My Top 10 things to do in Heidelberg – Video

Heidelberg is a delightful university town in Germany, set by the banks of the River Neckar, with a picturesque ruined castle on the hill that inspired the romantic poets and painters of the 19th century. Many visitors arrive as part of a tour of Germany or a day visit while on a Rhine river cruise, as we did the first time we visited. Whether you’re visiting just for the day or have time to stay longer (a long weekend is highly recommended), watch my video to discover the best things to do in Heidelberg.

The top things to do in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

I hope you enjoy my video below about what to see in Heidelberg

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1. Walk across the Alte Brücke or Old Bridge

Alte Brucke or Old Bridge in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Alte Brucke or Old Bridge in Heidelberg

The Alte Brücke is one of the first places to visit in Heidelberg since it stands at the centre of the picturesque Old Town. The bridge was built of stone in 1786 by Prince Elector Carl Theodor to replace the numerous wooden bridges that had crossed the river at this spot but were washed away by floods. Look out for the marks on the pillar of the bridge that show how high the water came in the floods, the last one being in 1784. There’s also a more recent bronze monkey statue beside the gatehouse that reminds us that those living on either side of the bridge are no better than one another, since there was a longstanding rivalry between them when the river formed the border between two regions of Germany.

Our Tip: Walk right across the Old Bridge from the Old Town, since the best photos are taken from the opposite bank looking back towards the castle.

2. Schloss Heidelberg – the romantic castle on the hill

Schloss Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Schloss Heidelberg

The romantic Schloss Heidelberg on the hill above the old town was built in the 13th century and became the residence of the Prince Electors who ruled the Palatine region of Germany, until the 18th century when war and fire led to the castle’s decline. What you see now is the shell of the old Renaissance palace with finely carved stone facades, courtyards and a terrace with views over the town. The ruined castle was much admired by painters and writers of the 19th century at a time when ruins were considered picturesque and romantic, a symbol of Germany’s historic past.

Our Tip: Look out for the foot sized depression in the stone pavement on the terrace – legend has it that a fire broke out causing a knight in full armour to jump from the window onto the terrace. Not sure whether I believe that story!

3. Take a river cruise along the Neckar

River boat cruise on the Neckar at Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

River boat cruise on the Neckar at Heidelberg

We enjoyed a river cruise from the pier near the Old Bridge with Weisse Flotte who run many different river trips depending on the season. We took the boat down to Neuberg Abbey where there was a Christmas Market, and with beautiful gardens, a farm shop selling regional produce and a restaurant with biergarden, this would be a fine place to visit in summer too. Read more about the 9 German Christmas Traditions we enjoyed in Heidelberg.

Our Tip: If you visit Neuberg Abbey, it can also be reached on the path by the river and by the Philosopher’s Way path along the hill, so you may like to take the boat one way and walk back the other.

4. Walk up the Philosopher’s Way

View from the Philosopher's way in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

View from the Philosopher’s way in Heidelberg

Crossing the Old Bridge from the old town, ascend the mossy stone pathway on the other side that takes you up to the Philosopher’s Way. There’s a flat path running along the side of the hillside with fine views over the town and if you turn left at the top you’ll reach some terraced gardens where you can sit to admire the view. The path is named after the University professors and philosophers who loved to walk here among the vineyards and orchards that clothed the slopes of the valley.

Our Tip: When you get to the top, follow the signs with a small castle symbol and you will find the Bismarck Tower above the flat path, which is open to climb with great views over the valley.

5. Enjoy coffee and cakes in a cosy café

Coffee and cake in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Coffee and cake in Heidelberg

Around the cobbled streets of the Old Town are many cosy cafés, often favourites with the University students over the years. Sit here with a coffee and a slice of creamy cake or a traditional German pastry. We recommend exploring the small squares or side streets that lead off Hauptstrasse as you’ll get a more authentic experience. In summer the same cosy cafés will often have tables on the street or a biergarten, perfect to sit and watch the world go by. Read more about the food we enjoyed in Heidelberg here.

Our Tip: We enjoyed sitting in the small side room of Café Knösel where there were old photos of University students, many with bandages on their face from duelling, one of the favourite sports of the student fraternities.

6. Climb the church tower of the Holy Ghost

View from the church of the Holy Ghost in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

View from the church of the Holy Ghost in Heidelberg

If you find yourself in the heart of the Old Town in Markplatz, you’ll easily find the imposing church of The Holy Ghost. The interior of the church is quite plain but pay a couple of euros in the gift shop and you can climb the steps of the church tower for 360 degree views over the old town.

