Saturday, 6 February 2016

Mannheim: A Guide

Mannheim Strandbad

Living in Frankfurt now, I do miss Mannheim a little bit. I spent from the middle of August until the middle of December there and had a fair amount of free time to explore, so I've picked up a few tips on how you can get the most of the city. So whether you're heading to Mannheim for your exchange semester, or you're already there, or you just plan on visiting, here's some ideas:


WHAT TO DO 


Luisen Park
Despite there being an entry fee, I visited here a few times in summer, autumn and winter. Make sure if you're a student (it doesn't matter where, as long as you have a student card), you ask for a student ticket. The entry fee is worth paying though, there's so much to do once you're inside. There's a botanical garden to see, a small animal farm, mini golf, boats to go round the lake on, and areas for BBQs and Picnics. It's a huge place, and you can walk around for a good couple of hours. 

Fernmeldeturm
Not too far from Luisenpark, the Fernmeldeturm is worth a visit if you want a 360 degree birds eye view of Mannheim and nearby places. The lift to the viewing platform costs around €5 a person if I remember correctly, and can be accessed by catching the tram (Line 5 direction Edlingen/Heideberg, get off at Fernmeldeturm) or from Luisenpark. There's also a revolving restaurant up there.

Strandbad
If you're looking for a break from the city and some fresh air, then I'd really recommend a walk at Strandbad. There's a nice forest to walk around and then you can walk along the river Rhein which would be a really nice view if there wasn't the power plant visible down the river, but ignoring that, it's a scenic walk. To get there, get the tram line 3 and get off at Rheingoldhalle, and walk past the riding school towards the forest. 

Neckarstrand
This is a good place for the warmer weather. There's a little makeshift beach where you can sit in deckchairs sipping cocktails, pretending you're overlooking the blue caribbean sea, and ignoring the fact you're actually overlooking the brown/grey Neckar river with blocks of flats the other side and the general city hum behind you. But jokes aside, it's a good place for a drink in the summer. 

Visit the market
I don't know why, but whenever I'm not in England, I love walking around markets, whether they're farmers markets, flower markets, flea markets, whatever. There's a market with fresh fruit, fresh veg, meat, cheeses, a few other foodie stuff, and flowers at Marktplatz which is open Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday until 2pm.

Wasserturm/Rosengarten
My favourite spot in Mannheim. It's really nice in summer and autumn, in winter they turn the fountains off though.

Ice Hockey
Something you should definitely do while in Mannheim is watch an ice hockey game. The Mannheimer Adler are pretty good, and it's an exciting sport to watch (especially when they win!). You can see their upcoming home and away games here

Kegeln 
The German version of bowling, and a good idea for a cold, rainy day. The balls are much smaller and lighter, and have no holes in them and the pins are set up differently. It's a lot of fun and actually much cheaper than the usual ten pin bowling. I would recommend this bowling alley, there are instructions on how to reach it on their webpage. 

Shopping
Mannheim is pretty good for shopping. The Planken is the main high street and is lined with shops and cafes. Another good place for shopping is the Rhein-Galerie, the other side of the river in Ludwigshafen. It's a big shopping mall with many different types of shops and different types of restaurants/cafes.


Frankfurt Römerplatz


DAY TRIPS

Heidelberg
If you're staying in Mannheim, Heidelberg is a must visit. It's much prettier than Mannheim, having escaped most of the bombs during the second world war (it was popular among Americans, so they let it off lightly). The castle is well worth the journey, and the view from the hill is great. I'd recommend getting off the S Bahn at Altstadt as you're then closer to everything you'd want to see.

Speyer
Smaller than Heidelberg, but still worth a visit. You can get here with your Semesterticket for free too. Lots of pretty buildings, a large cathedral, and many cafes and pubs. 

Weinheim
*read description for Speyer*

Frankfurt
A little bit further away, but still definitely feasible to do in a day. The ICE train takes 30 mins, or save some money and catch a regional train (RE or RB). I will post a guide for Frankfurt once I've been here a bit longer. There's lots of shopping near Hauptwache (head to Goethestraße if you've got a tonne of spare cash). The Alte Oper is worth a visit, especially all lit up at night. There's lots of museums, a zoo, Goethe's house, the Euro Information Centre and lots of Skyscrapers.

Mainz
Not too far from Frankfurt. I've only been once and spent only a few hours there, but have heard lots of positive things about it so I plan on visiting again, and will write a bit about it when I have done!

Stuttgart
Though I've passed through it, I've also not stopped here for long, but many of my friends have and enjoyed it!

Strasbourg
I've put this under day trip, because it's not too far from Mannheim (even though it's in France!) so definitely feasible to do in a day. However I'd recommend 2 days as there's loads to see and do here! You can read more about my visit here. Definitely check bus tickets for getting here as it's MUCH cheaper than the train and also sometimes quicker. Plus, free wifi for the Germany section of the journey. 

Brunch at Le Cafe Mannheim

EAT & DRINK

Café Vienna
I spent more time here than any other bar or restaurant in Mannheim I think. As a student, this is your place to go. Cheap food and drinks, and a good atmosphere. Not far from Marktplatz.

Vapianos
I visited here many times too. An italian restaurant with an interesting concept, you go up and usually queue for a little while, especially when it's busy, and order your meal to the chefs, and then you watch them cook it for you right in front of you. This mean you can customise your dish a bit. I'd recommend this restaurant if you're a group, not so much if there's only 2 of you. The food is so good though!

Star bar
Not the cheapest, but good drinks with a good view over Mannheim. On Paradeplatz.

Café L3
For the students. This is where VISUM hold their Stammtisches and other events, and they usually have a good deal with certain drinks.

Le Cafe
Best place for brunch! On Paradeplatz. 

Murphy's Law
An Irish bar, for the football and rugby games. And for a Guinness. Serves good food too.

Heidelberg Christmas markets

TIPS

  • If you're travelling within Baden-Württemberg, check out the Länder tickets and Schönes Wochenende tickets on the Deutsche Bahn website as you can quite often save some money here, especially in groups. 
  • For students, keep up to date with VISUM and check out their events, they quite often do trips and it's a great place to meet fellow international and exchange students. 
  • Head to the Bad Dürkheim Wurstmarkt wine festival when it's on (September time). 
  • Explore as much as possible!

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