Things to do in Heidelberg on a day trip

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We only had one day in Heidelberg and it was always high on our list of places to see in Germany. You see we love castle’s and the castle at Heidelberg always looks amazing in every picture we have seen. The Castle in Heidelberg is located sitting perched up on the hill guarding the town below and Schloss Heidelberg was priority number one.

We only had a short time sightseeing as we made a Heidelberg day trip up from Freiburg to see the city before returning later that day. So the question remained what to see in Heidelberg in one day.

Things to do in Heidelberg
Heidelberg old town

What to do in Heidelberg in one day

We concentrated our time on the Old Town to cover all of the Heidelberg points of interest. We started at the Old Town or the Altstadt as it is called in Germany and we walked down to Market Square first. Like most old towns, this square is full of activity markets and such going on, some of the best Heidelberg Germany restaurants are located around here.

The market square of Old Heidelberg has a checkered past and was once used for the burning of witches and heretics. Citizens who committed petty crimes were made to hang in cages in the square for all to see. The square is boarded on one side by the Church of the Holy Spirit and the other side of the Town Hall.

Visit the Tourist Information office

If you only have one day in Heidelberg head straight for the tourist information centre. You can access Heidelberg tourist info experts all the year-round at the Main Train Station and in the Old Town The staff will provide you with any information needed for things to do in Heidelberg Monday through Saturday

The Heidelberg tourist info centre is in the City Hall on Market Square in the Old Town area. Grab your map, maybe a Free walking tour

Free walking tours are a great way to learn about the city you are visiting, You will be taken to and explained the Heidelberg points of interest. Meet the tour EVERY WEDNESDAY to SUNDAY for our English tour at 2:30 PM next to the famous Bridge Monkey, which is close to the Old Bridge Gate.

For more information check the Free Walking Tour Website

Visit the Alte Brücke Bridge

We headed around the corner to the Alte brücke Bridge. The Alte Brücke Bridge runs over the River Necker. It is an amazing bridge with views in all directions. It is one of those places you just want to stand and look and take it all in. Heidelberg is one of the most beautiful cities in Germany. The bridge is adorned with statues and The Bridge-gate at each end.

The Alte brücke Heidelberg was constructed in the 18th Century. Throughout history, bridges have always stood here but were ravished by flood and war. Today you can see markings on the Brücke bridge that will show you flood levels the River Necker has reached. You can’t do any Heidelberg sightseeing without stopping by this gorgeous bridge.

Things to do in Heidelberg

Visit the Castle

Schloss Heidelberg was first mentioned in 1196. What is left of the castle today is mainly the outer shell but in no way a ruined castle. The shell is impressive no doubt, the castle rises from the tree-lined hill it sits perched on. One could imagine it would have been an intimidating site for medieval warriors trying to attack it, today it sits welcoming ready to greet the hordes of tourists.

The Castle has lived through wars, fires and twice being struck by lightning. On one occasion, the lightning struck the gunpowder room and virtually blew up half the castle with it. Over the last 800 years, the castle has been expanded, destroyed and damaged to the point in the 1700’s people from the town were using the stone the castle was made from to construct houses. You can see now why this castle is a must on a Heidelberg day trip.

In order to get up to the castle, the easiest way is to take the funicular. The funicular whisks you up to the top of the hill to visit Heidelberg Castle, where it’s a short walk to the castle. A return ticket on the funicular to the Castle stop includes entry to the castle grounds, the wine cellar and the German Pharmacy Museum.

Furnicular Price (2021):

  • Adults 9€ Return
  • Concession 4.50€ Return
Things to do in heidelberg
A view of Heidelberg Castle from the bridge

The Castle once had a moat for protection during wars. The moat is now a beautiful contrast with its green to the red brick colour of the castle. The castle itself I was disappointed with as there was really not a great deal of access unless you took a Heidelberg Castle tour. You had access to the giant wine barrel and the apothecary museum. The giant wine barrel is the biggest in the world. Its truly one of the most unique things to see in Heidelberg.

When it was completed in 1751 it had a capacity of 221,000 lire’s of wine. 120 oak trees were chopped down to construct this monster barrel. It really is amazing to think that someone made and stored wine in something of this size. Surely the whole castle must have been on the wine juice often. What to do in Heidelberg in the medieval times? Drink wine, no tea drinkers here. You really get a feel for the size for this barrel when you take the steps up to the top of it.

Things to do in Heidelberg
The giant wine barrel at Heidelberg Castle
Entry Prices
Adult: 8,00 €Concession: 4,00 €

Visit the Church of the Holy Spirit

We went inside the Church of the Holy Spirit. Like all medieval period churches, it is well worth a viewing. The Church of the Holy Spirit was first mentioned in 1239. This current church is the 3rd version of a church to sit in this spot and is one of the most beautiful Heidelberg attractions. The church was once famous for its Library that had over 8000 books and manuscripts but they were taken and now form part of the Vatican Library in Rome, Italy. This makes Market Square a great starting point for your Heidelberg itinerary.

