With romantic castle ruins, cobbled riverside walkways, and a gorgeous setting between two leafy mountains, it’s no wonder that people often “lose their hearts” in Heidelberg, Germany. In fact, there’s even a famous German song that attests to Heidelberg’s many charms.
I called this fairy tale city home for ten years, so I’m often asked for advice about things to do in Heidelberg. In response, I created this guide for first-timers who want to explore this graceful city on the Neckar River.
I’ve covered everything from historic tidbits and tasty eateries to shopping spots and places to soak up the best views.
All recommendations are within walking distance of Heidelberg’s Old Town (Altstadt). The Hauptstrasse (Main Street) is the Old Town’s epicenter.
Harness some history
Heidelberg is home to one of Germany’s oldest universities, best-known castles and most well-preserved old towns. The city also has ties to interesting personalities such as the writer Mark Twain, General Eisenhower, and the poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Some even say that Twain overcame writer’s block during his three-month stay in Heidelberg and that the Neckar River Valley reminded him of Huckleberry Finn’s fictional landscape. Twain’s European adventures are chronicled in his book, A Tramp Abroad, and his essay, The Awful German Language is also a hilarious read for anyone who’s tried (or failed) to learn the intricacies of German grammar.
Toast to Perkeo
You’ll see images of Perkeo, Heidelberg’s infamous court jester, emblazoned all over the city. It’s said that someone of royal blood took a liking to the little guy (he was known as Pankert then) and imported him into the Heidelberg Castle to be the official entertainer. Once there, Pankert guzzled his way to local stardom. It’s believed that the diminutive dude drank five to eight gallons of wine a day! Today, he’s best-known as Perkeo, a play on the Italian phrase perché no (why not).
If you find yourself inspired to follow in Perkeo’s footsteps, head to Brauhaus Vetter, on the street perpendicular to the Old Bridge (Steingasse 9). Vetter’s is a lively brewery where Vetter 33 — one of the world’s strongest beers — is ever a flowin’. The restaurant also serves some German goodies, which are the perfect match for beer: bratwurst, pretzels, as well as hearty pork and chicken dishes.
Relax along the riverside
Neuenheim is one of the best places to take in Heidelberg’s superb views. From the Old Town, cross the cobbled lane of the Old Bridge (Alte Brücke) on foot, then take a left and head down the stairs to the Neckar River. You’ll easily find a spot to relax on the lawn overlooking the riverside. Bring a picnic lunch, a good read, or your camera, unless you wish to just bask in the sunshine, as most of the locals do.
Devour the details
Heidelberg’s architecture is overwhelmingly baroque with lots of fun details. If you’re a photography enthusiast, don’t miss the dragon on the Dubliner Pub (Hauptstrasse 93), the Renaissance figures on Heidelberg’s famous Hotel zum Ritter (Hauptstrasse 178) or the University Library‘s Art Nouveau elements (Plöck 107).
There are countless other architectural flourishes that co-exist with modern flair. You’ll find them so long as you’re looking to the skyward sections of the buildings.
Mimic the monarchs
Famous for its partial-ruin status, the Heidelberg Castle is the city’s most famous landmark. You can reach the castle (Schloss) by funicular rail at Parkhaus 12 (P12), or you can hoof it yourself. A sign near the base of the stairs near P12 gives two self-climb options. The Fussweg zum Schloss has 314 steps, whereas the Kurzer Buckel is a scenic, inclined ramp. If you pursue the latter option in the early morning, before the ticket office opens, you can enter the castle courtyard for free.
If you want to see the world’s largest wine vat, as well as a sleepy Apotheken Museum (pharmacy museum), purchase an entry ticket at the Kasse (cashier). If you’d rather take in the splendor independently and forgo an entry fee, bring along a bottle of wine and some treats and lounge on the grassy grounds near the Vater Rhein water fountain. There are also numerous stone benches nearby; in fact, Shawn proposed to me on one of most handsome ones. We were also married in the Heidelberg Castle Chapel on a frosty, but magical winter evening.
Though it’s not apparent now, Heidelberg’s grounds once contained elaborate gardens known as the Hortus Palatinus. Started in the early 1600s, the gardens were designed in the Italian Renaissance style, and at the time, were known as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World.’ During the Thirty Years’ War, the gardens were largely destroyed. To journey back in time, see this 17th-century book of Hortus Palatinus engravings, courtesy of the Heidelberg University Library.
One of the best views of the castle and the Old Town’s terracotta rooftops can be had from the Scheffelterrasse, which is located here.
In past centuries, Heidelberg professors and philosophers strolled the Philosophers’ Walk (Philosophenweg), a scenic one-mile lane, that overlooks the castle, Old Town and Neckar River.
The most atmospheric way to access the walk is by ascending a steep, cobbled path that criss-crosses the Heiligenberg hill. Cross over the Neckar River via the Old Bridge (Alte Brücke) then cross the street at the traffic light. Look for the ivy-covered lane where you’ll begin your climb.
There are several rest stops mid-way through the walk that offer great views of the city. Wear comfortable shoes and bring water as the hike to the Philosophenweg can be tiring. Consider going just before sunset, as the view of the twinkling Old Town below is a sight to see. If you return the way you came, be sure to have a flashlight, as the path could otherwise be dangerous at night. Also consider going as far west as you can on the Philosopher’s Walk. There you’ll reach a paved road to Neuenheim, with easy Old Town access too.
