Heidelberg feels like a romantic fairytale. Up on the hill stands the castle, now in ruins but still as magnificent as it must have been back in the day. Nestled below in the valley you can see church steeples, market squares and houses with peaked roofs and wooden window shutters. Across the other side of the river, daffodils and tulips are just beginning to bloom and a few trees show hopeful buds of pink blossom. Birds chirp merrily in the sunshine and the city sparkles like magic. A sunny weekend offers plenty of opportunities for exploring outdoors.
Walk along the Neckar River
From the Hauptbahnhof, you can walk directly down to the river, cross over and enjoy the footpath all the way along to the old bridge. You may come across different varieties of geese, some in large quantities, but don’t let that put you off! These ones didn’t seem to chase people unless they had food!
Cross the Old Bridge
Take your time wandering over this old stone bridge and soaking in the picturesque views of the castle and surrounding houses. From here, you will be able to walk directly into the cobbled streets of the Old Town and buy yourself a post card of the view you have just seen!
Wander the cobbled streets of the Old Town
There are many cute streets to explore with hundreds of shops, restaurants and bars. The market places are generally full of people, especially when there are food markets on the go. Spend time admiring all the coloured wooden shutters on the outside of the buildings. See if you can find the University library – the oldest library in Germany!
Stroll along the Philosopher’s Way
Thisromantic path is exactly as it sounds! It is located opposite the old town on the other side of the river. After about a 20 minute stair climb, you will reach the Philosopher’s Way, a path frequented by poets of earlier centuries. The walk takes you along the mountain side, with truly inspirational views of the castle and city.
Climb the hill to explore the Heiligengberg Tower and ruins of a late 11th century Monastery
If you are feeling energetic for a further uphill climb, continue on from the Philosopher’s Way through the woodland to the very top of the mountain where you will find a look-out tower directly in line with the castle and the remains of the late 11th Century Monastery of St. Stephen. Keep exploring and you will find the open-air amphitheatre, which I somehow only heard about after I had returned to the bottom of the hill – a good excuse to return some day!
Eat a hearty German meal in a Brauhaus
You will find lots of traditional German pubs scattered all over the Old Town, with an endless supply of good beer and hearty meals. You could try the large Pork Knuckle with potato dumplings, or opt for a crispy vegetarian schnitzel. Make sure you wash it down with a large beer!
Watch the sunset from Heidelberg Castle
This is essential and a truly magical way to end a day in Heidelberg. After climbing up the steep flight of stairs to the top, take a few hours to explore the castle and gardens, before settling on a park bench with a glass of wine in hand and watching the magical light display as the sun sinks into the river, casting pastel hues over this fairytale city.
What did you do in Heidelberg? Any suggestions for next time?