Mainz: A party-loving wine city on the Rhine

According to the name of a German TV show, "Mainz bleibt Mainz, wie es singt und lacht" – Mainz will always be Mainz, a city that sings and laughs. And they have every reason to be so, living in such a beautiful city right on the river Rhine. Every year, thousands of visitors flock to the city for the Mainzer Fastnacht, or carnival.

by Lisa Tüch

Mainz Cathedral © Horschig/DAAD
Mainz Cathedral . © Horschig/DAAD

Facts & Figures

Monthly rent:
350 €
Visit the Kupferbergterrasse lookout for a panoramic view of Mainz!

Welcome to Mainz

Mainz is idyllically situated between vineyards and castles on the river Rhine. The capital of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate has a long and rich history. It was founded by the Romans over 2,000 years ago. Many parts of Mainz still bear witness to this period even today, notably an ancient Roman theatre. Mainz's cathedral of St. Martin is also over 1,000 years old.

The city's most famous son is Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of movable type printing. The University of Mainz is named after him, and a monument to him stands on Gutenbergplatz in front of the Staatstheater. Mainz also has a Gutenberg Museum with an exhibition dedicated to the inventor and book printing.

Gutenberg statue © Landeshauptstadt Mainz
Gutenberg statue . © Landeshauptstadt Mainz

The broadcasting service “Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen” (ZDF) is also headquartered in Mainz. This is why the ZDF mascots are referred to as the "MAINZelmännchen".

Mainz is part of the wine-growing region of Rheinhessen, which is the biggest in Germany. You can explore the Rheinterrassenweg between Mainz und Worms. The hiking trail takes you past vineyards and historical towns.

The people of Mainz are enthusiastic party-goers. And partying becomes particularly riotous during Fastnacht, as the people of Mainz call their carnival. This is when they dress up in fancy costumes. Celebrations culminate in the Rose Monday procession at the end of February or beginning of March. Decorated carnival floats, marching bands and dance troupes parade through the town, throwing sweets into the crowds of revellers. Fastnacht even has a monument: the "Fastnachtsbrunnen", or carnival fountain, on Schillerplatz.

Fastnacht © Landeshauptstadt Mainz
Fastnacht . © Landeshauptstadt Mainz

The people of Mainz celebrate lots of festivals. And one thing that should never be missing from such a festival is wine. The people of Mainz love their wine. There are two wine festivals that take place in the Stadtpark. There, you can sample different wines at the numerous stands. The market is most beautiful at night when everything is romantically illuminated.

Johannisnacht is also a well-known and popular festival. This four-day public event in June features musical and cabaret performances but also a book and art market. There's a funfair on the banks of the Rhine with lots of different amusements and funfair rides such as the Big Wheel, which offers you a fantastic view of the city. The festival ends with a big firework display over the Rhine.

More photos

Living in Mainz

The city offers a wide and varied range of leisure activities. If you're interested in culture, take in a show at the Theater Mainz. This is free for students of the Johannes Gutenberg University (JGU) and Mainz University of Applied Sciences.

Staatstheater © Landeshauptstadt Mainz
Staatstheater . © Landeshauptstadt Mainz

You can go on an extensive shopping tour in the area around the theatre. Get off at the "Höfchen" bus stop and you'll find yourself in the middle of the pedestrian area. Marktplatz am Dom is just a few metres away. Here you'll find department stores, boutiques and street cafés with a view of the cathedral. The Gutenberg shop and ZDF shop are also located here.

When the weather's good, Stadtpark and Volkspark are great places to go. The two parks run into each other, and this is where students meet for picnics. There are also a minigolf course, café and designated barbecue spots. From the Stadtpark, you have a good view of the Rhine, which is not far away. You can jog or cycle along the Rheinpromenade or simply relax on the banks of the river. One Rhine highlight is the Mainz-Strand on Adenauer-Ufer. On hot summer days, you can hang out here in deckchairs and hammocks or play beach volleyball with friends. Wednesday is student day when everything is offered at a reduced price.

My tip

You definitely have to visit the Kupferbergterrasse in the Oberstadt. From here you have a beautiful view of the whole town!

Lots of student parties take place in Mainz on Wednesdays and Thursdays – for example in the Kulturcafé Qkaff on the JGU campus. You can have lunch here at midday and party in the evening. But there's also plenty going elsewhere in town in the evenings. For example, Mainz has several Irish pubs that organise karaoke evenings. KUZ is also a good place for different kinds of entertainment. The culture centre organises parties, readings and concerts. Popular locations for party nights are also the culture club Schon Schön on Große Bleiche and the Red Cat Club near Schillerplatz. The Pussy Cat-Cocktailbar is also part of the Red Cat Club.

A good place for cocktails is Ballplatzcafé Novum. Tuesdays is cocktail night, when two cocktails are offered for the price of one. And the best thing about this café is that after a night of serious partying, you can order breakfast here until 4 in the afternoon. Next door is Lomo – a mix of restaurant, lounge and book bar. The bar has a wide collection of books which you can help yourself to and read during your visit. It also hosts readings by young local talents.

Interview with Anna from Poland

Anna Kwiatkowska is 24 and is studying English Philology at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz.

Picture of Anna from Poland © Anna Kwiatkowska
Anna from Poland . © Anna Kwiatkowska

Why did you decide to study in Mainz?

I had a choice of several German cities. I liked Mainz because the photos of the town were really nice. And Mainz isn't as expensive as Munich or as small as Bamberg, where I could also have gone.

How did you prepare for your stay in Germany?

I had to sort out all the formalities at my university, and then open a euro account and find somewhere to live in Germany.

And how did you find accommodation?

I found my apartment through the International Student Office website. There's also the site for private accommodation.

Picnic in Stadtpark © Tüch/DAAD
Picnic in Stadtpark . © Tüch/DAAD

What was most difficult for you when you first lived and studied in Germany?

The most difficult thing was living alone and organising my studies and everyday life on my own. You have to make new friends, find your way around a new town and sort out all the formalities at the host university. You're also really homesick. This was all quite stressful at first! But that passes after a while, you just have to be strong.

What is your favourite spot in Mainz?

I like the green parts of Mainz – the Rhine and the parks.

What's the best way of getting to know other students?

To get to know other people, it's good to go to the Erasmus meetings or Tutors of Mainz parties and special events.

Why is Mainz a good place to study for international students?

Mainz is a good place to study because there's an Erasmus team here that organises a lot of events and excursions. There are also lots of opportunities to meet people from other countries and to travel.

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