This Throwback Thursday is all about my recent amazing solo trip to Heidelberg, Germany! This quaint village nestled in the hill country is everything you could possibly want in an old-world European getaway. If you need an itinerary suggestion, here is my recommendation!
The day I arrived, I totally botched my train travel and arrived about 1:30pm–two hours later than I thought I would. Epic fail! But never mind. Heidelberg was still adorable and waiting for me.
After checking into my hotel, I spent my afternoon exploring the Altstadt, or Old Town. I found a fabulous antique bookstore, stumbled upon several Christmas Markets, and got my bearings. It’s very important to be outside the first day you arrive after a long flight. Your body will still be confused, but not nearly as much as it would if you took a nap or stayed inside museums or other indoor areas without enough natural light. Even an overcast day is better than being inside that first day!
For the full story on what I ate, checkout yesterday’s post! Getting some nourishment in you at a normal mealtime in the country you’re visiting is important to helping your body acclimate to its new place. I had some fun finding some delightful German cuisine!
The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent exploring the Christmas Markets, buying Christmas gifts for family, and truly feeling the Christmas spirit upon me! Oh, and I might have found a sweet treat, too!
If you’re not around at Christmas time, spend your afternoon and evening exploring the paths beside the Neckar River! Cross the Alte Brücke Old Bridge to get stunning views of both sides of Heidelberg!
Morning: Heidelberg Schloss (Castle)
Spend your first full morning in Heidelberg exploring their signature icon: the castle! You can take the funicular up for 7 Euro ($8.25), or you can walk up the cobblestone hill for free. Remember to wear your walking shoes!
Admission is 4 Euro ($4.75), but you can explore the castle gardens and courtyard for free! Your admission includes entry to the castle, the restaurants, the gigantic wine cask room, and the Apothecary Museum! You can pay for a guided tour in English or German, but I felt like I got to see and do plenty on my own!
Grab lunch at the Castle while you’re there, and be sure to stop into the room with the Heidelberg Tun inside–it’s the largest wine barrel in the world!
While you’re up on that mountain, take the opportunity to explore the castle gardens and the gorgeous lookout spot to see all of Old Heidelberg!
Now that you’ve explored the Castle and its grounds, head back down the hill to enjoy some of the museums in historic Heidelberg. There are several, including the University of Heidelberg Museum (it’s the oldest university in Germany!), Museum of Palatinate, Antikenmuseum with Abguss-Sammlung, and the Carl-Bosch Museum. You don’t want to miss the University Museum–it includes a student prison!
Evening: Authentic German Cuisine
Feel free to spend your evening exploring a bit farther afield to find some incredible German food! I ate in an historic building with original rafters and all, and I had authentic rendir goulash mit spätzel–beef goulash with spaetzel!
Morning: Explore the Churches
Germany has a rich history, including an important place in religious history. The Reformation started in Germany, and that is reflected in the Church of the Holy Spirit, right in the Marktplatz (Market Square). There is also a beautiful Jesuit Church just off the square as well, with a small museum inside. Heidelberg Providence Church houses the oldest organ in Heidelberg, and St. Peter’s Church is the oldest church in Heidelberg.
Grab a pretzel with cheese or other tasty bakery item on your way from the churches to the Old Bridge. You have some hiking to do!
Afternoon: Walk the Philosopher’s Way
I made the small mistake of taking on the Philosopher’s Way in the morning, but the sun was in the wrong place for photos–the mountain cast a shadow over the town and the castle! So I suggest doing this in the afternoon.
I also made the mistake of taking the long way to get there! It was fine, but there is a better, more straightforward way. Cross the Old Bridge from the Old Town to the opposite side of the river, walk to the left, and look up the first alley to your right. The black and white sign will say Schlangenweg Fußweg zum Philosophenweg, and the path there will take you right up to the top! You can walk to the left or right once you get to the top and take in the beautiful views.
Evening: Last-minute Shopping and Authentic German Street Food
If this is your last evening in Heidelberg, make it count! Because I was there at Christmas, I bought plenty of gifts for friends and family, including some traditional German woodwork. I also made sure to get some lebkuchen cookies and gluhwein spices to take home with me for a taste of Germany!
And what was for supper? How about Kässe Spätzel and a banana Nutella crepe?
I hope you enjoy your three days in Heidelberg as much as I did! Are you ready for your own trip to Heidelberg?