What to do in Heidelberg, Germany

The beautiful city of Heidelberg, Germany in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg is a postcard from Germany. If you have already googled  must- see destinations in Germany, the picturesque Old Bridge overlooking the castle has surely already appeared in your searches.

If you are looking for a fairytale town in Germany, Heidelberg should be among your choices – the narrow picturesque cobblestone streets in the Old Town, the old bridge overlooking the world-famous Heidelberg castle which you probably have already seen, make it one of the most loved cities in Germany.

Heidelberg University, the oldest university in Germany, is one of the most prestigious in Europe and the entire world, especially for the disciplines of Law and Medicine. Because of that, it is a very lively and multicultural student town.

Beyond its University, you will find major international laboratories, such as the European Molecular Biology LaboratoryEMBL, multinationals headquarters in close-by locations (such as SAP, BASF) and Max Planck Institut. Thus, it hosts a very large community of students, researchers and many other professionals from all over the planet.

Did you also know the town of Heidelberg had been for nearly 70 years after the second world war, the US army’s headquarters in Europe and a Nato command centre?

In this guide, I will tell you about everything you need to know about Heidelberg based on my experience having lived almost 6 years in this beautiful town.

Where is the city of Heidelberg in Germany?

One of the aspects which have always fascinated me in Heidelberg was its central location and multiculturalism: it is located 80 km from Frankfurt am Main, 1 hour from Stuttgart and Strasbourg and very well connected in terms of transport within Germany and the bordering countries (Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Denmark).

How to get to Heidelberg from Frankfurt am Main airport?

The closest airports are either Frankfurt am Main or Stuttgart.

The majority of international flights will most probably arrive at Frankfurt am Main airport, which is a 45-minute drive to Heidelberg.

Directly at the airport, you have a train station. You will have to switch trains once in Frankfurt or in Mannheim to reach Heidelberg. You can book directly the tickets at the German railway website.

There are also shuttle services operating between Heidelberg and Frankfurt am Main airport. I recommend TLS

Another option is a bus service operated by the airline LufthansaLufthansa Express Bus

What is the best time to visit Heidelberg?

Heidelberg is beautiful no matter which season you pick. However, Christmas with its enchanting Christmas market, Spring when the flowers are blossoming and Autumn with its beautiful strong colours and many festivals have a special charm.
During the Summer months, from June until September you have to watch the Castle Illumination Show at night.

What to visit in Heidelberg?

It is a ruin and the ex-libris of Heidelberg. The castle has only been partially rebuilt since its demolition in the 17th and 18th centuries.

You can go up the castle either on foot or by funicular. It has one of the most beautiful panoramas over the Old Town of Heidelberg.

From Heidelberg Castle you get the best view from the Old Town

Panorama from Heidelberg Castle

  • Strolling around the Old Town

The picturesque cobblestone streets in the historic center of Heidelberg are very photogenic and full of unique details – be the architecture or the flowers on the balconies.

Some of my favorite streets in the Old Town of Heidelberg include: Steingasse, Haspelgasse, Neckarstanden, Plöck, Kramergasse and Mönchgasse.

  • Haspelgasse view in the Oldtown of Heidelberg, Germany
  • View of Kramergasse in Heidelberg, Germany
  • View of Steingasse in Heidelberg, Germany the street which leads to the Old Bridge
  • Monchgasse view in Heidelberg Germany

  • Old Bridge

A classical example of a stone bridge building, dividing the Old Town and another city quarter – Neuenheim over the Neckar river and overlooking the castle. On the old town side, at its entrance there is the medieval Bridge Gate, which was part of the former city wall.

The best picture is taken at its end, already the side of Neuenheim.

Heidelberg Old Bridge

A classical example of a stone bridge building, dividing the Old Town and another city quarter, Neuheim over the Neckar river and overlooking the castle. On the old town side, at its entrance, there is the medieval Bridge Gate, which was part of the former city wall.