Usher in spring
During the pre-World War II war era, this amphitheater (known locally as the Thingstätte) was built by the Nazis so that citizens could gather to hear propaganda presentations and watch theatrical productions. Forty structures like this one were built in Germany in the 1930s.
The Thingstätte is located at the top of the Heiligenberg (Holy Mountain) on the north side of the Neckar River. You can access the Thingstätte by foot, though be advised that the hike takes you farther above the Philosophers’ Walk.
Today, the Thingstätte serves as a venue for concerts and other gatherings. Every year, on the eve of May 1st, thousands of locals gather here to participate in the Walpurgis celebration, which heralds spring’s arrival. Revelers carry flame-lit torches and light bonfires, casting an eerie glow on the hillside.
Engage in monkey business
All day long, tourists put themselves into contorted positions so they can pose under the mask of the Old Bridge Monkey (Brückenaffe).
If you want to ensure your return to Heidelberg, touch the primate’s fingers. If you’re seeking wealth, touch his mirror. If you’re hoping to up your fertility levels, touch the brass mice near the monkey. If you want a silly photo opportunity (yes, I’m guilty of having done this), ride side- saddle on the primate’s back. A bridge monkey has been here since the 15th century. Incredible — since I’ve seen him endure such abuse over the years! This fellow only dates back to the late 1970s though.
Mingle on the Neckar
The Karl Theodor Bridge, or Old Bridge (Alte Brücke) to which it’s most often referred, is one of Heidelberg’s most famous landmarks, and also one of its newest. In past centuries it was made of wood, and had to be rebuilt several times. The bridge was finally constructed in stone in the late 1700’s, but it wasn’t destined to last. In the last days of World War II, German soldiers used explosives to destroy the bridge. It was rebuilt in 1946, thanks to the donations of Heidelberg city residents. Today, it’s a swell spot to pose with the castle overhead.
Claim a kebab
Heidelberg is an elegant city that can cause sticker-shock due to its inflated restaurant prices. One savior for the budget-conscious traveler: the Döner kebab.
When we lived in Heidelberg, Shawn and I had a Friday night tradition: sample a kebab (flat-bread wrap stuffed with grilled meat, vegetables and yogurt sauce) from a different Altstadt establishment every week. We quickly racked up our list of favorite chicken wraps, all with prices hovering around €5-6. Which take-out restaurants made our cut?
Sahara (Hauptstrasse 167), Mahmoud’s —previously known as Falafel restaurant (Heugasse 3), Yufka’s (Hauptstrasse 182) and Gino’s (Hauptstrasse 113). Mahmoud’s, which is a few seconds away from the Hauptstrasse (near the Jesuit Church) even throws in a glass of free tea. Whichever place you choose, be sure to snag a few napkins, as these flavor-packed wraps can be messy.
Some say that too much choice is a bad thing. When it comes to schnitzel, I have to disagree. Head to the Schnitzel Haus Alte Münz to decide for yourself. The menu at this cozy restaurant boasts more than 100 variations of schnitzel, a tender, boneless cut of meat (usually pork, but you can also substitute chicken). There’s the traditional Deutsche Art (dressed in gravy and mashed potatoes), the Los Amigos (spicy and oozing cheddar cheese and jalapeños) and the Mole Negro (think drizzled chocolate sauce). Most entrées are also accompanied by a traditional German salad, and either french fries or Spätzle (egg noodles smothered in cheese or fried onions). Portions are generous.
The restaurant is located at Neckarmünzgasse 10, less than a 5-minute walk from the castle end of the Hauptstrasse. It’s situated on a parallel road that faces the river. When you enter, be sure to greet the bust of a stuffed wild boar decked out in old-fashioned glasses.
Get a bird’s eye view
For a small fee, you can ascend the tower of the Holy Ghost Church (Heiliggeistkirche) for some amazing views of the Neckar River valley, red-roofed Old Town and graceful castle. I’ve taken some of my favorite Heidelberg pictures from this perch and it’s fun to get a different perspective of the city from this more unique spot.
Hit the trails
More than 135 years ago, Heidelberg’s Forest Society members planted saplings from around the world in an arboretum on the Königstuhl, the hill on the south side of the Neckar River. It takes about 45 minutes to hike to Arboretum One from the Altstadt. On your way there, you’ll reach the Gaisbergturm, a spiral tower built in 1876. The tower drew its inspiration from the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria. Ascend its 85 stairs for a beautiful view of Heidelberg.
If you keep climbing up the trails, you’ll eventually reach the gallery of trees, the most prominent of which are the redwoods. A totem pole and Native American-style benches embellish the natural beauty of the area. Be wary of ticks since they are rampant in German forests. Should you end up off the main trails, don’t be worried, because there are large boulders, as well as tree trunk markers to explicitly guide even the most navigationally-challenged hiker. Also, pack snacks and water.
Frequent the cafés on Heidelberg’s two most popular squares (Marktplatz and Theaterplatz) or on a more quiet side street. While you sip a tantalizing latte macchiato and feast upon Apfelstrudel pastry, you’ll see street musicians doing their thing at Strassenkunst Standorts (designated performance spots). An afternoon spent lazing at the cafés also makes for great people watching.
