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Getting here and away

Heidelberg is located approximately 80KM to the south of Frankfurt and is sometimes described as being at the heart of Europe. Given that European borders are in a constant state of flux this is probably no longer true!

Getting to and from Heidelberg is simple by either plane, train or road.

By Plane

Heidelberg is placed roughly equidistant between Frankfurt and Stuttgart airports. Most people that arrive by plane will come through Frankfurt airport (which is the major hub for Lufthansa airlines). Frankfurt airport is a large and busy airport, but extremely well thought out and easy to find your way around. All signs are in German, English and graphics where possible. Frankfurt airport has two terminals. Terminal 1 is used by Lufthansa and its partners. Terminal 2 is used by all other airlines (including the charter airlines). Terminal 2 is the more modern of the two having been designed by Sir Norman Foster not too long ago. Use the skyline to travel between the terminals.

If you are arriving with checked luggage, you will first have to pass through passport control before collecting your luggage from the “Baggage reclaim” area. Once your baggage has been collected and you have passed through customs you have a number of options available to you:

  • Take the train directly from the airport to Heidelberg main station (Hauptbahnhof). This will take between 45 and 80 minutes depending upon the type of train you take and expect to pay between € 13 and 20 per person (2nd class). You will have to change trains at Mannheim which can be a bit of a hassle if you are carrying lots of luggage.
  • Take the Lufthansa airport bus directly to Heidelberg (sometimes stopping in Mannheim on the way). This is a mini-bus located in front of the meeting point in Terminal 1. Book your seat in advance as spaces are limited. The fare is € 19 one way (or € 35 for a return ticket) and the journey takes roughly 75 minutes (specially priced family tickets also available – check for details). Buses leave the airport throughout the day. The airport bus will drop you off at the Crowne Plaza hotel which is about 5 minutes from the centre of town (check the orientation section for details). It is necessary to book a seat on the bus otherwise you may find yourself having to wait around for a while. This is a convenient and cost effective way to get to Heidelberg from Frankfurt airport.
  • For more details on the Lufthansa bus and the timetable for the service, go to http://www.lufthansa-airportbus.com/strecken_heidelberg.html.
  • Hire a car from one of the many car hire agencies located at the airport. Rates will vary, so please check with the car hire operators. The drive from Frankfurt to Heidelberg should take around 60 minutes. Once you arrive in Heidelberg you will potentially run into problems parking if you are staying in the centre as parking permits are required in most areas. You’ll probably end up having to pay for hotel parking. You don’t need a car to get around Heidelberg – nearly everything is within walking distance. So if possible, do Heidelberg and the environment a favour and don’t bring a car here!
  • Take a taxi from the airport to Heidelberg. Follow the signs to the Taxi rank. The Taxi will be metered, although for journeys to Heidelberg it is sometimes possible to negotiate a fixed price. This is the most expensive option, expect to pay upwards of € 120. The journey should take around 60 minutes.

A new alternative if you arriving from the UK is to take Ryanair from London Stansted to Hahn (Frankfurt) – if you book well in advance you can get some real bargains. The only drawback is that Hahn is absolutely no where near Frankfurt or Heidelberg. But you can take a coach directly (more than 2 hours) from Hahn to Heidelberg (drops you off near the centre of town, behind the Crowne Plaza).

By Train

Germany has an excellent, very punctual rail infrastructure. Most of the major train routes will drop you off at Mannheim where you will jump onto a regional train that takes around 15 minutes to get from Mannheim to Heidelberg. The Heidelberg main station (Hauptbahnhof) is located a 10 minute tram ride from the centre of town (check the orientation section for details).

By Road

Heidelberg is well served by the German autobahn (motorway/highway) infrastructure. The closest autobahns to Heidelberg are the A5 and A6. Exit off these motor ways onto the A656 which will take you directly into the centre of Heidelberg. If you plan to stay in the centre of town, then parking will potentially be problematic as all on street parking is either metered or with parking permit only. Your best bet is probably to park the car in one of the underground car parks or in your hotel car park for the duration of your stay. You won’t need your car to get around Heidelberg (see the getting around section).

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The currency is Germany is the Euro (€).

Notes and coins: 100 cents make up 1 Euro. Notes come in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 500. Money can be changed at all the banks (and on Sunday at the train station). If you are the holder of an EC card or major credit card then you will be able to withdraw money from the many ATM machines dotted around Heidelberg.

There is an American Express office on Brückenkopf, just across the new bridge, away from the old town. The American Express office is open Monday to Friday between 09:00 and 18:00 and on Saturdays between 10:00 and 13:00.

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Learning a bit of German before you arrive will almost certainly make your stay more enjoyable. At the very least learn to say hello, please, thank you and goodbye – it will be appreciated by the local people.

Having said that, the majority of the population in Heidelberg will speak some English, so you will be able to make yourself understood without having to speak German. If you would like to learn some useful phrases, find out how you can learn German or view our phrase of the day, have a look at the language section of e-heidelberg.com.

