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Where to eat in Heidelberg

Where to eat in Heidelberg

Our lovely south German home of Heidelberg is beautiful, with its castle, old town, and river views. It’s also a very popular day trip destination for international and German tourists alike. That means it can be a little challenging to find good food, as there are the usual tourist trap places with substandard dishes and high prices. I’ve collated the best places for dinner, a quick lunch, German food, other restaurants, coffee, and breakfast below, because I’d hate for your visit to my town to be ruined by a bad meal. I’ve included a map at the end of the post so you can plan accordingly.

Looking for things to do in Heidelberg? How about my GPS-enabled audio tour? Need help getting from Frankfurt to Heidelberg?

The lovely Neuenheim Marktplatz on a spring evening.
The lovely Neuenheim Marktplatz on a spring evening.
The Marktstübe in Neuenheim
The Marktstübe in Neuenheim

Where to find German food in Heidelberg

If you’re looking for good German food, Heidelberg has definitely got you covered. We’re at the edge of several different regions, so depending on your tastes, you can find something you like. For Flammkuchen, the popular thin-crust pizza analogue, the Marktstübel in Neuenheim is cozy in the winter and allows you to stretch out in the summer with their terrace under the trees in the Neuenheimer Marktplatz. You’re a bit away from the Altstadt here, so you’ll find mostly locals. 

The Kulturbrauerei in the old ballroom
The Kulturbrauerei in the old ballroom

For a traditional big pork knuckle and local bier, the frequently recommended Kulturbrauerei in the Altstadt is a local institution for a reason. They also run the tiny old student pub Zum Seppl, and either one is atmospheric and lovely. They have much more than just pork knuckle, and it’s easy to have a good salad, fish, or schnitzel and spätzle (thick Swabian egg noodles). Our favourite is the Palatinate wurst with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. The Zum Seppl is a 300-year old student hang out and there are carvings all over the place, as well as fencing swords, photos, old drinking mugs, and all sorts of old student-y paraphernalia. When the university has been here since 1386, there are some very old student institutions! You will definitely need to make a reservation for dinner, particularly if you want to eat in the Zum Seppl, as it is very very small. 

Is this not the best view ever? Sitting outside Mahmoud's in the Altstadt
Is this not the best view ever? Sitting outside Mahmoud’s in the Altstadt

There is a large and multi-generational Turkish population in Germany, so I include my favourite middle eastern restaurants here too. Mahmoud’s has two locations, one off the big bus and tram exchange at Bismarckplatz, but the smaller one down a side street and in front of the red stone catholic church is my favourite. Their falafel with halloumi is something special for sure, and the prices are excellent. This will seem odd, but if you’re over near the newer university campus, there is a secret I will share with you. In the Mathematikon building on Berlinerstraße, there are two grocery stores, a toiletries and cosmetics shop, and a few cafes. In the back of the REWE grocery store there is a counter serving chicken Doner Kebab, and I promise you, the sweet man that runs this counter makes an incredible Doner with fresh flatbread for shocking 2.80€. This is why there is a queue that starts at 11:45. If you’re at that end of town anyway, it’s perfect. I time my grocery shopping for lunchtime, for this very reason!

The terrace at Cafe Rossi
The terrace at Cafe Rossi

Where to find other food in Heidelberg

If you’re a bit Flammkuchen and Schnitzeled out, no one would fault you for seeking something different. For a nice lunch, try Cafe Rossi near the Bismarckplatz, they also do a lovely late breakfast as well if you’ve been out late the night before, and have a decent kid’s menu. We had a generous smoked salmon and bagel with fresh juice and tea. In the summer, they have a nice terrace with a little fountain that has been recently renovated. 

Lunch with an indoor play space? The restaurant at the top of the Galeria Kaufhof department store right on Bismarckplatz has a large area for kids with little slides and other toys. The food on offer is a selection of standard German fare with a stirfry to order counter, cakes, and a salad bar. The views over the old town and the Heiligenberg across the river are amazing from this vantage point, so it’s worth it even if you just want some coffee and cake and a bit of a break from walking. You do have to walk through the toy section to get there from the store, so take the outdoor elevator out front if you want to avoid this. 

