Heidelberg is one of Western Germany’s classic pedestrian only towns. The town was made famous by Heidelberg University and Heidelberg Castle. Today, Heidelberg is a great place to visit if you enjoy learning about history, strolling through cobble-stoned streets, and finding fun (and lively) restaurants. Our favorite way to explore Heidelberg, Germany is on a day trip from Speyer, Germany (a direct train line away).
The Heidelberg train station is located only a couple of miles away from the historic center of town. We preferred to walk in order to explore Heidelberg. However, the city’s light-rail system is really easy to use if you would prefer to connect from the train station to the center of town.
Here are a few of our favorite parts of Heidelberg in photos to inspire your day trip!
The Altstadt of Heidelberg, Germany
In order to maximize our day in Heidelberg, we took an early train from Speyer. We actually got there before many of the stores opened, allowing us to enjoy a peaceful walk through town! We loved wandering the streets before locals and other day trippers arrived, in order to enjoy the quiet morning in the historic part of town (called the “Altstadt” meaning Old City in German).
Shopping in Heidelberg’s Historic Center
Unlike many historic German towns, Heidelberg is a shopping hub! You will find large chain stores such as H&M and C&A, as well as small souvenir stores and clothing shops. As with much of Europe, these stores are closed on Sundays and major national holidays, but throughout the rest of the week, the shopping streets of town are always buzzing with activity.
Church of the Holy Spirit in Heidelberg
Heidelberg’s church is located in the center of the pedestrian streets. This church acts as a hub of the historic town, with many streets leading there, which is common in European towns. The church also offers traditional market vendors (now souvenir shops), which line the church’s outer walls. Plus, the square is filled with restaurants, so both tourists and locals to enjoy watching the activity.
A Visit to Heidelberg Castle
The Heidelberg Castle is located high above the rest of town. Heidelberg Castle is effectively ruins at this point, only adding to its allure! You can either take a funicular up to the castle from the center of Heidelberg or trek the steep incline to the castle yourself. Either way, the view is worth the climb! Plus, the castle offers plenty to explore, including several buildings and courtyards.
For those who are interested in royal competition, be sure to check out the wine barrels located inside the castle. It may seem silly now, but at one point in time, European royalty believed they could prove their worth by producing larger wine barrels than their counterparts, and the winning barrel is located in Heidelberg (it is so big that a dance floor was built on top!).
View from Heidelberg Castle
We may have already mentioned Heidelberg Castle has amazing views, but here is a photo to prove it! From the castle, you can see most of Heidelberg and the surrounding countryside as well as the Neckar river. Plus, many of the Castle’s structures provide great backdrops for dramatic photos.
Heidelberg Castle from Town
Even if you do not climb to visit the Castle yourself, you will definitely notice Heidelberg Castle during your day! From pretty much anywhere in the historic center of town, you can look uphill and see the imposing Castle. We especially loved how Heidelberg’s Altstadt architecture accented our views of the castle (as it does in this photo).
Neckar River runs through Heidelberg, Germany
The Altstadt of Heidelberg, Germany is located along the Neckar River, and today the river serves as a fun pedestrian walkway. Enjoy crossing the river’s bridges, or walk along the river to enjoy the view of the Castle and historic buildings from the edge of town. Alternatively, you can cross the river and head towards the more modern part of Heidelberg.
Located on the other side of the Neckar River from Old Heidelberg is the Philosopher’s Walk. This hillside walk boasts dramatic views of Heidelberg, and allows you to walk in the footsteps of German poets and philosophers who once utilized this path as a place to think.
While the walk is available to enjoy throughout the day, we suggest tackling it in the morning to minimize the heat! To find out more information about the Philosopher’s Walk, check out the Trip Advisor link here (the Q&A section of the Trip Advisor page offers directions).
The Perfect End to our Day Trip: Gasthof zum Roten Ochsen
This adorable German restaurant is located just beyond the Cathedral in the center of old town Heidelberg, Germany. One of our professors suggested this restaurant to us while I was studying abroad, and we loved it. The place is authentic, and the menu offers a ton of great options for German cuisine. Make sure to have a beer with your food to complete the German experience!