I recently visited Heidelberg, Germany and was pleasantly surprised at the architecture, beautiful greenery and wealth of unusual museums waiting to be discovered. Here are ten awesome reasons to get your fix of culture at this true hidden gem of Germany, a perfect destination for a short stay and only an hour’s trip from Frankfurt International Airport:
1) Alte Brücke / Old Bridge of Heidelberg
The Alte Brücke, or the Old Bridge dating back to approximately 1786, is a well-known symbol of Heidelberg and is also called the Karl-Theodor Bridge. The bridge, situated over the Neckar River, is one of five bridges in the city and the oldest of them all too. Two white and earth-coloured towers mark the gateway from the bridge into the old town. This area was for me by far the most spectacular viewing point – a perfect mix of old city and natural surroundings.
2) Heidelberg Castle
The Heidelberg Castle is a completely unexpected architectural wonder. The very first building was constructed in 1214 during the time of the counts of Palatine and the Roman Empire. A second castle was built later on and during the 19th century it was the epitome of the romantic period, complete with lush gardens and landscaped terraces. The contrast of architecture from the two different castles is no doubt immediately evident and very alluring.
3) The Walking Routes Around Heidelberg Castle
Not only was I pleasantly surprised at the Heidelberg Castle itself, but there are also some fabulous walking routes in the area and around the castle grounds. You can even cross over to the other side of the Neckar River and visit Philosopher’s Way. From Philosopher’s Way up hill, you’ll have an incredible view overlooking the castle on the opposite river bank.
4) The World’s Largest Wine Vat & Other Wine Wonders Around The City
The largest wine vat in the world can be found at the Heidelberg Castle (in a basement area converted into a wine tasting area and cafe). However, you will need to purchase the castle ticket to visit the vat. There are also other wine-related discoveries to be made across the city.
5) Quaint Cottages and Narrow, Winding Alleyways
While walking around Heidelberg you’ll discover some lovely winding streets especially in the Old City. You’ll also find some really special cottages with a unique German architectural design – really lovely amidst the very green scenery.
6) Sculptures Around Heidelberg
A number of interesting sculptures are visible around the city, some dating back a few hundred years, others by contemporary artists. Keep your eyes open for glimpses of art on corners and in back roads.
7) Lovely Gates & Arches
Heidelberg has some fascinating, awe-inspiring gates and arches, both in the old city and elsewhere.
8) Museums A-Plenty
There are a number of rather unusual museums situated in the city. However, if you are travelling for a short period of time or a weekend, I’d recommend the German Pharmacy Museum located in Heidelberg Castle (you get you kill two birds with one stone!). The museum comprises fascinating display cabinets and exhibits about the practice of pharmacy over the decades. Expect to see some rather usual remedies as well as displays of popular medicines and their original packaging from years ago.
9) Delicious German Food and Sweets
I first tasted Schneebälle in Heidelberg and boy was this delicious! Schneebälle are these amazing shortcrust pastries in different flavours such as chocolate or marzipan and they are coated with white icing sugar resembling a snowball!
10) Fabulous Shops
After your fix of culture, why not hit the shops? Heidelberg has a really super shopping street with loads of different brands. Be sure to visit during an off-peak time such as October to take advantage of the sales.
Have you been to Heidelberg, Germany before? If so, what was your favorite part? Tell me in the comments section below. My best part was definitely the Heidelberg Castle and I hope to be back soon to further explore the rest of the city’s museums.