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Old Bridge, Heidelberg, Germany
Old Bridge, Heidelberg, © Can Stock Photo / sborisov

Heidelberg is a city of about 150,000 located on the Neckar River.  The area was first inhabited by the Celts around 400 BC, while Heidelberg was founded around 800 AD.  The city has become very popular with the increase in river cruising on the Rhine and the Danube.  It is about 20 minutes from Mannheim on the Rhine River and 1.5 hours from Miltenberg on the Main-Danube Canal.  The center of attraction is Heidelberg Castle and Heidelberg University is well known internationally.  The city is renowned for its large wine barrels.  Heidelberg was not significantly damaged in World War II and it became the headquarters for American forces in Europe during the war.


Heidelberg is a summer tourist destination.  Average temperatures peak in July and August at 80 F (26 C), while lows are about 60 F (16 C).  By December and January average highs are 44 F (6 C) and average lows are just above freezing.  Precipitation peaks in July and again in November.  August is likely the best month to visit Heidelberg for good weather.


Heidelberg is best accessed by train.  Mannheim is under a half hour to west and it provides high speed train service connections.  Alternately, the autobahn connects with Frankfurt an hour to the north and Karlsruhe 40 minutes to the south.  Rhine River cruises typically disembark passengers in Mannheim for an excursion by bus to Heidelberg.  The central station in Heidelberg is at the western edge of town and a tram is available for access to the downtown area.  Heidelberg Castle is accessible from town by funicular, charter tour bus or by walking.

Heidelberg Castle, Germany

Heidelberg Castle, © Can Stock Photo / AlexT

Attractions in Heidelberg:

Things to see and do:

  • Visit Heidelberg Castle (Heidelberger Schloss) - the most popular attraction in Heidelberg.  Walk up to the castle from the Old Town or take the Bergbahn (funicular) from the Kornmarkt up the hill.  The gardens are free, while the Castle has a small admission fee.  The Germany Pharmacy Museum is located here.  

  • Walk the Old Town (Altstadt) or take a guided tour.  Stops include Universitätsplatz at Heidelberg University, the Karzer Student Prison on Augustinergasse, the Jesuit Church (Jesuitenkiche), the Kornmarkt (corn market), the Markplatz, the Church of the Holy Spirit (Heiliggeistkirche), Untere Strasse, Mainstreet (Hauptstrasse), Knight St George's house (Haus zum Ritter, now a hotel), the Old Bridge (Alte Brücke) with the Brass Monkey Statue at the Bridge Gate (Brückentor) and St Peter's Church (Peterskirche, the oldest church in Heidelberg).

  • Ride the Bergbahn (funicular) - First stop is the Heidelberg Castle.  Second stop is the Hotel Molkenkur restaurant and guesthouse.  Third stop is the Konigsstuhl (King's throne) for a view of the city and the country side, plus the Falconry bird show, Märchen Paradies children's theme park, the Berghotel und Restaurant Königstuhl and the State Observatory.

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg, © Can Stock Photo / hiro1775

  • Philosopher's Walk (Philosophenweg) - walk across the Neckar River at either bridge and climb the steep embankment for great views of the city. 

  • Take a short river cruise on the Neckar River on Rhein-Neckar Fahrgastschifffahrt.

  • See the S-Printing Horse, which is the largest horse sculpture in the world.  It's located in front of the Print Media Academy.

  • Kurpfälzisches Museum - medieval history.

  • Visit at Christmas to see the transformation of all the market squares.

  • Walk 45 minutes through the forest to Heiligenberg to see Thingstätte (a Nazi amphitheatre) and an abandoned monastery.

The Bridge Gate on the Old Bridge, Heidelberg, Germany

The Bridge Gate on the Old Bridge

Savor the Tastes of Heidelberg:

  • Try a Heidelberg Student's Kiss.  They are made of chocolate praline nougat and wafers covered in chocolate and individually wrapped in a small picture of a couple kissing.  In the 1880s men and women were discouraged from meeting in public.  Fridolin Knösel came up with the idea of putting a secret compartment in the chocolate wrapper so that notes could be concealed and exchanged.  The idea caught on with university students, who began exchanging chocolate in the same manner that text messages are exchanged today.  Café Knösel still sells Heidelberg Student Kisses and so do a number of other retailers in the tourist district.

  • Try coffee at Café Knösel, Café Burkardt, Shiller's Cafe, Cafe Gekco or JJ Darboven.

JJ Darboven coffee break in Heidelberg, Germany

JJ Darboven coffee break

Heidelberg Tours:

Hotels in Heidelberg

View Heidelberg map

View Heidelberg Pics

Next Stop Down the Rhine - Rüdesheim

Next Stop Up the Rhine - Strasbourg