Our Tip: If you’re outside the church when the small kiosk shops are closed, look out for the bagel symbols that are carved into the stone that are normally hidden by shutters. They were a measure of size to ensure that the bakers in the old days were not cheating the housewives coming to buy their daily bagels.

7. Wander the Heidelberg Altstadt or Old Town

The Old Town of Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Old Town of Heidelberg

The whole of Heidelberg’s Altstadt or Old Town is a very pleasant place to wander with cobbled streets, with plenty of shops and cafes and glimpses of the river Neckar. While you’ll find many shops and restaurants on the main street of Hauptstrasse, be sure to explore the streets that are just a couple of blocks on either side of this which are much less crowded and where you’ll find plenty of interesting little artizan shops and cafes that have a more local feel.

8. Ride the 100 year old funicular up to the Kings Throne

The Old Funicular in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Old Funicular in Heidelberg

After you’ve visited Schloss Heidelberg, take the 100 year old funicular up to the very top of the mountain for views from the Königstuhl or King’s Throne. The funicular, which was opened in 1907 still retains the charming old wooden carriages, while the lower portion of the funicular between the castle and the town has been completely modernised. Up at the top there are plenty of walks through the woods as well as a falconry centre and childrens’ park.

Our Tip: When you get to the very top at the King’s Throne be sure to look in the waiting room which is full of interesting memorabilia and some information about the history of the funicular.

9. The Students Prison

The Students Prison in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Students Prison in Heidelberg

In the last century, the University had its own legal juristiction over the students, who when they were found drunk or disorderly would spend a few days in the Studentenkarzer or Student’s Prison. They spent their time playing cards and painting murals and slogans on the walls which now make a colourful mural of 100 year old graffiti.

Our Tip: Your combined ticket for the Student Prison will also take you into the Student Museum and Great Hall in another part of the building. Be sure to ask at the desk of the museum for a visit to the Great Hall with wooden seating and classical murals where University lectures were held in the past.

10. Stay at Qube hotel

Qube hotel in Heidelberg Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Qube hotel in Heidelberg Germany

For a stylish, boutique hotel try Qube hotel, which is a 20 minute walk or short tram ride from the Old Town. Our room was in Villa Qube, a large townhouse next to the main hotel, on the 4th floor with sloping ceilings facing the gardens. There were interesting lighting effects which bathed the room in a purple glow and the bathroom was huge with both walk in shower and bathtub.

Qube Hotel Website | Address: Bergheimer Str. 74, 69115 Heidelberg |Twitter @QubeHeidelberg | Facebook |

If you prefer a Heidelberg hotel in the Old Town, you could try Hotel Hollaender Hof, a traditional hotel right by the Old Bridge, Hip Hotel where every room is themed to a different country of the world, or Heidelberg Suites, a luxurious Boutique Hotel.

Compare prices and book Hotels in Heidelberg through my Hotel Booking page powered by HotelsCombined.com. You can search for the best price from multiple hotel booking sites and I will receive a small commission which helps support this blog at no extra cost to you.

I hope you enjoyed my roundup of what to do in Heidelberg.  If you’ve already been to Heidelberg, what did you enjoy? Do let me know in the comments!

Read more about our visit to Heidelberg:
9 German Christmas Traditions we enjoyed in Heidelberg
A Food Lover’s Guide to Heidelberg

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Read about the best things to see in Heidelberg & watch the video

Plan your visit to Heidelberg

For more information about planning your trip to Germany, visit the Germany Tourism Website and read more about German Traditions  | Follow them on Social Media | Twitter @GermanyTourism | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube |

You can also find information about Heidelberg on the Heidelberg Marketing website.

Compare prices and book Hotels in Heidelberg through my Hotel Booking page powered by HotelsCombined.com.

If you need a guide in Heidelberg, we highly recommend Susanne Fiek who runs culinary and other tours of Heidelberg.

How to get to Heidelberg

Heather and Guy flew from Bristol to Frankfurt and took the train to Heidelberg. Trains run around every hour from the Frankfurt airport station with a change at Mannheim. On arrival in the airport follow signs for train station and then Fernbahnhof ( long distance train). Tickets can be bought from ticket machines as you reach the Fernbahnhof. The cost is €25 one way or €19 for a saver ticket which must be purchased 1 day in advance. The journey takes around 1 hour.

