The 8 Best Neighborhoods in Heidelberg: A Comprehensive Guide
Famous for hikes, its orange-roofed Old Town, and a massive hilltop castle, Heidelberg is a pretty popular choice for a forest-filled German relocation—more than 20% of the city’s residents are non-native Germans, and it’s home to people from around the planet.
Though Heidelberg is most well-known as a hotspot for young people (it’s one of the most famous university towns in Germany, and many young professionals linger around long after graduating), it can be a welcoming home for anyone.
But Heidelberg is a little more sprawling and extensive than most people expect—and its different neighborhoods are home to different vibes and people. So in this fact-packed guide to the best neighborhoods in Heidelberg, we’ve brought you the city’s top areas (along with information on who’ll like living in each one).
In our guide to the best areas in Heidelberg, we’ve covered the following 8 spots:
- Altstadt (Old Town)
Looking for the best neighborhoods in Heidelberg? In this speedy guide, good ol’ Homelike have covered them all. So slip on your backpack and come join the party!
1. Altstadt (Old Town)
Best for: endless things to do, living like a long-term tourist, and making friends with young people
Both the modern and historic heart of the city, this is the most famous part of Heidelberg by far.
Home to the hyper-charming central stretch, it includes the hefty hilltop half-ruined castle, a load of market squares, lots of pretty architecture, most of the popular tourist attractions, and many restaurants, cafes, and drinking dens.
In short, living here feels like living inside an action-packed postcard. If you’re only around for a little while, this is a great place to live—you’ll always find places to be, things to do, and people to do them with.
Expect busy bustle, loads of nightlife, and countless packs of young people. If you’re young and want fun, you’ll think this is one of the best neighborhoods in Heidelberg.
That said, the neighborhood is rarely a good choice for long-term stays. The tourist hordes can grind over time, the prices are increasingly lofty, and it’s difficult to find a long-term place to live*.
(*Because it’s tough to find an affordable long-term home here, it’s often easier to instead move into a serviced apartment or serviced flat in this part of Heidelberg).
Attractions and parks in the Altstadt: the huge Heidelberg Palace (or ‘Heidelberg Castle,’ as it’s also known), the palace gardens, Church of the Holy Spirit, parts of Heidelberg University (the oldest university in the nation), the bizarre university prison, 3-storey art-stacked Kurpfälzisches Museum, and plenty more. If it’s a famous attraction, you’ll likely find it here.
Transport in the Altstadt: because you’re in the center, you’ll rarely need to use any public transport here. That said, you have access to endless trams and buses, and you’re surrounded by a huge number of extensive cycle routes.
Schools in the Altstadt: primary-level Bilinguale Grundschule Heidelberg is in the center of the district, and offers classes in both English and German. The neighborhood is also home to an international kindergarten, and many non-international schools.
Best for: getting a job, finding a central but affordable home, and regularly hopping on trains
Bordering the Old Town to the west, Bergheim is a pretty commercial spot. Home to many businesses, hotels and corporations, it’s a good choice for young professionals.
It’s also a decent choice for living close to the Old Town without having to splurge on Old Town prices. Although Bergheim definitely isn’t cheap, prices here are significantly lower than Altstadt ones—and the far-western side of Bergheim is only a 30-minute walk from the center of the Old Town anyway.
Because the district is home to the city’s train station, it’s also one of the best areas in Heidelberg for regular travelers. From here, you can take direct trains to Frankfurt, Salzburg, Hannover, Stuttgart, Cologne, and many more places.
So far, we’ve probably made Bergheim sound pretty boring. But it isn’t—it’s close to the endless fun of the Old Town, it offers lots of casual low-cost eateries, and it’s home to some of the city’s weirdest attractions.
Attractions and parks in Bergheim: the bizarre Sammlung Prinzhorn (featuring artwork by psychiatric institution inmates), the Heidelberg version of the Body Worlds Museum, and the weird S-Printing Horse (allegedly one of the biggest horse sculptures on the planet).
Transport in Bergheim: many parts of the neighborhood are only a 20-minute walk (or less) to the center of the Old Town. But you also have many buses and trams—with public transport, you can easily get to the city center within 5 or 10 minutes.
Schools in Bergheim: the neighborhood is home to Heidelberg International School, the best and most well-known international school in the city. And the district also includes (and is surrounded by) loads of non-international schools.
