The list of incredible things to do in Heidelberg is long. Castles ruins, old rustic buildings, beautiful landscape, deep history, and culture are some of the things dominating the city’s attractions.
Like many other great cities in Germany, Heidelberg can be an excellent stopover during your next European tour. Having faced numerous tragedies over the years that brought it to its knees, Heidelberg is one of the most resilient cities worldwide. It always rose back to its feet, even better.
Currently, the city attracts approximately 4 million visitors every year. Right from its scenic riverside location, quaint buildings, bridges, as well as castle ruins towering the city, it’s no wonder the place flocks with tourists.
The fact is, there are more than enough tourist attractions and things to do in Heidelberg, any day of the year. But how do you pick where to go or what to see in Heidelberg, from its long list of attractions? Well, that’s where we come in.
Here is a list of amazing things to do in Heidelberg that are worth trying out.
Unique Things to Do in Heidelberg and Surrounding Areas
1. Visiting the Heidelberg Castle
Germany is home to over 25,000 castles, and Heidelberg city shares in some of these undisputed tourist attractions. The Heidelberg Castle is a key landmark in the city and certainly one of the most visited sites. Towering over 80 meters high, this impressive castle’s construction dates back to the 13th-Century.
The castle has arguably seen more destruction and rebuilding than any other Castle in Germany. Even as early as 1400, the castle had been destroyed and rebuilt by Prince Elector Ruprecht III. It later became the regal residence.
Heidelberg Castle was destroyed and rebuilt several other times including 1693, and 1764. The current version was restored in 1883.
This medieval castle not only offers the perfect city’s view but also a glimpse at the world’s largest wine barrel. In addition, Heidelberg Castle hosts numerous festivals, most of which take place in its scenic courtyard. Other activities are frequently held here, include concerts, theater performances, and firework displays.
The Castle Festival is one such event that happens here between June and August. It features a mix of choral music, folk, jazz, theater, and opera, making it one of the best places to have fun while in Heidelberg.
2. Explore the Old Town
A visit to any historic German city wouldn’t be complete without touring its Old Town. For Heidelberg, its Old Town is one of the most charming and romantic places you’ll ever come across in Germany.
A stroll down the Hauptstraße would be a good start, especially if you are into shopping or are just looking for the best souvenirs to take back home.
The Hauptstraße, also known as the shopping way, is a long street dividing the Old Town from Bismarckplatz all through to the Rathaus. The long walking area consists of numerous shops, charming old buildings, cafes, and restaurants. It’s also home to the famous Hotel Ritter and the Heiliggeistkirche, or the Church of the Holy Spirit.
Another impressive thing about this place is that the Christmas Market takes place here. The old town is always packed with people walking up and down, both locals and tourists. And, if you want to grab some ice cream, this is the place.
3. Karl Theodor Bridge
Referred to as the Old Bridge, both by the locals and visitors, Karl Theodor Bridge has become one of the most famous bridges globally. People flock to Heidelberg from all over just to walk on it and experience the stunning view.
The bridge, which has since been immortalized through various paintings, poems, and other contents, spans across the Neckar River to join the Neuenheim and Altstadt.
The funny thing is, the bridge has not always been like this. Initially, several other wooden bridges were before it, with the current form constructed in 1788. In fact, this current structure is the 9th in the long list of former bridges on this spot.
The famous bridge gets its name from the architect and builder who erected its red sandstone arches. And, a stroll along this magnificent structure will be worth your while – as you enjoy the beautiful view of the city.
4. Heidelberg University
Heidelberg city is not only a romantic city but also a historic university town. Heidelberg University (Old Campus) sits on the southern side of the Hauptstraße. The university is the oldest in Germany, having been established back in 1386 through Pope Urban VI’s instructions.
It was also the 3rd university to be established under the Holy Roman Empire and among the oldest surviving universities globally. This popular university also has a museum. And when not in use, visitors are free to see the great hall, as well as the famous karzer, “Student Prison.”
To many people, the former student prison is usually the most memorable place. The place served as a 24-hour incarceration center for students found misbehaving within the university. The incarcerations are evident today through the many graffiti the students left during their time there.
Visiting the university is, thus, one of the things to do in Heidelberg that you can never regret.
5. German Apothecary Museum
This museum goes by various names, such as the German Pharmacy Museum or the Deutsches Apotheken-Museum. The place, which is typically a complete exhibit on German/Europe’s pharmacology history, is one of the main Heidelberg tourist attractions.
If you want to experience the unfiltered evolution of medicine, the German Pharmacy Museum offers the perfect opportunity. The displays are meticulously set up, consisting of various apothecary shops from varying historical periods that show the exact pharmaceutical evolution in Germany.
Visiting the museum is undoubtedly an eye-opener into the world of medicine and quite a breathtaking experience. All the content here is either in German or English, making it easier to understand for many visitors.
The museum, which contains an astounding collection of around 20,000 items, mainly on pharmacy, is housed in the Heidelberg Castle. The pharmaceutical collection is one of the world’s largest, spanning over 2,000 of German medical history.
If this isn’t one of the most extraordinary things to see in Heidelberg, I wonder what would be.