Thanks to the German National Tourism Board who hosted Heather and Guy’s weekend in Heidelberg

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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A year in review – where Heather travelled in 2015

We’re in that lull between the feasting and celebration of Christmas and the fresh starts and new plans of New Year. It’s the quiet time when we can reflect and review the year that’s gone, the time to reminisce and consider what the year brought us: the adventures and challenges, the excitement of visiting new places, the holiday times we enjoyed with loved ones. Here’s a look back to the travels I enjoyed in 2015.

Where Heather travelled in 2015 Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

January – A cottage stay and fossil hunting in Devon and Dorset

The ammonite pavement at Lyme Regis Photo: Heatheronhertravels

The ammonite pavement at Lyme Regis

We started the year with a weekend at Red Doors Farm in Devon through Premier Cottages, a collection of 500 year old thatched cottages, set around a cobbled farmyard. My teenage son and friends made good use of the indoor swimming pool and proved that you’re never too old to feed the goats and chickens. We climbed up to the hill fort near the farm and enjoyed a bracing walk along the beach at Lyme Regis where we spotted fossils on the ammonite pavement that was revealed at low tide.

Read More: Fossil hunting and a weekend in the country at Red Doors Farm, Devon – video

February – A charity visit to India

Meeting sponsor children in India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Meeting sponsor children in India

In February I flew with Jet Airways to India for a week that was off the tourist map, although I spent a little time exploring Bangalore at the beginning and end of the trip. My purpose was to visit a local charity that I support in Andhra Pradesh and see some of the projects that we had funded. Together with one of the charity trustees I was treated to Bollywood style dances in all the local schools, had endless cups of teas with the nuns who ran them, cut the ribbon on a new water purification plant and presented a womens’ tailoring class with their new sewing machines. It was a week that made me realise more than ever that when you give to those in need, you come away much richer from the experience.

Read More: 13 stories from my charity visit to India – going off the tourist trail

March – A weekend by the sea in St Mawes, Cornwall

St Mawes Harbour in Cornwall Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

St Mawes Harbour in Cornwall

We spent a weekend with friends at the magical Dreamcatchers house from St Mawes Retreats with a view over the Fal estuary in Cornwall. From the bedrooms we could see the tankers passing St Anthony’s lighthouse and the St Mawes ferry heading for Falmouth. We’d stayed at another St Mawes Retreats house before (read my review of Stargazers here) so we knew that we could expect gorgeous Designers Guild fabrics and luxurious furnishings, with sea views to die for. This time we wandered around the harbour and took the St Mawes ferry across the estuary for a Cornish pasty and ale pub lunch in the quaint streets of Falmouth.

Read More: Sea views and springtime in St Mawes – our weekend in Cornwall

April – Venice with the family

Gondola on the Grand Canal in Venice Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Gondola on the Grand Canal in Venice

I was lucky enought to win an apartment stay with Go with Oh through the Passports with Purpose fundraiser and decided to use it for a few days in Venice with my family. Although we visited a few tourist highlights like the Doge’s Palace, we found that the neighbourhoods away from St Mark’s square were much more enjoyable to wander around. We loved the modern art at the Peggy Guggenheim and saw Venice from the water on our boat tour with Walks of Italy when we climbed up the campenile of San Georgio Maggiore for views across the lagoon to San Marco. The only disappointment was the food, but hopefully you’ll do better than me with my tips on How to not eat badly in Venice.

Read More: Join me on our Venice boat tour – with Walks of Italy

April – A weekend in Wiltshire and a sunrise visit to Stonehenge

Stonehenge at Sunrise Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Stonehenge at Sunrise

I stayed at Sarum College inside the close of Salisbury Cathedral for the Social Travel Britain conference and part of the weekend included a walking tour of the cathedral, a private viewing of Magna Carta and a visit to Edward Heath’s old residence of Arundells. The highlight, though, was a sunrise visit to Stonehenge during which we were allowed to walk within the stone circle. This access is only allowed on special guided tours and most tourists can’t get up close to the stones, so it made the experience much more magical.