In the tourist zone? Here’s where to go

If you’re near the Marktplatz, deep in the tourist end of Heidelberg, I would suggest going to Mahmoud’s (mentioned above). Other decent options include Hans im Glück for burgers, or Vapiano for Italian. The other restaurants on the Marktplatz are overpriced and not very good. 

Coffee at Coffee Nerd
Coffee at Coffee Nerd

Best places for coffee in Heidelberg

Germans are all about the mid-afternoon Kaffee und Kuchen break (coffee and cake), and Heidelberg is well served by places for a little sit down. It’s worth noting the coffee tends towards the strong and Italian, not the American style flavouring and large sizes. The resident cool kid spot is Coffee Nerd, with excellent strong coffee and pastries. With locations in Weststadt and Neuenheim, Nomad has some of the best croissants I’ve had – they also serve breakfast and lunch. If you’re going for authentic Heidelberg, it’s hard to beat Göbes. This local bakery will have local specialties and seasonal treats. If you need some quiet and a bit of room to spread out, the cafe at the top of the Galeria Kaufhof department store at Bismarckplatz is your best bet, as mentioned above, with the added bonus of an indoor play space for small kids. 

Play area in the Galeria Kaufhof restaurant
Play area in the Galeria Kaufhof restaurant
River Café for a lovely breakfast
River Café for a lovely breakfast

Best places for breakfast and brunch in Heidelberg

My absolute best recommendation for brunch is the weekly Sunday brunch at the Weinstube in the Heidelberg Castle. That’s right, you can have brunch overlooking the inner castle courtyard in a lovely dining room built right into one of the castle buildings. It’s a three-hour affair with a full appetizer buffet, a main meal you collect in the kitchen and have a little chat with the chefs, and then a fancy dessert buffet. You need to book quite far in advance for this one, so if this is something you’d like to do, you need to book as soon as you know you will be visiting. Over in Neuenheim, River Café does a lovely breakfast in a much shorter time span, but again you will need to book ahead. In the summer, you can take advantage of their lovely terrace not far from the river. If you’re looking for a budget option, the Wiener Feinbäckerei Heberer on the Hauptstraße does a nice range of German breakfast spreads: bread, jam and butter, served with slices of cheese and salami, and a few egg options as well. 

A view over the castle courtyard with your brunch?
A view over the castle courtyard with your brunch?

Here’s a handy map:

Do you know a great Heidelberg restaurant I’ve missed? Let me know!

PS – Need help with packing for Germany? I’ve got you covered for packing for your Germany trip in spring or summer.

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Our lovely south German home of Heidelberg is beautiful, with its castle, old town, and river views. Let me tell you about our favourite places to eat around town.

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Getting from Frankfurt to Heidelberg

Getting from Frankfurt to Heidelberg

Heidelberg is a lovely day trip from Frankfurt. In one day you can easily visit the castle, have a leisurely lunch on the pedestrianized main street, visit the excellent museum, and maybe even have a quick trip on the river Neckar before heading back to Frankfurt. I’m biased because I live here, but I would definitely suggest staying over for the night and exploring our little city a bit more – but it’s definitely possible to do Heidelberg in a day trip from Frankfurt. 

You have three options:

Tours from Frankfurt to Heidelberg

If you’d rather not plan all the nitty gritty yourself, there are several options for coach tours leaving from Frankfurt (check availbility here). The benefits of taking one of these:

  • Air-conditioned coach (this is important in the summer when the temperatures here hit a humid 30º+ (86ºF)
  • Tours will take you straight up to the castle
  • Guided walk through the Heidelberg Old Town
  • You don’t have to research or plan
  • It’s an easy way to slot in a trip to Heidelberg on your holiday

The downsides are they can be more expensive than doing a trip yourself, and if you want to see something else, you’re stuck with your group. However, I completely understand getting a bit overwhelmed with vacation planning details! These tours are generally adult-orientated, but older kids should be fine. If you’re travelling with younger school-age kids or toddlers, it’s best to stick to train or car travel.

