heidelberg uncovered: staycity's top 5 picks

Last updated Aug 13, 2023

Summer in Heidelberg slaps different! Just a short walk to the famous Old Town and ancient university, Staycity Heidelberg is the perfect base to explore this magical city as well as the surrounding mountains, forest and riverside. Mannheim airport is just a 15 minute drive and there's direct flights from the UK to Frankfurt, an hour's drive from the property.

Heidelberg is a two sided-coin, it’s a modern city with world-class university and a quintessential German countryside town - think Hansel and Gretel, with less child-munching witches. Step into the fairytale, there’s the crumbling old castle overlooking the winding Neckar river, a red-rooved Old Town and the grand Old Bridge complete with luck bearing monkey… Here’s our top 5 picks for ultimate wanderlust.



1. all aboard the funicular

A train with a view… Heidelberg’s funicular is an old fashioned railway running up and down Königstuhl hill, stopping to change lines at the majestic Schloss Heidelberg. Hop on at Kornmarkt Square in Old Town and head up into the clouds. If you get off at the castle (you must!) check out the cellars to find the world’s largest wine barrel. You can also get an audio tour of the castle’s ruins, visit the German Apothecary museum and find mystical creatures in the fairytale children’s park. After all that excitement, jump back on the funicular and continue up to the top of the hill. A 360 view of Heidelberg and its surrounding woodland is waiting for you – on a clear day!


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2. kayak the neckar river 

You’ve looked down at the city from the hill and castle, now it’s time to look up. Local guide Ludger Benighaus leads kayaking tours for singles, couples and groups. Paddle along the Neckar river learning about the city’s culture and history, or opt for a tour of one of the beautiful surrounding areas. You’ll see castles, float under bridges and take in the city from a totally different perspective. Most tours take 2 hours and cost €49 per person.


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3. find the nazi amphitheatre 

If you go down to the woods today, you might find the ruins of a gigantic Nazi amphitheatre! Commissioned by Joseph Goebbels and opened in 1935, it was part of the Thingspiel movement aimed to bring people together for theatre and propaganda events. To find this ‘Thingstätte’ follow the Philosophenweg (Philosopher’s Walk) on the opposite riverbank to the castle, where you’ll spot exotic plants and informational plaques about the city’s history. About 2km later, you’ll find it tucked away in the forest. Prepare to be bowled over by its sheer size and scale.


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4. schnitzels and beer in altstadt 

Sometimes the very best way to get a sense of a city is by aimlessly exploring. Altstadt (Old Town) is cobbled streets, stunning baroque architecture and dozens of traditional bars, eateries and shops. Pop into Wirtshaus zum Spreisel or Zum Seppl for large portions of authentic German food – try the Saumagen (sow’s stomach) if you’re feeling brave. Vetter’s Brewery is the place for a local pint and Schnitzelbank does a predictably good schnitzel. We’ve also made a list of restaurant recommendations in Heidelberg for you.

You could spend hours wandering around the little museums and ancient university. Don’t forget to touch the monkey’s right hand on Old Bridge… it means you’ll come back to Heidelberg again some day.


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5. locked up in the studentenkarzer

Go to jail, move directly to jail… The Studentenkarzer was a university jail where students could be incarcerated for weeks at a time for misdemeanours. They still attended their classes but spent the rest of their time in private jail cells on the university campus. Predictably, getting locked up started to become a right of passage and students graffitied the walls with drawings and funny sayings. Visit the jail today to see the results of their artwork and get a sense of what it was like to be a Heidelberg student in years gone by.



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Make your fairytale trip come true and book your Heidelberg getaway here.