Heidelberg: A city, quaint yet charmingly chic.

1st May 2016
Photo of Heidelberg, Germany by Saswati Saha

I’m constantly hooked on to finding out places to run away to for quick breaks. I’m a travel freak. I found out about Heidelberg on one such wild-internet-hunting-quick-break-plan. Also, to top it all, I got an opportunity to visit it because I had to attend a conference, there. The city’s best attraction is its illuminations of the Heidelberg castle with a spectacular fireworks show. This is an annual event held during the first weekend of June, July or September. Although I visited it in the month of May, the trip will totally pay off if you can plan it during this time.

Photo of Heidelberg, Germany by Saswati Saha

If you are coming by flight, then Frankfurt and Manheim are the nearest airport and if you are coming by train then I think the above map will give you an idea about your travel route. A weekend is enough to explore and enjoy the city.


There are two options. Either you can stay in the city itself. Or you can stay in Leimen, which is a neighboring town and very well connected with Heidelberg by bus. I stayed at a hotel in Leimen.


Heidelberg happens to be Germany’s oldest and famous university town. It is quite a small city crowned with its jewel, that is, the Heidelberg castle which is visible from every possible corner of the city. It is beautifully decorated with cobbled pathways, touristy German cafes and not to forget, river Neckar winding its way all through the city. Blessed with its picturesque scenery, it is actually a delight for nature lovers, hikers and bikers.

The city center is the best place to start your journey. As soon as you reach the center you will see tourist swamping from everywhere making the place pretty crowded and lively.

After the city center I headed towards Jesuitenkirche. This is a simple and pretty ordinary church as compared to the kind of churches one usually comes across in Europe, like Koln Cathedral


Photo of Heidelberg: A city, quaint yet charmingly chic. by Saswati Saha

Heidelberg is popular for its Castle. There are many ways to reach the 379m high castle.You can use the 125-year-old funicular railway to get to the top of the city and get breathtaking views! The funicular will take you right to Königstuhl (“King seat”), the 1,863 ft high hill in the Odenwald Mountains from where you can get panoramic views of the city of Heidelberg and beyond. The funicular also stops at two stations before to this, the Castle and then Molkenkur.

Another possibility is to hike up all the way through the castle. Since I am an enthusiast and an amateur photographer I took the hiking route. And it proved to be fruitful as I could manage to get hold of some decent snaps along my way.

Photo of Heidelberg: A city, quaint yet charmingly chic. by Saswati Saha

Panoramic View of the city and the Heiliggeistkirche from the top of the castle.

Photo of Heidelberg: A city, quaint yet charmingly chic. by Saswati Saha

After exploring the castle you should definitely visit the castle gardens, the century old HortusPalatinus. These were regarded as masterpieces during their times. These gardens are made up of many flower beds, mazes and arbors, different sculptures and large fish ponds. The serenity of the nature is something that you will cherish while taking a walk. The view of the city below from the castle terrace, with the river Neckar flowing along the valley, under a crisp daylight is a photographer’s haven too. The Artillery Garden with its elaborate Elisabeth Gate affords wonderful views of the palace and the city.

Castle Gardens

Photo of Heidelberg: A city, quaint yet charmingly chic. by Saswati Saha

Another scenic view is the view of the Heidelberg Bridge from the top of the Castle

Photo of Heidelberg: A city, quaint yet charmingly chic. by Saswati Saha

A wise decision is to visit the castle about an hour before sunset and enjoy the sunset from the tower of the castle.

If you are fond of hiking and have some time at hand, then you can hike to the 330-meter-high Heiligenberg, opposite the Heidelberg Castle which will give you amazing views. There are some nice hiking trails and if you go higher up, you’ll come across some ancient relics too! Half way up the Heiligenberg is the famous Philosophenweg (Philosopher’s Walk).

Unfortunately, this hike was not possible for me as it was past sunset and the tourist information office advised saying, “it would be wise not to go to Philosophenweg when its dark”.

The banks of the Neckar and the Philosophers' Walk around 10 o'clock are the best locations to visit in order to enjoy the Castle Illuminations. I really have some serious intention of visiting Heidelberg again during the Castle Illuminations since I have read so much about it and am really impressed with the grandeur of the Castle Illuminations portrayed in the pictures. Next time, I would like to hike all the way through Philosophenweg and occupy a less crowded place (if possible) and enjoy the Bengali flares which slowly bathe the Heidelberg Castle in a mysterious red firelight.

I was truly taken aback with the castle views. Thereafter I started off towards Heidelberg bridge only to realize the hues that came up in the sky along my way, distinctly, yet overlapping each other.

Photo of Heidelberg: A city, quaint yet charmingly chic. by Saswati Saha

The city is at its prettiest form during the night, when the castle is lit with uncountable lights and the bridge glitters in the dark background of the river Neckar.

Heidelberg Castle at night from the opposite banks

Photo of Heidelberg: A city, quaint yet charmingly chic. by Saswati Saha

Heidelberg Brigde

Photo of Heidelberg: A city, quaint yet charmingly chic. by Saswati Saha

I really enjoyed my walk along the Necker after dusk. With the castle dazzling in lights and the beautifully lit Heidelberg Bridge in the background, this view actually drew me back to a fictional image of the century’s old Heidelberg. Try your best to spend at least a night in Heidelberg if you ever visit.

I roughly had a day with me left and exploring the castle almost ate up my time. LOL! But I guess that is as what pretty much sums up Heidelberg in a day’s time, given that its quiet a small city. I would seriously recommend you to visit the city during the afternoon, enjoy the night there and stay till next morning.

I was at Heidelberg for a very short span of time, because of which I ended up missing other details. However, it really was a delight to stop over for this much. Not that I’m particularly fond of castles as such, but this one in particular left me speechless in terms of its scenic beauty. It’s breathtaking and no amount of assurance from my end can leave a mark in your memory unless you visit it yourself. So, keep this city noted in your list. Tick it off the moment you have the chance !

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