A romantic city in Germany you must visit is Heidelberg. This stunning city is packed with history and loads of great things to do to keep you busy for a weekend or a day trip from Frankfurt.
Filled with incredible sights like the famous Heidelberg Castle to venture through the past, exploring the Old Town, and taking the cable car to the top of the King’s Throne, you will quickly discover why so many tourists and locals enjoy this city.
Heidelberg has a long history (like many other German cities), founded around the early 13th century. Baroque architecture and phenomenal ruins of the Renaissance can be found unscathed from the horrors of the WWII bombing.
These ruins inspired generations of romantic writers and poets at the start of the 19th century. As a result, Heidelberg was named a “City of Literature” by UNESCO for its contributions to the arts. Here you will find the Heidelberg Library, founded in 1421, still standing today and is the oldest in Germany.
Germany’s oldest university is the University of Heidelberg, founded in 1386, which has played a significant role in shaping the history of Europe into what it is today.
Perched above Old Town, high above the Neckar River, is the Heidelberg Palace, most known as the Heidelberg Castle or Schloss Heidelberg. Made of red sandstone, first built in the early 1200s, it is an absolute must-see! Over centuries, the Castle grew, which is an example of architectural styles throughout the grounds. The most expansive period is in the 15th and 16th centuries. Unfortunately, over the next 300 years, the Castle suffered a severe fire caused by thunderstorms.
Today, the grounds are divided into many parts, from the Gardens and Visitor Center to the interior attractions.
As you arrive at the Castle, you will enter the beautiful Gardens at the back and access the front terrace with a spectacular view of the city below. Through the gate is a booth to purchase your ticket. I highly recommend joining a guided tour.
- Hours: 9:00 – 17:00
- Admission: 9.00lb ; Guided Tours: 15lb (includes entrance to Palace)
German Apothecary Museum
Inside the Heidelberg Palace is the German Apothecary Museum, with fascinating insights into the history of pharmaceutics. Walk through the exhibition in the basement of the Ottheinrich Building to learn about the healing powers of nature and how they were used in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age.
A visit to the German Apothecary Museum is included when you purchase your ticket to the Heidelberg Palace. You can learn more about visiting the Museum here.
See the world’s largest wine barrel, built in 1751, while visiting the Heidelberg Castle in the basement. The barrel can hold approximately 59,000 gallons, although it has never been used to store wine.
Bergbahn (Cable Car) to the King’s Throne
An experience you must consider when visiting Heidelberg is to ride the cable car from the Castle to the top of the mountain for a fantastic view of the landscape below. You can purchase a ticket at the bottom that will take you to the Castle and then to the top of the mountain. From the bottom to the Castle, it will take you about 20 minutes. From the Castle to the top of the hill, it crawls slowly but gives you plenty of time to admire the scenery.
At the top of the mountain is a small café and Museum. You will also find numerous walking trails and an outdoor park for kids.
One of the prettiest and most romantic old towns to wander about in Heidelberg. Head down Hauptstraße (the main pedestrian street), where you will find German-style architecture with quaint shops scattered along the way. This street splits the Old Town from Bismarckplatz all the way to the Castle at the end.
If you end up at Marktplatz, check out the Rathaus and Heiliggeistkirche. The circumference of the square is lined with decorative buildings.
Also in Old Town is another small square called Kornmarkt. Finally, you can see the prestigious Heidelberg Castle standing tall above you.
Make sure to wander through the cobblestone side street such as Steingass, which will take you to the Old Bridge. These alleys will offer some great cafes and shops to purchase souvenirs.
Heidelberg Bridge Monkey is an interesting bronze statue and is a popular photo spot for visitors! Legend has it that rubbing the ‘mirror’ in the monkey’s paw will bring financial prosperity, while rubbing the monkey’s fingers will ensure that you visit this beautiful city.
Another landmark to check out near the Old Bridge is the Brückentor, the old city gate. This Middle Age structure gives the romantic feel of the city!
Jesuit Church (Jesuitenkirche)
The Jesuit Church is near the university, in the heart of Heidelberg’s old town. The church was constructed over two phases – the foundation was laid in 1711 and completed in 1759. The church became a Catholic parish when the Jesuit order was abolished in 1773.