If you’d like some gluten or lactose-free pastry while in Heidelberg, try Schiller’s Café. Other nice spots: Café Gundel, Café Schafheutle, Café Knösel, and Café Burkardt.
Get your shopping on
Heidelberg’s Old Town (Altstadt) boasts one of Germany’s longest, pedestrian-only shopping streets. Department and chain-clothing stores, restaurants and cafés dot this one-mile stretch on the Hauptstrasse.
If you’re looking for more bohemian boutiques, exit the Hauptstrasse by turning left at the Starbucks closest to the University Square (Uniplatz). You’ll then reach the Untere Strasse where it’s easy to find quirky specialty shops, bakeries and cafés. At night, this quaint street comes alive, thanks to its numerous pubs and bars.
Rest, then fest
Three times each year, the Heidelberg Castle ruins are lit with flares to commemorate the French sacking of the city in 1689. Afterwards, fireworks erupt over the Old Town, making the castle illuminations a popular time to visit.
If you prefer beer and tunes over fireworks, hit up the city during the Heidelberger Herbstfest, when the Hauptstrasse is filled with live music performances, beer stands, fest food and an antique flea market.
The Christmas Market closes out the year with people mingling over Glühwein (hot, spicy red wine), shopping for Christmas gifts, and ice-skating. Check out Visit Heidelberg for more fest details.
On Heidelberg’s Neckar River, it’s common to see rowboats gliding by as an overly-enthusiastic captain chants orders to the grunts to power harder. If the skies are sunny, get out on the water to spy Heidelberg’s Old Town from a different perspective.
You can hop aboard any of the tourist boats docked on the southern banks of the Neckar. One of these sightseeing boats, the Solarschiff, has a glass top. It’s powered by the sun and offers 50-minute trips upriver. From March to October, you’ll find it docked near the Old Bridge (Alte Brücke).
If you’d prefer to power yourself, rent a paddle boat from the Neuenheim side of town. Cross the Old Bridge and take a right. You can’t miss the Boote zum vermieten sign (boats for rent).
Just because Heidelberg exudes romanticism and an idyllic persona doesn’t mean it’s always escaped tragedy. Occasionally, you’ll see remnants of the Holocaust. These brass plates (Stolpersteine, literally ‘stumbling blocks’) at Hauptstrasse 121 honor the Durlachers, a Jewish family deported during the war. The parents did not survive, but their two children did.
A few blocks away at Synagogue Square, a simple white marble border shows where the Heidelberg Synagogue once stood. In 1938, it was torched on Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass) when Jewish homes and businesses were targeted across Germany. You can find the square on the corner where Grosse Mantelgasse and Lauerstrasse meet.
Sadly, there are even more Stolpersteine in Heidelberg.
Do time behind bars
As a student, if you were caught overindulging on German beer more than a hundred years ago, you would’ve spent time behind the bars of the Student Prison (Studentenkarzer). Heidelberg’s university administration also punished rowdy students for extinguishing street lamps and chasing residents’ pigs down city alleyways. Today, you can gain entrance through a few Euro fee; in order to leave, you don’t have to finish out the once customary two-week prison sentence.
There’s not much to see inside, but the silhouette renditions of jailed students as well as the poetry and protests left on the walls by jailed fraternity members are amusing. The prison is easy to access from the Altstadt. If you’re on the Hauptstrasse heading towards the castle, take a right on Augustinergasse. You’ll know you’ve found the prison when you see the sign featuring a golden-winged angel with a bare bum. It was inspired by student artwork inside the prison.
Satisfy your sweet tooth
Two Hauptstrasse gummy bear shops sell Hefeweizen souvenir glasses that overflow not with freshly brewed beer, but beer-inspired gummy bear candies. Marshmallow gummies placed on the top complete this sweet illusion, resembling the frothy foam of a beer. In addition to selling beer look-alikes, Bären Company, at Hauptstrasse 150, even markets mosaic-like pizzas and birthday cakes fashioned out of Germany’s famous rubbery bears.
If you have a sweet tooth but aren’t a gummy bear fan, head to Gelato Go, an ice cream shop with delicious, organic ice cream. Find it at Hauptstrasse 100. The Heidelberger Zuckerladen (Plöck 52) is another local favorite for all things sugary.
Where in the World?
- For more information about Heidelberg, peruse Heidelberg’s Tourist Information Center.
- Because of its charming atmosphere and proximity to Heidelberg’s best-known attractions, I heartily recommend choosing a hotel in, or near Heidelberg’s Old Town-core: either the Altstadt (Heidelberg’s Old Town), Bergheim district, or Neuenheim district. Restaurants, cafés and shops are nearby, and you can even go hiking in the hills in a matter of minutes. I lived in an Altstadt apartment for 10 years, and I loved being among all the action. Since I was a resident of Heidelberg, I have limited experience staying in hotels in Heidelberg. However, here are some hotels we would revisit the next time we come to Heidelberg. (Some affiliate links follow.)
- Hotel Goldener Hecht – After our furniture was boxed up and we were preparing to leave Heidelberg, Shawn and I spent a few nights at the Goldener Hecht. We loved the central location! Heidelberg’s famous Old Bridge was just a few footsteps away, and the Heidelberg Castle was only about half a kilometer’s walk. Our room was clean, quiet, and pleasant, too.
