CONTRIBUTED BY JESSICA
Heidelberg is one of the most beautiful small towns I have seen during my time in Europe, and I would highly recommend a visit for anyone who can fit it into their schedule. Its very “classic German” in feel, so I find that a day trip (or full weekend!) with family who are visiting from America always goes well. If you only have time for a short trip, I would recommend making Heidelberg castle a priority.
There are four ways to get to the castle – car, bike, tram, or on foot.
Car: I do not recommend this method- there are very few parking spaces near the castle, and more likely you will end up driving back down the Altstadt and parking at the foot of the castle, only to take one of the other ways up to the top. If you’re determined, just follow the signs to the castle (“Schloss”) and be sure to bring your GPS to help navigate through the winding streets of the Altstadt! The address is: Schlosshof 1, 69117 Heidelberg.
Bike: This follows the same route as the car- be sure to always lock up your bike!
Tram: Walk to the Kornmarkt (in the heart of Altstadt). Look for signs that say “Bergbahn” (cable car/tram), which is less than a block to the east of Kornmarkt. From here, take the Bergbahn up to the first stop, which is the castle.
Walk: Next to the Rathaus and Kornmarkt is Burgweg, which is the path that leads up to the castle. The path splits in two – the short route (with stairs, which are numbered 1-318), and the scenic route (no stairs, but it is quite steep). After picking a direction, just follow the signs up to the castle.
When you enter the castle grounds, the information center will be ahead and to your right. Here, you can buy audio tours in English, tickets to the castle, and little trinkets from Heidelberg. Keep in mind the gardens surrounding the castle are free and offer amazing views, but if its your first time to the castle I would recommend buying tickets to the inside, and maybe an Audio Tour in English as well.
Admission can be bought just across from the entrance. Price information can be found below. Inside the castle there is also an Apothecary Museum, which is pretty interesting but could be boring for any children you might be travelling with. You can also buy tickets to a guided tour, which will give you access to the rest of the castle- not just the inner courtyard.
Gardens: When walking around the outside of the castle you can see that the castle has obviously been destroyed several times. Because it was rebuilt in different eras, the castle is made up of many different styles. The broken tower towards the back of the castle (which you can see from the gardens) has a couple different origin stories. I’ve heard that a French spy broke into the castle and blew up the gun powder room at the base of the tower, but I’ve also heard that one of the residents of the castle was responsible for the explosion.
Grosses Fass (Heidelberg Tun) and Perkeo: Heidelberg castle is also the home to one of the worlds largest wine barrels. Once in the castle grounds, follow the signs to the “Fass”, which will lead you to a cellar. Immediately to your right you will see a HUGE wine barrel. My first time visiting the castle, I actually thought this was THE wine barrel- but this one is small in comparison. Around the back of the first large wine barrel is the famous Heidelberg Tun. 130 oak trees were supposedly used to construct this monstrosity, which has a capacity of about 57,800 gallons but holds no wine today.
Eternally guarding the barrel is a statue of Perkeo, whose name appears in many local legends. Supposedly he was the most famous court jester in the region in the 1720s, and is famous for the massive amounts of wine he drank daily. It’s said that he only drank wine his whole life, until he fell ill when he was in his 80s and a doctor told him to drink water. He died the next day, and the water was widely accepted as his cause of death.
The balcony and the Knights Jump: Just past the cellar there is a large balcony that overlooks all of Heidelberg and the surrounding region. This is a great opportunity for some gorgeous pictures! Towards the back of the balcony is a footprint in stone. Stepping in the footprint is supposed to leave one with an overwhelming desire to return to Heidelberg before they die. The footprint itself was apparently made by a knight who was trying to escape a great fire that was destroying the castle- left with no other options, he jumped from a window towards the top of the castle, and left only his footprint as proof of his escape.
Some info for your trip:
Opening hours (open daily):
Courtyard 8:00 am – 6:00 pm (last entry: 5:30 pm)
Big Wine Barrel 8:00 am – 6:00 pm (last entry: 5:50 pm)
Pharmacy Museum 10:00 am – 5:30 pm (last entry: 5:10 pm)
Bergbahn: 6€ Round Trip (only to the castle).
Castle: Adults 3€ Children €1.50
Audio tour: Adults 4€ Children 2€
What else is there to do in Heidelberg? Check out all our Heidelberg articles on Germany Ja!
Heidelberg Christmas Market
Heidelberg Altstadt – places to see in the Old Town of Heidelberg
Cafe Rossi – A German-style restaurant
MoschMosch – A Japanese-style noodle restaurant
Bier Brezel – A German-style restaurant