The 8 Best Things to Do in Heidelberg

Germany, Heidelberg, Heidelberg Castle and Neckar River
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Heidelberg, nestled in the hills along the Neckar River, is one of the one of the most picturesque destinations in Germany. It was spared by allied bombers in the Second World War and retains many of the city's historic treasures that put it at the center of 18th century romanticism.

From the Heidelberg Castle to the university to scenic walks in the vineyards and along the Neckar River, here are the best things to see and do in Heidelberg.

01 of 08

Walk up to Heidelberg Castle

View of Heidelberg Castle over the old town

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson 

Schlosshof 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
Phone +49 6221 658880

The ruins of Heidelberger Castle sit atop a rocky hilltop over the city's Altstadt (Old Town). Heidelberg's Schloss is one of the most impressive castles in Europe and a highlight along the German Castle Road.

An estimated 1 million visitors make their way up to the castle each year. Walk the grounds and sculpted gardens for free while enjoying views over the city and river, before paying for a guided tour of the remaining rooms.

02 of 08

Explore Heidelberg's Old Town

The main square in old town Heidelberg

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Grabengasse 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
Phone +49 6221 540

At the foot of the Schloss, explore Heidelberg’s Altstadt (Old Town) for architectural gems.

Visit the Rathaus (Town Hall), the University, 1592 Renaissance House Knight St. George, and unique market squares. Start on Hauptstraße, Heidelberg’s main pedestrian street loaded with shopping, and find historic Bismarckplatz. At the Marktplatz, look for the Hercules fountain. In medieval times this is where petty criminals were chained to be humiliated.

03 of 08

Get thoughtful on Heidelberg's Philosopher's Walk

An empty path through nature on Philospher's Walk

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Philosophenweg, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany

Follow the footsteps of Heidelberg’s many philosophers and poets on the 300-year old Philosophenweg (Philosopher's Walk). It is a scenic, but quite steep, walk up to the top of a hill.

Thanks to Heidelberg’s mild climate, exotic plants like Japanese cherries, cypresses, bamboo, gingko and lemon trees blossom along the way. Luminaries such as Hegel, Jaspers and Hannah Arendt came up here to contemplate. Visitors enjoy the breathtaking views from the other side of the river valley from Heidelberg Castle.

04 of 08

Be Blessed by a Monkey on the Old Bridge

Old bridge

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Karlstraße, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg's Alte Brücke (Old Bridge) is an impressive stone bridge built in the 18th century, but it actually dates back to the Middle Ages. The original structure was made of wood and destroyed by fire. Stroll the bridge for more fabulous views of Heidelberg as well as its neighboring twin-towered Brückentor.

The bridge, which spans the Neckar River and leads to the Old Town, has several towers (complete with dungeons) and various monuments and sculptures. One of the most recognized is the Heidelberg monkey. He holds up a mirror that is rumored to bring wealth if you touch it. The monkey also brings other gifts like a return to Heidelberg if you touch its fingers and children if you touch the mice.

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

Party with the Students

People sitting outside at cafes on a cobblestone alley of Untere Strasse

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Untere Str., 69117 Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg is home to Germany's oldest university, which today has more than 30,000 students. If you want to get a taste (and maybe a drink) of Heidelberg’s vibrant university live, head to Untere Strasse.

The narrow cobble stone street, which runs parallel to the river and the main pedestrian street in the Old Town, is filled with great bars, coffee shops, and inexpensive eateries.

06 of 08

Spend some time in Student Prison

Empty table at the Karzer Student Prison

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Augustinergasse 2, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
Phone +49 6221 5412815

Dueling, excessive drinking, playing pranks were all punishable offenses for Heidelberg students until 1914. The guilty were made to spend time in the Karzer (student prison), only allowed out to attend class. To spend the time, they decorated the cells with paintings, graffiti, verses and artwork.

The prison is now open to the public and located on Augustinergasse, right behind the Old University in the Old Town.

07 of 08

Soak up the Scene on Heidelberg's River Banks

Boats docked and people laying out along the river bank

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Uferstraße 17, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
Phone +49 6221 5810580

Take a break on the Neckarwiese, the banks of the Neckar River close to the Old Town. Besides unobstructed views of the Heidelberg Castle, the grassy stretch along the river offers plenty of space to relax, sunbathe, and take in the tranquility of the river valley and the forests beyond. If you want to be more active, you can also rent a rowboat.

08 of 08

Take the King's Seat

The cable car up to the top of the King's Seat

 TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Königstuhl, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany

Head 7 km east of Heidelberg to Königstuhl (King's Seat), a high hill rising above the valley for magnificent views. The summit is part of the Odenwald Mountains and is accessible via the Heidelberg Mountain Railway. This is the same funicular visitors can use to get to Heidelberg Castle.

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The 8 Best Things to Do in Heidelberg