Bridge Gate at the entrance of the Old Bridge in Heidelberg, Germany

Bridge Gate Old Bridge, Heidelberg

  • Philosophenweg

A 2 km trail with the best Heidelberg panorama. Heidelberg’s university professors and philosophers found this path a beautiful place to relax and have meaningful conversations while enjoying the charming view of the Neckar river. Hence the name.

Philosophenweg is the best view from Heidelberg, Germany

View from Philosophenweg, Heidelberg, Germany

  • Heidelberg Thingstätte

An open-air theatre on the Heiligenberg (the large hill overlooking Heidelberg).  It was built during the Third Reich for performances and events as part of the Thingspiel movement.

  • Heidelberg Haupstrasse

The Haupstrasse is the main commercial street in the Old Town, where the majority of shops are located.

Walk the entire Hauptstrasse until Kornmarkt, from where you already see the indications for the Castle.

Kornmarkt is the end of Haupstrasse street in Heidelberg, Germany

Kornmarkt, Heidelberg Old Town, Germany

What should you buy in Heidelberg?

  •  Heidelberg Studentenkuß

    Praline made of nougat and filled with dark chocolate. The original ones are from Café Knosel

  • Christmas decoration at Käthe Wohlfahrt

    The headquarters are located in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, but so far my favourite shop in the whole world, especially if you are a Christmas fan. I guarantee you will visit a truly “Christmas village”, go back to your childhood and enjoy pure Christmas magic. Finesse, creativity and tradition are  words which best describe this shop. And if you found the Christmas tree/decoration of your dreams, but cannot take everything in the suitcase, do not worry because they ship overseas 🙂

Restaurant recommendations in Heidelberg

Restaurant: Zum Seppl

This is the oldest restaurant in Heidelberg, in the heart of the old town. Once you enter it, you travel in time, as the tables are completely scratched from the times when students used to gather here, whose photos you can see on the walls. On Fridays and the weekends there is live music and popular German songs are sung.  The menu is quite diversified, seasonal and loyal to German Southwestern cuisine with a fancy touch: from pork meat with dumplings, suckling pig, Sptätzle to more Mediterranean options. Service is good and very friendly. Reservations are highly recommended.

Restaurant: Backmulde

Backmulde is a very fancy restaurant with  German-fusion cuisine listed on the Michelin Guide.

If you are looking for an exquisite meal with impeccable service and beautifully seasoned dishes, this is definitely your best option.

Café recommendation in Heidelberg

Café Casa del Café

Coffee experiences can be traumatic in Central Europe (from a Southern Europe perspective), but the very Italian Casa del Café will provide you a truly memorable coffee experience. Hot chocolate with coffee should not be missed and a simple Espresso will take you back home.

They do also have brunch options and freshly made cakes.

Best places to visit close to Heidelberg

If you are looking for a short daytrip from Heidelberg, I fully recommend the following:

Set only 15 minutes away by car, Schwetzingen hosts one of the most beautiful Castle Gardens in the south of Germany.

Entrance Fee: €8

Heidelberg Card

The Heidelberg Card is a great value for money option if you want to visit many sights and museums of Heidelberg.

Depending on the lenght of your stay, this Card is available from 2-4 days. You get free access to a lot of sights, museums, as well as public transportation and even a funicular ride to the Castle.

I definitely recommend buying a Heidelberg Card for your visit.

I truly hope you enjoy your visit to Heidelberg!

Let me know in the comments.

Hope these tips help you and let me know what you liked most.

Travel Resources in Germany

  • Finding accommodation in Heidelberg, Germany: booking.com is the best option to find your accommodation in Germany.
  •  Renting a car in Germany: Some of the best places Germany has to offer are only accessible by car. Uber only operates in Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich. I recommend renting a car at Sixt.
  • Finding flights to Germany: I recommend checking for connections at Skyscanner but to always book directly at the airlines. The German airline Lufthansa is one of the best in the world with excellent connections around the world.
  • Need help planning your trip to Germany: I offer you personalized travel planning consultancy. Just contact me so that we can discuss and prepare a tailormade plan for your trip.