Mannheim is located at the confluence of the River Rhine and the River Neckar in the northwestern corner of Baden-Württemberg. The Rhine separates Mannheim from the city of Ludwigshafen, just to the west of it in Rhineland-Palatinate. The border of Baden-Württemberg with the Bundesland of Hesse is just north of Mannheim, and Mannheim is just downstream along the Neckar from the city of Heidelberg. Mannheim is the largest city of the Rhine Neckar Area, a metropolitan area with about 2.4 million inhabitants. The location of Mannheim alongside two rivers has made it a very industrial city over its history.
Although Mannheim has been known throughout history as an industrial city, it has many charms. The first is the infamous water tower. The second is the University of Mannheim, the "Harvard of Europe" for business. The University is located in an old Baroque palace. Other beautiful areas of Mannheim include Luisen Park and Herzogenried Park.
Again, Mannheim resides in southwestern Germany surronded by beautiful rolling hills. It is marked by the intersection of the Rhine and the Neckar rivers. It is a northern city within in the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. Notable surrounding cities include Ludwigshafen, Worms, and Heidelberg.
The weather in Mannheim is very similar to the weather in North Carolina. The cold months typically include November, December, January, and February with temperatures in the 30s and 40s degrees Fahrenheit and scattered light snow flurries. Temperatures typically start to warm up in mid-March, nearing the 60s by April. During the summer months, June, July, and August, the highs are nearing or in the 80s.
Temperatures in Mannheim are very moderate and humidity is low relative to North Carolina. Due to these moderate temperatures, most buildings only have heaters and no air conditioning units, particularly living accommodations. Its common to open windows for ventilation or use fans during the summer months to keep the inside air a comfortable temperature.
Getting around Mannheim, like nearly all of Germany is simple. The public transportation system is superb, and many cities are easy to navigate by traveling. Inter city traveling is cheap and convenient by train or by car. Renting cars in Germany is easy and is sometimes more economical depending on the distance being traveled and the amount people riding in the car.
The Mannheim city public transportation consists of buses and trams. On weekdays during business hours or heavy travel times, the trams run every 10 minutes while the buses run every 20 minutes. Using the public transportation system is very simple. Mannheim's transportation system is run by two agencies, one belonging to another. Rhine-Neckar-Verkehr GmbH (RNV) is the smaller transportation agency that mostly deals with Mannheim and directly surrounding cities such as Luwigshafen. The Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Neckar GmbH (VRN) is the larger transportation agency and it deals with a larger area as well as the Semester-Ticket.
Although the train system is not strictly Mannheim transportation, the Mannheim Hauptbanhof (HBF) is a centrally located main train station. For more information on German trains, see Train System on the Germany page.
The Semester-Ticket is a public transportation pass only available to students in the VRN district. This pass, 133 euros, can be bought at the beginning of the semester and lasts for 6 months. It gives the holder access to all public transportation with in the VRN district, a district that has a radius of about 2 hours around Mannheim. Not only can the holder travel on the trams and buses in Mannheim and all cities within the VRN district, but also, any regional trains (RE, RB, S-bahn) as well. This ticket is an easy way to see many beautiful and historic cities in the Mannheim area. The Semester-Ticket is printed on the Mannheim student id in the express office in A1,1. The map for where the Semester-Ticket can be used is : http://www.vrn.de/mam/vrn/tickets/dokumente/gro__er_wabenplan.pdf
Inner City Layout
The inner city or "down town" of Mannheim is laid out in a very straight forward manner. When designed, Mannheim city center was laid out in a grid. The palace represents the start of the grid while on major road, splitting the castle directly in half, splits the city in two. If one's back is to the palace and is looking down the major street, the buildings to left start the alphabet A-K going directly away from Mannheim Palace. As the buildings move more to the left, the number system starts. The number closest to the main street is 1 and moves to the left until 7. Therefore, the building closest to the palace on the left is A1. The same system is mirrored on the right side, but the letters go L-U with the number 1 also beginning closest to the main street. This system makes navigating through the inner city by foot very easy and efficient. Within the city center, there are no street names, although outside of this inner city grid, streets have names.
University of Mannheim
The University of Mannheim is amazing.
In Mannheim, the main grocery stores students use Aldi, Lidl, and Netto as these are typically the cheapest stores. Other stores include Marktkauf (at Marktplatz) and Kaufland (behind the dorm Am Steingarten). Grocery store experience in Germany is a bit different than that in the United States. First of all, the selections in the cheaper stores is very limited, but this allows for the food to be cheaper. Also, many dairy products sit out in the open air. This is fine and they are completely safe to eat or drink. In the case of milk, milk in German grocery stores is either refrigerated or out in the open. The chilled milk is similar to American milk and is fresher and has less preservatives than the unchilled milk. Both are safe to drink.
Another different experience for many American students is the act of inserting a 1 euro deposit to get a shopping cart. If you "plug" you shopping cart back into the others that are waiting to be used, you receive your 1 euro back. No baskets are provided for shopping. Most Germans either use a shopping cart or bring their own basket to use. Also, it costs 10 cents for every plastic bag used to bag the groceries. You must first grab bags at the check out line and put them on the conveyer belt with your other products to get a plastic bag. The more common practice by students is to bring a bookbag or a reusable bag to place groceries in.
Nearly all German grocery stores will not except major American credit and debit cards. This is true for most stores in Germany. Grocery stores though, will accept EC (European Credit—when you open a Deutsche Bank account, you receive an EC debit card) and euros.
Mannheim has many clothing chains. Most shopping is done down the main street between that separates the city center into two halves. Mannheim is one of the more popular cities for shopping in the surrounding area. There is no mall, all clothing vendors have shops.