Heidelberg and the Neckar Valley

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Heidelberg and the Neckar Valley - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Altes Schloss


    This former residence of the counts and dukes of Württemberg was originally built as a moated castle around 1320. Wings were added in the mid-15th century, creating a Renaissance palace. The palace now houses the Landesmuseum Württemberg (Württemberg State Museum), with exhibits tracing the area's development from the Stone Age to modern times and a floor of jaw-dropping family jewels of the fabulously rich and powerful Württemberg royals. There's also a separate floor dedicated to a children's museum.

    Schillerpl. 6
    - 0711 - 8953–5111

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €6; special exhibits €14., Closed Mon.
  • 2. Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace

    This is a rare example of a well-preserved medieval monastery from the late 12th century, becoming one of the wealthiest in the region, with a boarding school added in 1504. It was annexed by the local government in 1806, and in 1868 parts of the complex were rebuilt as a hunting castle for King Frederick of Württemberg. Expansion and restoration continued as long as the palace and monastery continued to be a royal residence. Visits to the palace are available only on a guided tour; English-language tours are available only by special arrangement (usually for groups).

    Bebenhausen, Baden-Württemberg, 72074, Germany

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Monastery €6; palace €8; combined ticket €10, Closed weekdays, Jan.--Mar. Closed Mon. Nov. and Dec.
  • 3. Boxenstop Museum

    A wealth of vintage toys, model trains, and vehicles, including motorcycles, awaits children of all ages. This private collection, open to the public, includes Porsche, Ferrari, and Maserati race cars, an original 1957 VW Beetle, and a rare 1954 Lloyd. Ask a docent to start up the HO trains or one of the antique musical toys. Kids can ride one of the old pedal cars. There's also a small café.

    Brunnenstr. 18, Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, 72074, Germany

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €7, Closed Mon. and Tues., and Mon.–Sat. in Nov. and Dec.
  • 4. Burg Hohenzollern

    The majestic silhouette of this massive castle is visible from miles away. The Hohenzollern House of Prussia was the most powerful family in German history. It lost its throne when Kaiser William II abdicated after Germany's defeat in World War I. The Swabian branch of the family owns one-third of the castle, the Prussian branch two-thirds. Today's neo-Gothic structure, perched high on a conical wooded hill, is a successor of a castle dating from the 11th century. On the fascinating 45-minute castle tour you'll see the Prussian royal crown and beautiful period rooms, all opulent from floor to ceiling, with such playful details as door handles carved to resemble peacocks and dogs. The restaurant on the castle grounds, Café Restaurant Burg Hohenzollern, offers choices from vegan up to rump steak along with pastries from  the local confectioner,  and there's an outdoor beer garden in season. From the parking lot it's a 20-minute walk to the castle entrance; the shuttle bus is now included in the admission price. English-language tours on request. 

    Hechingen, Baden-Württemberg, 72379, Germany

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €22, including the shuttle bus. Tickets available online only
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  • 5. Burg Hornberg

    The largest and oldest castle in the Neckar Valley, the circular bulk of Burg Hornberg rises above the town of Neckarzimmern. The road to the castle, which dates from the 11th century, leads through vineyards that have been providing dry white wines for centuries. These days, the castle is part hotel (24 rooms) and part museum. In the 16th century it was home to the larger-than-life Götz von Berlichingen (1480–1562). When the knight lost his right arm in battle, he had a blacksmith fashion an iron replacement. Original designs for this fearsome artificial limb are on view in the castle, as is his suit of armor. For many Germans, this legendary knight is best remembered for a remark that was faithfully reproduced in Goethe's play Götz von Berlichingen. Responding to an official reprimand, Von Berlichingen told his critic, more or less, to "kiss my ass" (the original German is a bit more earthy: Er kann mich am Arsche lecken). To this day the polite version of this insult is known as a Götz von Berlichingen. Inquire at the hotel reception about visiting the castle, or just enjoy the walking trails and views from the top of the hill.

