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Day Trips from Heidelberg

Settling my itinerary for October:

Fly into Frankfurt on the 2nd of October.
Overnight at Frankfurt Hilton Airport.
3rd: Frankfurt -> Heidelberg.

9th: Heidelberg -> Frankfurt
10th: Depart Heidelberg for the states

Looking for recommendations for day trips from Heidelberg that are less than a two hour train/car ride.

Would a day trip to the black forest be at all possible?

Interests: I'm a librarian and classically trained pianist. So, books and music. Also a history buff.
I'm not interested in long hikes in the black forest or anything like that, but would love to see it.

ETA: It turns out I asked this question earlier, so apologies! BUT, I'd still love input!

Posted by
756 posts

Any particular reason you have selected Heidelberg as a base? Do you want to see just Germany or are you open to seeing France?

Posted by
5130 posts

Destinations for you to look into from H'berg:

Bad Wimpfen
Besigheim (1.5 hrs by train)
Speyer
Worms
Ludwigsburg
Stuttgart
Heppenheim and the other Bergstrasse wine towns
Gengenbach (1.6 hrs, walled town with towers at edge of Black Forest)
Michelstadt
Mainz
Bingen (Gateway town to the Middle Rhine Valley for castles, cruises, etc.)

How much train time is required depends on various factors. Bingen, while it's pretty distant and normally 2+ hours by regional train, can be reached in 1.6 hours on the 8:33 departure. It's 1.2 hours on the direct 7:55 IC train. THIS LINK gives you direct access to the DB itinerary search page.

Baden-Baden is closer to H'berg than Gengenbach but then you would still have to make a long bus ride into town - and I can't recommend it unless you're into casinos or spa treatments anyway. Gengenbach is adorable and much more like a typical Black Forest town.

Posted by
14 posts

Threadware:

Good friend lives in Heidelberg and I’m considering a move there.

Posted by
1593 posts

If it is running, there is, or at least used to be, a boat ride n the Neckar.

Bad Wimpfen is a nice town as Russ mentioned.

We liked Mannheim.

Posted by
7884 posts

Why are you staying at the airport on your first night? Come into the city and walk around, and have a great dinner. Frankfurt is chock full of interesting, historical sites. The Hilton here is lovely and sits on a park that surrounds the city center. The S-Bahns from the airport to the Hauptwache stop (the stop by the Hilton) takes only about 15 min. and runs every 15 min.

Posted by
14 posts

Ms_Jo:

I am staying at the Hilton for a night because I have a rare congenital heart defect and it always takes me about a day to recover from flying.

The easiest thing for my body is to crash at the Hilton.

Believe me, if I could hop on a train right after flying with no ill effects, I would just head into Frankfurt.

Posted by
7884 posts

Oh my, Lyn. Then do take care of yourself. Let me know if you need any kind of help while you are in town. I am good at carrying suitcases, etc. :-)

Posted by
14 posts

Ms_Jo:

How sweet of you!

I am TOTALLY fine. It’s just the flying bit. It’s never been comfortable.

I just view the stay at the Hilton as an extended traveling day, I always do this while traveling- find the hotel closest to the airport and crash there a day.

Then, I’m fully ready to explore!

Posted by
1281 posts

We visited that area a couple years ago - stopping at Heidelberg, Bad Mergentheim and Speyer.

Bad Mergentheim is a very pleasant place with a large park near the spa, and a museum devoted to the local area and the Teutonic Knights. It is about 2 hours by train from Heidelberg.

Speyer was even more enjoyable for my wife and I. It has a major Romanesque Cathedral (built 11C) that is my favorite in Germany. It has several other churches of other eras worth visiting including the Protestant Baroque Dreifaligkeitkirche built in the 1700's to compete with the Cathedral. Speyer has the remains of a Jewish Cleansing Bath (Mikve) well underground (steep steps) with a small museum at ground level. Reading about the Mikve was an education for me. There is a Historical Museum of the Palatinate (Pfalz) which sadly was closed while we were there. If you like small art museums, Hans Purrmann's house and collection was fun for me. Speyer is only about 45 minutes from Heidelberg and we intend to return.

