Is Heidelberg not recommended?

According to Rick's book, Heidelberg is not a recommended stop. We were thinking of a stop there on our way back from the Black Forest to Frankfurt. Is it not recommended?

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10684 posts

Although I normally like most of Rick Steves' work and find it helpful, his Germany and Benelux guidebooks are two of the weakest entries in his oeuvre. Too much left out, too many commonplace locations written up as if they were special and unique, and some wonderful cities and towns dismissed outright. Why Heidelberg gets dissed and Rothenburg receives enthusiastic boosting is beyond me. The former hosts a vibrant university population, the latter is a tourist fun house.

I personally find the old section of Heidelberg one of the most scenic in Europe. Although I wouldn't base an entire vacation around the city, I would definitely consider at least a brief visit if you're in the area.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
13318 posts

I visited Heidelberg AND Rothenburg on consecutive days in 1988, a decade before I first heard of Rick. Heidelberg was interesting, but having seen it once I have no particular interest in going back. I returned to Rothenburg 15 years later. Nuff said?

If you've never seen Heidelberg, I would recommend it. (But then if you had already seen it, you'd have an opinion and wouldn't need my recommendation. Oh, well.)

What really amazes me is that he plays up Baden-Baden, which I thought was a waste. I certainly don't consider it a part of the Schwarzwald. Maybe it's the casino; I'm not at all into casinos. And I've been in some German "Thermen". From his description, the ones in B-B are not what I would call typical.

He also plays up Reutte, which I thought was a dump, and not nearly as nice as nearby Pfronten, in Germany. I also was not impressed with Hall, but I loved Hallstatt. Oh well, I guess you can't please everybody all the time.

Posted by Jen
26 posts

I would definitely make a 1 day stop in Heidelberg. The old city, with the river, bridges, and ambiance, and of course the castle are well worth it. We hiked up to the castle (not too strenuous), which made the view from the top all the better.

Posted by Erin
Blue Grass, Iowa
11 posts

I love Heidelberg! It's a great place for a one night stop because you won't feel like you missed any of it. The castle is charming and the old town if fun. Yes, there are a lot of Americans and English is understood, but why does that have to be a draw back? I completed my student teaching on the Army base and had a wonderful time having Heidelberg as my home base for exploring Europe!

Posted by Frank II
4692 posts

I also give a thumbs up to Heidelberg....Remember, as much as we all love Rick, much of what he likes/dislikes is his own personal taste.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
5503 posts

Read Mark Twain, and then you will want to see Heidelberg too.

The last time I was there was in May and it was gorgeous. No huge crowds, spring was bursting out on the hills, the view was great as we wandered around the castle, and I asked myself why in the world does Rick not like this place.

Posted by Elaine
Columbia, SC
800 posts

One more vote for Heidelburg. I only had four hours there and did a walking tour. I would go back again for an overnite. I htought it was a lovely little town. (Rick is not infallible )

Posted by Miguel
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA
264 posts

Heidelburg is a wonderful stop. It's a college town, so there's plenty of activity all the time. We loved it for a day trip. The cathedral has been rebuilt, the town square is charming, the old castle and the views from the old castle are beautiful. And just hanging around the old bridge can be a lot of fun. More than one night could be a stretch, but one night is ok.

Posted by Angela
Chicago/Rural WI
811 posts

We are a pro-Heidelberg household. Make sure to pick up a box of Studentenkuesse (chocolates given to all visiting dignitaries!).

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
4259 posts


If Heidelberg is not recommended, then don't read the book.

Even though Heidelberg is not one of my top ten cities in Germany, I still would go there... (the last time was in 1997)
and, especially, you won't be that far from it!!

As a famous university city, that in and of itself provides enough reason to visit Heidelberg, regardless of it being clogged with tourists or RS opinion of it, which is irrelevant.

Posted by Rik
Vicenza, Italy
711 posts

Heidelberg is one of my favorite cities in the world (I even lived on the Hauptstrasse for a couple years!). It is definitely a must see. The only drawback is the crowds but hell, it's just as crowded (maybe even more) in Venice, Rome and Florence so that's no reason not to go see it.

Posted by Kristen
Phoenix, AZ
199 posts

As a kid, my mom(a teacher) would take students to Europe every year. One time, she gave me a poster of a castle on a hill, this amazing bridge over the water. I remember that it was taken at evening with the orange glare of the lights. I use to study the tiny little people and wonder who they were and dream about going to this place. Years later in high school, I went to stay with a family in Frankfurt and one day we took a trip to Heidelberg. While walking, we crossed over a bridge. I looked back and I was standing at the same stop which the picture from the poster was taken. I had no idea! Poster had Luftansa across it. Anyways... The castle was amazing! I do remember it was a bit of a "college" town. Isn't there an American College there? I think its worth at least a stop. I really enjoyed my time, but it's been over 22 years. Yikes.

Posted by Russ
83 posts

I'll be in Heidelberg May 15th. If Rick doesn't like it great for him. I was there 33 years ago and I'm looking forward to my return visit.

Posted by Paul
Astoria, NY, United States
10 posts

Heidelberg is a beautiful, picturesque college town in a romantic location on a river at the base of low, green-forested mountains. I've been there twice and couldn't believe Rick Steves' distaste for it. Although it is a bit touristy, it is no more so per capita than Rothenburg, or the city centers of large cities like Paris or Munich. Besides, it's a genuine college town with a lively student population, not merely a tourist center. There are many worthy sights, like the Schloß, the Bergbahn (mountainside funicular), the Alte Brücke, Hauptstaße, etc. Also there are many decent places to eat and drink, and you don't HAVE to hit the touristy places as there are many pubs that cater to the students with great drink specials to boot. As someone else wrote, I don't know why Steves gushes about Rothenburg while knocking Heidelberg– perhaps it was too built up in his imagination before he visited, and it was a letdown? Perhaps he had a bad experience there? Besides, Heidelberg is a fully-functioning city that just happens to have some worthwhile tourist spots, while Rothenburg seems to thrive solely because of its tourism. In any case, don't leave it off your itinerary just because Rick Steves does. It's at least worth a day of your time, or several hours' stop on your way elsewhere.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3276 posts

I am also a huge fan of Heidelberg... I have been there a few times and love it. The castle is one of my favorite and I love the view of the city. I am also a fan of university towns being from Ann Arbor. There is a reality to these towns, and although Rothenberg is unique...its so touristy, so I would spend a few days in Heidelberg and enjoy the German lifestyle.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
8005 posts

Rick's books are very limited in scope. They have good information for the areas he covers but leave a lot of every country unmentioned. Use Rick's information when it coincides with your itinerary but don't limit your itinerary to Rick's suggestions only.