Things to do Mainz, Germany – Insider tips from a local Wine-Tour guide

Is Mainz worth a visit – what’s to see, experience, and do?

There are a number of good reasons to visit to Mainz: its history (dating back to roman times), its old town in the shadows of a thousand year old cathedral, the laid back atmosphere, the Mainzer’s knack for festivals and any other good excuse to get together over a glass of wine. Of course visitors come to Mainz for more practical reasons too, such as the proximity to Frankfurt Airport, its perfect location to travel onwards by train, car or Rhein River cruise – yet, really, Mainz has plenty to offer to make it a weekend.

Mainz – old town with wine taverns and historic buildings

The official three Must-Sees in Mainz and some insider tips

Mainz’s most outstanding treasures are religious: St Martins Cathedral, the two of the last remaining Gutenberg Bibles at the Gutenberg Museum, the spectacular modern art church windows at St Stephans created by Marc Chagall. My first insider tip for exploring St Martins Cathedral: take a tour of the the gorgeous, hidden cloister area in the eastern corner of the Cathedral. My second insider tip to experience the Chagall windows at St Stephans: visit in the late afternoon, when the sun starting to set illuminates the windows best. My last insider tip: Visit the former Cathedral St Johannis, too – right next to St Martins. Due to rennovation works, the floor in in St Johannis has been removed, and reveals layer by layer artefacts dating back as far as 600 ad, including a perfectly preserved bishop’s coffin. (St Johannis is accessible on Saturdays 11.30-15.30 hrs and Sundays 15-17 Uhr).

The three must-experience events in Mainz

In summer: stroll the farmers market on a Saturday morning, right in front of the cathedral. Seasonal fruit and vegetables, local snacks, fresh breads, a friendly banter, a cup of coffe at one of the terraces nearby, or a glass of wine with friends at a vintners stall – that’s what we Mainzers love our farmers market for. In early autumn: we never miss out on the Mainzer Weinmarkt, the festival at which we celebrate wine, enjoy life music and good food on the lawns of the leafy city park.  In winter: enjoy the special atmosphere of the beautiful christmas market staged right below the cathedral…. but we locals enjoy some less busy areas of the Christmas market, for instance at the end of Augustinergasse.

The three must-taste local food items in Mainz

The Mainzer all-time favorite Pretzel (or Bretzel) is ideally consumed as fresh at they come out of the oven at Ditsch’, the ‘prezialist’ with a number of outlets across town. It’s our staple shopping-break snack – inexpensive, tasty and quick. Another very-Mainz food staple is a local cream-cheese spread scooped up with snack pretzels: Spundekas (Handkäs is another cheese-type snack, yet a more acquired taste). Spundekas is best washed down good swig of white wine – Mainz features still 20+ wineries within the city boundaries, selling their wine through wine taverns. With that, we need to talk about wine taverns next … (and about our guided Wine Tasting in Mainz’s historic cellar).

Our favorite wine taverns (‘weinstube’) in Mainz

Weinhaus Wilhelmi for its traditional feel and its die-hard regulars. Weinstube Rote Kopp for the friendly student-driven ambiance. Family run Weinhaus Schreiner for their warm welcome – in most cases by the owner herself. Gasthaus Willems, hidden away in old town, for their refined dishes and regionally sourced ingredients. We go to Hof Ehrenfels for their beautiful terrace just at the backside of the St Martins cathedral, and the sound menu paired to a regional wine list. For a perfectly crafted vegetarian meal with wine pairing we go to Willichs in the Neustadt area of Mainz. All these places fill up quickly – if you did not reserve your table in advance, show up earliest possible!

The three daytrips to take from Mainz

From Mainz, we take our guests into the wine regions of Rheinhessen or Rheingau. Rüdesheim in Rheingau, at just 45 minutes by car, makes for an excellent afternoon out – at almost any time of the year. In summer we take our visiting friends on a KD Day Cruises on the Rhine River from Mainz through the Rhein River Gorges to Oberwesel, take a walk around medieval Oberwesel, and take in another round of stunning river views on our return by train. For winelovers, a third option: take a Wine Tour with me at BottleStops – that’s a day full of tastings, sights, stories and facts around german wine.

