Heidelberg is the perfect base to explore the surrounding region, which is known for quaint historic villages, ancient remains of the Roman Empire and medieval castles that are scattered all along the Neckar River. Here are seven ideas for day trips worth doing when you’re visiting Heidelberg.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
The small town Rothenburg ob der Tauber often tops the charts of the most popular medieval villages to visit in Germany. Winding cobblestoned alleys, timber-framed houses with gabled roofs, and the well-preserved city walls create a romantic and nostalgic atmosphere only a few towns can offer. Your best bet is renting a car for the day, since there’s no direct train line between Heidelberg and Rothenburg.
Sitting at the northern edge of the Black Forest region and lures with one of the country’s best spas. The city is within a couple of hours’ reach from Heidelberg and a great option if you want to switch off for the day. If you’re looking for more active pastimes, the region offers vastly forested and mountainous areas with is traversed by hiking and trails, dotted with cute villages, vineyards and ski slopes in winter.
A two-hour train ride or drive takes you to Strasbourg in the French Grand Est region. German and French influences are weaved into the cityscape, which boasts the best of both traditional and modern aspects of life. Somehow, the cosmopolitan flair complements the city, which is full of impressive sights – from the Gothic cathedral to the Petite France quarter with its quaint half-timbered houses and canal views and the Art Nouveau architecture of the Neustadt district.
Neckarsteinach is primarily known for its four medieval castles that were built between 1180 and 1260 and still overlook the tree-covered hills of the Neckar valley. Guided tours of the historic Old Town and the castles can be booked in advance. Alternatively, you can explore the area on your own or take a boat up the river for picturesque views of the region.
Speyer is only a quick 25-minute drive south of Heidelberg and offers a mix of historical sights, great food and hiking trails in the area. A day in the city will be enough to see most sights, most notably the imperial cathedral, which today is the world’s largest preserved Roman church, and sample some of the local cuisine and Palatinate wines.
Approximately 50 kilometres northeast of Heidelberg, the city of Worms is known for three things: the impressive Roman imperial cathedral, its mention in Richard Wagner’s world-famous Song of the Nibelungs and the fact that it’s one of Germany’s oldest cities with a settlement history of more than 7,000 years.
Back in 1350, a moated castle stood where you now find Schwetzingen Palace. Over the course of its turbulent history, the castle was occupied by several Prince Electors who all made alterations and additions to the building and castle grounds. Today, the complex wows with beautiful gardens, a bathhouse, the first Rococo theatre with wings and ostentatiously decorated rooms with furniture from previous centuries. And the best thing is: it’s virtually around the corner from Heidelberg.