- Hotel zum Ritter – When Shawn and I were married in the Heidelberg Castle, some of our family and friends stayed at the Hotel zum Ritter, one of Heidelberg’s most famous buildings. The elegant Hotel Ritter is situated on the pedestrianized Hauptstrasse (Main Street), just across from the Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spirit). Even if you don’t stay there, the hotel’s gorgeous Renaissance exterior will likely catch your eye as you stroll down the Hauptstrasse.
- Are you looking for more ideas as you plan your trip to Germany? My Germany guide offers more tips, including posts about Bavarian horse-blessing ceremonies, and German folk dancing, plus workshops with the country’s Old World artisans.
Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.
91 thoughts on “A Guide to “Losing Your Heart” in Heidelberg, Germany”
Oh, my, this brings back so many memories. I lived in Heidelberg for about 5 years before coming to the US, met my first husband there on the Neckarwiese. I hiked the Philosophenweg countless times but forgot about the Thingstaette. Isn’t that funny? I do remember the fireworks that lit up the castle and where to find the best views near the Alte Bruecke. There is a wondrous tree in the Schlossgarten that consists of a mother tree with offspring trees growing in a semi-circle around it. That was my magical place…
Heidelberg will always be synonymous with my coming of age time.
Thanks for bringing back memories of this city.
Annette, thank you very much for sharing your special moments from living in Heidelberg. As you can imagine, the city is very dear to me, and it’s fun to reminisce with a fellow former Heidelberger. :) Like you, I feel as though I got to know myself better there. Though I’ve made many strolls through the Schlossgarten, and even got engaged there, I don’t recall seeing this unique tree. We are hoping that we’ll be able to visit Heidelberg later this summer, as we haven’t been back since 2012. If so, I’ll look for the ‘mother tree’. When was the last time you were back to HD?
Oh, about 20 yrs, perhaps. It’s been much too long…The tree grouping was on one of those terraces, near the large fountains in the Schlossgarten. I have an old picture of myself sitting on one of the branches, maybe I can find it….
Annette, it would be fun if you can find it. It makes me wonder if the tree is still there?
Tricia – I did find the picture but can’t seem to attach it here in this reply section.
Hi Annette, sorry for my escargot-paced reply! I’d love to see the Heidelberg picture, so I just sent you an email at your email address associated with your comment.
I will respond shortly, Tricia…
Hi Annette, nice to see you here, the blogger world is small.
Hey Cornelia – we may have fanned out far into the world, but you can’t pass up pics of Heidelberg :-)
That’s very true :)
I’ve lived in Germany and spent many weekends in Heidelberg. My fiancée and I met there. We will be returning after we get married to celebrate with friends, wondering if you have good budget friendly recommendations for a reception venue or restaurant for this purpose. Thanks in advance
Hi Tiana, how special that you two met in Heidelberg. Congratulations on your engagement! As for venues/restaurants in Heidelberg, I can only share my own experiences in looking for a wedding reception venue. We originally considered having our reception at the Heidelberg Castle (since we were married in the chapel there) but the venue was too large for our intimate group of family/friends. I went to several of the restaurants in the Altstadt and inquired about their reception policy/prices. We eventually decided on the Hotel zum Ritter. Since our wedding took place during the Christmas season, the restaurant was decorated for the holidays, and the Christmas market was taking place just outside the door. I recall that they did not charge a room rental fee either, rather we just arranged everything in advance (choosing the 5 dishes and wines that we wanted to have on our wedding menu) and then they charged based upon the number of guests we had. Wish you all the best with your wedding planning – how fun!
I have been away for so long, I wouldn’t know which places exist for your purpose. Sorry…
What a fantastic guide. Now I want to visit. Love the wedding picture of the two of you!
Darlene, Spain is only a short flight to Frankfurt, and Frankfurt is just an hour from Heidelberg. :) Glad you enjoyed the guide, and hope you might soon be on a road leading to Heidelberg.
Beautiful, Tricia! I’ll be emailing this to people. I always tell tourists that stop me and ask to go to Vetters and get their bottled beer to-go and then walk across the bridge and enjoy it with friends, either on the bridge or on the other side for the best castle views. Also, the Zuckerladen at Plöck 52 is a much better place to get candy. It’s a shopping experience rather than just a place to buy candy. It makes the German tour guides. I try to recommend places that are different than the normal tourist destinations. Schnitzelbank is more of a local hit. Schnookeloch, as well. But the prices and food and service at the one you mentioned, Schnitzelhaus, are not to be missed. Thank you for mentioning the Jewish sites. The history around and including the former Synagogue is tragic and deserves research and a visit. So well done, Tricia. Thank you & I’ll be sharing. Love & light.
Hi Laurie, so nice to hear from you! I also loved the quirky Zuckerladen – not only the sweet treats, but the fun window displays. I popped in there a few times, and used to walk by it daily from home to the Parkhaus. Is the mannequin in the dentist’s chair still there? :)
Loved hearing your additional pointers as to grabbing some Vetter beer and making your way down to the river, and agree that the Schnitzelbank and Schnookeloch are tasty.