Things to do in Heidelberg
The church of the holy spirit

Stroll along Hauptstrasse

Our one day in Heidelberg was up and we headed back down the hill and slowly walked along Hauptstrasse. Strolling the main mall area of the old town towards our car and the trip back to Freiburg. But before we left we could do a spot of shopping at some of the gorgeous little shops. Some had traditional food to buy or little souviners.

Here you will also find some Gold Plaques on the sidewalk. These are memorials to Jewish people who were taken from this area and transported to the Concentration Camp. If you see a plaque out the front of a building then it was owned by a Jewish person or it was the last known residence of a Jewish victim of the Holocaust.


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For Australian travellers, we recommend Fast Cover Travel Insurance
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Things to do with kids in Heidelberg

If you are visiting Heidelberg with kids you might consider visiting the Heidelberg Zoo. Zoo Heidelberg is a great attraction 1,726 animals at last count in December 2019. There are 159 species in the Heidelberg Zoo, of which 522 were mammals, 466 birds, and 45 reptiles. Animals include Western Gorillas, Red Pandas, Asian Elephants and Red kangaroos just to name a few.

Admission for adults to the zoo starts at € 10.80 while kids 3-18 years old starts at € 5.40

 From Heidelberg main station, please take bus 32 or 37. The bus stop – coming from Heidelberg main station – is called “Zoo

Where to eat

Being a lover of different beers, we stopped at Vetters Brauhaus for a drink and a bite to eat. I had to try a Heidelberg Beer. The brewery is about 100 meters from the bridge-gate. I tried a few varieties of Heidelberg beer that’s made on the premises. Vetter brews their beer according to the German purity law. The brewery is also one of the most popular Heidelberg Germany restaurants. This traditional restaurant served a sausage platter with locally made wurst. We enjoyed the beer while sitting at the outdoor dining.

The Vetters Brauhaus is located at Steingasse 9, 69117

Things to do in Heidelberg

If you like our post why not buy it as an app for your trip to Heidelberg. See more here at GPS tour guides

Know before you go. Our top Heidelberg travel tips

If you are lucky enough to be able to spend more than one day in Heidelberg you can spread out the tops activities over a couple of days. These tips on where to stay and what to do in the city will save you time on planning your trip.

Do I need travel insurance in Germany?
We always say if you can’t afford travel insurance you can’t afford to travel. Get your travel insurance now to protect your epic holiday in Germany from any small hiccup.
For Australian travellers, we recommend Fast Cover Travel Insurance
For worldwide travellers, we recommend Visitors Coverage Travel Insurance

Where to stay in Heidelberg

You’ll never be short of options for your accommodation. In Heidelberg, you find a range of hotels, apartments, and hostels. You will be sure to be able to find something to fit singles, couples, families, and groups on every budget. If you’re not keen on any of our picks below or have specific needs, we recommend using Trip Advisor and to find the best prices for your stay

Budget: situated in the heart of old town Heidelberg, very close to the historic castle is The Lotte Hostel. The hostel features Wi-Fi, a fully equipped communal kitchen, a cosy living room with a computer for free use.

Mid Range: Situated beside Main Station and offering free parking, the Ibis Heidelberg Hauptbahnhof is a perfect base for exploring the Heidelberg’s romantic Old Town and the ever-impressive Castle. Rooms start from around 60 Euro a night.

Luxury: Heidelberg Suites is a boutique hotel on the site of a splendid villa with a private spa. Most of the rooms and suites at this Small Luxury Hotels offer a view of the Old Bridge and Castle.

Heidelberg Airbnb alternative for your stay

If you prefer a home away from home-style accommodation then Air BnB is the best choice for you. There are so many options for singles, families, and budget-friendly options as well. Check out the map below to find the perfect Heidelberg Airbnb

How to get to Heidelberg

Heidelberg, is a city inBaden-Württemberg state, southwestern Germany. The city lies on the Neckar River

Plane: There is no airport in Heidelberg. The nearest airports to Heidelberg are Mannheim (MHG) Airport which is 14.4 km away, Frankfurt (FRA) (72.1 km), Stuttgart (STR) (87.7 km), Strasbourg (SXB) (123.4 km) and Luxembourg (LUX) (180.4 km). You can book your flights today with Cheap O’ air.

Buses:  Heidelberg can be reached directly from 145 cities with Flixbus. Tickets start from only 3.95. Book your Flixbus ticket today

Train: The main Train station serves long-distance lines and the regional S-Bahn network, as well as local trains. You can catch direct trains in under an hour from Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Karlsruhe. We recommend you book your train tickets with GoEuro.

Driving: Driving to Heidelberg is easy with the amazing highways in Germany. Heidelberg is located just off the Bundesautobahn 5. You can pick up a rental car at any airport in Germany

How to get around the city

Buses and trams (Strassenbahn or Stadtbahn) are the main forms of transportation in the city, You can catch public transport to all major parts of the city.

