The second-to-last stop on our 3 1/2 week trip to Germany was in the beautiful university town of Heidelberg. We arrived mid-afternoon on a Sunday after our drive on the Schwarzwaldhochstraße. We were in Heidelberg for less than 24 hours, but we still had plenty of time to take in the highlights and were lucky to have some of the best weather of the entire trip.
After finding the nearest parking garage and hauling our luggage along the cobblestone streets, we arrived at Hotel Hackteufel to check-in. This hotel was in a great central location right in the heart of the old town, just steps away from the very popular Alte Brücke (old bridge). We were very pleasantly surprised to find that we had a large, beautiful room (room 8) complete with a private terrace, mini Haribo bears on our pillows, and fantastic views of the castle.
After getting settled in we made our way to Schloss Heidelberg. There are a few ways to get up to the castle – a funicular and 2 different paths, one with steps and one a paved hill – we went with the paved hill up and took the steps on the way down. At the top we wandered around for a bit and checked out the German Apothecary Museum (a neat little place), but the view was what we were really there for.
Located alongside the River Neckar, this romantic little town really shines from above. Heidelberg escaped bombings in World War II so the beautiful buildings of the old town below have been around for quite some time. If you walk up the steps you can walk along the outside of the castle and take in these spectacular views without paying an admission fee for the palace (the way to go if you’re short on time).
After enjoying the view from all angles, we made our way down from the castle and back to the Marktplatz to sit back and enjoy the beautiful day. It was a busy day in Heidelberg and the square and surrounding streets were filled with tables of others with the same idea. We would grab a drink and enjoy a bit of people watching at one place and then move on to grab a bite and more people watching at the next, eventually making our way to the old bridge. I think that people watching along sidewalks in Europe with a drink in hand might just be one of my very favorite ways to pass an afternoon.
For dinner that night we had a reservation at Schnitzelbank, a cozy little restaurant with great food and wine just about a 10 minute walk from our hotel. Although we did have a reservation in advance, the restaurant was small and had limited seating, so when we arrived we were seated at a table with two younger men that were studying abroad from South Korea and an older German couple from Frankfurt. It was a bit awkward at first, but eventually we all warmed up to each other and enjoyed our meals together.
Our server was very friendly and helpful, giving us some great recommendations of German wines and giving me a few tips on improving my German. Mike and I shared an order of the buttery, garlicky escargot before our mains of schnitzel and wurst arrived. My schnitzel topped with a creamy mushroom sauce was the BEST schnitzel I ate during our entire trip, and the side of käse spätzle made it that much better. Mike was very happy with his sausages, but I think my schnitzel was the winner that night.
Our stay in Heidelburg was short but sweet, and it’s definitely a town that we’d love to return to someday. If you’re staying in or around Frankfurt, Heidelberg would make a perfect day-trip, but you could easily spend a few days here before getting bored!