Posted by
4866 posts

Since Frankfurt has had the world's largest (commercial business) book fair for a few hundred years, (and it has to be avoided by tourists, because hotels are completely sold out at high prices.) I don't know if that means there are manuscript and publishing exhibitions in Frankfurt. There have to be many important university libraries in the cities you'll visit.

All my suggestions below would require a lot of advance research by you:

October suggests you may still have some wine or harvest festivals to hunt up on the internet. This might justify a longer trip,like to the Mosel if you have to go that far to find one. It's also the beginning of the performing arts season. But you have to assume that fine regional opera houses (Even Luwigshafen has one) and orchestras will sell out well in advance of your arrival. If the ticket money is a worry for you, make sure your Cancellation or Interruption insurance covers event tickets. Note that the Alte Oper in Frankfurt is actually a gut renovation with a modern auditorium! The place has good sound, but they also have an active program of 2nd class Broadway-style tours and things like that.

Hiking is a passion all over Germany, and I think you are over-prioritizing the BF for this short trip. One charm of the BF is the transit pass your hotel gives you, so your hikes can be one-way, back to your hotel. You might find some hikes around a UNESCO WHS, like the Roman Limes. Check the October weather before pulling the trigger on your BF ideas. I would put (Roman) Trier, for example, ahead of the BF for you. Look up Odenwald Bergstraße Neckartal and the Bergstrasse Holiday Route. Are you interested in the Fachwerkstraße? This last is partly a joke, because I wouldn't spend a whole day on it with your short visit time, but also look up: Felsenmeer (Lautertal.)

Check the K-D boat website, it may be too late for boats on the only important scenic section, the Middle Rhine. Don't bother boating elsewhere.

Posted by
14 posts

Tim:

Thank you for your wealth of information!

Yeah, I'm not so sure about the Black Forest, just wanted to see if it was feasible, not necessarily prioritizing it.

This won't be my first trip to Germany, as I am strongly considering a move there in 2022.

I would rather spend an evening at an orchestra concert or meandering some through a library or museum than a day hiking, truth be told. I'm going to start doing research to see if there's any groups actually playing.

I believe my friend who lives in Heidelberg is considering planning a cruise down the Neckar for her birthday (why I am visiting).

Posted by
3470 posts

You might want to consider a day trip to Wurzburg if you've not been there. Prince Bishop's Palace is really something -- particular the small church on one end. You can get there easily by train from Frankfurt. Go early in the morning, spend half a day or so, and then continue to Heidelberg. Or it can be done from Heidelberg just as well.

Posted by
751 posts

This has absolutely nothing to do with either books or music, but I love visiting nearby Burg Gutenburg to watch the birds of prey. The demonstration is is German, but they try add some English commentary for their visitors. burg-guttenberg.de

Posted by
14 posts

@Ruth -- I should probably mention that I have a deep fear of birds. So I definitely won't be checking that out, but thanks so much for replying!

Posted by
134 posts

Castle Eltz is a neat place, and it is about 2 hours by car from Heidelberg. This is one of my favourite castles.

Trier is about two hours by car. A nice city to wander around and tons of history.

Freiburg, the gateway to the Black Forest, is about 2 hours. It has museums and music, so it's a great way for you to experience the Black Forest on your terms. It might even be worth spending a night there.

Strasbourg in France (assuming border crossings are not a problem by then).

Stuttgart, obviously.

Baden-Baden

Mainz

Rhein valley up to Boppard or even Koblenz

And myriad small towns that might be fun! Several have already been mentioned (Ludwigsburg, for example, but even the nearby and smaller Bietigheim-Bissingen, which sports an impressive viaduct and a cute half-timbered old town).

I would also definitely consider a wine tour of some kind.

Posted by
25594 posts

another big vote for Speyer - many of the great reasons are in previous posts above.

As old as the Dom in Speyer is, it amazingly looks like it was just built (it wasn't). And it is practically on your doorstep.