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Getting around

Heidelberg is relatively small, with a large pedestrian only zone and plentiful public transport. You will probably get around Heidelberg mostly by walking or on the odd occasion by taking a reasonably priced tram or a bus. If you think you will be using public transportation on a number of occasions during your visit (perhaps if your hotel/lodgings are located a little bit outside of the centre) then there are a number of special tickets (including family tickets) that you will save you a lot of money. Check with your hotel for details. You can use these ticket on buses, trams and trains. A reasonably priced family day ticket for Heidelberg public transport is also available.

A great way to see Heidelberg and go slightly off the tourist trail is a to hire a bike and get around on two wheels. Bike hire is possible – costs are reasonable – check the visitor attractions section for more details.

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General stuff

Here are some general statistics about Heidelberg that people are always asking us!

Population 139,941
Approximately 1 in 5 of the population are students – this brings an atmosphere of energy and excitement to Heidelberg.
Around 20,000 of the Heidelberg residents are non-German nationals, giving Heidelberg its well known cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Approximately 3.3 million visitors pass through Heidelberg every year. The majority of the non-German visitors are from the USA and Japan, although a reasonable number come from the UK, Switzerland and Italy.
There are around 4587 guest beds in Heidelberg.
e-heidelberg.com was founded in October 1999
Is there a burning question about Heidelberg you want answered? Let us know!

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Heidelberg isn’t a large place. Visitors generally spend most of their time in the old town. The old town starts at Bismarckplatz, which is the main hub for trams and buses, at one end of the Hauptstrasse. The old town then runs along the Haupstrasse all the way down to the the Karlstor, past the castle. The Haupstrasse was pedestrianised in 1976. Generally you won’t see too many cars in the old town. If you’re staying outside of the centre, then all you need to do is hop on a bus or tram that is going in the direction of Bismarckplatz. The Hauptstrasse runs parallel to the river Neckar.

Neuenheim and the Philosophenweg are across the river from the old town.

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Internet Access

There is an Internet Cafe at Plöck 101 in the old town (tel: 303 020) and at the Internet Cafe in “Mode Bredl” at Hauptstrasse 90 (open Mo-Fri 9:30 – 19:30 and Sa 9:30 – 16:00).

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How much is your stay in Heidelberg going to cost? That’s a pretty difficult question for anyone to answer. You can find accommodation for as little as € 25 or as much as € 250. Eating out and visiting the odd Kneipe (German bar) can again vary quite a lot in price – although a beer should never cost you more than € 3 and you should be able to get a great tasting main course for € 10 or lower! A lot of the sightseeing that you will do, doesn’t cost anything. If we were to compare the costs of visiting a similar place in, say, England, we think you will find Heidelberg very reasonable.

Send us an email and tell us what you think about the prices and how much your visit cost – and we’ll publish your opinion here!

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Weather/when to go

The best time of year to visit is in the summer between May and September, when the least rain falls and daily temperatures and hours of sunshine are at their highest. Having said that, Heidelberg is a town that can be visited all year round as the weather never really gets extreme. The christmas period is a particularly popular time to visit Heidelberg and its famous Christmas market. You’ll find Heidelberg less crowded and hotel rates more accommodating outside of the peak periods. Heidelberg is a great weekend break anytime of year.

Heidelberg gets over 1600 hours of sunshine a year. Geography dictates that Heidelberg receives the good weather from the south but none of the bad weather from the north.

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Tourist offices

The main tourist office is located at the Hauptbahnhof (main train station). This can be a useful source of information for the visitor and includes information on current special offers for tourists.

The office is open from 10.00 until 19.00 from Monday to Saturday and from mid-March until mid-November it is also open on Sundays from 10.00 until 18.00.

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German time is GMT + 1 hour.

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Recommended reading

There are lots of English language tourist guides to Germany that include a couple of pages on Heidelberg. If you’re spending the weekend here, you’ll probably find this source of information quite limiting. We’re currently researching other books, but haven’t found anything worth recommending yet – when we do, you’ll find the recommendation here.

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The post

The postal service in Germany is generally very efficient. Post boxes are yellow and are scattered around Heidelberg. The main post office is located to the Castle side of Bismarkplatz, behind the Kaufhof department store. Stamps for postcard, etc can be bought here.

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Shopping & banking

10:00 ’til 20:00 (Monday to Friday) and 10:00 ’til 16:00 (Saturday). All shops are closed on Sunday in Heidelberg. You will notice slight variations in opening hours from shop to shop.

The main shopping to be had is in the old town, centred around the Hauptstrasse, where you’ll find over a mile of shops. Start at the Bismarckplatz end and work your way down the pedestrian Hauptsrasse, stopping for the occasional coffee (or German beer!).

Banks are open Monday to Friday from 0830 ’til 1600. Some banks close for lunch. Banks are closed at the weekend.

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Health & safety

Heidelberg is a safe place with low levels of crime. Generally your biggest worry will be that your hire bike gets stolen! Like any European town, as long as you show a bit of common sense you will be fine.

Heidelberg has an excellent medical infrastructure.

In case of emergency, you should dial 19222 for an ambulance and for an emergency doctor you should dial 19292.

For the police, dial 110

For the fire service, dial 112

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You can do your laundry at a little launderette at Poststrasse 50. This is just behind the town library, between the old town and the main train station.

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© 2016