Heidelberg: America’s favorite German city

Story and photos by Morgen Wright
Contributing writer

With a large American population and more museums and tourist sites than Paris, Heidelberg is one of the top destinations for Americans in the area.

The energy in this city is palpable. Strolling through Heidelberg’s picturesque streets, locals can be seen zooming past on their daily jogs, or  sitting down and enjoying a meal with friends. Around every corner is a building more beautiful than the last, and whether visitors take the funicular railway or walk up the steep hill to the castle, they’ll find a view of the city that is unforgettable. On a sunny day, the Neckarweise, or Neckar River banks, becomes a haven for sun-worshippers, those out on a stroll, dog owners, couples in love, bookworms, Frisbee players and picnickers alike, according to the Heidelberg Fact File for 2009, an informational booklet on Heidelberg.

Experiencing Heidelberg during a short holiday visit is like discovering beautiful pictures: Many facets, subtle colors, touching moods and lasting impressions, according to Heidelberg Marketing GmbH.

“It’s the one city I always take my guests to see,” said Jettenbach resident Brook Doggett.  She also added that the reason for this is because it is easy to get to, there is a lot to see and do and it’s fairly inexpensive. And it’s true. It doesn’t cost much to pack a lunch, throw a blanket over your shoulder and have a picnic on the castle grounds.
While there, visitors should take a tour of the inside of the castle. The tour costs €4 for adults and the view from the balcony is amazing.  In fact, most Americans said they came to Heidelberg specifically to see the castle. 

“We kept hearing about the castle and ‘Great Wine Barrel inside,’” said Ramstein local Christoper Culley.  He also said it was a great day for the family and Heidelberg was worth visiting again. 

So, what else makes Heidelberg a hot destination for Americans?
“It’s a great one-day town,” said Joe Franzwa, an American exchange student studying in Stuttgart.

One draw is that most tourist attractions in Heidelberg are reasonably priced; guided tours cost little and there are also boat, bus and walking tours for the more ambitious tourists. Or, for a different view of the city, visitors can choose to climb the tower of St. Peter’s Church (Peterkirsche), the oldest parish church in the city.  Parts of the tower date back to the 12th century, according to a Heidelberg Bergbahnen pamphlet.

The Heidelberg day pass is also a good option. For the cost of one tour, visitors can ride the trams, buses and the funicular for free. The funicular is a great option for getting up the hill to the castle for those who have small children or just don’t feel like climbing the stairs.

And if there’s still time to kill before catching the train home, Heidelberg also has a great shopping area just a short walk away from the old part of town on the Haupstrasse. 

Heidelberg nightlife is also lively, thanks to the university, which claims to have the oldest exchange program, according to the University of Heidelberg Web site.
There is always something going on, whether it’s a concert or show, visitors can always find something to do here, said Adrian Gray, a U.S. servicemember stationed in Heidelberg.

Even if staying for just a day, visitors should stop by one of the tourist information centers conveniently located in the city. Both centers have helpful information on city events and goings on.

For more information on Heidelberg, visit www.heidelberg-tourismus.de. Click on the British flag in the top left corner to switch to English.