After having studied abroad in Heidelberg for a year in college, it will always have a special place in my heart. As the Heidelbergers say “Ich hab’ mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren” (I have lost my heart in Heidelberg). I lost it and never got it back again. A piece of me will always be there.
Heidelberg is a place for lovers who want to stroll romantic alleys, tour the castle and find a park bench to smooch. It’s also a place for students to come to one of the best universities in Germany, as well as a place for tourists looking to visit somewhere in Germany with an authentic, original feeling. Heidelberg luckily escaped too much damage throughout the war, therefore everything is practically original and hasn’t changed much.
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Heidelberg is one of the places in Germany that will always have a special place in my heart that I will always return to over and over again. In my personal opinion, the best time to visit Heidelberg is in the fall but overall there is no such thing as a bad time of year to visit! Heidelberg is surrounded by two large hilly/mountains and are covered in trees that change colors and paint the town.
Walk down Hauptstraße
Heidelberg is mostly a small town along the Neckar River, with one Hauptstraße (Main Street) that you can walk from one end to the other and see a million different things. If you’re coming from the Train Station, I suggest getting off the bus/tram at Bismarkplatz and walk down Hauptstraße, which is about a mile long one way. Along the way you will find many cafés, restaurants, pubs and shops as well as several churches throughout the town. Towards the end of Hauptstraße, you’ll be greeted by a fantastic view of the Heidelberg Castle at Karlsplatz. The main street ends, just after where I lived when I studied abroad, near Karlstor.
Enjoy the view of Heidelberg from the castle
The Heidelberg Castle is one of my favorite castles in all of Europe. Not just because I lived there and the castle was in my backyard, but because it is a unique castle. This castle has the unlucky misfortune to have been struck by lightning, not just once, but TWICE! In 1537 and again in 1746. The second bolt destroyed almost everything that had been rebuilt from the fire of the first bolt! Therefore, this castle was abandoned and lays in ruins.
You can’t go to Heidelberg and not go up and check out the castle even though the castle is in ruins. You can take the Bergbahn up to the castle and have a look over the entire Altstadt of Heidelberg. You will have a fantastic view of the Alte Brücke (Old Bridge) and the Neckar river.
Once up at the castle, it is free to walk around the outer skirts of the castle, but you can also pay to walk around the inside of the castle which houses the Great Heidelberg Tun. This is a very very large wine barrel down in the cellars of the castle. There you can check it out and also try some of the castle wine. The barrel was built in 1751 and stands 7 meters high, 8.5 meters wide, holds 220,000 liters (58,124 gallons) of wine, and even has a dance floor built on top of it. Now that’s what I call a party!
There are a few other tidbits to check out inside the castle such as a small Apotheke museum (Pharmacy Museum). However, since it is a castle which lays in ruin, there isn’t much to see. But you do get to check out the front of the castle which offers more beautiful views of the Old Town. It’s a great time to walk around the castle grounds and enjoy the scenery.
Stroll along the Neckar
One of my favorite past times in Heidelberg is to stroll up and down along the Neckar river. The houses that line the river are uniquely beautiful. I have so many memories hanging out on the bridge and it’s so nice to reminiscence. I think one of the most beautiful times to be on the bridge is when its incredibly foggy!
Rub the monkey’s mirror for a future return to Heidelberg
Hans and I strolled along the river and headed towards the Old Bridge. On the left side of the bridge there is a monkey statue. Legend say that that if you touch the mirror, you will return to Heidelberg. If you touch the ring on the monkey’s hand, you will become rich. If you touch the mice to the right of the monkey, you will have many children.
Cross the Old Bridge for the best view in town!
To get the absolute best view of Heidelberg, you need to cross the Alte Brücke and walk to the left of the bridge. Along the way there is a walkway with several benches to stop and sit to enjoy the view.
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But for the record, Heidelberg by night is even more romantic than in the day time, so definitely come with a lover you don’t mind snogging up with in a cozy alcove along the river with a view of the bridge! That was always the one thing I wanted the most when I lived in Heidelberg, was to have someone to bring here, holding hands and strolling the streets in love.