Read More: Sunrise at Stonehenge – inside the stone circle

May –  Lloret de Mar in Costa Brava, Spain

Seafront at Lloret de Mar Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Seafront at Lloret de Mar in Spain

Lloret de Mar is one of those coastal resorts on the Costa Brava coast of Spain that was built up in the 1960s as one of the first places to welcome mass tourism from the UK. I was there as a speaker at the TBEX conference but took some time out to explore the town and discover its history. While the Lloret de Mar of recent years has gained a reputation for 20-somethings looking for nightlife and older couples seeking a retirement in the sun, I enjoyed walking around the older squares and along the rocky coast path on the edge of town.

In the Museu del Mar, I discovered the connections to Cuba where many locals sailed to make their fortunes, returning to build the grand mansions on the seafront. I tasted the Daiquiri cocktails, another import from Cuba and now the favoured drink of Lloret de Mar, and I loved the restful Santa Clothilde gardens, planted in Italian Renaissance style, overlooking the sea.

Read More: Lloret de Mar – sun, sea and so much more…

June – A weekend in Copenhagen with my daughter

Heather and Sophie-Anne in Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather and Sophie-Anne in Copenhagen

I’ve visited Copenhagen many times and in June I returned with my daughter for the opening of  the Absalon Hotel which had been newly renovated in Designers Guild furnishings. I was able to interview Tricia Guild, Creative Director of Designers Guild who was there to open the hotel, as well as trying out new restaurants and cocktails with my daughter. We also spent a couple of nights up the coast at the gorgeous spa hotel, Kurhotel Skodsborg where we wafted around the pools and jumped off the jetty to cool off after our sauna.

Read More: Like mother, like daughter – what we loved on our trip to Copenhagen

June – Alpine Sports Week in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Mountain-biking in Wilder Kaiser, Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Mountain-biking in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

I love being in the mountains in summer so I jumped at the chance when I was invited to try out some of the outdoor activities on offer during Alpine Sports Week in the Wilder Kaiser region of Austria. During this week different mountain sports are on offer, from high rope walking to canyoning, mountain-biking to Via Ferrata and all for the knockdown price of €99 for 5 days of activities with expert guides. It was the perfect opportunity to try something different, since I’m a keen hiker but was able to test myself with the mountain-biking and high wire climbing in the Hornpark tree forest.

Read More: Heather goes e-mountain-biking in Wilder Kaiser, Austria – video

July – A week with the family in Zakynthos, Greece

Anadalis restaurant in Zakynthos, Greece

In July we made our annual visit to Zakynthos in Greece to visit my sister who runs two hotels there with her husband. We spent the week visiting different beaches, swimming, eating, sunbathing and catching up on family news. This summer my niece had returned to the island after training with a leading hotel group and had decided to get involved in the family business, opening a new Mediterranean restaurant in an idyllic setting by the sea. Anadalis, as it is called, is named after the old estate on which the hotel is built which once belonged to an aristocratic family with a house just a little way up the shore, but you’ll have to read to article to find out why the locals thought the old ruined mansion was haunted. If you visit Zakynthos I highly recommend that you book a table for dinner as the sun goes down over the bay.

Read More: Anadalis – a Mediterranean restaurant by the sea in Zakynthos, Greece

August – Our Azamara Greek Island Cruise

Azamara cruise to Mykonos in Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Azamara cruise to Mykonos in Greece

Later in August we were back to the Greek islands again for a cruise with Azamara Club Cruises which took us from Athens to Santorini, Mykonos, Patmos, Kusadasi and finally to Istanbul where we ended our cruise. We absolutely loved the luxurious small ship cruise experience with Azamara Club Cruises where the spotlight is firmly on the destinations you visit, creating unique experiences like our magical evening concert among the ancient ruins of Ephesus as the sun went down.

Read More: Windy Mykonos – Day 2 of our Azamara Greek Island Cruise

September – A walking holiday in Austria with Headwater Holidays

View over Seefeld in Austria with Headwater Holidays Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

View over Seefeld in Austria with Headwater Holidays

September saw me back in Austria for a few days walking with Headwater Holidays who specialise in relaxing walking and cycling holidays. I was accompanied by my friend Julia for our annual walking trip which has become our tradition since we walked the Tour de Mont Blanc together. On the first day on the high slopes of the Gaistal valley I fell down a slope and hurt my ankle but using the Headwater walking guides we chose the less strenuous walks on subsequent days and enjoyed the rest of the holiday. We watched a rifleman’s parade in Seefeld and walked along a Mental Power trail, walked through the wild Leutasch Gorge and round the lakes above the picturesque town of Mittenwald with its painted houses. Each day brought different mountain scenery and things to see, confirming my love of the mountains in summer.

