By Colton Hill (University of Heidelberg, Germany).
In this post I want to talk more generally for people who may be coming to visit or planning on staying in Heidelberg for a relatively short period of time. Instead of mentioning the major tourist attractions (which I may get to later), this will be slightly more practical.
Food may not be on everyone’s list when they come to Germany, aside from maybe a Currywurst (Bratwurst with spicy curry/ketchup sauce), and unfortunately when people have “eat Wiener Schnitzel” on their list for Germany, they may be slightly confused to find out the dish is Austrian. Do not be dismayed, however, there is good food here.
From my experiences, most of these old-styled German pubs, of which there are many in Heidelberg, have a reasonable mixing of foods from the three major German speaking countries (Germany, Switzerland, and Austria), such as Flammkuchen. So, if you’re less picky about the exact origin of what you’re eating, and simply want the “Germanic” feel, then these places are good choices.
Several lay on the high street (Hauptstraße), have menus in several languages, and brew their own beer. People less interested in such cuisine also have options, ranging from Spanish Tapas, to Burritos, to Korean food. In all of my time in Heidelberg, however, I have only ever seen one curry restaurant!
If food isn’t your thing, finding a drink in Heidelberg is even easier. Cafes and pubs litter the high street, often offering outdoor seating in the summer months. Sometimes you can find cafes tucked away down small alleys along with some in front of the large church.
Alternatively, several pubs brew their own beers or offer some of the locally produced product along with some larger brands. Despite a typical image of Germany, the area around Heidelberg also produces wine, with wineries offering tours. A later evening alternative is going to the Unterestraße or Lower Street. Located parallel to the high street, it offers a wide selection of pubs, most of which are full every night. Heidelberg also has its fair share of cocktail bars, sports bars, and Irish pubs.
Long term accommodation I’ve had my fair share of experience with, which you can read about in a previous blog post, but I hope I can also provide some tips about hotels/hostels. For several successive nights on a student budget, there are some small, out-of-the-way hostels scattered about Heidelberg. You just need to be careful about the public transportation connections to and from your hostel (you can also find this in a previous blog post).
An alternative is staying in a “cheap” hotel. Again, these tend to be rather small and possibly remote. The exception is the Ibis at the Main Station, which caters more towards businessmen/women. You should be able to find rooms in these hotels for under 80 EUR a night, although they may not be listed on major hotel booking sites.
Logically, the next category are convenient hotels, located close to the high street or on the Neckar. These are the best hotels in regards to avoiding using the transportation network at all, and often are of a higher quality. Occasionally prices in these hotels fall to prices comparable to the previous category, but typically range between 150-350 EUR per night.
For other interesting options, more suited towards a very short stay in Heidelberg, Mannheim is very close (20 minutes on the train), or even staying in Mainz (which I also talk about in a previous blog post) as a central location could provide cheaper/more flexible alternatives. “Couch Surfing” is also relatively common in Germany.
On a closing note, this blog post may have seemed oddly self-referential, but I thought this would be a good time to highlight some travel-friendly suggestions and information about Heidelberg that I have accumulated over several months. Good luck!