I miss your yoga classes. I still remember your recommendations for some yoga practices to do at home, and so I’ve been working out with Baron Baptiste and Bryan Kest while on the road. :)
I could do a follow-up post to this one to give shout-outs to my fantastic hair stylist, Gino at Moda Capelli, and great yoga/pilates teacher, Laurie: http://www.pilatesundpoweryoga.de/ :)
Miss the Heidelberg community. Say hi to my former city for me. Sending you a hug and wishing you a happy Sunday!
I hadn’t realized you were based in Heidelberg. What a great guide! Now I would like to go! :)
mfryan, I was living there until late 2011, so I’m definitely smitten by Heidelberg. :) I hope you’ll get the chance to enjoy it someday soon too. Are you still in London?
Oh ok! But ten years is certainly a long time. Loved the wedding pics too. :) I’ve continued my travels…on the bus back to Bologna from Prague at the moment. Was in Austria last weekend. How are you? Traveling at the moment?
Peggy, thanks for your compliment about the wedding picture. With a talented photographer and beautiful, historic setting, it all came together quite nicely. Gosh, were we ever cold posing for the outdoor shots though. :) Bologna & Prague are both wonderful European cities; we’re looking forward to getting back to that side of the Atlantic in a few weeks. We’ve been catching up on projects and visiting my husband’s family and friends in Nevada, but we did get to California for a few road-trips. Enjoy your travels, and here’s hoping our paths might intersect at some point!
Hi Tricia! Yes I do hope our paths might cross at some point…I finally met Valentina from Around & About Treviso and it was such a pleasure. We all have a lot in common! :) Glad that you are enjoying catching up with family and friends stateside…I know how important it is. Where are you traveling in Europe this summer?
Peggy, a few weeks ago we just returned to Europe. We’re now in Germany visiting my parents, and we have hopes to visit Northern Italy and Switzerland. We’re hoping to go to the Milan Expo, Italian wine country, and see our Swiss friends who adopted our foster kitten, Cocoa. We haven’t seen him since last autumn so I imagine he’s a big boy now! Where have your travels taken you now?
Upon leaving the city in 2003 after being there for two years, I would try to go back every year as part of a pilgrimage. Many of my friends and colleagues have now scattered around the world, and I don’t go back to the HD as frequently. But I went back last November, and sure enough, I visited both Speyer Kaiserdom and Schloss (‘schlob’) Heidelberg for the first time in over ten years. Ah, memories, old and new. I’ve often though when I’m in HD that I ‘fear’ I keep doing the same familiar things at the expense of doing something entirely new. Oh well, what’s ‘home’ when you can’t sit and relax outside at one of Marktplatz, Steingasse, or Uniplatz? ;-) Thank you for writing this great summary post: home sweet home.
Henry, since I also have a longing for Heidelberg, it’s been nice connecting with others via this post, hearing their favorite HD haunts. I can relate to your concern about spending time repeating activities, but so long as one doesn’t try to recreate the past, it can be special revisiting a place. I used to live just a block away from Uniplatz; I miss walking the Hauptstrasse and Steingasse in the early-morning hours, reaching the Old Bridge, and then seeing the sky open up along the Neckar River. Before they renovated it, I also liked strolling near the old, once-abandoned hotel where Mark Twain stayed during his time in Heidelberg. In what part of the city did you live?
In my 2 years in the HD, I lived the entire time in Weststadt on Rohrbacher Strasse. It was a short and convenient walk to Bismarckplatz for my bus ride up to work at MPIA on the top of Königstuhl. The bus service at the time was very infrequent (unlike the hourly service now). Sometimes we’d go over to Kornmarkt and take the Bergbahn up top. I also occasionally worked late at MPIA; so I used the “Ruftaxi” service as well. Everywhere I live, I take things for granted, and sometimes I would miss out on the kinds of mornings you describe. But then walking through the Altstadt to Kornmarkt, I would say to myself: “dude, you live in a historic German university town that wasn’t touched by WW2 bombing. Relish the experience of living and working here.” ;-)
Henry, it’s true that life ‘often gets in the way’. There were also many nights when I’d come home from work and be so drained that I’d just crash. Since I was lucky to live in a central spot, though, I’d often muster up the energy to tackle my apartment’s 87 stairs (no elevator) and wander around the Altstadt, or sit on a bench along the river and watch the boats glide by. Biking upriver was another favorite of mine. At other times, though, I’d peek out my kitchen and bedroom windows for calming views of the Heiligenberg.
I liked Weststadt’s character too, and there were a few businesses I’d frequent in that part of town. Lovely architecture there!
I had initially looked into a small apartment in the Altstadt: it would’ve been my own room in a place with this gorgeous woman. Two strikes, however: (a) the flat was over a pub, and (b) she was willing to tell me that the spare room used to be her boyfriend’s and they had recently broken up. Big red lights and warning bells. “Sadly”, I didn’t take the flat, and I’m sure I avoided a lot of (unnecessary) drama. Weststadt is a nice combination of the classic and the new. But those Altbaus with all those stairs! :)
Henry, sounds like it was wise to trust your instincts. :) Sometimes it was a bit rowdy living on the Hauptstrasse, but my Altbau had recently been renovated and had sound-proof windows. I was usually able to silence the Hauptstrasse’s hustle and bustle, except during the Herbstfest. One year I was trying valiantly to work on my Master’s thesis, but found myself more interested by the revelry on the streets below than my written work. There were also a few occasions where tipsy bar-goers would randomly ring doorbells, including mine. I think that if we were to live there again, we’d probably live somewhere in the Zentrum, but away from the Hauptstrasse. It was certainly fun during my early years there though!