Take a tour of the Student Jail
Studentenkarzer – Established in the 1600s to allow students to police other students, the karzers were simple rooms where young academics would be sent for minor offenses such as drunken conduct, insulting authorities or staging a duel. The accused would be forced to lodge in the jail for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, but was still allowed to attend classes until soon it became a rite of passage. The walls and even the ceilings are covered in graffiti left behind by students. The jail is no longer in use but for a small fee, you can check it out.
Climb the tower of the Holy Ghost Church
Heiliggeistkirche – Be sure to check out this church which is in front of the Altes Rathaus (Old City Hall) along the Hauptstraße. For 1 € you can climb the tower to the top which offers fantastic views of the Alte Brücke (Old Bridge) and the Neckar river.
Check out the Haus zum Ritter and the Jesuitenkirche
Haus zum Ritter – this beautiful building across from the Heiliggeistkirche was built in 1592 by a rich cloth merchant has been turned in a luxury hotel and restaurant. Even after living in Heidelberg, I still have not been inside to check it out. When I hear the word luxury, I generally stay away – I guess I have a Pretty Woman syndrome where I feel I wont belong.
Jesuitenkirche – Hidden just off a side alley from Hauptstraße is this beautiful pink stone church which was built in 1712 for the Jesuits. I love it for the simple pink stones that make it a unique church!
Admire the Heidelberg University Library
Taking into consideration that the Heidelberg University is one of the world’s oldest universities as it was third to be founded by the Holy Roman Empire, it comes as no surprise that the library is also impressively old. It can trace its beginnings back 1388 to a chest of documents by the first Rector Marsilius von Inghen. The documents were stored in the Heiliggeistkirche which at one time was once the University Cathedral. The facade of the library is impressively beautiful with tall spires. The inside is also rather beautiful which sometimes made it hard to study.
Eat Dinner at Schnitzelhaus
Don’t leave Heidelberg without eating here!!!!! I can not stress this enough!! Make sure that before you leave, you head down along the Neckar, towards the end of Hauptstraße (Main Street) and go eat at Schnitzelhaus. They have over 100 different types of schnitzel! I recommend the Jagerschnitzel or the #23! **It’s best if you call and make a reservation because it isn’t a very large restaurant. During the summer, they set out tables in front of the restaurant, but its right in front of the Tour buses’ drop off spot.
Address: Neckarmünzgasse 10, 69117 Heidelberg 06221 434643
Phone Number: 06221 434643
Buy some Studentenkuß chocolates!
Another must, is trying Heidelberg’s famous Studentenkuß chocolate! Café Knösel is located in the center of romantic Heidelberg and the story goes like this: Fridolin Knösel was a master confectioner who dedicated his life to making delicious chocolates. The young women who attended Heidelberg’s finishing school loved his chocolates so much and came to his café. These were proper times and men and women were not to flirt with each other openly. This caught the eye of Fridolin Knösel who decided to make a delicious chocolate that the students could each other to express their affections in an innocent gesture. These delicious candies are still made with the original recipe from 1863! They make the perfect gift for someone or to express your love for someone when you visit Heidelberg!
Hike Philosophenweg up to Thingstätte
One of my favorite views of all of Heidelberg, it to be on the other side of the Neckar river. It offers the best view of the entire city with the bridge and the castle. You can have an even better view if you hike up to Philosophenweg.
Since the weather was a big rainy, we didn’t hike up Philosophenweg. However, I have done so several times in the past and I thought I would include it here this time. If you hike even further up the mountain, you can reach Thingstätte which is an amphitheater that was built by the Nazis to hold gatherings. For some reason, they never destroyed it after the war. So every May 1st, on the public holiday, thousands of Heidelbergers hike up the mountain to party all night long and keep Neo-Nazis from gathering here.
Where to Stay
Having lived in Heidelberg for a year and often returning, I have stayed in my fair share of hotels. So, I’ll share with you the hotels we have stayed at or my family has stayed at!
⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Hotel zum Ritter St. Georg – This gilded houses is one of the finest buildings in the historic Old Town and offers exquisite comfort!
⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Heidelberg Marriott Hotel – A bit out of town, but easily reachable via strassenbahn, this is a wonderfully comfortable hotel with big, fluffy pillows and beds!
⭐⭐⭐ – Kulturbrauerei Heidelberg – A beautifully lush hotel with big rooms and comfy beds in the heart of the city center, near the Neckar River, not far from Schnitzelhaus!
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