Amongst Americans, Heidelberg is probably one of the most well known cities in this region due to its beautiful architecture and famous university. Heidelberg Castle is, of course, difficult to miss and boasts the most incredible views over the town and the river Neckar. The castle was partially ruined by several fires, but it remains beautiful and I highly recommend visiting here for sunset. The castle grounds are huge and it’s worth blocking out some time to explore the area. A funicular ride is available to get up Königstuhl hill on which the castle sits.
The Germany Pharmacy Museum is also available for a visit within this castle- it’s been fully preserved from the 17th century and offers a window into the past of medicine.
In the cellars of this castle sits the world’s largest wine barrel. Built in the 1700s, it holds over 220,000 liters of wine- though the capacity has been shrinking as the wood dries out. Though the barrel is empty, the cellars offer wine tastings to complete your castle tour.
Having been determined to make it to the castle for sunset, I actually had to leave my Heidelberg walking tour early, so I didn’t get to see quite as much of the Old Town as I wanted, but the Old Bridge is hard to miss! The sandstone bridge was originally constructed in the 18th century. Unfortunately, as with many landmarks in the country, the bridge was destroyed in the war and it’s modern reconstruction was completed in the late 40s. Make sure to say hi to the reconstructed bridge monkey sitting next to the bridge! Touch its hand to return to the city, the mirror for wealth, or the mice for many children. It’s a full service statue.
Old Town also famously has its Student Prison where rowdy and misbehaving students were held as punishment. Don’t worry- the students were released to go to their classes!
Heidelberg University has been around since 1386 and is Germany’s oldest university and is to this day a hub of scientific discovery. 33 Nobel Prize Winners have been associated with this University and nearly a thousand doctorates are completed each year.
Philospher’s Walk is a lovely walk along the north side of the Neckar River with views of the river and Old Town, historically frequented by students and professors in search of some privacy and pretty views. These days, it serves much the same purpose but with added informational plaques along the route.
For delicious traditional German food at a (relatively) great price, check out Weinstube Schnitzelbank. I was introduced to Maultaschen here and I genuinely think about it to this day, though I do hear that their Schnitzel is also incredible. There are only five tables, so if you don’t have a reservation, make sure to come early or get lucky but either way prepare to share your table with other guests at the restaurant.
This city seemed like a great college town with plenty of bars, cafes, and restaurants, along with enough entertainment to engage tourists from all walks of life. My only regret is that I didn’t spend more time exploring!