Why go to Heidelberg? Chances are you'll thrill at the chance to stay in a a lively university town with a castle that overlooks the city and offers romantic views along the Neckar river. It's a small city with good food, and an inexpensive city when you eat with the students. The population of Heidelberg is around 135,000 people, and a whopping 28000 of them are students.
What is there to see in Heidelberg? The list tends to be long, as a simple visit to the Heidelberg castle brings you not only to a fantastic view, but also to intersting attractions inside, like the Apothecary Museum or the Heidelberg Tun, the "world's Largest Wine Barrel" put together by by Prince Elector Karl Theodor to house the wine paid as taxes by the wine growers of the Palatine. a Tyrolean dwarf nick-named Perkeo guarded it. It's large enough to have a dance floor on top of it and could hold 220,000 liters of wine.
Mark Twain stayed a while in Heidelberg, recording his journey in A Tramp Abroad. His claims of the tun are quite different from the official history.
Everybody has heard of the great Heidelberg Tun, and most people have seen it, no doubt. It is a wine-cask as big as a cottage, and some traditions say it holds eighteen hundred thousand bottles, and other traditions say it holds eighteen hundred million barrels. I think it likely that one of these statements is a mistake, and the other is a lie. However, the mere matter of capacity is a thing of no sort of consequence, since the cask is empty, and indeed has always been empty, history says. An empty cask the size of a cathedral could excite but little emotion in me. I do not see any wisdom in building a monster cask to hoard up emptiness in, when you can get a better quality, outside, any day, free of expense.- A Tramp Abroad
The Old Bridge (Carl Theodor Bridge) - Prince Elector Karl Theodor built Heidelberg's first stone bridge, erected between 1786 and 1788. The bridge leads to a well-preserved medieval gate on the town side.
Heidelberg University - The cornerstone for Heidelberg's "Old University" was set on June 24th, 1712. The area around abounds in interesting cafes and shops. There is a university museum and very interesting Student's Prison, where students were imprisoned for minor and fashionable transgressions like drinking at night and disturbing the peace. There is a free Botanical Garden in the University of Heidelberg; entrance is free. Closed Saturdays.
Heidelberg Palace (Schloss) - Heidelberg's castle ruins have been famous for centuries as romantic ruins, so they've not been fully restored. Yet this is one of the most evocative castles you might visit in Europe. Inside, as we've seen, is a wonderful Pharmacy museum, as well as the world's largest wine barrel. There is a wine bar inside the palace, and a small cafe outside where you can get a drink or eat a light meal (or what passes for one in Germany, anyway). Romantic types can actually Get Married in the Castle. You can walk to the castle or take the funicular railway up.
Shopping in der Hauptstrasse - Heidelberg features the longest pedestrian zone in Europe.
Being a University town, Heidelberg has many museums to visit, but the most unique might be the Bonsai Museum, which features over 100 of those tiny trees, one of them being an 800 year old Californian juniper.
One of the great things to remember when you're planning a trip is that in a university town like Heidelberg, English is likely to be heard everywhere, and if, like me, you're defficient in the German language, you don't have to worry. Mark Twain didn't.
I went often to look at the collection of curiosities in Heidelberg Castle, and one day I surprised the keeper of it with my German. I spoke entirely in that language. He was greatly interested; and after I had talked a while he said my German was very rare, possibly a 'unique'; and wanted to add it to his museum. - Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad
Three types of Heidelberg cards are available: 1 day, 2 days, 4 days, and a family pass option. The card gives you free transportation on city buses, trams and authorized trains, and free entrance to sthe castle. Read the benefits carefully to see if the Heidelberg Card is worth it to you.
The closest international airport is Frankfurt Airport, 80km away from Heidelberg and reachable in one hour. The airport buses leave Terminal 1 "THE SQUAIRE WEST" – near to the Long-distance train station ( Exit REWE).
Ryan Air, WizzAir and Air Serbia use the smaller Airport Frankfurt Hahn, 1.5 hours from Heidelberg.
Heidelberg's central train station (Hauptbohnhof) is located at Willy-Brandt-Platz 5. You can get buses and taxis from the front of the station. The station is a bit of a walk from the old town, about 25 minutes. In front of the station is a stop for buses and trams--take any one indicating "Bismarckplatz" to get you to the main street in Heidelberg's old town.
You'll find the Tourist Information in a kiosk in front of the train station.
You may find a Germany Rail Map useful when planning a train vacation in Germany
There are many hotels and apartments in Heidelberg. See a list of user-rated Heidelberg Places to Stay.
Below is a map of the castle road showing the best German destinations with a castle that can be done in a short itinerary. Heidelburg, on the east end of the trail, makes a great anchor to see some of Germany's great castled cities.
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