Read More: Hiking in Austria – the views from the cross at Seefelder Spitze

September – A gourmet visit to Luxembourg

View of the Petrusse Valley in Luxembourg

View of the Petrusse Valley in Luxembourg

In September we spent a few days in Luxembourg, a city and tiny country that’s full of surprises. While Luxembourg is known as a centre for international business, we found a charming and easily walkable city with great food, museums and a fascinating history, making it an ideal weekend break location. We also spent some time touring the Moselle wine region where the Moselle river forms the border with Germany, with many wineries to taste the delicious white wines the sparkling Cremant which was my favourite.

Read More: A gourmet walking tour of Luxembourg old town

November – The Christmas Markets of Heidelberg, Germany

Student Kisses in Heidelberg

Student Kisses in Heidelberg

At the end of November we spent a few day in Heidelberg, Germany to see the Christmas Markets and generally get into the festive spirit. We’d visited Heidelberg previously on a day trip from our Rhine River Cruise and were pleased that we could have more time to explore this picturesque and romantic town at our leisure. We took the river boat down to the Neurberg Abbey Christmas Market, climbed up to the castle, learned the history of the ancient university and student fraternities and ate plenty of hearty German food, delicious cakes and chocolates as well as drinking quite a few mugs of hot Glühwein.

Read More: A Food Lover’s Guide to Heidelberg, Germany

December – A weekend in Le Havre, France

Port of Le Havre in France

Port of Le Havre in France

My final trip of this year was a hop over the channel to le Havre with Brittany Ferries to discover what this channel port would offer for a weekend break. Most Brits drive through Le Havre on their way to their holidays in France but I discovered that there are many fascinating things to see here that make it worth stopping to visit the city and surrounding area. The city was reconstructed after heavy bombing in WW2 and the architecture of the new town (now a UNESCO World Heritage site) represents the modern designs of the 1950s. We visited a 1950s show flat which would have been allocated to those who lost their own houses in the bombing, as well as a gorgeous 18th century ship owner’s mansion. Another highlight was the MUMA modern art museum, a light and airy glass building with the largest collection of Impressionist paintings outside Paris, since painters such as Monet loved this part of the Normandy coast. I’ll be writing about my weekend in Le Havre very soon so stay tuned.

Reviewing the year was a fun way to remind myself of all the fun I had on my travels in 2015. There’s much more to come in 2016 and I wish you Happy Travels for the year to come.

Please note that many of the trips were hosted by the companies mentioned and you can find more details in the articles from each trip.

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Read about where Heather travelled in 2015

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

A Food Lover’s Guide to Heidelberg, Germany

At this time of year I’m looking for dishes that are comforting against the winter cold and the traditional German food we ate in Heidelberg was just what was needed to fuel our weekend break. We enjoyed a hearty dinner of veal and vegetables boiled in broth served with dumplings and piping hot Kartoffelpuffer potato fritters with apple sauce from the Christmas market. Then of course there were the seasonal Zimsterne cinnamon star biscuits, not to mention the kaffee und kuchen in the cosy cafes of the Old Town or the chocolates and candies piled high in the shop windows. Here’s my food lover’s guide to the things we enjoyed eating on our weekend break to Heidelberg in Germany.

A food lover's guide to Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

You can also read my previous article on the 9 German Christmas Traditions we enjoyed in Heidelberg.

Hearty German food in Heidelberg

Before we get to the sweet stuff let’s try some of the typical German dishes you’ll find on every traditional restaurant’s menu. We had dinner at Goldener Hecht, a hotel and restaurant in the heart of the Alstadt where the revered German poet Goethe ‘almost’ stayed in September 1815. Apparently he enquired about staying there, but there was no room at the inn (where have I heard that one before?)

I ordered the roast goose with dumplings and red cabbage, which is often served for the Christmas eve dinner in Germany ( read more about German traditions here ) while Guy enjoyed the boiled veal with vegetables served in a copper pan of broth with apple sauce on the side and a dish of crispy fried potatoes.

Boiled Veal at Goldener Hecht in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Bolied Veal at Goldener Hecht in Heidelberg

Another favourite dish that Guy likes to order for lunch in Germany is the Gulyassuppe, a hearty goulash that halfway between a soup and a stew, made with beef, tomato and paprika, served with crusty bread on the side. Just what we needed to warm us up in between sightseeing jaunts in the Old Town of Heidelberg.