Candy stalls are a regular feature at German Christmas Markets
Visiting the Heidelberg Christmas Market

Train from Frankfurt to Heidelberg

This trip is very easy, as there’s a direct train that runs from the main train station in Frankfurt to the main station in Heidelberg. It takes just under an hour, and the trains are pleasant and clean. It’s about 80€ return for two adults and two children for this trip. You can book it right here in English:




A cheaper way to book this trip is to buy a Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket, this is a special saver price for regional trains only (IC and ICE trains are not included) – for two adults it is 52€, with all children travelling for free. However, this route will take an extra half an hour, and you will have to change trains midway. I suggest buying this ticket online, and then confirming your route with the information desk at the Frankfurt main station. 

Upon arriving in Heidelberg, don’t panic! The main Heidelberg train station is a bit grim, as are the surrounding streets. Head out of the station with the herd of people from your train to the tram and bus stops. There you will need to buy another ticket for local Heidelberg travel from a machine at the stop, or you can buy a ticket from the bus driver. You are going to take a number 32 bus to Universitätplatz. On this journey, the bus pulls into a big plaza called Bismarckplatz in front of the Galeria Kaufhof department store, where lots of people get off and on, but you will be staying on. The bus then drives along the river Neckar for awhile, and then turns into some very narrow streets. The buildings start getting older and then you get off at the last stop, Universitätplatz. You are now in Heidelberg’s Old Town! When facing the river, you want to walk left to reach the main Marktplatz and the castle. Tip: my GPS-enabled audio tour begins at the Marktplatz. 

Take a side trip to see the Schwetzingen Palace gardens

Renting a car and driving from Frankfurt to Heidelberg

This is an easy, if not terribly scenic, drive. I’d suggest going with Hertz to rent your car, if for no other reason than there are several places in both Frankfurt proper and the airport to return your car. 

I suggest you set your GPS for Sofienstraße 7, 69115 Heidelberg. This will bring you into the city, and you will see an entrance to the Darmstädter Hof Parkhaus on your left (an underground parking garage). The rates are fairly reasonable, and while there are parking options closer into the Old Town, the driving gets more intense as you navigate very narrow, aggressively cobbled streets. If you’re comfortable with this, feel free to follow the posted signs for the parking in the Altstadt. When you come out of the Darmstädter Hof parking, you will be at the beginning of the Hauptstraße, or main street, which is pedestrianized all the way up to the square below the castle. It’s a nice walk, with cafes and restaurants all the way along. The plus side of having a car, as it will allow you to take a detour to nearby towns like Schwetzingen to see the summer palace and gardens, or Speyer to see the cathedral that is the burial place of so many Holy Roman Emperors. 

Enjoy your trip to Heidelberg!

PS – Need help with packing for Germany? I’ve got you covered for packing for your Germany trip in spring or summer.

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Things to do in Heidelberg with Kids

Things to do in Heidelberg with Kids

Heidelberg is a cute little city in southern Germany, about an hour by train from Frankfurt. I live here with my family, so I’ve had plenty of time to discover all the little corners, bakeries, and playgrounds. Of course, there’s the romantic ruins of the Schloss, there’s the beautiful Altstadt, but… then what? This is what the locals do with their families.

Heidelberg: Take a picnic down to the Neckarweise like a local.
Heidelberg: Take a picnic down to the Neckarweise like a local.

Take a picnic to the Neckarweise

Neckarweise [Neckar-VEE-zah] translates to Neckar meadow, and on a nice day, it’s home to pretty much every Heidelberger in a 5km radius. There are several playgrounds to choose from: a fenced-in one for smaller kids, a water and natural stone hill with lots of streams and channels, and some bigger play structures dotted around. The meadow has lots of space for kicking a ball around, as well as a beach volleyball area.

There’s a little cafe serving ice cream, toasted cheese and ham sandwiches, and cold drinks. Clean public washrooms are available right there too.