The interior of the church was renovated between 2011-2004. A new Kuhn organ was inaugurated in 2014 with the baroque-style choir organ. The overall color scheme is white.
House of Knights (Haus Zum Ritter)
Stop in Old Town to see the magnificent Hotel Ritter building and one of the city’s oldest houses, built in 1592 for the fabric merchants Franziska and Carolus Belier. It is the only house to have survived the Heidelberg fire in 1693 during the Nine Years’ War. It served as a guest house for over 30 years and was converted not long ago into a hotel.
Church of Holy Spirit (Heiliggeistkirche)
Near Marktplatz is the iconic red stone Protestant church called Church of Holy Spirit, built in the 13th century. During the 15th century, it gained its more Gothic design. This building was the burial place of the Palatinate’s Prince-Electors for centuries. Today you will only find the tomb of Rubert, King of Germany, from the 15th century. You can climb the spiral staircase up the tower for an additional fee (2 EURO per person0. The view gives a panoramic view of the city.
The Studentenkarzer (Student Prison)
The Student Prison was used between 1778 through 1914 as a way to lock up misbehaved students that were attending the university. While students spend their time behind bars, writing or drawing on the walls became a passed time that can still be seen today.
In English, this Museum is called ‘Palatinate Museum,’ dedicated to learning about the city’s history and region. Located in the heart of the old town you can explore cultural treasures of the past. Throughout the year, various art exhibitions are hosted.
- Hours: Tuesday – Sunday; closed on Monday from 10:00 – 18:00
- Admission: 3 EURO, Enjoy an audio guide for an additional fee
The Providence Church (Providenzkirche)
As your stroll down Haptstrasse, you will pass by the Providence Evangelical Church. The church was built in 1659-1661 by a small Lutheran community. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in the great city fire in 1693 but later rebuilt after 1700.
The Ethnological Museum VPST
The Museum has a collection of works of art and ethnographic objects from regions of Asia, Africa, and Oceania. The Museum’s boat collection can be seen in the arcades on Neckarmunzplatz. The Museum sits in the home of Palais Weimer, one of the oldest city residences in Heidelberg, built-in 1710.
Stroll the Neckar River
A visit wouldn’t be complete without a walk next to the Neckar River that snakes through the region before ending in Heidelberg. However, if you want more of a picturesque view, take a boat cruise docked along the banks in Old Town near the Old Bridge.
Along the banks are beautiful green spaces such as Neckarwiese (meaning Neckar Meadow) is a great place to walk and enjoy a lovely day outdoors.
Philosophers’ Walk (Philosopherweg)
Cross the river from Old Town and walk the paths of great scholars. If you want to experience the route a little differently, you can do Segway tours! Finally, make sure to make your way to Philosophengärtchen, offering a supreme terrace garden where the best views of the Old Town and the Upper Rhine Plain can be seen.
Escape the tourists in Heidelberg Old Town by crossing the bridge Neuenheim. Here you will find the pace of life moves much slower, and they have some of the most beautiful traditional style German houses to be seen. Also, visit the numerous shops, cafes, and outdoor markets (Saturday market!).
Hike the Heiligenberg
If you want to get in some cardio, hike 440 meters up Heiligenberg hill, which towers high above the city and the river. Here you will see an amphitheater and monastery Ruins! The Heidelberg Amphitheatre was initially built by the Third Reich for performances.
The Monastery of St. Michael is believed to have been built in 1023. Wander through these ruins and admire the architecture. The Celtic defensive wall dating back to the 4th century BC is the oldest of all.
If you plan to ride the cable car, visit the Heidelberg Castle, or utilize guided tours purchasing a Heidelberg Car can save you time and money. Here is more information about the cost and use of the card.
PLACE TO EAT
You will find plenty of options when it comes to dining in Heidelberg. We were only here for a day trip, so my list is short, but all were excellent!
- Zum Roten Ochsen offers a lively pub atmosphere with a cozy interior. The restaurant building dates back to 1703.
- Mahmoud’s Bergheim is a favorite, offering the Syrian version of Middle Eastern food. An excellent place for those that are vegetarian.
- Gino’s is a good place if you want to grab something quick to eat, such as a taco or pizza.
- Gundel bakery is a well-known pastry shop with over thirty kinds of bread and rolls.