Goldener Hecht is at Steingasse 2 by the Old Bridge and we also heard good things about Hackteufel (Steingasse 7), Schnitzelbank (Bauamtsgasse 7) and Zum Güldenen Schaf or The Golden Sheep (Hauptstrasse 115), all of which have a convivial atmosphere and traditional German dishes on the menu.

Gulyassuppe in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Gulyassuppe in Heidelberg

How about some German beer?

Most of the beerhouses in Heidelberg serve both food and the famous German beer making them a good choice for dinner if you want a lively, cheerful atmosphere and in summer you can sit outside in the biergarten. Rather than ordering at the bar as you would in England, you will be served at the table, usually by a waitress in a traditional dirndl with her money wallet on her belt so that paying is quick and easy. Be aware that most places prefer you to pay in cash unless you’re ordering a full meal.

We had a beer and supper at Zum Roten Ochsen (The Red Ox) a traditional student pub that’s often recommended for tourists so we were a little doubtful about going there, since we prefer to seek out the local’s choice. But on a Monday night our other recommendation of Zum Seppl next door was closed so we gave it a try. Despite it being quiet with a fair number of tourists (including us), we were pleasantly surprised, since we had friendly service and good food, with the dark wood panelling, cheerful red check tablecloths and old photo of Heidelberg students around the walls.

Zum Roten Ochsen is at Hauptstraße 217 and we also heard good things about Zum Seppl (Hauptstrasse 213) and Vetters (Steingasse 9) near the Old Bridge if you want to try the local beer and eat in a convivial pub atmosphere.

Beer in the Zum Roten Ochsen, The Red Ox Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Beer in the Zum Roten Ochsen, The Red Ox, Heidelberg

German food to try in the Christmas markets

One thing I love about the German Christmas markets is that they are very much about eating, drinking and having a good time with friends rather than just shopping for crafts and gifts. The traditional German food to try is the wurst or long German sausage sandwiched in a hunk of bread with ketchup and mustard on hand – practically impossible to eat elegantly without dripping sauce down your chin.

Schnaufnudel and wurst sausages in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Schnaufnudel and wurst sausages in the Christmas market, Heidelberg

I preferred the Kartoffelpuffer or potato fritters which are eaten with a choice of either apple or garlic sauce. Being Germany where everything is environmentally friendly, they were served on a sturdy wafer which can either be eaten or recycled along with the food waste. Other choices in the Christmas market were Schnaufnudel, a dish of pasta made from potatoes mixed with fried cabbage as well as bread rolls filled with pork that had been slowly roasted over the wood fire.

Kartoffelpuffer, potato fritters in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Kartoffelpuffer, potato fritters in Heidelberg

What to drink in the German Christmas markets

The sweet smell of Glühwein and buzz of conversation warms the air at any German Christmas market, as friends meet for a drink and a chat in the evening, resting their drinks at the tall bar tables arranged nearby. The price for your Glühwein includes a deposit on the mug which is refunded when you return it, although you can decide to keep as a souvenir of Christmas past.

If you want something even stronger, look out for the Fuerzangenboule, which is laced with rum soaked sugar that drips into the mulled wine and is flamed before being served. There’s a well known old movie from the 1940s called Der Fuerzangenboule, which Germans love to watch on Christmas eve, in which the actors sit around drinking Fuerzangenboule while recalling nostalgic memories of their schooldays.

Fuerzangenboule in Heidelberg Christmas Market Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Fuerzangenboule in Heidelberg Christmas Market

A cosy café with cakes in Heidelberg

We lost count of the cosy cafes in the Alstadt or Old Town of Heidelberg and of course in summer many have a garden or outdoor tables where you can watch the world go by. We tried to keep our eating in balance by skipping the hotel breakfast so that we could have a guilt free Kaffee und Kuchen stop in between the shopping and sightseeing.

One of our favourites (we actually went there twice) was Café Knösel close to the Church of the Holy Spirit which has a traditional atmosphere and a delicious selection of creamy layered cakes including the Black Forest Gateaux. There’s a small side room which is filled with old photos of Heidelberg students from the last century, many proudly wearing the bandages around their face that proclaim they had received a wound from duelling, a favourite sport within the student fraternities of Heidelberg University.