If you’re looking for something for dinner nearby, see my last point about the Neuenheim Marktplatz, as it’s just a two-minute walk away. If you’d rather stay on the meadow, there’s a really great and super affordable neighbourhood pizza place just up Werderstraße called Il Carpaccio. The restaurant is just where Werderstraße meets Ladenburgerstraße. It’s a two-minute walk, and you can bring the pizzas back down to your spot on the grass.

The little mechanical horse ride in the trees at Märchen-Paradies.
The little mechanical horse ride in the trees at Märchen-Paradies.

Escape the heat in the Märchenparadies and visit the falcons

It’s not just the castle up there on the Königstuhl, there’s also an aging amusement park called Märchenparadies at the very top. It’s small, but entertaining for an afternoon – and if you’re looking to escape the heat in the summer it’s cooler up there. This is less an amusement park than a strange collection of old-school, self-powered fun park rides. Among the giant trees are concrete pads where your kids can drive little cars, ride strange bikes, and sit on jerky metal horses that go around a track.

There’s a soft play area that’s covered, and a very basic cafe that serves currywurst and wurst in buns. Entrance is 5€, and rides are a few tokens each, with each token costing 50 cents. Arrive at opening to catch the quietest time, but to be honest, even in the middle of the summer it’s not that busy. From April to the end of October, you can also catch a falcon show, at the dedicated Tinnunculus (this is not inside Märchen-Paradies, but near the top of the funicular).

To get to the top of the Königstuhl, you can take the funicular that leaves from the Kornmarkt, or the 39 bus goes up there for much cheaper (but takes much longer), or there’s a road if you’ve got a car – but in the summer you may need to park some distance away.

The view of the Old Bridge and Old Town from one of the little motorboats on the Neckar.
The view of the Old Bridge and Old Town from one of the little motorboats on the Neckar.

Rent a little boat on the river

You can rent either a pedalo or a small motorboat from right beside the Theodor-Husse Bridge (that’s not the old bridge with the arches, but the newer one to the west) and put-put around on the Neckar river. It’s 18€ per half hour for the motorboat and 12€ per half hour for the pedalo, and you just need to leave a 50€ deposit that is returned to you when you return the boat. The motorboat is very easy to drive, and all the boats fit four people. There’s no booking ahead, it’s a pretty bare-bones operation. Handily, the same little office that rents out the boats also sells cold drinks and ice cream.

Looking for the best places to eat in Heidelberg? 

Visit the Klosterhof

Walk across the Altebrücke, and then catch the bus for a few stops, and it’s like you’re in another world. The Klosterhof is an old monastery farm dating from the middle ages, and like all good monasteries, they also have a brewery. Sample their local beer, peer at the cows and goats, take a walk in the orchards, check out the trout in the stream, and have lunch in their Gasthof. There’s a little shop with lots of locally produced things you can pack home – jams, jellies, and that sort of thing. There’s also cheese, beer, wine, and cider, so you can stock your hotel room too.

How fun does this Quadcycle look?
How fun does this Quadcycle look?

Rent a quadcycle and tour the playgrounds of Bahnstadt

The newly built green neighbourhood of Bahnstadt is taking over where the US Army rail switching yards and warehouses used to be. It’s been designed for walkability, and family friendliness. There are quite a few playgrounds, not to mention cafes, ice cream places, wine bars, restaurants, and fountains. The friendly Ruprecht Rides bike shop in the Bahnstadt is your pick-up spot for Quadcycle rentals. These amazing looking bikes come in two sizes: the small one allows two adults to pedal and has space for two small kids, the large size can accommodate four adults pedalling and two small children. Of course, if your kids can reach the pedals, they can help with the locomotion! Rentals start at 15€ per hour, and you can book ahead through the quadcycle website. In the winter, the quadcycles are available on Saturdays and Sundays, but they are securely stored in the garage, so don’t panic if you don’t see them out front. On Sundays, the shop is closed, but you can still rent the quadcycles, just be sure to book ahead. The couple who rents them out are native English speakers, so feel free to shoot them a note through their Quadcycle site.

