Heidelberg is no doubt one of the prettiest cities in Germany. It is located approximately 90 km south of Frankfurt am main city. This city is unique in many terms, for example, it is the only city in Germany that was not bombed by the air raids during World War II (WWII) mainly because its neighboring city, Mannheim who was an industry hub, was mainly the focus of the allies to do air raids. That’s why also it is considered as the most beautiful city in Germany as was not a victim of WWII destructions. The University of Heidelberg is the oldest university in Germany which established in 1386. The first bicycle was invented at this university by a graduate student, Karl Drais. Also, the earliest evidence of human evolution was found here through the discovery of a jaw-bone that was discovered in a gravel pit and guess what! this little town is home to the world’s biggest wine barrel. Although I confirmed it many times that it is a wine barrel and not a beer barrel, you know it is Germany, not France or California.
Heidelberg is not a big town. It has approximately 160,000 inhabitants. You would not need to use any local public transport there to move from one place to another. Everything is within 30 minutes of reach. If you don’t speak German, there is no problem, the majority of the people speak English there mainly because it is a very touristic city where people visit from all around the world and secondly, it is quite an international student-friendly city. Still, it will be great to learn a couple of German phrases like Danke Schon (Thank you), Tschus (Good Bye), etc.
So, here is a very easy and optimized one-day itinerary of what to see and where to eat in Heidelberg.
Table of Contents
1. Heidelberg Castle
There is no place in the city that can top the stunning Heidelberg castle. It is an astonishing ruin from the Franco-Prussian war and now called Schloss Heidelberg in German. It takes 20 minutes by walking from the old town (Alstadt) to reach to the top of the castle. It is a little steep climb and a very good way to burn your calories. After reaching the top, you will probably feel your hamstrings but believe me it is worth after you peek outside those artistic windows of the castle. It is quite a journey as well to see all those mesmerizing views of the city alongside climbing up at the castle. To go to the terrace site of the castle where you would have a view as one in the picture above, you would have to pay 4 euros if you are a student or other commissioned equivalent and 8 euros otherwise.
2. The Great Tun – Wine Barrel
Just come down the castle terrace and go to the cellar to see the biggest wine barrel in the world. Unfortunately, you would not be able to have a glass of wine from the biggest barrel as they say that wine inside is rotten out and can not be consumed anymore. There is also a very interesting story of a dwarf guy named Perkeo, who used to guard this barrel and used to drink 5-8 gallons (18-30 liters) of wine every day. One day he drank water instead of wine and died at the spot tragically. What a life! I could think of becoming a dwarf in my next life, maybe Tyrion Lannister.
3. Old Town (Alstadt)
The old town, Alstadt in German is well surrounded by colorful houses and they all stacked up next to each other up to the eternity result in a very contrasting image to the eyes as a whole and while you are walking through it, you would be impressed of this city has the longest pedestrian free street in Europe. While you will be walking down here, you would pass through many beautiful narrow streets full of shopping options, great cafes and almost all cuisines of restaurants. This long street is also quite famous for nightlife.
4. Old Bridge
As the name suggests, this bridge connects old and new parts of Heidelberg. If you have been to Prague before then definitely you would recall about the Charles Bridge while walking on Heidelberg old bridge or another way around, it will remind you of Heidelberg when you will go to Prague Charles Bridge. The large white towers in the picture above were built as a checkpoint to enter the town. From here, you would have an inescapable view of the castle.
5. Philosopher’s Walk
After the old bridge, just go straight away from the white twin towers and you would see a narrow pathway going up and obviously you would see a lot of people going in that direction too. That is the shortest and that is why the steeper way to go up at the top for a serene surrounding and another breathtaking view of the city and the castle. It is called the philosopher’s way because, in earlier times, it was used as a pathway of seclusion and peacefulness.
Where to eat in Heidelberg
1. Cafe Extrablatt
Cafe Extrablatt is the best place for breakfast and to start your day in Heidelberg. Up here, you can have a breakfast buffet at merely 10 euros. Although, coffee is not included in that and that you have to buy separately. Orange juice and lemonade are included in beverages. It is great deal I think! Also, because you would be doing multiple climbs over the day and for that reason, a good heavy breakfast is highly recommended and when you are getting that at such a reasonable price, it couldn’t get better.
2. Raja Rani Restaurant (Indian)
Raja Rani Indian restaurant is very reasonably priced and delicious Indian restaurant that is located quite close to the point where you finish climbing down the castle. I can recall, we ordered a lot of food that includes Samosas and mango lassi as a starter and then a portion of Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Biryani, 2 Garlic Naan, a bowl of rice and two beers and finally two rasgullas in dessert, this whole sum up to a cost of around 36 euros that means 18 euros per head which is pretty decent as per Indian cuisine standards. This could be a good choice for lunch after exploring through the castle and sipping a glass of wine at the wine barrel.
3. Vetter (a local brewery)
Vetter is a local brewery in Heidelberg where they serve their special homemade beers from the tap. We were there on Saturday and had to wait for 15 minutes to search for a vacant place. This place is usually crowded because of the fact that it is located right next to the old bridge where a huge fraction of tourists stroll around and also it is quite a special place as the only local brewery in town so it is advisable to reserve your place in advance before arriving.
Where to stay in Heidelberg
If you are coming to Heidelberg for more than one days then I would recommend staying with proximity to the city center or Hauptstrasse. For a budget-friendly, Steffi’s hostel Heidelberg and B&B Hotel are the great options. For a little towards the luxury side and better located, you can choose between Hotel Heidelberg and Hote Europaischer which are fours start and five start hotels respectively.