Cobbled streets and quaint market squares were dotted with hordes of travelers exploring this gorgeous city showcasing Germany’s unique architectural styles.
A breathtaking castle surrounded by an ancient forest, and a quaint town nestled along a river valley – and lo, you have the recipe for the perfect romantic getaway. Heidelberg in Germany is known for its alluring cityscape among travelers, writers, poets, philosophers and of course, lovers for centuries.
So today, we want to take you on a journey of Heidelberg, Germany, a city that has captivated us ever since our visit there last month.
The first on the list of places to visit in Heidelberg of course is the Heidelberg Castle. This castle lies on a hillock in the city of Heidelberg which is situated on the banks of the river Neckar in Southwest Germany. From the castle, we could see the entire city that is also home to Germany’s oldest university.
Here we share our favorite things to do in Heidelberg Germany that are practically possible to do for those who are in the city for a day or two.
A Date with the Heidelberg Castle
The majestic sandstone fortress tells a fascinating tale of its intense past, extravagant rulers and the rise of Heidelberg romanticism.
A focal point in this multicultural city are the ruins of Heidelberg Castle. Perched on a hillock towards the east end of the city, the ruins of this castle showcase a combination of Gothic and Renaissance style of architecture.
The Heidelberg castle can be easily reached from the Old Town. You can use the funicular that starts at Kornmarkt to access the castle or simply climb 300 odd steps uphill. The sprawling terraced gardens of the castle invite lovebirds for a relaxing stroll. These garden are also called Hortus Palatinus. There are fountains, sculptures, intricate mazes and exquisite grottos within these palace gardens.
During its prime precious stones adorned the walls. These ruins are highly evocative of the centuries gone by. They provide the idyllic setting to whisper sweet nothings to your beloved.
Also Read: 7 Days in Germany Itinerary
The Friedrich Building in the Courtyard is a red sandstone structure which reflects the Baroque architectural style. The Ottheinrich Building with its typical Renaissance style displays an array of sculptures of biblical and mythological origin. The King’s hall was added much later in the early 20th century. Despite lying in ruins these magnificent buildings have much to tell and even more to inspire. Take a look at some of our favorite pictures taken at the Castle ‘s courtyard.
2. Heidelberg Tun
A famous attraction at the Heidelberg castle is the Heidelberg Tun – which is the world’s largest wine barrel. It was built in the year 1751 to store the wine that was paid as taxes by the vineyards. The wine barrel remains open from 8 AM – 5:30 PM everyday.
3. Apothecary Museum
Also known as the German Pharmacy Museum or Deutsches Apothekenmuseum, it might deceive you at first looks. This museum displays over 20,000 artifacts. It transports you back in time to study the evolution of potions, medicines and other remedies.
Ride on Historic Bahn to Königstuhl
At 568 meters high the Konigstuhl hill stands proud over the city of Heidelberg in Germany as a constant reminder to its rich bygone days. It is the highest point in the Heidelberg city forest.
Cutting through the dense forest vegetation is the Heidelberg funicular that transports you to the top of the hill. It is a two section funicular – the first one stops at the Castle and the second (historic bahn) takes you to Königstuhl. From this point, you can see the entire city with its church spires, neatly arranged rows of buildings, red roofs, the Old Bridge, the Neckar river valley and even the Rhine valley on a clear day. Here you can also find the Molkenkur restaurant, some walking trails and a park for kids.
The day we visited perhaps the weather got a bit too cold by the time we reached the top and the views were just about pretty. We would love to return during the summers for a better view from the Konigstuhl peak.
Here are some of our other recommendations on things to do in Heidelberg, Germany.
Explore the Old Town in Heidelberg
Take a walk through Alstadt and watch the time slow down. Alstadt or Old Town is situated at the foot of the Konigstuhl hill. It is home to many charming neo classic and gothic buildings and an ideal spot for avid Instagrammers. It has many popular restaurants like the Palmbrau Gasse and the Vetter’s Alt Heidelberger Brauhaus. Drop in if you are planning a cozy date night. The Hauptstrasse (Main street) in Old town is the perfect place to go window shopping or even to wander aimlessly.
We were lucky to be around Heidelberg during the Christmas time and even though some of the shops weren’t open yet the whole festive aura was beginning to take over the town.
Unwind at the Old Bridge
The Alte Brücke or Old Bridge connects the Old town with Neuenheim. It is an arch bridge. It is made of sandstone and has a sculpture of Prince Karl Theodor who built it. While you are monkeying around, do click a picture with the Heidelberg bridge monkey statue – one of the prominent attractions.
Check our Heidelberg Vlog to plan your trip
Romance the Neckar valley
Rekindle your romance on a river cruise along the lush and pristine Neckar valley. Absorb the wonderful sights, breathe in the sweet fragrance of the forest and follow the winding river under the gorgeous sun. The scintillating waters flowing calmly have been a source of inspiration for many poets and artists.
If you have more time at hands and have been wondering what to do in Heidelberg – go for the Philosopher’s Walk (Philosophenweg) without even blinking an eyelid. Grab your loved one and embark on a hike through wildflowers and beaten paths to enjoy the magnificent views of the Neckar.
Christmas Time in Heidelberg
Germany’s one of the most impressive cities – Heidelberg – is not just known for its gorgeous castle but also for its inviting Christmas Market. This time of the year radiates sheer magic and we were glad to be in the city during the Christmas time.
You can find over 140 booths of traditional stalls selling handmade goodies and regional products. The atmosphere is so enchanting that the historic centre square in the Old Town smells of mulled wine and roasted almonds. If you ever make it to the city during the Christmas time, make sure you check out the Christmas Market.
Shopping in Heidelberg
Oh! The shopping experience in Heidelberg. Since we live in Rothenburg which is not particularly great for the shopping scene, it was a respite to shop around at the Hauptstraße. We also found Bergheimer and Bismarckplatz as really nice areas to shop when in Heidelberg. You could easily spend half a day simply prancing around along these market squares and shopping. Lovers of Christmas goodies shouldn’t miss checking out the Käthe Wohlfahrt store that is the treasure trove for Christmas decoration items. Wouldn’t be disappointed at all!
Invest in a HeidelbergCARD
Use the HeidelbergCARD to get a good deal on the various tourist hotspots entrance fees. It will also give you the opportunity to travel within the city in a hassle-free way.Here are some of the benefits of the HeidelbergCard:
- Funicular railway trip to the Castle plus entry into the Castle
- Free use of buses, trams and a few specific trains within the city
- Heidelberg Guide and a Map
The one day pass costs 15 euros and even gives you discounts on several shops and restaurants. It is a great deal which is hard to miss. So, we strongly recommend you to get a one-day or two-day Heidelberg pass.
An overwhelming sense of fondness took over as our trip to Heidelberg drew to an end. The solitude of its nature trails and the wistful ambiance of its ruins are only to be experienced. The place that kindled the German Romanticism movement in the 18th century, today managed to inspire us too.
If you are looking for more advice on how to plan your trip around Germany, we suggest you to refer our Germany Travel Guide.
****We would like to thank Heidelberg Marketing for supporting our trip. They made it possible to see the best of Heidelberg at our own pace. Also, Eurail for providing us the Global Pass to see the best of Europe**