Surrounded by forest in southwestern Germany, Heidelberg is a delightful tourist town renowned for its stunning riverside setting, Baroque architecture, and Renaissance castle ruins, which was once home to the Imperial Prince Electors of Heidelberg.
That being said, the best thing about Heidelberg in December is its alluring Christmas market, which has been described as the perfect blend of tradition and romance. This annual event has a mixture of food, drink, and gift stalls across seven locations in the old quarter, which means that you can smell the scents of roasted almonds, chestnuts, and cinnamon throughout Altstadt. Divine!
As well as the extensive festive market, there’s also a breathtaking ice-rink situated in front of the Castle that’s wonderfully lit up at nighttime. The fact that you can view the warm glow of the lights from miles away makes the atmosphere even more magical and picturesque.
Here’s what I got up to in Heidelberg during my recent trip.
How To Get To Heidelberg:
Heidelberg is a popular day trip, especially during the Christmas Market season. It is an hour away from Frankfurt and 2 hrs away from Strasbourg, France, and Basel Switzerland.
From Strasbourg: TGV train will be your best bet since it leaves every 4 hrs from Strasbourg station. You get off at Heidelberg Station and take the HD Hauptbahnhof Ost to Aldstadt.
From Basel Switzerland: Basel SBB rail station is the central rail station in Basel. Just like Strasbourg, there is a direct train from Basel to Heidelberg.
From Frankfurt: The most efficient way to get to Heidelberg is to take the Flixbus. They also have a direct trip to and from Frankfurt Airport.
Best Time to Visit
Tourists visit Heidelberg throughout the year. Though my favorite time to visit will be the Christmas Market season. Their Christmas Market usually starts on the 26th of November till the 6th of January.
The main Christmas market is located in Altstadt. There are a total of four markets right after the other. Their markets are composed mostly of food, and Gluhwein stands. Each market serves different kinds of food and pastries, so it is worth it to visit all four.
Where To Stay
Staying anywhere in the Altstadt or Old Town area is where I prefer to stay. There are tons of hotels in the area but I choose to stay somewhere close to the Christmas Market.
BS Luxury Apartment is a 10-minute walk to Marketplatz and other tourists attractions. It also has a nice view of the Rhine River which is so refreshing to wake up to in the morning. It is family friendly however, there is no lift available so if you have huge luggage, be prepared to carry it to your apartment.
Where To Eat
Cafe Extrablatt- if you are not adventurous and would want to stick to your usual bacon and eggs for breakfast, Cafe Extrablatt offers a variety of breakfast options to satisfy your cravings.
Palmbräu Gasse- this is a good place to try the traditional pork knuckles and Wiener sausages. They also craft beers which are very popular with locals and tourists.
Schnitzelbank- this is one of the best places to find the Schnitzel of your choice. You would never want to leave Heidelberg without eating a döner or wiener schnitzel.
Bent Bar- Heidelberg has a lot of bars. But if you'd like to grab some cocktails with a stunning view of the river, Bent Bar will win your heart.
Points of Interest
Christmas Markets- Heidelberg gets a lot of visitors during the winter due to the Christmas Markets. They have four markets filled with food and Gluhwein.
Marketplatz (Market Square)- there are a lot of restaurant and bars
- Rathaus(Town Hall)- the seat of the government of Heidelberg. The town hall itself has a magnificent Baroque architecture with an equally interesting history. This is hard to miss since the tourist information is located here.
- Heiliggeistkirche (The Church of the Holy Ghost), you can get fantastic views of the square and the Neckar River from the tower.
Schloss Heidelberg (Heidelberg Castle)- the highlight of our visit here was the wine tasting at the cellar. We had the most delicious German wine. It was so good that we bought 8 different bottles which they private labeled for us. The World's largest Wine Barrel can also be found here. According to our guide, this is where they kept their wine during the war as it can hold up to 219,000 liters of wine.