Top 3 Things to Do in Heidelberg, Germany
Top 3 Things to Do in Heidelberg
There are many things to do in Heidelberg, a quaint city in western Germany near the Neckar River which dates back to the 12th century. In the 12th century, Konrad of Hohenstaufen became Count Palatine of the Rhine and took possession of the oldest castle and settlement from the Bishop of Worms, establishing the Palatinate line. Heidelberg was devastated during the Thirty Years’ War in the mid-17th century and later by the French in the later part of the century.
Martin Luther was received in Heidelberg not long after he posted his 95 Theses; he defended those theses in Heidelberg. The Holy Alliance between the King of Prussia, Emperor of Austria and Tsar of Russia was formed here in 1815. Heidelberg has a fascinating history as does most of Germany. It was lucky to escape bombing during World War Two and is therefore quite well-preserved.
I visited Germany back in 2008: it was my first SOLO trip and I had such a great time. I toured around Germany (Berlin top travel tips) for over three weeks (including Eagle’s Nest, Germany) and simply fell in love with the country (Oktoberfest tips). Heidelberg is a great city to visit and I enjoyed two lovely days in this lovely city.
Heidelberg Castle is really the top on the list of things to do in Heidelberg. It was constructed in the 13th century and is in the gothic and renaissance style; partially destroyed during the Thirty Years’ War and the Palatine War of Succession in the 17th century plus a lightning strike in the mid-18th century. Eventually all attempts to restore the castle were abandoned. The castle was later used as a quarry and stones were removed to build other houses in Heidelberg. Attempts at preservation occurred in the 19th century.
The wine cellar in the Heidelberg Castle holds the largest barrel in the world (over 55,000 gallons of wine).
It is a STEEP hike to Heidelberg Castle as it sits atop a hill. You can take bus line 33 to the top or Bergbahn (funicaular rail) instead or go for a hike.
Palace interior may only be seen on a guided tour. The time differs per season so check their website for more info. The castle/gardens are open 8:00 am to 6:00 pm daily. Palace entry is not expensive: 6 euros for adults plus an additional 4 euros for a guided tour. You can also check out the Deutsches Apotheken Museum (German pharmacy museum) which is located inside the Castle.
The Alte Brücke is a stone bridge was built in the 18th century after the original was destroyed by fire (it was made of wood which dated back to the Middle Ages). The medieval gate still exists. You can view the Castle from the bridge and enter the Old Town through the gate. The market square is a wonderful place for souvenirs or shopping as well.
University of Heidelberg and Old Town (Altstadt)
The university is the oldest in Germany; founded by Rupert I and chartered by Pope Urban VI in 1386. It is known as a university city with over 28,000 students in a city with a population of round 150,000. Old Town is a great area for shopping, visiting the university or museums (the student prison in particularly interesting), and not far from the Castle.
Tips for Visiting Heidelberg
- Two nights in Heidelberg is plenty of time to see the city
- Consider visiting in the fall. I visited in October and enjoyed the cooler weather, fewer tourists, and beautiful fall colours
- Heidelberg is a very walkable city; wear some good shoes and you can walk for hours or hop on the trams/buses
- The Heidelberg Card will save you money – it covers the Castle, 12 museums, public transportation, walking tour, and a city guide. Price starts at 10 euros and can be bought at main train station or transport machines around the city
- Give yourself at least three hours or half a day for the Heidelberg Castle – you will need that much time (maybe more) to tour the inside, the gardens, the pharmacy museum, and the grounds. If you are walking to and from the Castle, add another hour to that
- Take a stroll down the river banks particularly during the summer months; great place for a picnic
- Stay in a hotel near the Old Town. I stayed way too far away and it would have been nice to walk around the Old Town in the evening after a day of sightseeing