Wander down the Hauptstraße, eat gelato, then playground

This is not so much an specific activity, as what most Heidelbergers end up doing at some point in the week. Our Hauptstraße is a very long pedestrianized shopping street, and if you need anything like an extra jumper, a USB cable, or clean socks, this is the place. It runs from the Altstadt where the shops are more souvenir-and-novelty-liquor to the Bismarckplatz, where all the usual things are like H&M, Galeria Kaufhof (the big department store), Mountain Warehouse, Saturn (tech stuff, and if you need an adaptor or cable, go here), Accessorize, and all that.

There is a nice gelato place inside the little Darmstadter Hof mall at the Bismarckplatz end, but to be honest, there are gelato places all over and they’ve all been good. After you’ve picked up the necessities, head to Plöck, the street running parallel to the Hauptstraße, away from the river. Watch out for bikes, as all the locals use this as their bicycle thoroughfare, but it’s also where you can find a couple central playgrounds.

Our favourite is on the corner of Märzgasse and Plöck. There’s a clean, coin-operated public toilet there, and the super cute and tasty Bäckerei Göbes just around the corner on Plöck for snacks. Kinderladen Troll, just over the road from the bakery, is a classic German toy store, full to the rafters of amazing wooden toys. If you happen to be farther down towards the Altstadt, check out the playground opposite the school on Schulgasse, between Plöck and the Hauptstraße.

Have dinner and let the kids play

One of my favourite German things is the playground in the biergarten situation, though I should say our local pub in London had this figured out too. It is so civilized. If you’re looking for something a little nicer, try Heid’s, a Heidelberg institution. They have a beautiful garden, complete with some ride-on toys and a play structure. The food is mainly pizza and steak, but it’s very good.

Three restaurants, beautiful outdoor seating, and a little playground – doesn’t get better than that.

For something more relaxed, check out the cluster of restaurants in the Neuenheim Marktplatz. It’s really one of my favourite things about living in the neighbourhood. Three restaurants put their tables and chairs out in the Marktplatz, that shares space with a church tower from the 12th century, and a little play structure shaped like a fire truck in a sandpit and a swing. You can sit at a nice table, have a glass of wine, while your child fills their trousers with sand. The Marktstübel does Flammkuchen, a sort of flatbread pizza with onions and bacon pieces, that most children are up for. It’s totally fine, and normal, to have your child run up, eat for a minute, and then head back to the playground. We often meet friends here, because we can have dinner out, and have a conversation.

 

Heidelberg, Germany is a lovely storybook German town that's great for kids - we know because we live here! Let us take you on a locals tour of our home abroad.

 

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Oh yes, we actually moved here

Oh yes, we actually moved here

We’ve turned the corner now from everything feeling like a long holiday to more like a new home. Though we’ll be in our temporary flat for another month, and I know I’m royally sick of everything I packed. We ordered a pile of new books for Elliot, as I didn’t really pack all that many for some reason.

We’ve met some American families in our local playground, though Elliot was doing well figuring out how to play without much of a shared language too. Once he starts school and picks up some German, it won’t be an issue. Other families we’ve met are all on fixed-term contracts, so I’m aware we’ll all be saying goodbye in a year or two. We’re here on a permanent transfer, and that changes our outlook somewhat. It’s funny how our years in England have helped us feel less at sea. Even if it’s just knowing what a TV license is, and what paperwork will probably be required for various things.

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The weather has been hot and sticky, and air conditioning is not really a given anywhere. Living in London and Vancouver, though, where it also gets periodically hot and AC isn’t standard, it’s nothing out of the ordinary for us at least. Having a washing machine in our flat is lovely though, considering how much of our small stock of clothing we work through when it’s this hot.

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Nothing is open on Sundays when it comes to shops. It’s incredible how much I depend on grocery stores being open whenever when I suddenly realize I need something. We’ve quickly learned to do a checklist on Saturday morning – do we have enough food? Is there anything we were planning to buy this weekend? Because it better happen on Saturday or it’s not happening at all! IKEA is closed, the hardware store is closed, everything is closed except places like pools. It’s meant to encourage family time, and in a way it does, because there is literally nothing else you can do. We are learning to save up activities to do on Sundays. This weekend, we’re heading out to a medieval fair to watch jousting and sword fighting.

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