Hello fotoeins, I just checked out your blog and love it.
Lovely that you two could find each other through my little home on the web. :)
Thank you, Cornelia! :)
That was awesome. I like the bridge monkey the best.
Gerard, thank you. I should’ve also included a photo of visitors squeezing their bodies under the monkey’s mask, all for a silly souvenir picture. :) I wonder how many statues came before this one?
We spent just one day in Heidelberg and it really wasn’t long enough. I would like to return one day, but in the meantime I will enjoy your lovely photos. Thanks Tricia.
Carol, were you in Heidelberg on a river cruise, as I know those are popular with day-trippers to the city? I agree that one day is usually never enough for most places; the silver lining is that life has a funny way of leading one back to a city or region, often when it’s least expected. I hope that’ll be the case for you.
This post is so beautifully done. My fiance and I visited Heidelberg about five years ago for a couple of days, and still to this day, this beautiful city is so memorable. Your photos helped to bring back those memories. Thank you for sharing! :)
Joanne, it’s so nice to hear that these photos stirred up happy memories for you! What were some of your favorite spots/moments in Heidelberg?
While living there, I don’t think I could’ve imagined leaving, and then not going back for 3 years. We’re hoping to remedy the fact that we haven’t been there since 2012, and visit later this summer. I can’t wait to hit up some of my most-loved spots, and see how the city’s changed.
Tricia, I have never been to Heidelberg, but strolling through your wonderful post it feels like I have been there. You know, when I grew up and lived in Germany, I didn’t see much of my home country, rather going afar to more exotic places all over the world. I had that thinking within me that I can visit places in my country when I am old. Haha little did I know than, later I moved to the US. And here I am living in California, since 25 years and still being a world traveler.
Cornelia, I can relate to your comment about not seeing all that’s in one’s own ‘backyard’ as there’s much more of Germany and the United States that I’d like to explore as well. I found that the more I traveled, the more I longed to see places that were vastly different than the one I’d visited before. That approach has its pros & cons, I think. With trips to Germany and India on your horizon, it sounds like you’ll be doing a bit of both this and next year though. :)
Thank you Tricia, I am so looking forward to my trips, can’t wait to get to India in January, again thank you so much for your advices you’ve send me via email. You are just wonderful
Happy to share our experiences, Cornelia! I’ve had wonderful times there and hope to return soon – so much to explore. :)
I visited Heidelberg on my first trip to Germany this January and loved it- what a treat to read this post about it :)
Elise, it’s nice to hear that you enjoyed reading these tidbits about Heidelberg. What were some of your favorite spots in Heidelberg, or elsewhere in Germany?
On a side note, I see we’ve tiptoed to some of the same parts of the world (Ukraine, and perhaps Moldova)? Were you studying in those spots, or on holiday there?
Spectacular photos! Keep up the good work!
Many thanks, Harketh. After calling Heidelberg home for 10+ years, you can imagine what a photo collection I’d amassed. :)
Heidelberg seems like the perfect town to call home! I love Germany–I had the chance to get to know it a bit over three visits to Munich, including a stay at the Goethe Institut–but know there is so much more to see of the country. Pinning this for future reference. :)
Jenna, Heidelberg truly was my perfect kind of place! I loved that I could step out the door of our apartment and be among the shops, cafés, restaurants, and main squares. And, if we wanted to go hiking, the trails were only a few minute walk away. There was also a nice sense of community there: several annual festivals, respect for the environment, etc. Those traits, coupled with the fact that we could ride mass transit to almost anywhere in Europe (including to the Frankfurt Airport which was only an hour away) meant that we could easily travel without a car. We did have a car at that time, and actually did some fun road-trips from Heidelberg, thanks to the city’s central location. Enough about my love of Heidelberg – you can see I miss it. :) Were you studying German at the Goethe Institut?
What a magical city Tricia to have spent such special times in! What took you to Heidelberg for 10 years? Do you have family there and go back often?
Hi Melinda, my first job out of college brought me to Heidelberg. I worked in the education industry (adult education, then as a training specialist and director for child & youth programs). It was my dream to move to Europe, but it took a few years to achieve that goal. What was funny is that bureaucracy kept the hiring process moving really slowly, but then I ‘instantly’ had two job offers pop up in one week’s time. Fast forward ten years, and I knew that my contract in Heidelberg would be ending so Shawn and I decided to leave my adopted hometown to set out and see Southeast Asia. I was quite sad about bidding farewell to Heidelberg, but I tried to temper those feelings with feelings of gratitude that I had been able to call such an incredible city home for so long.
I do still have friends and family in Germany, which makes it especially nice for me and Shawn to always have ties there. My parents retired to Germany, though they live in the Alps, about 4 hours from Heidelberg.
I know that your focus is on France, and as a francophile I can understand why. :) But, have you had a chance to pop over to Germany?
What a wonderful story! Did you and Shawn meet in Heidelberg or go there together? I’m glad those friends give you a reason to go back :)
I have never been to Germany and it was never on my radar until the World Cup was held there some time ago – and a lot of relevant travel segments aired. It does look beautiful and is absolutely on my list now.