Cakes at Café Knösel in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Cakes at Café Knösel in Heidelberg

We had a lovely chat with an aristocratic looking gentleman who was having a quiet coffee there and proudly wearing his fraternity sash, since he had been attending a reunion of old university friends. We later found out that only students from the fraternities who have triumphed in a duelling competition can wear such a sash and there are different colours for each of the fraternities.

Café Knösel is at Untere Strasse 37 and we also heard good things about Holy Kitchen for vegan cakes and light dishes (Kettengasse 7) and Cafe Grano (Kornmarkt 9) near the bottom of the funicular. 

Christmas biscuits in Heidelberg

In Germany the bakers produce special backwaren (baked goods) depending on the season. Our favourite place for this was Café Gundel which has a bakery selling cakes and biscuits next door to the cafe. If you have a coffee in the cafe you can look at all the lovely cakes in the shop and then tell the waitress what you’d like to order.

Christmas biscuits at Cafe Grundel in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Christmas biscuits at Cafe Grundel in Heidelberg

It’s a German Christmas Tradition for families to make Christmas biscuits together, cutting the sweet dough into different shapes such as stars and crescents which are decorated with icing, nuts and chocolate. A favourite that we saw in many bakeries and in the Christmas markets were the Zimsterne or cinnamon stars topped with white icing, although every family has their own traditional German recipes handed down from mother to daughter. Read more about German Traditions here.

Springerle Christmas biscuits in Heidelberg, Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Springerle Christmas biscuits in Heidelberg, Germany

We also saw on sale the Springerle biscuits with their pressed relief designs. These German cookies are flavoured with anise seeds and traditionally made with a special rolling pin carved with the designs to press into the biscuit dough. As well as the small ones, Café Gundel had larger individual biscuits with antique motifs of angels and historic scenes that would make an unusual gift to bring home, but almost too beautiful to eat.

Schneeballen or Snowball cakes in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Schneeballen or Snowball cakes in Heidelberg

Another Heidelberg curiosity to look out for are the Schneeballen (snowballs) made of biscuit dough scrunched into a ball, often with a flavoured filling and icing or nuts on the outside. At Cafe Gundel they sell a special variation called the Heidelberger Kurfürstenkugel which is a ball shaped cake made of sponge with a creamy nougat filling, coated with chocolate. The cake is said to have been invented to commemorate the Prince Elector Frederik V who in 1613 married the beautiful Princess Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of King James I of England, with dark chocolate cakes representing the prince and white chocolate his wife.

Foodie curiosities in Heidelberg

If you happen to be passing the Church of the Holy Spirit when the small kiosk shops around its walls are closed, take a look at the carvings that are normally hidden by wooden shutters when the shops are open. You can spot a pretzel marked into the stone that dates back to 1737. In those days the stores that now sell postcards and souvenirs would have supplied the food, candles and cutlery needed for daily life and the town regulations determined the standard size of a pretzel. A baker could be punished if they were selling anything smaller than the size marked on the side of the church – 18th century quality control in action!

Pretzel carving in the church of the Holy Spirit in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Pretzel carving in the church of the Holy Spirit in Heidelberg

Chocolates to bring home from Heidelberg

When you have eaten your fill of traditional German food washed down with a beer in the restaurants and pubs of Heidelberg, and taken your kaffee and kuchen in a cosy cafe surrounded by old student photos, I’m sure you’ll be looking for some chocolates to bring home as a souvenir from Heidelberg. While we passed many lovely chocolatiers in the town, you’ll find the ultimate chocolate souvenir of the Students Kiss at Knösel (Haspelgasse 16) down the lane beside Café Knösel which I mentioned before.

Student kisses in Heidelberg at Knösel Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Student kisses in Heidelberg at Knösel

There’s a lovely story that these chocolate truffles were invented in 1863 at a time when only boys were admitted to Heidelberg University and the young ladies of the local colleges would be chaparoned when they went out for a coffee in town.

For a young gentleman who admired a young lady from afar, what could be more innocent than a gift of chocolate, since the chaparone could not possibly object? However the not so secret message beind the gift was in the image of the beautiful lady and the student in his cap, their lips almost touching and only room between for a ‘student’s kiss’.

Student kisses in Heidelberg at Knösel Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Student kisses in Heidelberg at Knösel

Another shop that we enjoyed looking around was the Heidelberg Bonbon Manufaktur (Steingasse 5) close to the Old Bridge, which makes candies and lollipops in all colours and flavours. To one side of the shop you can see the sugar being pulled and cut into bonbons or lollipops while on the other are jars of sweets to take home.

