Located in southwestern Germany, right on the shores of the Neckar River, is the charming town of Heidelberg. You can spend your time there walking the old town square in Marktplatz or seeing the world’s very first automobile at Automuseum Dr. Carl Benz. There’s so much for visitors to enjoy, especially for those who appreciate history and architecture. Be sure to walk the path of Philosophers Walk or climb to the top of Konigstuhl to get some amazing views of one of Germany’s greatest cities.
1.Automuseum Dr. Carl Benz
© Automuseum Dr. Carl Benz
The Automuseum Dr. Carl Benz is a privately owned museum that focuses on the history of automobile manufacturers, specifically Karl Benz. The museum was established in 1984 and has been at its current location since 2005 - the current building was once a factory which produced automobiles under the C. Benz Sohne brand. You’ll be able to see numerous artifacts, memorabilia, and over 120 vehicles, from the first automobile in the world to the Mercedes-Benz Formula One racing car. Other displays also include the wooden wheel constructed by Freiherr von Drais and several wonderful scooters. An interesting fact is that only three of the vehicles built there exist worldwide, two of which are back on display in the factory hall for you to see.
Ilvesheimer Str. 26, 68526 Ladenburg, Germany, Phone: +49-62-03-18-17-86
2.Botanical Garden of the University of Heidelberg
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The Botanical Garden of the University of Heidelberg was established in 1593 and is the third oldest botanical garden in Germany. It is maintained by the university for preservation and research purposes though much of it is open to the public for exploration. Having grown exponentially over the years, today visitors will be able to see over 14,000 plant taxa, with everything from succulents and orchids. They have a special collection of succulents from the Old World, tropical ferns, cycads, and carnivorous plants. Their herbarium has over 250,000 specimens, much of which you can learn about from the knowledgeable professionals there.
Heidelberg University: Im Neuenheimer Feld 340, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany, Phone: +49-62-21-54-57-83
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Burg Handschuhsheim, or the Tiefburg as it is known, is a medieval moated castle that can be found in the heart of Heidelberg. The ruins are one of the most interesting sites you can explore during your visit there; guided tours of the castle and archive are available on certain days of the month so be sure to give them a call before you head over there. Aspects from the core castle that are still preserved today include the foundation wall, the defensive walls, and the vaults of the residential tower. The Tiefburg is home to many festivals and events throughout the year, much of which is open to the public and is a great opportunity to explore while having fun with friends and family.
Tiefburg, Dossenheimer Landstraße 6, 69121 Heidelberg, Germany, Phone: +49-62-21-40-95-84
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The ruins of Heidelberg Castle are a prominent landmark in Germany as it is one of the most important Renaissance structures constructed north of the Alps. The earliest castle structure was built in 1214 but has been built, destroyed, rebuilt, and renovated many times over the years. The ruins have been a tourist attraction since the early 19th century and is often the subject of popular postcards and souvenir cups, which is why it is one of the most recognized icons in Germany. It has been visited by many famed persons such as Ludwig Giesz, a Heidelberg professor, and Mark Twain, an American author.
Schlosshof 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
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Heidelberg Thingstatte is an open-air theatre that was built as part of the Thingspiel movement by the Third Reich; Thingspiel was a type of multidisciplinary theatre which was popular in the 1930s in pre-war Nazi Germany and this is one of the 40 theatres which was built out of the 400 planned. The protected cultural monument was built in the form of an egg-shaped amphitheater and can hold anywhere from 8,000 to 15,000 people for each event. You can visit the architectural masterpiece any time of the year, but to see it in use you must attend the annual Walpurgis Night celebrations which attracts nearly 14,000 people.
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Contained within the cellars of the Heidelberg Castle, the Heidelberg Tun is an extremely large wine vat that was constructed in 1751. When it was built, the vat had the capacity to hold 58,574 gallons of wine at a time, but now due to the drying of the wood, it can only hold 57,854 gallons. Supposedly, it took almost one hundred and thirty oak trees to create the towering structure. Though the concept was richly at the time, there are only four such barrels that were constructed in the history of Heidelberg. It was rarely actually used as a wine barrel and has in fact spent more time being a tourist attraction, and in recent years, a dance floor which can be found at the top of the tun.
Heidelberg Castle: Schlosshof 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
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Founded in 1933, the Heidelberg Zoo is the brainchild of ornithologist Otto Fehringer who was supported by German chemist and engineer Carl Bosch. The zoo suffered from money shortage and other issues but managed to run for twelve years before it was completely destroyed during bombings in 1945. Nearly thirty years later, reformation of the zoo began. Today, you’re able to walk the 10 hectare land and visit the nearly 1,500 animals that call the zoo home. Kids love seeing the majestic beasts in the Africa enclosure, getting up close with brown bears, and playing around with the sea lions. One of their newest additions is an elephant house for young elephant bulls as part of a breeding program formed by the EEP.