Hi Melinda, Shawn and I actually met online, about 9 years into my time living in Heidelberg. :) He was living in the United States then, but we eventually met in person, married several months thereafter, and then called Heidelberg home together for just over one year.
I was living in Germany during the 2006 World Cup, and that was such a great time to be there given that there were fans descending upon the country from around the world. I do hope you’ll get to explore Germany someday soon, as there are so many ideal spots for walking, hiking, and biking there.
Oh, I love that Tricia! How romantic!
Indeed it was. Coincidentally, yesterday was the 5-year anniversary of our engagement (the setting was the bench featured in this guide).
Hope you had a wonderful weekend, Melinda. :)
I love the old towns
Having grown up in a country, with newer surroundings, so do I, Abdalla! There’s something quite special about passing upon well-worn cobblestones, and imagining who has come before you. Do you have any favorite old town areas?
Hmm Nice place I think. I hope one day i can go there with my small family. Nice pic
Here’s hoping you may all someday soon be on a road leading to Heidelberg! Thank you for your comment.
Beautiful shots…which narrate all the words..:)
Thank you, Pamela. After having lived in Heidelberg for 10 years, this piece felt as though it were a love letter to the city. :)
Tricia…I remember you well and always thought how nice it would have been to have you teaching at Mark Twain Elementary School. My 34 years in Heidelberg have left me with yearnings to always return there…..I remember waking every morning thinking how wonderful it was to live there. My favorite place was the MarktPlatz in Neuenheim…sitting under the trees with a glass of red wine and a flammkuchen. Continue to enjoy your travels…..Dolly
Dolly, thank you for your thoughtful greetings and travel well wishes. While I never dined on Neuenheim’s Marktplatz, your mention of wine and Flammkuchen reminds me of my weekend excursions to France’s Alsace, where we sometimes enjoyed a Tarte Flambée. It sounds like neither one of us took living in Heidelberg for granted.
In what part of the world are you living now?
Did you happen to teach elementary school in Mannheim? I think it might have been the 5th grade?
Alexandra…Yes. I did teach 5th grade at Mannheim Elementary School and I remember you well. Where are you living? I am living in the Princeton, New Jersey, area. This summer I plan to take my family back to Heidelberg for a 10 day visit. I could travel the world over and never find a town I love as much as I love Heidelberg. It would be wonderful to see you again.
amazing pictures! :)
Thank you, Alex. Heidelberg is a city that’s very special to me, since I lived there so long. I’m glad to be able to share ‘my’ city with others. :)
Heidelberg will always be “home” to me. We lived there for 5 very important years and lived nearby in Worms for 4 more so we traveled to Heidelberg often. We still have so many friends that we keep in touch with even though we’ve had to move on to Brussel. Love, love, love this city…. I know all those pictures too well.
Hi Deb, I know what you mean about lovely Heidelberg still feeling much like home. While living there, I kept thinking I should never take it for granted, no matter how long I’d been there. To fully soak up the beauty around me, I tried to make castle walks and picnics regular happenings. I now miss being able to leave my Altstadt apartment and decide whether to hike up to the forest, explore the Old Town’s quirkier shops, or stop into a café. The city is pretty close to a perfect one, and I hope we’ll get back for a visit soon.
Certainly it’s nice that Brussels is not so far away, relatively speaking. Do you get to visit HD fairly often?
Well, why do I love Heidelberg? 53 years ago, I met a beautiful fraulein in Cafe Milano on the Hauptstrasse ( which doesn’t exist anymore)
today, we are still together, we both love to go back to this beautiful city. I have so many fond memories of the great times, good friends, the nightclubs, the castle, the Neckar, etc. I will never have enough of Heidelberg because Ich hab’ mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren.
Hi Sam, what a wonderful anecdote. I’ve heard many say they’ve succumbed to Heidelberg’s charms, but it’s rarer to hear that one met his/her sweetheart in Heidelberg. How lovely. Where on the Hauptstrasse was the Café Milano?
It would be fascinating to hear your stories about how Heidelberg’s changed in the past 5 decades. Back then, there was a streetcar on the Hauptstrasse, wasn’t there? I’m not sure when it was turned into a pedestrian-only street.
May you and you “beautiful Fräulein” have many more happy years together!
Such a rich post ~ really something special, and then I came upon this great photo “Our winter wedding”, simply stunning. There is something about capturing the feeling for a place that is so hard to do, as it is almost trying to explain yourself as well. You’ve definitely given us a look into a city that I bet most locals do not have or understand. Beautifully done Tricia.
Randall, your gracious words about my Heidelberg piece brought a smile to my face since Heidelberg is so special to me. Regarding our winter wedding picture, I must give kudos to our fabulously-talented photographer, Kassie, and Mother Nature for delivering such a picturesque bundle of snow that day! The wintry weather did make wedding transportation more challenging (especially arriving to the castle!), but was it ever pretty seeing the castle and her gardens dressed in snow.
This post is so beautiful, it makes me want to sob (in a good way). My husband was stationed there for a total of 9 years, and we loved every minute of it. Both our boys were born there (one at the American hospital on Nachrichten Kasern, and one at Sankte Elizabet), so we have extra special memories of our time there, and some great souvenirs. :)
We moved to Wiesbaden in 2011, and while it’s a beautiful city, it doesn’t even begin to compare to HD. We’ve been back in the US for almost 2 years now, and we would all love to go back. Even if we can’t go back to HD, since the post has been closed down, we’d be happy to go anywhere in Germany, which would give us a chance to go back and visit the city we all lost our hearts to.
