Mainz: A Great Day Trip with Kids

The dramatic market square in Mainz.

Where the River Main and the Rhine meet is the city of Mainz on one side, and Wiesbaden on the other. Mainz (pronounced MINE-zz) a short train journey from Frankfurt, and a lovely destination for a day trip with kids. It’s a very walkable city with a stretch of pedestrianized or low-traffic roads in the centre, and a lovely path along the banks of the Rhine.

Outside the Gutenberg Museum
Outside the Gutenberg Museum – love these movable type block seats.

Birthplace of Gutenberg

Johannes Gutenberg, European inventor of the movable-type printing press, was born in Mainz, and he printed his first books in the city. There is an extensive museum, with a vault containing two of the first Gutenberg bibles, as well as many examples of older hand-written books, and replicas of his original press. The audio guides are worth getting, and although they don’t have one geared for kids, the 20-minute highlight tour was interesting enough to keep our 7 year old engaged. But after 45 minutes he was pretty finished with this museum dedicated to books and printing, so unless your children are older or significantly interested, don’t expect this one to take all day.

Mainz Marktplatz
Mainz Marktplatz
Flower bed near the Mainz Marktplatz
Flower bed near the Mainz Marktplatz
Mainz Marktbrunnen (fountain or well) in the foreground, cathedral in background
Mainz Marktbrunnen (fountain or well) in the foreground, cathedral in background
Mainz Marktplatz - beautiful building decoration
Mainz Marktplatz – beautiful building decoration
Mainz Cathedral
Mainz Cathedral has been heavily restored and renovated beginning in the 13th century. No one seems to be able to leave this place alone!

Marktplatz and Altstadt

Thankfully the museum is centrally located in the Altstadt, near the central market square. Many of the buildings here have been restored as Mainz was heavily bombed in the Second World War. Starting in the Marktplatz, you can wend your way through picturesque little streets, in and around the cathedral. There are lots of cafes, ice cream shops, and restaurants. If you come on a Saturday, there is a huge market that fills the square and the streets above and below it. It’s a lovely festive atmosphere, so it’s worth catching the city on a Saturday if you can.

Roman ruins

Mainz was the site of Roman habitation as well, being well situated at the confluence of two major rivers. There are remains of aqueducts and city gates dotted around the city, as well as the remains of a massive stone monument inside the Mainz Citadel, which we didn’t have a chance to visit this trip.

Pedestrianized streets of Mainz
Heading down towards the Rhine from the Marktplatz in Mainz.
Outdoor cafe serving wine and beer on the banks of the Rhine at the Fisch Tor (Fish Gate).
Outdoor cafe serving wine and beer on the banks of the Rhine at the Fisch Tor (Fish Gate).
My son playing on the banks of the Rhine.
My son playing on the banks of the Rhine.

Banks of the Rhine and Mittel Rhine cruises

Follow the lovely pedestrianized streets down from the Marktplatz, past the cathedral, and head down to the banks of the Rhine by the old Fischtor (Fish Gate, which is no longer standing). There’s a set of steps to sit on, as well as a nice outdoor cafe serving wine and beer. You can watch the Rhine cruises stop here, as there are several jetties right here, or walk along the promenade. There are many Rhine cruises that work like hop-on, hop-off tour boats, running from 8am to 8pm, and taking in the middle (and most interesting!) portion of the Rhine from Cologne to Mainz (affiliate link).

Getting there

Mainz is a super quick 15 minute train journey from Frankfurt, so it’s a perfect day trip location.

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PS – Looking for more great kid-friendly German destinations? Try my posts on Heidelberg and Trier


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19 thoughts on “Mainz: A Great Day Trip with Kids”

  1. Glad you liked it! 😊 If you visit again, the Museum für Antike Schiffahrt and the Naturhistorisches Museum are both pretty cool for kids, and there are some really nice parks, splash pads and playgrounds as well. And we can meet for cake 😉 There are some great places to eat in Mainz too, though there are so many new places springing up the whole time that I am probably already totally out of date!

    1. We saw the Museum für Antike Schiffahrt on the way in, though it looked under construction, maybe just the outside? The Saturday market was so all-consuming we didn’t get very far outside that zone! Looking forward to checking out more with you guys when you’re back. x

    1. I’d say it’s probably best as a day trip from Frankfurt, or maybe a day and a half before doing a Rhine cruise.

  2. Oh thank you! I didn’t know anything about Mainz – what a charming spot! As a font geek – I’m completely in love with those type blocks as seats! And the Marktplatz looks simply lovely. I’ll take a cold white wine on the river please. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles – nice to “meet” you! Erin

    1. As a font geek you will love that museum, it is fascinating! So many old books, printing machines and all sorts.

        1. This is probably true, my 8yo was ready to go after 45 minutes. I probably could have spent most of the day there!

  3. annette @afrenchcollection

    Erin, how lovely your photos with your son are. He certainly looks like he was enjoying himself. #FarawayFiles

  4. When I read that Gutenberg was born here I felt like high-fiving someone. But there was no one around. We learned so much about him in my university course. Anyway, Mainz looks like it’s so full of history, and I’d love it. Thanks for sharing it with us, I’d never heard of it before. Pinning for later. #FarawayFiles

    1. Yes! It’s well worth a visit, and if you’re into old manuscripts the Gutenberg Museum is just incredible. I admit that with small children you’re not going to get ages in there, but it’s still worth visiting. 😉

  5. It hurts me that I had to take out Mainz from my travel plans last May. I thought I was going to be able to visit Heidelberg and Mainz in a day. Oh, how wrong I was! Next time, I have to stop by Mainz. #farawayfiles

    1. Yes it’s definitely worth a stop! But you’re right, it would have been too hard to do both in one day. I’m glad you had a chance to visit my town though!

  6. I love these mid-sized German cities; they seem so liveable and relatively “undiscovered” by tourism, whilst still having loads to see and do for all ages. Never been to Mainz (well, I have been on business, but that doesn’t count)… perhaps I should make it a weekend trip sometime soon. Greetings from nearby Luxembourg!

    1. Yes, it’s true – there are so many around. It always amazes me how few English-speaking tourists visit! And hooray for Luxembourg!

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