I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Heidelberg twice. The first time was back in 1995. My husband and I went on a tour of Central Europe with his parents. The second time was on the Rhine River Cruise that I took with my daughter Camille in the fall of 2021.
Both times that I visited were in the fall. The autumn leaves added more interest to an already picturesque town. I went through all the pictures that I took and identified four attractions that I think are must-sees. All four of them can easily be seen in one day.
1. Heidelberg Castle Ruins
If you go to Heidelberg, it’s impossible to miss the castle because it’s on a hill overlooking the city. But don’t settle for a view from down below. Go up to the castle to see it up close.
The castle is mostly in ruins now, although parts of it have been restored. The earliest part was built in the 13th century. Over time, parts of the castle have been added and some parts destroyed by lightning, wars, and fires.
From the castle, you can see the town and the river below.
2. Heidelberg Tun (Wine Barrel)
Another reason to venture up to Heidelberg Castle is to see the Heidelberg Tun, a gigantic wine barrel located inside the castle. It has a capacity of 57,354 gallons and was made from one hundred and thirty oak trees. It is definitely something to see, and apparently something to write about. I was surprised to find out how many times it has been mentioned in literature. It’s been written about by Jules Verne, Victor Hugo, Washington Irving, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, and others.
3. Heidelberg Altstadt (Old Town)
Altstadt means “old town” in the German language. We got our first glimpse of Heidelberg’s Altstadt from the castle before we walked down the hill.
You can see the rain clouds looming. By the time we made it to Altstadt, it was raining.
Because of the rain, our visit didn’t include dining at any outdoor cafes. Instead, we used our free time to explore some of the many shops. My favorite was a shop that sells Christmas decorations year-round. Of course, I found an addition to my Christmas travel ornament collection. They also had nutcrackers, cuckoo clocks, and traditional German pyramid carousels.
Camille wanted to check out every shoe store we passed. She ended up buying a pair of Birkenstocks for a much better price than she could have gotten back home. We also couldn’t resist stopping at a bakery to buy some German pretzels.
4. Karl Theodor Bridge (Old Bridge)
Another notable landmark in Heidelberg is the Karl Theodor Bridge, better known as the Old Bridge. It spans the Neckar River and was built in 1788 during the reign of Prince Karl Theodor. Before this bridge was built, there were 8 other bridges in the same place.
If you look closely, you can see the bridge between our heads in this picture.
And here’s another picture I took of Camille standing on the bridge.
Despite the rain, we enjoyed our visit to Heidelberg during our Rhine River cruise. Have you read the article my daughter and I wrote about a teen’s opinion of river cruises? It’s an interesting read that addresses the myth that river cruises are only for old people.
Are you interested in visiting Heidelberg on a river cruise or on a land-based trip? I can help make it happen. Read about how my services work here. If you think we might be a good fit for each other, send me an email and we’ll schedule a Zoom call.