Using your phone in Heidelberg

Relying on Wi-fi when you are travelling can be hard. Making calls and staying in contact with who you need is a top priority. Plan your trip out and order your sim before you leave home to stop any stress about travelling, data, and calls.

We hope this article from us here at Wyld Family Travel has helped you plan your Heidelberg attractions list. The views over the town were amazing, one of the most beautiful cities in Germany made our Heidelberg day trip worthwhile. Visiting The Old Town, The Karl Theodor Bridge (Alte Brücke) and the castle confirmed our thoughts. For more amazing ideas on where to holiday in Germany click through to our Germany Destination Guide Page for more brilliant inspiration.

Some more travel inspiration for your trip to Germany

25 thoughts on “Things to do in Heidelberg on a day trip”

  1. I love Heidelberg! I have to confess I’ve never actually been in the church though.

    Five and a half hours from Freiburg? You must have taken the slow trains!

  2. We stayed in Freiburg during a camping trip around Europe many moons ago. I loved this area and the castles you see everywhere are stunning. That wine barrel is pretty impressive – I bet the whole town could have come to the party!

  3. Lovely pictures! I’ve been reading a lot about Heidelberg this past year, and I think I’ll have to add it to my bucketlist. It looks gorgeous!

  4. Great photos! I love Heidelberg and it’s also an easily accessible day trip from Frankfurt. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Even though Heidelberg is not so far from Munich, I still haven’t been there!! It looks so beautiful. My husband have studied there for a few months. I hope to visit it sometime 😀

    • Hi Mark. The situation is ok, under control There are lots of organisations taking care of them, they are finding more places to accommodate everyone, and there are lots of people volunteering too 😀

  6. Beautiful photos! I’ve been hearing a lot about Heidelberg, and I’m debating trying to go in December and catch a Christmas market there – sounds like you had a great time! That is a massive wine barrel – I always think of Germany for its beer, not its wine. But as we found out at one Christmas market, Germany seems to consume most of the wine it does produce, which means although we don’t see it on the shelves often, they do produce lots of wine!

  7. Wow, what an amazing barrel. Here I thought Germans were beer drinkers, lol. Thanks for all the great pictures.

  8. It looks so beautiful. I will be in Heidelberg in 8 more days and can’t wait to see my first medieval German town and try the schnitzel!

  9. Heidelberg looks so beautiful. The list of German towns I would like to visit gets longer and longer. 🙂

  10. Wow, that was a lot to pack into four hours – I visited Heidelburg years ago when I was visiting a friend who lived there, and I remember the beautiful old town. I don’t think we made it up to the castle so I definitely missed out there, it looks amazing. A shame you can’t see as much as you’d like, but even the outer shell is impressive – and a funicular is always a bonus.

  11. Lots of beers and a massive wine-barrel – two very good reasons to visit Heidelburg. Add to that, the fact that its is such a pretty town – well worth the trip.

  12. A very impressive castle – I can see why you took the trip to Heidelberg. The occupants of the castle certainly wouldn’t be going dry judging from the size of that wine barrel – amazing! Looks like a really quaint place – I must pay it a visit sometime.

  13. It is a fabulous castle, isn’t it? We also went on a day trip from Freiburg, but that was some years ago now. I’d love to go back with the kids now they’re a bit older.

  14. The castle looks very impressive – even if its mostly a shell. I’m sure the girls enjoyed the funicular too – they are always a lot of fun! And that wine barrel – I’m sold! Sign me up for Heidelberg!

  15. Heidelberg looks so beautiful. I think I need to explore my homeland more. I only get back to visit once a year as I am an expat, so I tend to visit family. Maybe I should do a tour of the South with them next time.

  16. Heidelberg looks like an interesting place! And there must be enough room in that wine barrel to ensure that everyone in the city had a good time!

  17. I haven’t been to Germany, but I really like the view from the castle. It is indeed the main attraction. I hope I can visit the castle too… And try that sausage platter and beer.ü

  18. Thanks for bringing back memories. I used to live there for 8 years and I see you found the right spots for a short visit.

  19. Such an interesting post and the pictures are simply lovely!

  20. Mark, loved the site. I was stationed at the Heidelberg airport 66-67 and finally m dream to return is happening in three weeks, via a Viking river cruise. There used to be a beer that I absolutely loved called Schlossquell. Do you know if this local beef is still available? Can’t wait for my wife to see the beauty of Old Heidelberg. Any tips for our one day stop would be appreciated.

  21. We live in Heidelberg and it’s a lovely place. It’s well worth doing the castle tour – generally you can’t see the interior rooms in any German castle without a tour. It’s actually only halfway up the Königstuhl – you can take the old funicular (as opposed to the new one that goes to the castle) up to the top to visit a little amusement park, wildlife trails, and a falconry.


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