Heidelberg, Germany | October 16 to 17, 2017
Being that I live in Mannheim—which is 15 minutes away from Heidelberg via the S-Bahn—I have become a frequent visitor to the charming and history-filled town on the Rhine. Luckily for myself and for all you world travelers, Heidelberg was spared during World War II bombing raids, and thus the city remains intact. Something interesting I found out was that the earliest human (Homo Erectus) was discovered in Heidelberg, and was thus dubbed "The Heidelberg Man".
While the main part of the town is on the south side of the Rhine River, there is a great set of hiking trails on the north side. Known as Philosophers Walk (Philosophenweg), the pseudo-mountain is filled with interesting landmarks and lookout points. It is there where you can discover for yourself the iconic views of the Heidelberg Old Bridge (Alte Brücke), old town and Heidelberg Castle (Schloss Heidelberg).
As you get up higher and higher, the views get better and better. On the way to the top, I encountered a few bizarre, but interesting landmarks that are seemingly placed without rhyme or reason. The first was Bismarck-Säule, whatever that is. There's also an observation deck (Aussichtspunkt) and Heidenloch, a medieval shaft that descends 180 feet (55 meters) into the earth. At the very top, there are remarkable views at the Stephanskloster Heiligenberg. While I didn't make it, there are a few interesting ruins, the Heiligenberganlage and Michaelskloster Heiligenberg. Both also offer panoramic views of Heidelberg.
After I made my way back down, I moseyed around and then wandered through the old town for the rest of the day. The following day wasn't as clear and sunny, but it made for a nice trip to the Heidelberg Castle. Exceptionally well preserved since the 16th century, the Heidelberg Castle, is a top attraction in the town. Since it is perched up on a hill, it is a steep walk to the castle. If you don't want to walk, there's an elevator of sorts that will get you to the top.
From the castle, there are even more great views of Heidelberg, just from a different vantage point. Across the river, you can see where Philosophers Walk begins just above the houses.
Because of how much I love Heidelberg, I have already been once again between the trip I'm writing about, and the time this was posted. Heidelberg is one of Germany's treasures, and you would don't want to regret not adding Heidelberg to your itinerary!
- If you are traveling by train, use Google Maps to help you determine which tram or bus line to use. For example, the 5 line will get you from Heidelberg Central Station to the downtown area (Bismarckplatz). For someone who didn't know this beforehand, Google Maps will tell you that you need to take the 5 line. It will also show you which direction it's going (because the 5 line operates in two directions—one going towards Bismarckplatz, one going away from Bismarckplatz), and how often and at what times the tram/bus will be at your stop. While this goes for any city, it's particularly useful in Heidelberg
- If you're traveling by car, keep in mind that you're not supposed to drive through the old town unless you have a reason. Just be aware.