6. Touring the Heidelberg Tun
Heidelberg is another key attraction in the city, especially for wine lovers. The Great Heidelberg Tun, as it’s also known, is a massive wine vat housed within Heidelberg Castle’s cellars.
This giant wine barrel, built back in 1751, is the fourth to be built in the city’s history, with this one holding up to 221,726 liters. Now that sounds like a pretty big size for a wine barrel!
The view is breathtaking, and having a private tour guide can make the visit even better. The private guide will help you learn more about the place and show you the best locations for the best views.
As I said earlier, Heidelberg has so much to offer. Even with the destructions the city faced over the years, its charm and beauty never go away.
Best Day Tours in Heidelberg
If you don’t like the pressure of exploring solo, day tours can be a perfect solution. Book one of these amazing tours and get a comprehensive view of this city and its attractions.
This is undoubtedly one of the best tours in Heidelberg. The two-hour-long tour gives you a chance to discover the incredible sights of the city as you go through scenic countryside along the Neckar River, riding on a Segway. This ride will also take you to Heidelberg Castle, allowing you an opportunity to see the newly-refurbished Wolfsbrunnen restaurant.
The tour, which includes a live English and German guide, has three start times within the day, from 9:30 AM, 1:00 PM, and 3:30 PM. You can choose the one that best suits your schedule.
The starting point is usually at Neckarmünzplatz, progressing on Segway over the city’s Old Bridge to the side of the river. You have a chance to see the Neuburg Abbey, an ancient site full of history dating back to 1130.
Other things to see in Heidelberg during this tour include:
- Köpfel in the Neckar valley
- The Rhine plains
- Wolfsbrunnen restaurant
- Carl Bosch Museum, etc.
It is a comprehensive tour of almost all the main Heidelberg attractions.
The tour is a 4-hour culinary expedition taking you through various lanes of the city’s Old Town. Here, you’ll have a chance to enjoy Heidelberg’s specialty dishes in typical restaurants, in the company of a nightguard or a hangman’s daughter. And, you get to listen to various myths and legends of this city’s history.
Your culinary experience starts at the city’s romantic marketplace, as you pick among the various topics for the night. These include things like the Hangmen, Witches, or the Prostitutes’ paths.
The tour is a perfect opportunity for you to enjoy various local dishes, from different typical Heidelberg’s restaurants, in one night. It is a four-hour tour with a German or English guide, and the meeting point is at Marienstatue, Kornmarkt, or any other agreed point.
Of the various things to do in Heidelberg, this one can be pretty exciting.
See related: 14 Traditional German Christmas Food
Sometimes, you just want to take slow and enjoy the city’s magnificence at your own pace. This card, which valid between 1 and 4 days, is a perfect way to have a glimpse of the city in its entirety.
The HeidelbergCard grants you entry to various attraction sites such as the Heidelberg Castle, museums, restaurants, and numerous discounted tours. There are more discounts with a HeidelbergCard than you can imagine.
The card also gives you access to free public transport, including the VRN metro buses, trains, trams, etc. It gives you the freedom to take it slow, allowing you time to decide what to do in Heidelberg during the visit.
Things to Do in Heidelberg at Night
For the night revelers, there are endless places to visit and things to do in Heidelberg, even after the sun goes down. The city is a vibrant one, full life, and always ready to offer visitors the best moments. From the rich music clubs, rustic nightclubs, Jazz clubs, and restaurants, your choice is never limited.
10. A Night Out at Kaiser’s
Although not quite large, Kaiser’s is a cool and cute bar at Unteren Straße, “Lower Street,” Heidelberg. It’s a beautiful place to sip some cool drinks as you enjoy free sports.
By night, the sports bar transforms into a dance bar where both locals and visitors enjoy good music until dawn. And, they have special deals for you, any day.
If you are a sports enthusiast or are traveling with friends who like sports, this is an excellent place to visit. Here, you can watch some football/soccer games as you relish their cool and affordable drinks.
11. An Evening at Cave 54
Music and drinks are two key ingredients for a great night for many people. If you are such a person, Cave 54 will certainly make your night the most blissful.
Located in the rustic Old Town’s cellar vaults, Cave 54 offers an excellent place to spend your evening.
Vibrant live jazz concerts are held here every month, with numerous jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Louis Armstrong, etc., have made appearances. You can never know who will be on the stage that beautiful night.
The place is popular even beyond Heidelberg, as it offers some of the best first-hand experiences with great music as you relish an authentic glass of wine.
A visit to Cave 54 is one of the awesome stuff to do in Heidelberg at night to help end your day in style.
See Related: Best Things to do in Ulm, Germany
At the heart of Heidelberg’s Old Town lies Kulturbrauerei, the home of brewing art and hospitality. The establishment, which is run by the Merz family, includes a hotel, guesthouse, brewery, and a beer garden.
This makes it one of the city’s unique places, where you can get almost everything you order for, whether a unique German delicacy or drink.
Also, from Kulturbrauerei, you have easy access to several other attractions in the city, including the Old Bridge, the Philosopher’s Walk, and the charming old Heidelberg Castle. This amazing place concludes our list of fun things to do in Heidelberg for now, although you’ll find even more things when you land.