Heidelberg,  Germany

View of the city with the Alte Brücke (Old Bridge) over the River Neckar and Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spirit) in Heidelberg, Germany

View of the city with the Alte Brücke (Old Bridge) over the River Neckar and Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spirit) in Heidelberg. Photo by Hermann Luyken.

Visit Heidelberg

Heidelberg's Kornmarkt Square, Germany

Heidelberg’s Kornmarkt Square by Martin Kraft.

This town, in a valley that traps warm air, has a relaxed Mediterranean atmosphere and a balmy summer climate.
The Old Town’s haphazard, medieval cobbled streets, baroque architecture, cafés, fountains and monuments are a pedestrian delight, while its semi-ruined castle offers romantic vistas of rooftops and spires, and hosts open air concerts and plays in the summer.
All this, the mile-long shopping street and a vibrant student lifestyle makes the small town one of Europe’s most attractive spots.

Weather

Best: April-September
Worst: December-March (rain, rain, rain)

Things to Do

Heidelberg rooftop view, Germany

Heidelberg rooftop view by Hermann Luyken.

***A dramatic 13thC red stone castle which was destroyed three times over 146 years contains the world’s biggest wine vat and a bizarre apothecary museum.

**The quirky Old Bridge that was the original town gate.

**Germany’s oldest university: the Karl Ruprecht University is the country’s answer to Cambridge.

Germany is known for its liberal attitude towards education – everybody has a right to study or simply sit in on lectures.

*Walking up the winding Philosopher’s Path provides views of the Old Town and Castle, and on to Saints Mountain for an amphitheatre – allegedly used by Hitler – and the ruins of St. Michael’s Basilica.

Short Trips Out of Town

• Buses, trains and trams go to Handschuhsheim, northwest of Heidelberg, with its 13thC sunken castle.

• Ziegelhausen and the Neuburg Benedictine Monastery.

• Schwetzingen is known for its castle and lovely gardens. Nearby there’s the former imperial cathedral city of Speyer.

• For hiking trips the hilly Odenwald region is ideal.

• Take a boat trips on the Neckar River.

Festivals

Heidelberg at night, Germany

Heidelberg at night by Godoi.

Feb/March, Fasching is Germany’s answer to Mardi Gras, marking the beginning of Lent, with local festivities and parades.
June & Sept, Castle Illuminations and fireworks mark the opening and closing respectively of summer festival events.
June, Heidelberg chamber music festival.
July-August, plays, opera and classical concerts in the castle halls and grounds.
December, Christmas Market.
New Years Eve, classical concert in the town hall (Stadthalle).

For some precise dates or more information see: European Festivals or Arts Festivals.

Arts/Culture/Nightlife

Classical concerts: The Castle’s summer festival, and Stadthalle on the River bank.
Live rock/pop: Regular gigs at the Town Hall Cultural centre Karlstorbahnhof for concerts, theatre, cinema, parties and more.
Live jazz and blues: Billy Blues and Cave ’54 (Germany´s oldest student jazz club).
Nightclubs: Schwimmbad Music Club and Musikfabrik Nachtschicht.
Untere Strasse in the Altstadt for great bistros, coffeehouses, bars and pubs.

Shopping

Hauptstrasse is a mile-long shopping street packed with department stores, and plenty of choice.
Walk along Untere Strasse and other narrow side streets for bookshops and trendy fashion boutiques.

Food

You’ll be surprised by what Germany has to offer in the way of sustenance apart from sausages!
This southwestern part of the country is home to delicious Spätzle noodles (great with melted cheese and onions) and Maultaschen (stuffed pasta pockets).
Join in the German tea time tradition of Kaffee und Kuchen – the cakes and pastries are magnificent.
German beer is still brewed according to a 1516 law stating that it’s made only with hops, water, malt and yeast. Visit the Vetter brewery and pub for Heidelberg’s own homemade beer – Vetter 33 is reputed to be the world’s highest gravity beer at 33 Plato (original gravity).