Three local breweries in Mainz

While Mainz is undisputedly a wine capital, yet we look back at quite some beer tradition, too. Today’s top local beers can be enjoyed a the craft brewers ‘Eulchen’ founded by two students in the 2010s (with a beergarden overlooking Mainz); ‘Eisgrub Bräu’ the most established local brewery with a bit of Gemutlichkeit); and ‘Kühn, Kunze & Rosen’ brewing their beers true craft-style small-batch in the premises of a historic warehouse dating back to the 19th century.

Hotels we recommend in Mainz

To stay close to the train station, choose either the AC Hotel or the slightly more quirky MeandAll Hotel. The newest affordable hotel on the Rhein River bank is the H2 Hotel at the fringe of the leafy Neustadt area, while the Hyatt Regency is one of the most established high-end hotels, also located on the Rhein River but now on the upper rim of old town. Finally, we are expecting the opening of the garden-themed Brunfels Hotel in the city center, also run by the Hyatt group (taking reservations for stays from August 2024).

A perfect 48 hours short stay in Mainz

Friday from afternoon: Check-in to Meandall Hotel, walk up to St Stephans for the Chagall windows, enjoy the city views, dine at Gasthaus Willems and enjoy late night drinks at Cocktail bar Spiritus.

Saturday: Get a take-away coffee and a freshly danish at craft Bakery Lisbeth, and enjoy a first breakfast on a walk along the Rhein River banks. Stroll the Saturday farmers market. Have a second ‘Mainz-type’ breakfast at the food and wine area of the farmers market: a roll, a sausage, a glass of wine. Take a rest and do some people watching at the Fischtorplatz, green square that connects the Rhein River Esplanade and the Old Town. Visit the Gutenberg Museum, with it’s unique collection of century old books and bibles. Enjoy coffee and cake at Café Dinges (instead of a late lunch), and tour the cathedral. Finish the day with dinner at Hof Ehrenfels.

Sunday:

Day tour Option A / Cruise on the Rhein River: Take the 8.45 am KD Rhein River day cruise down to Oberwesel…. the 3 hrs trip will take you along the slopes of Rheingau, right into the romantic Rhine River Gorges, past countless castles. Hop off to visit Oberwesel – Winery Lanius Knab is a very good spot for a simple lunch (check opening times!). Take the train back to Mainz. Visit St Stephans to marvel at the Marc Chagall windows in the afternoon light.

KD Day cruise ship Godesburg.

Option B / Excursion to Rüdesheim: Take commuter train S8 to Wiesbaden, and change to RB 10 to Rüdesheim. Taste wines at Rheinweinwelt – followed by a lunch at the Bistro. Stroll Rüdesheim old town. Take a Gondola Ride up the hills and enjoy the views of the Niederwald viewing platform. Take a final tasting stop at winery Georg Breuer before heading back to Mainz by train. Arrive in time to visit St Stephans and enjoy the Chagall windows.

Option C / Take a Wine Tour to Rheingau with us at BottleStops: Our wine tour on Sunday covers plenty of beautiful sites and wines, and provide you a bottomless fill of stories and insights. We stop at Monastery Eberbach for a tour and tasting, we explore Rhein wines in Rüdesheim, and we have a wine tasting in Eltville. We do return in time for a final visit at St Stephans. More about our wine tour to Rheingau on this page.

Finally some trivia around Mainz:

  • Sooner or later you will come across a symbol: two wheels connected by a cross all in white, on a red background, on flags, on walls, on manholes… that’s the symbol of Mainz.
  • The pedestrian red lights feature Germany’s best known gnomes, the Mainzelmännchen.
  • The streets runnig parellel to the Rhein River feature their name on a sign with blue background, while street signs on red background indicate a street perpendicular to the River
  • Mainz sits on the 50’s northern parallel, which runs also through Winnipeg in Canada
  • The historic cellar structures stretching underneath the hillside Kästrich reach up to 70 meters into the ground – at the time of their completion, in the 1850s the deepest cellars in Europe.

Before going: Do check availabilities and opening times, which can vary depending on time of the year. As a professional wine tour guide I put this blogpost together to cover some of the most frequently asked questions about things to do in Mainz. However, I do specialise in wine tours and wine tastings in and from Mainz, which means I reserve further tips, recommendations, and support with bookings and reservations for our wine tour guests – contact me.

Enjoy Mainz!

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