The Essential Guide to Heidelberg and the Neckar Valley
Collected by Paul Sullivan , AFAR Local Expert
Germany’s oldest and most famous university town, Heidelberg is known for its striking Old Town, beautiful setting on the Neckar River, and evocative hilltop castle. Destroyed by French troops in the 1690s, rebuilt during the 18th century, and miraculously unscathed during World War II, it’s proved a source of inspiration for everyone from Goethe to William Turner to Mark Twain. Equally romantic is the surrounding valley, full of forests, fortresses, castles, and charming villages like Bad Wimpfen.
Karlstraße, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
Commissioned in the 18th century by Prince Karl Theodor, Heidelberg’s famous Alte Brücke (Old Bridge) is a town landmark—and a historic example of stone bridge building. Made from local Neckar Valley sandstone, it connects the Old...
Schlosshof 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
Perched picturesquely on a rocky hilltop overlooking the city, Heidelberg Castle is enigmatic, romantic, and one of the few castles in Germany that hasn’t been fully restored. Dating back to the 1300s, it served as the seat of the Palantine...
schlosshof 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
A restaurant inside Heidelberg Castle was never going to be modest or inexpensive, and Scharff’s Schlossweinstube is nothing if not upscale. With classic parquet flooring, sparkling chandeliers, and stucco ceilings, it’s romantic and...
Bauamtsgasse 7, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
Before becoming a small tavern, this hole-in-the-wall spot served as a cooper’s workshop that made barrels for the local winemakers. Today, its modest confines have been made cozy with a few wooden tables (actually former workbenches), a...
Hauptstraße 217, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
Built in 1703, Heidelberg’s oldest and most famous tavern has certainly had some illustrious patrons. Mark Twain, Marilyn Monroe, and John Wayne are just a few of the celebrities who drank and dined here—a fact that’s proven by...
Friedrich-Ebert-Anlage 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
Heidelberg’s most luxurious hotel is also one of its oldest. Run by the Kretschmann family since opening in 1865, the Europäischer Hof offers a welcoming mix of historic prestige and modern design. The public areas are dotted with...
Bergheimer Str. 41, 69115 Heidelberg, Germany
One of Heidelberg’s trendiest hotels, this boutique property borders the Alten Hallenbad, a former public pool that now serves as a gourmet food court. Its rooms are smart and minimal, done up in neutral but welcoming tones with splashes of...
Burg Hornberg 3, 74865 Neckarzimmern, Germany
Of the several castles spread between Heidelberg and Stuttgart, Burg Hornberg is one of the largest and most visited. With its oldest parts dating back to the 12th century, it rises dramatically above the town of Neckarzimmern, drawing guests with...
Altes Schloss, Schillerpl. 6, 70173 Stuttgart, Germany
Built in the early 14th century, this castle once served as the residence of Baden Württemberg’s counts and dukes. It was initially moated, but wings and other elements were added in the mid-16th century to create the current...
Mercedesstraße 100, 70372 Stuttgart, Germany
Designed by Dutch architects Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos, the Mercedes-Benz Museum occupies a sleek futuristic building inspired by the double-helix structure of DNA. Inside, exhibitions focus on the German carmaker’s past, present, and...
Konrad-Adenauer-Straße 30-32, 70173 Stuttgart, Germany
Dating back to 1843, this massive museum has grown and modernized over the years, especially with the addition of the Neue Staatsgalerie (New State Gallery) in 1984 and a modern hall specially built in 2002. Spanning some 96,875 square feet of...
Schillerpl. 5A, 70173 Stuttgart, Germany
Located neatly between Rathausplatz and Schlossplatz, opposite the Altes Schloss, the Alte Kanzlei occupies a 16th-century building and serves a fantastically traditional menu of Swabian specialties. Standouts include Maultaschen (meat-filled...
Schillerstraße 23, 70173 Stuttgart, Germany
One of Stuttgart’s most luxurious hotels, this five-star property offers just over 100 guest rooms, surrounded by attractive castle gardens. The elegant accommodations feature natural color schemes and sophisticated touches like deep baths,...
72379 Burg Hohenzollern, Germany
For many centuries, the Hohenzollerns were one of Germany’s most powerful families, their influence only diminishing with the end of the monarchy after World War I. During their dominance, they lived in this majestic neo-Gothic castle, visible...
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