Germany off the beaten track

The Heidelberger Schloss (Heidelberg Castle) is situated high above the city. © Bjoern Rudek

Your Life!

  • Monuments
  • Lifestyle
  • Heritage
  • Experiences
  • Atmosphere
  • Culture

Practical information

Why go?

/assetimage_918_240w179.jpgThe acclaimed university town and seat of learning was one of the key inspirations for the poets and painters of German Romanticism. No city was as beloved by the Romantic poets as much as Heidelberg, due in great part to her enchanting location on the Neckar River amidst mountains, woods and sloping vineyards.

Take in the magic of Heidelberger Schloss (Heildelberg Castle), the Alte Brücke (Old Bridge) and the Old Town panorama; stroll through the picturesque side streets full of enticing opportunities to look, poke around and shop; enjoy the varied all-year program of cultural activities and the flair of historic student pubs.

The heart of the Old Town of Germany's oldest university town can be discovered on foot in about two hours; an equal amount of time should be allotted for the ruins of the "Heidelberger Schloss" (Heidelberg Castle). Majestically perched high above the narrow lanes and picturesque roofs of town, the magnificent red sandstone structure crow the city. For five centuries it used to be the glamorous residence of the Electors Palatine.

When to go?

Germany is a popular travel destination all year-round, with a typical four-season climate. Winter temperatures vary from west to east, with around freezing temperatures in the west and well below freezing in the east of Germany. Summer temperatures are typically between 20°C (68°F) and 30°C (86°F). In terms of tourist numbers, May through to September are the most popular months to visit Germany. However, the winter holidays with their enchanting Christmas Markets are also a major highlight. Those who enjoy the benefits of uncrowded attractions will favor January through to April.

The weather in Heidelberg is continental in the sense that it varies from year to year, meaning a chilly spring and rainy summer one year can be followed by a spectacularly warm and sunny season the next year. The areas around the Rhine and Neckar Rivers are blessed with a particularly pleasant climate which allows for the successful cultivation of grapevines.

Long periods of fine weather can be followed by unsettled conditions.  To be on the safe side, make sure you bring a sweater and wet weather clothing with you.

What to eat?

Enjoy the hearty regional fare of the Palatinate in a historical student inn or treat yourself to something exotic. The culinary range extends from gourmet temple to quaint old corner pub. Many refined restaurants and cafés are found in the historic Old Quarter. The districts of Handschuhsheim, Ziegelhausen and Rohrbach are also insider tips for gourmets, serving up a lavish array of fine food and drink.

Heidelberg's culinary scene is probably most known for its student pubs where guests can choose from Tafelspitz (slices of boiled beef with vinaigrette or horse-radish) or local sausages served  with roasted onions and sauerkraut. Traditional student pubs such as Zum Seppl, originally built in 1634 and Zum Roten Ochsen (The Red Ox), built in 1703 have been meeting-points for generations of student fraternities. Celebrities like Mark Twain, Marilyn Monroe and John Wayne all visited The Red Ox, as entries in the old guest books prove. The restaurant Zum Güldenen Schaf (The Golden Sheep) offers special historic theme nights. The restaurant Goldener Hecht (The Golden Pike) also  used to be a popular meeting place for romantic poets. Dine where Mark Twain once used to dine and step back into German Romanticism! Strolling along the "Hauptstrasse" (Main Street), you will find several bakeries that serve local specialties including the famous Brezeln (pretzels).

Heidelberg Gallery

Map of Germany

That´s Germany

German Romanticism: Heidelberg is considered the epitome of German Romanticism. The German Romantics in the 19th century immortalized Heidelberg in poetry, paintings and music.

VIP: Friedrich Ebert

Friedrich Ebert (1871 – 1925) – the first democratically elected head of state in German history
(as president of the Weimar Republic) was born in Heidelberg.

Wine Heritage

Landmarks of Wine Culture

Since 2010, the German Wine Institute has awarded prizes to "Landmarks of Wine Culture": places which are documenting the history and tradition of wine growing in an impressive way. Good news: Landmarks of Wine Culture can be found in Heidelberg too:

The Great Vat