Heidelberg – A German Gem
Heidelberg, a popular destination in Germany, gets 12 million visitors each year. Consult our list of top things to do in Heidelberg for inspiration!
Heidelberg is one of Germany’s famous baroque cities. Surrounded by lush forest and bisected by the Neckar river, Heidelberg is a rich piece of German history that was settled as early as 300AD! It’s no surprise that nearly 12 million people visit this place every year. Having a castle overlooking the city, a remnant of the old town, and outdoor hikes surrounding the area, Heidelberg is a city with something for everyone.
Things to do in Heidelberg
Since there’s so much to do and see in Heidelberg, it can be difficult to find what to spend time seeing. To help, the following list was made to fit in the best Heidelberg has to offer!
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Overlooking Heidelberg is the famed Schloss Heidelberg, a 1200-year-old castle with an interesting history. Barely 100 years after its construction, the castle was struck by lightning and the upper castle was destroyed. Things seemed to roll downhill as time went on as the castle changed hands multiple times. Different kings would take control of the castle and was seized during the 30 Years War and seized again in the Nine Years War.
So much history can be seen in the walls of the castle and offer a fantastic view of Heidelberg. There’s quite a lot to see on the grounds of the castle, so I recommend at least having an hour or two to look around.
Aldstat (Old Town)
The oldest part of Heidelberg and one of the most architecturally scenic, the Aldstat is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. Filled with modern and old baroque buildings, the Old Town has numerous landmarks to learn about and shops. Depending on your plan for the day, I would schedule the Aldstat for when you plan to grab a bite to eat. Some of the city’s best restaurants are in the area and there’s nothing like authentic German food!
Karl Theodore Bridge
A well-known landmark of Heidelberg, the Old Bridge crosses the Neckar river and connects Old Town with the Neuenheim district. The bridge is the most recent (at 250 year sold) add-on to the bridges that crossed the river before it. There were seven bridges prior to the Theodore Bridge, the first being constructed by the Romans out of wood.
While the bridge offers a great view over the river, it also has a very interesting monkey statue at the entrance and markings along one pillar of the bridge. The markings on the bridge show the heights and year of flood waters over the years, showing some of the history the bridge has gone through.
This one is for the outdoor enthusiasts that may be looking for a hike to do in Heidelberg. Heiligenberg is a small hill that overlooks the city on the other side of the Neckar, giving an amazing view. The hike is also more than a simple trail that leads to the peak and nothing like the more complicated hikes in Germany. Along the way, you’ll pass through Philosophers Way, a common path for scholars and philosophers who lived in Heidelberg to walk.
Eventually, you’ll reach the peak and have quite a few things to see. In addition to the amazing view, Thingstatte (an older amphitheater) sits at the peak with the St. Michael Monastery Ruins. I would plan to spend some time at the peak and bring some snacks to take a break from the hike!
Konigstuhl – King’s Seat
If you’d prefer another hike in Heidelberg, you’ll have to check out Konigstuhl! There are options to hike to the top and I recommend them, but if you’d prefer there is a train. The funicular railway starts in Aldstat and ends at Konigstuhl, allowing anyone to see the peak, even if they don’t want to hike. While I do recommend the hike, the railway is also a fun trip up the hill and will save on time if you have a busy day touring.
A city’s architecture is one of my favorite aspects of travel, and the local churches tend to be phenomenal examples of great architecture. The Jesuitenkirche is the Jesuit Church in Old Town that is over 300 years old and a great example of Heidelberg’s artistic side. The outside is not the most appealing, what shines is the interior of the church. After entering, you’re greeted by beautiful white walls and gold trim that seems unreal. It won’t take all day to tour the church, so I recommend adding it to your morning Old Town tour as it’s relatively quick to see.
A lot of the places to see in Heidelberg have been about walking around and exploring. This destination is made for relaxation and enjoying the scenery! The Neckarwiese is a peaceful park along the Neckar river that is accessible 24/7. If you were looking for a calming place to have lunch during your trip, this is the best place. Pack a picnic basket and prepare some drinks, this is the place to be to enjoy Heidelbergs lush greenery!
There is plenty of history to learn about in Heidelberg and places to experience it. However, the Kurpfalzisches Museum takes a lot of Heidelberg’s history and packs it all into one place. The museum is made specifically for Heidelberg history, it’s archaeological artifacts, and art! It isn’t a large museum, so it’ll make for a quick visit and it’s well worth it.
Church of the Holy Spirit
Another spectacle for the architectural enthusiasts and anyone looking for an awesome view, the Church of the Holy Spirit in Heidelberg will be a delight! This church is much larger than the Jesuit Church mentioned earlier and has an impressive interior. While it’s not the most elaborate church I’ve seen, the view from the tower is picturesque.
Where to Stay in Heidelberg
Betsy and her daughter stayed at the magnificent Hotel Zum Ritter during their visit to Heidelberg. Located in the middle of the Altstadt, the hotel is a beautiful Renaissance building dating from 1592, within steps of many of Heidelberg’s popular landmarks. Highly recommended.
Best Tours of Heidelberg
- City of Romance 2 Hour Tour of Heidelberg – an immersion tailored to your interests, which includes all the notable landmarks of the city
- Heidelberg Castle Tour: Residence of the Electors – a 90 minute tour with guide to acquaint you with the 13th century castle and its subsequent style periods
- Segway Tour of Philosopher’s Walk – featuring the best views of the castle and city from the river’s edge
- Heidelberg: Private 3 Hour Tour with Castle Visit – a comprehensive small group experience with insider tips
- 1.5 Hour Walking Tour of Old Town Heidelberg – behind the scenes in hidden alleys and squares with knowledgeable guide, includes a visit to the Church of the Holy Spirit
While I had heard numerous good things about Heidelberg, I was pleasantly surprised how true they were. This city has a lot to offer and it holds every aspect I loved about Germany. There are amazing outdoor activities, historical landmarks full of history, and some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. I guarantee it has something for everyone and you’ll enjoy the trip!
Meet Our Guest Author:
Casey LaClair is a 27-year-old travel enthusiast. With a career in Satellite Communications and pursuing a degree in Computer Science, most of his time is spent hunkered over a keyboard. This love of technology, mixed with a desire to travel, led him to create Viraflare to spread his joy of travel and help others find their way on the road.