Tiergartenstraße 3, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
8.Henry Heidelberg Tours
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One of the best ways to explore the beautiful surrounding is through a bicycle tour with Henry Heidelberg Tours. The journey lasts 90 minutes roundtrip and will take you from Heidelberg to Ladenburg and back. You’ll be able to cycle along the scenic Neckar River, the lush green lawns of Neckarweise, through the famed university campus and several other scenic landscapes. Your bikes are guaranteed to be of highest quality, and your guide, of the most knowledgeable on local history and interesting facts. Enjoy the picturesque surroundings and exploring the area’s highlights such as the lovely old market with Henry Heidelberg Tours.
Heidelberg, Germany, Phone: +49-176-23-66-87-16
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The Garden of the Palatinate, or Hortus Palatinus, can be found on the complex of Heidelberg Castle. The Baroque garden was constructed in Italian Renaissance style in 1614 by Frederick V, Elector Palatine for his wife Elizabeth Stewart. At the time, the garden had used modernistic horticultural and landscaping techniques which made it a famous across Europe in the 17th century - even being recognized as “Germany’s greatest Renaissance garden” and the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. Funnily enough, the garden was never completed with the onset of the Battle of White Mountain, which forced Frederick and his wife into a life of exile, and the Thirty Years War where the gardens were used as an artillery base. When his son finally returned to the castle in 1648 the gardens were in ruins and stayed that way till today.
Schloß-Wolfsbrunnenweg 16, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
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The Karzer comprises several museums housed in the University of Heidelberg that is filled with a number of collections. Within it, you will be able to see several aspects such as their Egyptological collection, their extensive collection of coins, facsimile collection of ancient texts, anatomy, and much more. Their Antique Museum and Casting Collection of antique sculptures is one of their most popular aspects as is their showcase of historical tools and photo library of European arts. Afterwards, be sure to head out to their Botanical Garden and Herbarium HEID or the Tertiary Garden of Geological Paleontology to see an incomparable collection of flora.
Grabengasse 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Phone: +49-622-15-41-28-13
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Konigstuhl, which translates to King’s Seat in German, is a hill that can be found in Heidelberg’s Odenwald Mountains. The 1,863-foot-high hill is popular with tourists and locals because of the summit at the top which gives visitors a panoramic view of Neckar River and the city of Heidelberg. On a clear day you’ll even be able to see all the way to the Palatinate Forest which is over thirty miles away. Your journey to Konigstuhl started with a fun ride on a historic funicular railway that starts at the base of the mountain near Heidelberg Castle and makes its way to the mountain top - in addition to the viewing deck you’ll also find several walking paths, a restaurant, and a children’s park at the top.
© Kurpfälzisches Museum
The Palatinate Museum, or the Kurpfalzisches Museum, can be found in Heidelberg, Germany and is dedicated to the area’s art and archaeology. The museum was founded in the late 1870s when the city decided to purchase the private collection of Charles de Graimberg, an artist and art historian. As you explore the museum you’ll see many artifacts and paintings, including portraits of historic local figures from the 15th century onward. Exhibits and displays that shouldn't be missed include a life-sized reconstruction of the mithraeum of Heidelberg, the array of Frankenthal porcelain, and the household silver collection of Countess Palatine Elisabeth Auguste.
Hauptstraße 97, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany, Phone: +49-622-15-83-40-20
© Märchenparadies Heidelberg
Marchenparadies Heidelberg is a fairytale paradise that kids, in both age and heart, are sure to love. The fairytale paradise has so many things to see and do, with exhibits and events constantly evolving so there’s also something new there. Experience hours of magical fun in the 28,000 sqm amusement park with features such as the recreated Konigstuhl mountain and the mysterious homes of Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White, the Dwarves, and much more. Take a ride on their monorail train, explore the castle fitted with a giant jumping pillow, or jump high into the sky on their large trampolines. Kids are sure to love the experience and have an amazing time at Marchenparadies Heidelberg.
Königstuhl 5/2, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany, Phone: +49-622-12-34-16
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Marktplatz is one of the oldest squares in Heidelberg and has always served as a market since it was first established in the 1600s. The earliest version of the Town Hall was destroyed by French troops in 1689, but much of what you see today was built soon after in 1701. The Marktplatz is a pedestrian-only zone and is often bustling with people and activity throughout the year. You’ll come across an array of unique boutique stores and cafes where you can spend your time perusing trinkets and having delicious snacks and drinks. Take in the historic architecture and feel of a place full of interesting sights such as the Town Hall, the Church of the Holy Ghost, and the Hercules Fountain.