    Hornbergerweg, Neckarzimmern, Baden-Württemberg, 74865, Germany

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €5
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  • 6. Königstuhl Bergbahn

    Hoisting visitors to the summit of the Königstuhl in 17 minutes, the funicular stops on the way at the ruined Heidelberg Schloss and Molkenkur. The modern funicular usually leaves every 10 minutes, and a historical train comes every 20 minutes. The fee includes entry to the castle gardens, wine cellar, and German Pharmacy Museum.

    Kornmarkt, Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, 69117, Germany

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Königstuhl €9 round-trip includes entry to the castle grounds; (additional charge to visit Schloss)
  • 7. Mercedes-Benz Museum


    The stunning futuristic architecture of this museum is an enticement to enter, but the equally stunning historic and futuristic vehicles inside are the main attraction. Visitors are whisked to the top floor to start this historical timeline tour of motorized mobility in the 1880s, with the first vehicles by Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz. Other museum levels focus on a particular decade or category of vehicle, such as trucks and buses, race cars, concept cars, and future technology, including autonomous driving. Historic photos and other artifacts line the walls of the circular walkway that links the levels.  There's a huge gift shop with all kinds of Mercedes-Benz–branded items and a new-car showroom you can muse over appealing models that are sold in Europe but not in North America. If all that technology makes you hungry, enjoy a full meal at Bertha's Restaurant, named for Bertha Benz, which serves farm-fresh local fare, or a quick bite in the Bistro or Deli.

    Mercedesstr. 100
    - 0711 - 173–0000

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: From €10 (€5 after 4:30), Closed Mon.
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  • 8. Porsche Museum


    In the center of the Porsche factory complex in the northern suburb of Zuffenhausen, the architecturally dramatic building expands outward and upward from its base, like a sports stadium. Inside is a vast collection of legendary and historic Porsche cars including racing cars, nearly 1,000 racing trophies and design and engineering awards, and several vehicles designed by Ferdinand Porsche that eventually became the VW Beetle. It is astounding how some 1930s models still look contemporary today. The museum includes a coffee shop and the Boxenstopp bistro, ideal for families, open during regular museum hours. There is also the sophisticated Christophorus restaurant, regarded as the best American-style steak house in Stuttgart, open Tuesday through Saturday until midnight. The gift shop sells some Porsche-branded logo clothing, but mostly miniature collectibles. Stand under the special "cones" on the upper level to hear the different engine sounds of various Porsche models, and try out the interactive "touch wall" timeline to explore nine decades of automotive history. Factory tours are available with advance arrangements.

    Porschepl. 1
    - 0711 - 911–20911

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €10, Closed Mon.
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  • 9. Residenzschloss Ludwigsburg

    One of Europe's largest palaces to survive in its original condition, Residenzschloss Ludwigsburg certainly merits a visit for its sumptuous interiors and exquisite gardens. The main palace is also home to the Keramikmuseum, a collection of historical treasures from the porcelain factories in Meissen, Nymphenburg, Berlin, Vienna, and Ludwigsburg, as well as an exhibit of contemporary ceramics. The Barockgalerie is a collection of German and Italian baroque paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries. The Modemuseum showcases three centuries of fashion, particularly royal clothing of the 18th century, and the Kinderreich shows how children lived during those centuries. The castle is surrounded by the fragrant, colorful 74-acre park Blühendes Barock (Blooming Baroque), filled with thousands and thousands of tulips, huge masses of rhododendrons, and fragrant roses. A Märchengarten (fairy-tale garden) delights children of all ages. Entrance to the palace rooms are with guided tours only; they are hourly year-round, including some in English. From the bus station downtown, take lines 421, 427, 430, 443 or 444 to the stop Residenzschloss, or walk (ten minutes)

    Schloss Str. 30, Ludwigsburg, Baden-Württemberg, 71640, Germany

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Palace €8.50, park €9; museums with audio guide €3.50; museum tour with audio guide €8; combination ticket €20
  • 10. Schloss Heidelberg

