Top 10 Things To Do in Heidelberg!
Even though you will only be spending two nights in Heidelberg, there’s still plenty of time to check out some of the great things the city has to offer! Here are a few of the top things to see:
What to see:
1. Schloss Heidelberg (Heidelberg Castle): Located on the famed “German Castle Road,” if you’re looking for idyllic ruins of European castles this is it! For €5 explore the 700 year-old ruins and soak in the same incredible views of Heidelberg. It is said that after visiting the castle, a boat trip on the nearby Neckar River inspired Mark Twain to write a chapter of Huckleberry Finn.
2. The Altstadt (Old Town): Tour the Old Town portion of Heidelberg on your own or with a friend and see all of its old world charm. Start at Bismarckplatz and walk down the pedestrian Hauptstrasse (high street) to browse the shops and have a coffee or strudel. The best part about exploring the Old Town is that it’s free!
3. Alte Brücke (Old Bridge): Built in 1788 to connect the Altstadt to the right bank of the Neckar River, the original stone bridge offered Heidelberg access to the outside world. Retreating German troops blew up the bridge in 1945 at the end of WWII as the American troops approached the city. The current bridge provides gorgeous views of Heidelberg Castle and the Neckar River valley.
4. Heidelberg Bridge Monkey: Since the 17th century, there have been writings about a monkey “guarding” the bridge into Heidelberg. Standing on the Alte Brücke you can see the current bronze monkey sculpture that has guarded the city since 1979. Legend has it that if you touch the mirror the monkey’s holding, it will bring you wealth. If you would like to return to Heidelberg one day, then be sure to touch the monkey’s fingers!
5. Philosophenweg (Philosopher’s Walk): Take a stroll along this 300 year-old walkway used by Heidelberg’s philosophers, poets and university professors. It leads up to Heiligenberg (Saint’s Mountain) where you can see the ruins of the 11th century Monastery of St. Michael and a Nazi-era amphitheater. Further up the mountain are the remains of a 4th century BC Celtic fort. If you have the time, this is worth the climb!
6. Karzer Student Prison Museum: Located in the Altstadt, this “prison” for university students was operational until 1914. Students dueling (with swords!), playing pranks and drinking excessively were put in the Karzer to do the time for their “crimes”. Students were allowed to attend classes but then had to return to the Karzer immediately after. Their cells are decorated with paintings, verses and artwork.
7. Heidelberg University: Founded in 1386, Heidelberg University is one of Europe’s oldest institutions and the oldest university in Germany. The campus is situated in the middle of Heidelberg and is known for its breath-taking library. If you want to feel like you’ve stepped into Hogwarts while also getting a dose of history, this is it!
8. Untere Strasse: To get a taste of the similarities and differences between German and American university life, head to Untere Strasse. This narrow cobblestone street runs parallel to the river and the main pedestrian street. Some of the city’s best coffee shops and restaurants are on this street. This is perfect for taking some time to people watch and soaking in the city!
9. German-American Institute: Tour the German-American Institute to learn about the work it does to promote German-American relations and to teach people about American culture. The institute also has the only public English language library in the region. Check-out the seminars, films, festivals, etc. that the institute has to offer.
10. Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spirit): Even if touring churches is not your thing, you should not pass this up! Finished in 1441, the church changed hands several times between Catholics and Protestants. After the Reformation, a wall was built down the middle of the church so each side could use it. The wall came down in 1936 when the church became fully Protestant.