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The Mercedes Tour is owned and operated by driver and guide, Manfred, who spent the better part of his adult life working for tourism companies in the U.S. and Europe. Using all his skill and expertise of the industry and the area of Heidelberg, he opened up his very own company with a Mercedes S-Class, hence the name Mercedes Tour. Clients will have a comfortable and luxurious time as sit in massaging, climate-controlled seats and visit places such as the River Neckar, the Black Forest, Speyer, Baden-Baden, Frankfurt, and the many beautiful towns, vineyards, and castles in the area. You can even create your own itinerary, so you make the most of your time.
16.Museum House Cajeth
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Museum House Cajeth, also known as the Museum of Primitive Painting, was established in 1982 and is one of Heidelberg’s hidden gems. The museum is filled with works of unknown painters in all forms - the unique collections boasts that none of the paintings are by professional artists who have had professional training or guidance, but rather by those uninhibited by rules and who just painted for the love of the art. You will be able to see a beautiful array of art, much of which is sure to capture your intrigue in a way no other art exhibition or museum in Heidelberg can.
Haspelgasse 12, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany, Phone: +49-622-12-44-66
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© Neuburg Abbey
Neuburg Abbey, or Stift Neuburg as it is commonly known, is a Benedictine monastery that is a part of the Beuronese Congregation. The monastery is dedicated to Saint Bartholomew, who was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. Visitors of all religions and beliefs are invited to visit the monastery, no matter if they’re looking for a place to pray or just reflect in silence. You are more than welcome to talk to one of the dozen or so monks that reside there or just spend your time exploring the stunning architectural marvel and the many works of art that can be found inside.
Stiftweg 2, 69118 Heidelberg, Germany, Phone: +49-62-21-89-50
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Old Bridge, locally known as Alte Brucke, is a famous bridge that is one of the last large examples of classical stone bridge architecture. It was built using Neckar Valley sandstone in the 18th century under the instruction of Prince Karl Theodor to connect the old town to the banks of the Neckar in the Neuenheim District. Beside the gate of the bridge, you’ll see the Heidelberg Bridge Monkey, which is a bronze sculptor by Professor Gernot Rumpf that was installed in 1979. Other aspects you can see also include a monument dedicated to Prince Elector Karl Theodor with the base symbolizing important rivers such as the Danube, Rhine, Mosel, and Isar.
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The Pharmacy Museum is focused on the apothecary evolution in Germany and was founded in 1937 in Munich. Due to the war and other turmoil the museum reopened and relocated several times and in several places before finding its final home in Heidelberg in 1957. Hundreds of thousands of visitors go to the world-renowned museum every year to see the diverse collection of artifacts from the constantly evolving pharmaceutical industry. The collection is so varied and encompasses everything from historical documents from the Eagle Pharmacy in Brandenburg Kyritz, figurehead logos, cold-painted glass jars circa 17th century, and a unique compilation of over a thousand raw drugs.
Schloss Heidelberg, Schlosshof 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany, Phone: +49-622-12-58-80
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Philosophers Walk is a path located in on the northern banks of Heidelberg’s Neckar River. Originally, it was just a simple path through the vineyards that was popular with the area’s philosophers and professors because of its great views, natural beauty, and serene solitude. Today, you can walk the same path as the scholars and gain amazing views of Heidelberg Castle, the Old Town of Heidelberg, and Neckar River. Their path winds through some lovely gardens and there are several information plaques that have been put up along the way. For some of the most breathtaking views, walk the path during sunrise or sunset and in the spring when the flowers in the garden are in full bloom.
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© Sammlung Prinzhorn
Sammlung Prinzhorn, or the Prinzhorn Collection, can be found in the University of Heidelberg’s Psychiatric Clinic. All of the works that you’ll see are by mentally ill patients who were at the clinic post 1919 when art historian Hans Prinzhorn joined the team to expand their arts program. The patients suffered from depression, schizophrenia, and much more, and the art gave the psychiatric community a window into the psyche of their mentally ill patients. The artwork was almost burned by the Nazis prior to World War II as they eliminated all art that did not promote their ideals, but thankfully the collection was hidden in the university storage and is now proudly displayed in the clinic along with works from similar programs across the world.
