Heidelberg is one of Germany’s more popular destinations in spite of its smallness. Home to the country’s oldest university - which dates back to the 15th century – Heidelberg is Germany’s academic capital and therefore contains everything you’d expect from a historic town full of bright students. Mostly spared from bombing in World War II, the city also contains many centuries-old charms that will be of interest to anyone passing through.
What To Do
Of course, the University of Heidelberg is a high point for the traveler. Founded in 1386 and currently with about 28,000 students, this is the heart of Germany’s Cambridge or Oxford equivalent area. A castle sits on the hill above the city overlooking the Old Town and the river and is a must-visit.
There is a variety of historic cathedrals through the old section of town as well as remnants of the old city walls to check out, but this is a university town and there are around 300 bars and pubs and cafes in which to imbibe. There are local brews on tap as well as wines grown in the nearby valleys, so combine that with Germany’s liberal attitudes towards drinking and you’ve got a more or less non-stop party.
Heidelberg is often approached by train and is a popular stop for younger Eurail Pass holders in particular. There is no local airport, but the city is quite near Germany’s largest airport so it’s best to book a flight into Frankfurt International. There are hourly shuttle buses that run from the airport into Heidelberg and the journey itself takes only about an hour.
Where To Stay
There are several hostels in Heidelberg and of course there are quite a few hotels in Heidelberg as well. The city is compact so it’s unlikely you’ll be stuck too far out, but it’s always good to check the exact location before you book to prevent any unpleasant surprises. During peak times of the year the better places tend to fill up well in advance so plan ahead if you know your dates.