Best for: spending wads of money, sitting in fancy hangouts, and living in an aesthetic home
South-west of the Old Town (and directly south of Bergheim), Weststadt is one of the most architecturally-impressive parts of Heidelberg. You get an appealing combo of styles and eras, including neo-Renaissance, art nouveau, and Gothic stuff.
It’s a classy district, and offers a fantastic quality of life—but it’s also one of the most high-price parts of the city.
Some of the neighborhood’s big perks include excellent restaurants and bars (expect high-end food, lengthy wine menus, hip brunches, and the types of eateries that call themselves ‘tavernas’ and ‘trattorias’), good proximity to St. Josef Hospital, and some of the inner-city’s best green spaces (including the paths and peaks of tower-topped Gaisbergturm hill).
For people who like the high life, this is one of the best neighborhoods in Heidelberg. But families and younger people are best off looking elsewhere.
Attractions and parks in Weststadt: there are no real ‘sights,’ in the neighborhood itself… but you’re very close to all the action and attraction of the Old Town. And just a short stroll east of the neighborhood, you’ll find many short hilly hikes.
Transport in Weststadt: many buses and trams can shuttle you to the city center within 10 minutes. And the center of Weststadt is only a 20-minute walk from the center of the Old Town.
Schools in Weststadt: there are many German-speaking schools in the neighborhood—and the northwestern part of the district is right beside the excellent Heidelberg International School.
Best for: chilling with young people, riverside hangouts, and getting knee-deep in the studenty vibe of the city
Directly over the river from the Old Town, Neuenheim is a vast mainly-student district. Although some of the most famous university buildings sit on the south side of the river, around half(!) of Neuenheim is occupied by the sprawling university campus.
… so, of course, it’s one of the best areas in Heidelberg for young people.
But it’s also a surprisingly good option for families, featuring plenty of kid-friendly attractions. Highlights include Heidelberg Zoo, the city’s botanical garden, riverside walks and bicycle rides, many family-friendly restaurants, and on-the-river Neckarwiese park (popular with students, but also home to a skate park, a kids’ play area, volleyball, and more).
You’ll also find many more right-along-the-river hangouts in Neuenheim, along with some pretty hip cafes and bars. And, of course, you’re only ever a little wander from the Old Town.
Because Neuenheim is a sought-after district, it can be hard to find a home here. If you struggle, your easiest option is usually getting a (fully furnished!) serviced apartment or serviced flat.
Attractions and parks in Neuenheim: Heidelberg Zoo, the botanical garden, the Neckarwiese, and the view-packed Philosophers’ Walk (offering some of Heidelberg’s best easy-to-access viewpoints).
Transport in Neuenheim: buses and trams ride over both of the district’s central bridges to the Old Town—you can be there within 5 or 10 minutes. And you can also catch public-transport ferries from the banks of Neuenheim to the banks of the Old Town.
Schools in Neuenheim: the Metropolitan International School Heidelberg is in this district, while the western part of Neuenheim sits just over the river from Heidelberg International School.
Best for: a large selection of homes, loads of useful conveniences, and feeling like you live in a massive friendly village
A hefty district to the north of Neuenheim, Handschuhsheim is much more local and laid-back than the areas we’ve brought you so far. It’s the most populous district in the city… but because it’s so sprawling, it feels much more quiet and cozy.
In some ways, Handschuhsheim feels like a (very big) village of its own, featuring hilly forests, the viewpoint-packed hikers’-dream of Heiligenberg Hill, some old-school architecture, and many tucked-away-in-the-trees homes.
It’s therefore one of the best areas in Heidelberg for people who want a slightly-quieter life.
That said, there’s still plenty to do here, including both indoor and outdoor attractions, and a whole lot of history.
… and, of course, because Handschuhsheim is a big residential district, you’ll find all the conveniences you need here. Expect supermarkets, other big chain stores, close proximity to healthcare providers, and many potential homes and apartments to choose between.
Transport in Handschuhsheim: many trams and buses can take you from here to the city center. Even if you live far from a station, you’ll be in the center within a maximum of 30 minutes. Bus numbers 5 and 26 are usually your best options.
Schools in Handschuhsheim: the district is home to many German-speaking schools. There are no international schools in the neighborhood, but you’re only a 10-minute drive from Heidelberg International School (and a shorter drive from others).
Best for: lots of useful conveniences, feeling part of a community, and finding a comfortable (though unexciting) home
The least interesting of all the districts we’ve brought you, residential Rohrbach is largely for people who want to prioritize convenience and price.
Sitting pretty far south of the center, it’s not necessarily one of the very best neighborhoods in Heidelberg—but for the right person, it can make a good home. It’s welcoming, friendly, and community-spirited, so it’s a good option for those who like making friends with locals.