Mominhighheels, Vielen Dank for your kind words, and for sharing your memories of Heidelberg. I hope you and your family will soon be on a road leading you back to Germany, even if only for a visit. My husband and I are now spending a few weeks with family in the Bavarian Alps, and if time permits, we’re hoping to return to Heidelberg.
And, I’m happy the post elicited joyful tears for you, and not melancholy ones! Since it sounds as though your sons also enjoyed living in Heidelberg, I wonder if perhaps they could study abroad in Germany someday?
Great piece, makes me want to go back to Heidelberg, such a lovely little city!
Writing the piece and reminiscing about Heidelberg made me want to return as well, Fleming! How long ago were you there, and what are your favorite memories from the city?
Such a lovely area…I’ve been to Heidelberg twice but ages ago. So nice to see it again in your post! Pip
Hi Pip, you’re right that Heidelberg and the state of Baden-Württemberg are a lovely part of Germany. On weekends, I loved getting out and exploring more of Baden-Württemberg, often even taking drives into neighboring Alsace, France. We haven’t been back to this part of Germany for three years, and that’s starting to feel like ages as well. :) What brought you to Heidelberg – holiday or studies?
Hi Tricia…sorry for the delayed response -30 hour flight kind of knocks you about! I loved Heidelberg. Went there twice as my brother lived in Weinheim for a while. Such a pretty part of the world. Pip
Pip, Weinheim is a great spot too. It sounds like you just did some globetrotting yourself – in what part of the world were you?
Tricia, I have spent some time reading your Heidelberg post. The words and the photos are wonderful. It brings back fond memories of our visits there. Wow! I also enjoyed Shawn’s video post about deer feeding. Again, an outstanding piece! I am so proud of you two. Dad
Thank you so much for reading, Dad! It seems a return trip to Heidelberg is in order for us. :)
I loved your pictures and descriptions of Heidelberg. I was born there in 1951, left in 1953 and returned for a visit in 2004. Even though I was very young when I left, I felt a sense of being home.
Carol, as a fellow Heidelberger at heart, I can relate to your comment about the city feeling like home. I haven’t been back since 2012, but look forward to hiking the trails, strolling the castle grounds, and revisiting my favorite restaurants. Most of the people I knew there have moved away, but a few special people remain, too. Do you have any plans to return?
I would love to return to Heidelberg, however I have other destinations to see before that happens.
I was looking for a spot by the University where a picture of me at age 2 was taken with my mother. My husband and I found it! She died in 1975 when I was 23, so it was an emotional, but good trip for me.
What a touching anecdote; it’s no wonder you have a sentimental attachment to Heidelberg then.
My husband’s family was on a similar search in Ireland a few years ago. In the end, they were able to find the place where their own cherished family photo had been snapped one century before.
There is something special about standing in a distant place where your loved ones once did.
Reading all those wonderful posts, also brought back such fond memories. I too have some. I was stationed in Heidelberg from February 1955-August 1956. It was like yesterday. I recall the trolley that
ran up and down the Hauptstrasse, which is now a pedestrian walk. I remember going to the Cave, which was a Jazz club below ground, smokey and crowded with University students. The city was so quaint and charming, knowing that it was spared during World War 2. My wife and I have now been spending many
years in the south of France, as we love the water. Our annual paradise is now the months of June and
September in St Raphael. Fabulous weather, the warm Med, great food, and no driving. Stress free!
Heidelberg though, will always be in my heart! Be happy, and love life!
I had to smile when you mentioned the Cave, because it was still open when I lived in Heidelberg (2001-2011). Having had an apartment on the Hauptstrasse, I wonder what it would’ve been like living over streetcar tracks. I was curious when they were removed, so I dug a bit deeper and found a New York Times article about Heidelberg’s redevelopment four decades ago. Even back then, Germany’s urban planners demonstrated a lot of foresight in wanting to modernize Heidelberg, while still placing an importance on its Old World character and livability: http://www.nytimes.com/1978/07/09/archives/heidelbergs-old-city-gets-a-facelift-celebrating-change.html
Have you made it back to Heidelberg recently?
I’m happy to hear that you and your wife are living the good life in Southern France! It’s my dream to spend more time in France — perhaps in Languedoc-Roussillon.
Thank you for sharing your memories of Heidelberg! Comments like yours are what make blogging rewarding. :)
You are a total joy! There is nothing in the world that replace passion, which you have so much of. Anyone who shares the pleasures of the wanderlust, can appreciate where you are coming from. To me, it’s knowing the meaning of life. Keep that fire in your belly always bright!
PS I have never returned to Heidelberg, but at the present, I am writing my memoirs, and of course it will include that segment of my life. If you do though, get to Languedoc-Roussillon, think Pezanas, a wonderful
Thanks for another uplifting comment, Bruce! I will indeed aspire to “keep that fire…always bright.”
We were actually in Languedoc-Roussillon for a few weeks last fall. We visited lots of places (Carcassonne, Uzès, Lagrasse, Minerve and more) but didn’t get a chance to see Pézenas. Next time!
All the best as you pen your memoirs. It sounds like you have a lot of great content to work with. :)