Voßstraße 2, 69115 Heidelberg, Germany, Phone: +49-62-21-56-44-92
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Schwetzingen Palace is a manor compound comprising the palace, a theater, a mosque, and spacious and ornate gardens. Visitors are invited to admire the stunning architecture and decor of the palace, which was once the Baroque summer residence of the Palatinate court. During a tour of the castle’s interior, you will be taken through several public rooms, electoral apartments, and the charming Hochberg apartment. The garden is fitted with refined architectural pieces and numerous sculptures that vividly showcase its history and development. Be sure to explore the fully-restored mosque as well as it is one of the earliest architectural styles of mosques which were built in Germany.
Schloß Mittelbau, 68723 Schwetzingen, Germany
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23.Heidelberg Student Prison
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As far back as the 16th century it was common practice for the University of Heidelberg to imprison students in the Student Prison for offenses such as disturbing the peace, unruly drunkenness, womanizing, and in response to other citizen complaints. Though it may sound a bit harsh it was actually a coveted experience by students and a stay in the almost-pleasant prison was somewhat of a rite of passage. Today you can explore the prison, which was eventually closed down in 1914, and is covered in graffiti from the ceilings down to the floor - a visual display of the prisoner’s boredom as they resided there for the duration of their sentence which could have been anywhere from three days to four weeks. It’s an interesting sight to visit and shouldn’t be missed while touring the area.
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CocoSUP is the brainchild of blogger, traveler, and yogi, Katja. It all started with the sense of peace and calm she felt when stand-up paddling in Hamburg and then again in the Hawaiian Islands. Choosing to share this enlightening recreational experience with visitors of the Rhine-Neckar region, she opened up CocoSUP. She offers various stand-up paddling courses for visitors of all ages and skill levels, whether it’s your first time out on the water or whether you’re a pro. Katja became a yoga teacher after training in India and offers many yoga experiences for visitors as well. You can even combine the two and try out stand-up paddling yoga out on the waters!
Hinter der Mühle 11, 69226 Nußloch, Germany, Phone: +49-17-71-70-36-20
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Whether you are discovering Heidelberg for the very first time or whether you’re a resident there that just wants to spend some time basking in the beauty of the area, the cruise-like tours offered by Weisse Flotte are sure to amaze you. You’ll cruise through the new and old shores seeing the stunning city from a point of view that can’t be seen from anywhere other than the waters. The diverse and entertaining cruises are available all year long and have a range of themes whether it be salsa night or a murder mystery that needs to be solved. Some of their most popular excursions are of the city at night, trips through the Forest of Odes, and castle tours which allow you to admire these marvelous structures from the boat and on foot.
Nexkarstaden 25, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany, Phone: +49-622-12-01-81
25 Best Things to Do in Heidelberg, Germany
- Automuseum Dr. Carl Benz, Photo: Automuseum Dr. Carl Benz
- Botanical Garden of the University of Heidelberg, Photo: Courtesy of hcast - Fotolia.com
- Handschuhsheim, Tiefburg, Photo: Courtesy of World travel images - Fotolia.com
- Heidelberg Castle, Photo: Courtesy of TA-Photographie - Fotolia.com
- Heidelberg Thingstatte, Photo: Courtesy of apfelweile - Fotolia.com
- Heidelberg Tun, Photo: Courtesy of patron74 - Fotolia.com
- Heidelberg Zoo, Photo: Courtesy of neurobite - Fotolia.com
- Henry Heidelberg Tours, Photo: Courtesy of tuayai - Fotolia.com
- Hortus Palatinus, Photo: Courtesy of anatoliil - Fotolia.com
- Karzer, Photo: Courtesy of kittipong33 - Fotolia.com
- Königstuhl, Photo: Courtesy of Stephan - Fotolia.com
- Kurpfälzisches Museum, Photo: Kurpfälzisches Museum
- Märchenparadies Heidelberg, Photo: Märchenparadies Heidelberg
- Marktplatz, Photo: Courtesy of eyetronic - Fotolia.com
- Mercedes Tour, Photo: Courtesy of dirk - Fotolia.com
- Museum House Cajeth, Photo: Courtesy of guruXOX - Fotolia.com
- Neuburg Abbey, Photo: Neuburg Abbey
- Old Bridge, Photo: Courtesy of Freesurf - Fotolia.com
- Pharmacy Museum, Photo: Courtesy of chfortunato2015 - Fotolia.com
- Philosophers Walk, Photo: Courtesy of Sergey_T - Fotolia.com
- Sammlung Prinzhorn, Photo: Sammlung Prinzhorn
- Schwetzingen Palace, Photo: Courtesy of Hermann - Fotolia.com
- Heidelberg Student Prison, Photo: Courtesy of eyetronic - Fotolia.com
- CocoSUP, Photo: Courtesy of LudewigPhotography - Fotolia.com
- Weisse Flotte, Photo: Courtesy of pusteflower9024 - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Dimitrios - Fotolia.com