1. Heidelberg Palace
This ruined castle where Goethe liked to take a stroll still sits atop Heidelberg’s hillside.
First built in the 13th century, Heidelberg Palace was one of the most beautiful examples of Renaissance architecture before it was blown up by French troops in the 17th century, and set on fire by a series of lightning strikes in the 18th century.
However, this semi-destruction only added to its romantic appeal.
Its charming ruins still attract around one million visitors a year and it was ranked second in the 2016 German Travel Board’s top 100 sights in Germany.
And if you manage the climb to the top, you’ll be rewarded with a great view of the city’s baroque Altstadt or old town.
2. Heidelberg University
Heidelberg is also home to the oldest university in Germany, and one of the oldest surviving universities in the world.
The venerable institution has been shaping young minds since it was established in 1386, and after 736 years it is still one of Germany’s best universities, according to a recent ranking of the world’s best universities.
The university is so influential, it has produced no fewer than five German chancellors.
3. Philosopher’s Walk
One of the city’s most famous streets is the Philosophenweg (Philosophers’ Walk), a path made famous by professors and philosophers from the university who would stroll down it pondering everything from university matters to the greater questions of life.
A walk through this most intellectual of cities will reveal bookshops, publishing houses and libraries around pretty much every corner. So it’s no surprise that the town was named UNESCO City of Literature in 2014.
Add to all this the city’s funicular railway, churches, museums, squares, parks and gardens, and it’s easy to see why Heidelberg is a perfect place for contemplation as well as inspiration.
Heidelberg also prides itself on its environmental credentials, having received the European Sustainable City Award on two occasions. Alongside these, it was honoured with the Global Green City Award in 2015 for its commitment to sustainable development.
And last but not least.
4. By night
Heidelberg is just as beautiful by night as it is by day.
When the city’s 18th century sandstone Alte Brücke, or old bridge, is lit up you can see what Mark Twain meant about the beauty of Heidelberg at night.