Other perks include nearby hiking trails (not the best in the city, but some nice quick escapes), a district-wide wine culture, an in-neighborhood hospital, some affordable and comfortable family homes, and good transport connections to the center.
Other highlights include a selection of good gyms, a quiet atmosphere (if that’s your thing), and a small few cafes and restaurants.
Attractions and parks in Rohrbach: there’s nothing of note in this particular neighborhood—but you get a couple of wineries, and some pretty forested trails.
Transport in Rohrbach: trams 23 and 24 regularly run to the city center. The journeys last around 10 minutes… and because Rohrbach is small, you’ll rarely need to walk more than 5 minutes to reach your nearest transport station.
Schools in Rohrbach: the International Comprehensive School is right in the middle of the neighborhood—and there are many good non-international schools in and around the area.
Best for: a mixture of rurality and centrality, a compromise between convenience and seclusion, and living close to hills
Follow the river east out of central Heidelberg, and you’ll find lovely little Schlierbach.
Because it sits 6 km (4 miles) east of the Old Town, this neighborhood is a pretty rural place. It sits alongside some quiet riverside stretches, it’s at the foot of a green-packed valley, and it’s close to some great campsites.
Broadly, it’s a good compromise between easy access to the city center, but also living close to the outdoor-adventure funfest of Ziegelhausen (the remote and rural district coming up next).
You get hills, hikes and peace, but you also get endless conveniences (gyms, supermarkets, pharmacies, healthcare, some German and Italian restaurants, good public transport connections, and all other necessities).
Overall, Schlierbach is one of the best neighborhoods in Heidelberg for fresh air and outdoor fun—but you don’t need to make too many sacrifices to enjoy it. And as a nice bonus, it can be a pretty affordable place to live.
Attractions and parks in Schlierbach: both north and south, you have lots of nice hikes. Southwest of the district, you’ll find the kid-friendly fun of the massive Märchenparadie park (featuring play areas, themed zones, and some fairytale characters).
Transport in Schlierbach: many buses follow the southern banks of the river all the way to the city center—so unless you live far from a bus stop, you’ll be in the center within 15-20 minutes. That said, it’s best to have a car if you want to live in Schlierbach.
Schools in Schlierbach: there are no international schools in the district… but plenty of great non-international schools..
Best for: living a quiet life, enjoying some isolation, and endless hilly hikes
Bordering Schlierbach to the north, green and serene Ziegelhausen sits in an adventure-packed valley. Rustic and rural, it’s the best area in Heidelberg for hiking—from here, you can easily hop into the forests, fields and orchards of the city’s outskirts (and way beyond).
It’s therefore great for older people, and couples who like outdoor adventures. You’ll find lots of long and short hikes (with routes taking you to peaks, passes, villages and more), and you can easily tackle both riverside and hill-based bicycle rides.
Because Ziegelhausen sits in a valley, large parts of it are pretty removed from the city center—you won’t find many restaurants or cafes here, and (if you’re a sociable people-person), you might feel a bit isolated.
Ziegelhausen is definitely a little pricier than it used to be… but living here is still a lot more affordable than living in the center.
Attractions and parks in Ziegelhausen: Neuburg Abbey Monastery, the indoor swimming pool at Hallenbad Köpfel, and lots of nearby scenic villages. But the biggest attraction here is escaping into all the hills and forests.
Transport in Ziegelhausen: unless you live at the bottom of the valley, you’ll need your own car. But if you do live at the bottom of the valley, you can catch many regular buses to the city center.
Schools in Ziegelhausen: no international schools. But there are a small few non-international options in various parts of the valley, along with many kindergartens.
Best Neighborhoods in Heidelberg: Final Thoughts
Okay, that’s your tour over—they’re the best areas in Heidelberg!
As we’ve covered, finding an affordable and comfortable home in some parts of the city can be a tricky challenge. To save you the time-wasting hassle of viewings, appointments, and endless chats with landlords, it’s often easier to move into a serviced apartment or serviced flat.
To see what’s on offer, here are our Heidelberg options. They’re all fully-furnished, very comfy and cozy, and ready to move into today.
For more information on moving-to-Germany admin, check out our guides to Anmeldung in Germany, 14 things you need to know about living in the nation, cold rent and warm rent, and getting your all-important Schufa.
Thanks for reading, thanks for checking out Homelike, and thanks for being you. Enjoy Heidelberg!