It will be too late in the year for the Goat ceremony, but we really like the little town of Deidesheim, about 45 minutes west on the Wine Route. We don't drink but we love it around there. In Deidesheim, not only is there the Goat ceremony but beautiful half timbered architecture, and a really cute travelling fountain and sculpture on the south side of town. It has a train station and nearby villages are good too, even including Bad Dürkheim which has its own attractions. Bad Dürkheim specialises in big, really big and small. World's largest roulette wheel, world's largest barrel, Germany's largest wine festival which strangely calls itself Wurstfest. Not one salt spring but seven, which makes for opportunities for a salt water spa; and it has the huge Saline which cleans the air. For small, it has a narrow gauge railway.

That whole area is lovely.. I bet in early October the leaves will be beautiful. Car would be faster and easier because the little train goes all around the houses between Heidelberg and Deidesheim and Bad Dürkheim.

In the spring and early summer the fields between Deidesheim and Speyer is just acres and acres of asparagus, and roadside stands to be replaced later in the year by cherry stands, and then cut-and-carry flower fields. A lovely part of the world.

Frankfurt has plenty to see, and the villages around it. The new Altstadt has absolutely gorgeous - each piece of slate is cut to shape. Thousand and thousands of them. Frankfurt on Foot https://www.frankfurtonfoot.com/ give great tours - I speak from experience. There are often concerts in Frankfurt too. Heidelberg to Frankfurt is just about an hour either by car or train. I've been rather unlucky finding easy parking in Frankfurt - the train is very easy.

I hope that you and your friend have a yummy time, and that you get to make your relocation and it is successful too.

Posted by
1136 posts

We were close by in 2019, based in Ladenburg. You don't have too much time in Heidelburg, and you don't mention whether you will have access to a car or not. If driving, parts of the Neckar Valley and up the hill are attractive, but generally it's not the prettiest of areas to drive around in. The main drag from Frankfurt down to past Karlsruhe is extremely busy and industrial.

Of the larger places mentioned above, and do not take an overly long time to reach, Speyer and Ludwigsburg are worth a visit. Ludwigsburg has castles, nice gardens and a fun pumpkin festival around September/October on weekends. One of my brothers really enjoyed a long weekend in Stuttgart during a beer or wine festival.

We prefer smaller towns and villages, with plenty of hiking thrown in. Bad Wimpfen is the tops for me, and can be combined with an early stop at the saltworks at Bad Friedrichshall (if that tickles your fancy). You can have a pleasant, easy walk along the Neckar from Heidelberg to Neckargemund. I liked Besigheim and really liked Gengenbach, but they may be too small for you when taking travel time into consideration. I remember liking the timbered little town of Michelstadt from a much earlier visit, but on the more recent trip quite a number of buildings were empty. Not sure what was going off.

To follow on Nigel's aforementioned wine villages, on Unity Day we visited Freinsheim for breakfast and short walkaround, followed by a quick trip to Bad Durkheim, then on to Deidesheim. In Deidesheim we walked through the vines with a glass of wine in hand, together with many locals, and ended up in an enclosed area where a jazz band was playing. We didn't stay too long as neither of us like jazz.

Posted by
267 posts

As a librarian, I guess you might enjoy the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz.

Posted by
25594 posts

there has been a flurry of first time posters (catrina in this case, the same person?) with the same link which is not the official website of DB.

Posted by
14 posts

Nigel,

I have no idea where you are getting your information from, but I do not appreciate your accusation that I am some kind of troll or bot.

While your baseless assumptions regarding my technology skills are flattering, I can assure you (not that I even need to), I only have one account.

I have better things to do with my time than troll the Rick Steves travel forum.

I’m new here, but if there is an issue, then perhaps you should take it to a moderator.

Posted by
7884 posts

Lynn, Nigel was not talking about you at all, but instead the poster above him who is actually trying to hijack your thread. Nigel is kind and helpful and would never talk like that about a newcomer to the forum who was seeking advice.

Posted by
25594 posts

I've added a little clarification. Sorry if you misunderstood. In no way was anything negative said about you, Lyn, in fact you'll see that previously in the thread I had posted a somewhat longer helpful answer - exactly a month ago. The thread had been quiet until the non-official link was posted on Tuesday, when it was posted on several unrelated threads.