A romantic Baroque town, Heidelberg is a popular destination right on the River Neckar and hosts one of Europe’s oldest universities.
Nestled in a valley of the Odenwald Mountains, Heidelberg has some of the warmest weather Germany has to offer. The city is a popular destination for tourists wanting to enjoy the romantic scenery around the town, discover the history or just go for a pleasant walk along the Neckar River.
Founded in the fifth century, Heidelberg has an impressive history. The town center is full of gothic and romantic architecture, which surrounds beer gardens and cozy cafes. A winding, mile-long pedestrian street offers shopping and will take you to the triumphal arch, Karlstor, which was erected in honor of Prince Karl Theodor.
From here, take the funicular railway up to Heidelberg Castle, which towers above the town center. This famous structure was a Renaissance masterpiece, rebuilt on several occasions, before fires and wars took its toll on the original structures. Now, Heidelberg Castle is an architectural wonder with facades from various historical eras. It is the town's trademark, and considered one of the most important Romantic ruins in the world.
The castle is also home to a beautiful Renaissance garden spread across several terraces on the Königsstuhl Mountain. Before the destruction of the castle and its surroundings, this garden was considered the "Eighth Wonder of the World." Hike there today to enjoy breathtaking views of Heidelberg town and the Old Stone Bridge.
Many of the town’s old structures survived the heavy bombings of the Second World War, though after the war it was occupied by American troops. To this day, Heidelberg is the headquarters for the US military in Europe, which gives the town a large and noticeable American population.
Lastly, it wouldn’t be a trip to Heidelberg without visiting Heidelberg University, one of the oldest universities in Europe. Wander the ancient halls where famous scientists like Jürgen Habermas and Karl-Otto Apel did much of their thinking. The university attracts new students every year, ensuring that this old, romantic town also has a youthful side, from stylish bars to annual music festivals.