling things to do in Mainz.
Firstly, you’ll find an art collection that Napoleon donated to the museum. You can also spend a lot of time admiring great paintings by Hans Baldung and ivory items.
The gallery is part history museum, part national history museum, and part art museum. The cultural and historical collection in the museum is amazing. Dating back as early as the Stone Age, and stretching up to the 21 century, there’s just so much to see here. Some of the unique contents of the museum include:
- Gold jewelry
- Renaissance paintings
- Shields from prehistoric epochs
- Roman stone monuments,
- Middle Ages tablets and sculptures
- quaint furniture, etc.
10. Temple of Isis & Mater Magna
The museum is a little treasure in a shopping mall. It consists of an enormous underground room containing some remains of Isis and Mater Magna temple and many exhibits excavated from the place surrounding it.
The museum is an exceptional collection and is superbly displayed with self-explanatory notes and a short video presentation. The staff is knowledgeable and super friendly.
A guided tour is available at times, and it’s free to enter. Also, you’ll get to see Fluch Tafel (the curse tablet), which is excellently set out.
You’ll travel down memory lane as you gaze at fig offerings and many other treasures offered to the powerful gods many years ago. I bet it will be a good experience.
Pop in for a quick, free, short tour but very informative. It will be quite a big surprise to see an ancient Roman ruin right beneath a modern regular shopping mall.
The foundations are also magnificent and well-maintained. Have a schedule to help you know what to do in Mainz and at what time to avoid missing visiting places that could interest you.
See related: 12 Best Things to Do in Wiesbaden, Germany
11 Take a trip to Roman-Germanic Central Museum
Concluding our list of the best things to do in Mainz is a tour of the old 17th-century Electoral Palace. The place is just a few yards from the famous Theodor Heuss Bridge.
A Roman-Germanic Museum or Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, as known in Germany, is today housed in this phenomenal red-painted structure. This museum, founded in 1852, deals with German history dating back to the Stone Age.
It houses many collections of ancient Roman antiquities, along with items from the Middle age stone age. The collections are showcased in two presentations: The first one is a Roman exhibition, which focuses on the Roman Empire’s military expansion and interactions with other cultures. It also includes a model of a Roman organ.
The second one showcases antiques from the Middle age period, which handles Roman relations with Pagan religions and Christianity. Mainz is one of the most beautiful cities in Germany. And after a great tour of the museum, you can crown your day by visiting one of the famous local joints for a beer or two.
The truth is that there are a lot of things to do in Mainz at night. You can go to a pub, a bar, a disco, or a dancing club, and have a great time. As I said earlier, there are numerous Mainz attractions to keep your trip engaged.