4 hours in Heidelberg
It’s weird to know, that a city, you are living really close to, is visited by people from all over the world, but you’ve never been there. So today my plan was to drive down to Heidelberg and see what all the fuss is about 😉 My goal was to visit the Heidelberg Palace, check out the city center aka downtown and drive up to Königstuhl to do some hiking. First of all: driving in Heidelberg and searching for a parking space near the Palace is a nightmare. I drove around for 35 min. straight, since all the parking garages were full and the signs kept circling me back to where I started. I was close to giving up and leaving before setting a foot into Heidelberg, when I found a garage on the other site of downtown (Parkhaus Friedrich-Ebert-Anlage). If you are driving, make sure to stay away from the Palace on the weekends and rather park near the center and walk. If you want to visit Heidelberg and you don’t have a lot of time, the following will help you narrow down a 4 h tour to the most iconic spots.
There are two options to get to the palace: you can walk or you can take the “Heidelberger Bergbahn”, which is a cute little train, that will take you up there. Normally I’m that kind of person exploring a city by walking everywhere and you will rarely see me taking a bus, BUT since this is part of the Heidelberg experience, I had to do it. The ticket is 7 € for adults and includes taking the Bergbahn up to the palace and the entrance fee, so it’s actually a good deal. The ride takes about 30 seconds, but it’s really worth it. I decided to take a guided tour, to get inside the palace which was an additional 5 €. Our tour guide (Renata) was the sweetest person, and you could hear that she is in love with the place and feels honored to show us around. She told us many stories and answered all our questions. She was talking so much, that two tour guides passed us – so we got the VIP experience. 😉 The Palace dates back to the early 1220th but was destroyed several times until it was rebuilt in the nineteen-hundreds one last time. If you expect the well-known German baroque style castle or palace you might be disappointed, since the one in Heidelberg is known as the “world famous ruins”. Some parts of it are well restored, others are only facades. The tour takes about an hour and shows you the most important buildings and rooms. If you want to see something unique, make sure to check out the world’s largest wine barrel: it is seven m high and 8.5 m wide.
After the tour you can walk around the grounds: make sure to go to the platform behind the palace which gives you an amazing view over Heidelberg and the Necker River. I could have spent 2 more hours there, but I was on a tide schedule – if you have more time, you can go into the German Pharmacy Museum, which is on the grounds of the palace and free with your entrance ticket. I took the “Heidelberger Bergbahn” back to downtown and wandered through the little alleys. Since Heidelberg was not destroyed during World War II you can still find the baroque charm in every other house. It is also home of the oldest University in Germany: Ruprecht-Karl-University. Another landmark is the “Heiliggeistkirche” (church) located right in the middle of old town and can be seen from the Heidelberger Palace. There are many shops, cafés, bars and restaurants, where you can sit outside and enjoy the sun and the hustle and bustle.
My last stop of the day was the Königstuhl, a mountain outside of Heidelberg, which gives you an awesome view of old town and offers a wide range of activities such as hiking and biking. There are many ways of getting up there: you can hike or bike, you can take the “Heidelberger Bergbahn” or you can drive up there. Since I was short on time, I choose the last option and drove up there. The view is great, but the weather was not good, as you can see in the picture. When I went back to my car it started to rain.
Of course, four hours are not nearly enough to see everything in Heidelberg, but it was great to see the main attractions. I was able to get a glimpse of the beauty and a reason to come back and explore more.
If you have any questions or feedback please comment down below or contact me, I’m always looking forward to hearing other people’s experiences or answer questions. If you want to see more pictures, please check out my Instagram Account as well.