Bonbon Manufaktur in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Bonbon Manufaktur in Heidelberg

This is a great place for families to watch the bonbons being made and treat the kids to a handmade lollipop, whether it’s a traditional red and white heart or the Darth Vadar Star Wars theme lollipops that we saw being made.

Bonbon Manufaktur shop window in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Bonbon Manufaktur shop window in Heidelberg

My final recommendation for chocolates that are a little more grown up (perhaps you’ll want to treat yourself) is the small shop of Pralinmanufaktur Vorbach (Hauptstrasse 211) that sells fresh handmade chocolates. We watched the owner Helgo Vorbach filling the chocolate casings to make the fresh chocolate truffles and you can even buy them individually to taste a few (which of course we did) before making your selection to fill one of the tins or gift boxes with the motif of Heidelberg castle on them.

Pralinmanufaktur Vorbach chocolates in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Pralinmanufaktur Vorbach chocolates in Heidelberg

I hope by now your mouth is watering and you’ll be planning a trip to Heidelberg to try out some of the local food specialities – if so you can find more resources to plan your visit below. Enjoy the places we recommend but if you don’t find them, don’t worry. In the old town there are many restaurants that serve hearty German dishes, many beer houses that sell fruity German beer and many cosy cafes for your kaffee and kuchen. Have fun wandering the cobbled streets and exploring the alleyways to create your own food lover’s guide from Heidelberg.

Read More about our trip to Heidelberg: 9 German Christmas Traditions we enjoyed in Heidelberg

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Read my Food Lover's Guide to Heidelberg, Germany

Plan your visit to Heidelberg

For more information about planning your trip to Germany, visit the Germany Tourism Website and read more about German Traditions  | Follow them on Social Media | Twitter @GermanyTourism | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube |

You can also find information about Heidelberg on the Heidelberg Marketing website.

Compare prices and book Hotels in Heidelberg through my Hotel Booking page powered by HotelsCombined.com – see below for my hotel recommendations.

If you need a guide in Heidelberg, we highly recommend Susanne Fiek who runs culinary and other tours of Heidelberg.

Where to stay in Heidelberg

Heather and Guy stayed at Qube hotel, a stylish boutique hotel that was a 20 minute walk or short tram ride from the Old Town. Our room was in Villa Qube, a large townhouse next to the main hotel, on the 4th floor under the eves. Our windows faced the gardens at the back and was quiet, with sloping ceilings and a grey linen sofa and desk as well as a huge comfy double  bed.

Qube hotel in Heidelberg Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Qube hotel in Heidelberg Germany

There were interesting lighting effects which bathed the room in a purple glow and the bathroom was huge with both walk in shower and bathtub. The Qube restaurant has an excellent reputation, although we didn’t eat there, and in summer you can reserve a table on the rooftop terrace with views towards the river.

Qube hotel in Heidelberg Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Qube hotel in Heidelberg Germany

Qube Hotel Website | Address: Bergheimer Str. 74, 69115 Heidelberg |Twitter @QubeHeidelberg | Facebook |

If you prefer to stay in the Old Town of Heidelberg you could try Hotel Hollaender Hof, a traditional hotel right by the Old Bridge, Hip Hotel where every room is themed to a different country of the world, or Heidelberg Suites, a luxurious Boutique Hotel.

Compare prices and book Hotels in Heidelberg through my Hotel Booking page powered by HotelsCombined.com. You can search for the best price from multiple hotel booking sites and I will receive a small commission which helps support this blog at no extra cost to you.

How to get to Heidelberg

Heather and Guy flew from Bristol to Frankfurt and took the train to Heidelberg. Trains run around every hour from the Frankfurt airport station with a change at Mannheim. On arrival in the airport follow signs for train station and then Fernbahnhof ( long distance train). Tickets can be bought from ticket machines as you reach the Fernbahnhof. The cost is €25 one way or €19 for a saver ticket which must be purchased 1 day in advance. The journey takes around 1 hour.

Thanks to the German National Tourism Board who hosted Heather and Guy’s weekend in Heidelberg

More about Heidelberg

My Top 10 things to do in Heidelberg – Video
9 German Christmas Traditions we enjoyed in Heidelberg

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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