    What's most striking is the architectural variety of this great castle complex. The oldest parts still standing date from the 15th century, though most of the castle was built during the Renaissance in the baroque styles of the 16th and 17th centuries, when the castle was the seat of the Palatinate electors. There's an "English wing," built in 1612 by the elector Friedrich V for his teenage Scottish bride, Elizabeth Stuart; its plain, square-window facade is positively foreign compared to the castle's more opulent styles. (The enamored Friedrich also had a charming garden laid out for his young bride; its imposing arched entryway, the Elisabethentor, was put up overnight as a surprise for her 19th birthday.) The architectural highlight remains the Renaissance courtyard—harmonious, graceful, and ornate. Even if you have to wait, make a point of seeing the two-story Grosses Fass (Great Cask) in the cellar, possibly the world's largest wine barrel, made from 130 oak trees and capable of holding 58,500 gallons. It was used to hold wines paid as taxes by wine growers in the Palatinate. The Deutsches Apotheken-Museum is also included in your ticket and worth a look to see six re-created apothecaries dating back as far as the 17th century. In summer there are fireworks displays, on the first Saturday in June and September and the second Saturday in July, to commemorate when the castle went up in flames in 1689, 1693, and 1764. In June and July the castle hosts a theater festival. Performances of The Student Prince often figure prominently. Take the Königstuhl Bergbahn, or funicular—faster and less tiring than hiking to the castle on the Burgweg. Audio guides are available in eight languages.

    Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, 69117, Germany

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €6; audio guide €4
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  • 11. Staatsgalerie


    This not-to-be-missed museum displays one of the finest art collections in Germany. The old part of the complex, dating from 1843, has paintings from the Middle Ages through the 19th century, including works by Cranach, Holbein, Hals, Memling, Rubens, Rembrandt, Cézanne, Courbet, and Manet. Connected to the original building is the Neue Staatsgalerie (New State Gallery), designed by British architect James Stirling in 1984 as a melding of classical and modern, sometimes jarring, elements (such as chartreuse window mullions). Considered one of the most successful postmodern buildings, it houses works by such 20th-century artists as Braque, Chagall, de Chirico, Dalí, Kandinsky, Klee, Mondrian, and Picasso. Visit both sections on the same ticket.

    Konrad-Adenauer-Str. 30–32
    - 0711 - 470–400

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Permanent collection €7 (free Wed.); special exhibitions €10–€12; guided tours €5, Closed Mon.
  • 12. Alte Aula

    One of the oldest buildings in Tübingen, erected in 1547, the half-timber university building was significantly altered in 1777, when it acquired an Italian roof, a symmetrical facade, and a balcony decorated with two crossed scepters, symbolizing the town's center of learning. In earlier times grain was stored under the roof as part of the professors' salaries.

    Münzgasse 30, Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, 72070, Germany
  • 13. Alte Brücke

    Framed by two Spitzhelm towers (so called for their resemblance to old German helmets), this bridge was part of Heidelberg's medieval fortifications. In the west tower are three dank dungeons that once held common criminals. Above the portcullis you'll see a memorial plaque that pays warm tribute to the Austrian forces that helped Heidelberg beat back a French attempt to capture the bridge in 1799. The bridge itself is one of many to be built on this spot; ice floes and floods destroyed its predecessors. The elector Carl Theodor, who built it in 1786–88, must have been confident this one would last: he had a statue of himself erected on it, upon a plinth decorated with river gods and goddesses (symbolic of the Neckar, Rhine, Danube, and Mosel rivers). As you enter the bridge from the Old Town, you'll also notice a statue of an animal that appears somewhat catlike. It's actually a monkey holding a mirror. Legend has it the statue was erected to symbolize the need for both city-dwellers and those who lived on the other side of the bridge to take a look over their shoulders as they crossed—reminding them that neither group was more elite than the other. The pedestrian-only bridge is at the end of Steingasse, not far from the Marktplatz.

    Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, 69117, Germany
  • 14. Alte Universität

    The three-story Baroque structure was built between 1712 and 1735 at the behest of the elector Johann Wilhelm, although Heidelberg's Ruprecht Karl University was originally founded in 1386. Today it houses the University Museum, with exhibits that chronicle the history of Germany's oldest university. The present-day Universitätsplatz (University Square) was built over the remains of an Augustinian monastery that was destroyed by the French in 1693. Be sure to visit the colorful graffiti-filed Student Prison, where bad behavior was punished by old-fashioned lockdown, and the Great Hall, now used mostly for concerts and ceremonies,

    Grabeng. 1–3, Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, 69117, Germany

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €34, Closed Mon. Apr.–Oct.; closed Sun. and Mon. Nov.–Mar.
  • 15. Burg Guttenberg

    One of the best-preserved Neckar castles is the 15th-century Burg Guttenberg. Within its stone walls are a museum and a restaurant (closed January, February, and Monday) with views of the river valley. The castle also is home to Europe's leading center for the study and protection of birds of prey, the German Raptor Research Center, with 100 falcons and other birds of prey. There are demonstration flights from the castle walls from April through October, daily at 11 and 3.

    Burgstr., Neckarmühlbach, Baden-Württemberg, 74855, Germany

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Castle €8; castle, museum and flight demonstration €15, Closed Nov.–Apr.
  • 16. Bursa

    The word bursa meant "purse" in the Middle Ages and later came to refer to student lodgings such as this former student dormitory. Despite its classical facade, which it acquired in the early 19th century, the building actually dates back to 1477. Medieval students had to master a broad curriculum that included the septem artes liberales (seven liberal arts) of grammar, dialectic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. The interior of the Bursa is not open for visits, but it's worth strolling by for a look at the outside.

    Bursag. 4, Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, 72070, Germany
  • 17. Deutsches Apotheken–Museum


    This museum, on the lower floor of the Ottheinrichsbau (Otto Heinrich Building), is filled with ancient flagons and receptacles (each with a carefully painted enamel label), beautifully made scales, little drawers, shelves, dried beetles and toads, and marvelous reconstructions of six apothecary shops from the 17th through the 20th centuries. The museum also offers young visitors the chance to smell various herbs and mix their own teas.

    Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Included in Schloss admission, Apr.–Oct., 10–6, Nov.–Mar., 10–5:30
  • 18. Deutsches Verpackungs-Museum

    A former church converted to house this fascinating documentation of packaging and package design of brand-name products. Representing the years 1800 to the present, historic logos and slogans are a trip down memory lane. The entrance is in a courtyard reached via an alley.

    Hauptstr. 22
    - 06221 - 21361

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €5, Closed Mon. and Tues.
  • 19. Deutsches Zweirad–Museum

    Displays include the 1885 Daimler machine that started us on the road to motorized mobility, the world's first mass-produced motorcycles (Hildebrand and Wolfmüller), and exhibits on racing. Also here is the NSU Museum, an early motorbike manufacturer acquired by the predecessor of the company now called Audi, which has an auto production facility in Neckarsulm. The collections are arranged over five floors in a handsome 400-year-old castle that belonged to the Teutonic Knights until 1806. The Audi factory in nearby Neckarsulm offers tours.

    Urbanstr. 11, Neckarsulm, Baden-Württemberg, 74172, Germany

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €6, Closed Mon.
  • 20. Friedrich-Ebert-Gedenkstätte

    The humble rooms of a tiny backstreet apartment were the birthplace of Friedrich Ebert, Germany's first democratically elected president (in 1919) and leader of the ill-fated Weimar Republic. The display tells the story of the tailor's son who took charge of a nation accustomed to being ruled by a kaiser.

    Pfaffeng. 18, Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, 69117, Germany

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed Mon.

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