This is just a reduces copy of the guide. You can download the full guide as a PDF at the bottom of the page!
Welcome to Heidelberg! We, the Erasmus Student Network Heidelberg,wish you a great time in Heidelberg.
ESN Heidelberg is a non-profit association at the University of Heidelberg run by students for students - we're here for all international students in Heidelberg.
Our goal is to help you feel at home in Heidelberg and bring you together with locals and other internationals.
This guide is intended to get your time in Heidelberg off to a good start .
Please note that in addition to our survival guide, the University and the Studentenwerk also provide information packages.
If you are missing something in this guide, feel free to get in touch with us.
Hope to see you around!
Your ESN Heidelberg Team
Important information about Heidelberg
Some Heidelberg tips
Places to eat
1. Heidelberg nice to know
- Free entry to the castle after 6pm
- Free entry to funicular with a semester ticket
- Free ferry ride with “Weisse Flotte” with a semester ticket
- Public barbecue areas at the Neckarwiese
- Night buses (Moonliners) running on weekend nights (see 8. Public transport)
- No alcohol sold after 10pm
- Shops closed on Sundays, with the exception of businesses in the train station only Cafes, bakeries, restaurants and bars open.
- Emergency numbers: Fire Brigade: 112, Police: 110, ESN emergency number:
Several banks in Heidelberg have branches around Bismarckplatz. Some of the banks cooperate, so it’s worth checking the ATMs from which you can withdraw your money without bank fees. (for example, there is the Cashgroup cooperation with Commerzbank, Postbank and Deutsche Bank)
Don’t pay for an account! All banks offer free student accounts.
We recommend Sparkasse, because you can close an account within a day, whereas it might take much longer at other banks. .The time it takes to close a bank account will matter if you wish to have your deposit paid back in in cash, since you need to have a closed bank account for that. In addition, Sparkasse has more than one ATM in the city.
In Germany, many places don’t accept cards - always bring some cash! EC cards (Maestro) are more commonly accepted than credit cards. Where cards are accepted, there is usually a minimum amount (10 or 15 EUR).
3. Phone SIM card
In Germany, the main providers of mobile service are Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and O2/E-Plus) They offer contracts with a minimum term of 12 to 24 months. However, there is an alternative: many students prefer prepaid cards available from many low-cost competitors, such as Aldi-Talk (available at Aldi supermarkets). You should also compare prices, since special offers are common.
ESN Heidelberg offers you a free prepaid SIM card by Student mobile. These SIM cards come with a free EUR 7.50 balance that you can directly use. . Drop by at our weekly pub night (Mondays, 9 pm @ Gunnars) to claim yours or get in touch with us directly.
There are different places where you can go grocery shopping: . discounters are cheaper and have a basic selection, whereas supermarkets provide a wider range of products, including both local and international food. Here is a selection of supermarkets and discounters here in Heidelberg:
Discounters: Aldi, Penny, Lidl, Netto
Supermarkets: Rewe, Kaufland, Edeka
8 pm to 10 pm
8 am to 9 pm
City Center (Bismarckplatz)
Mon - Sat
8 pm to 12 am
Ladenburger Str. 68
9 am to 10 pm
Mon - Sat
7 am to 12 am
5. Places to eat/ drink
Heidelberg has a wide variety of restaurants and bars. Here are some around the city center:
Gunnars (Kettengasse 9)
If you looking for a nice atmosphere to chill and enjoy your cocktail, Gunnars is the place to go. The ESN pubnight takes place here every Monday, and ESN card owners enjoy pubnight specials all week long.
Falafel shop (Merianstr. 3)
The best place to get falafel and Middle Eastern dishes. All orders include a free cup of mint tea.
The University’s canteen in the city center, voted one of the best canteens in Germany. They are open for brunch the last Sunday of each month (excluding lecture-free periods).
Vetters (Steingasse 9)
Heidelberg’s most famous local brewery offers fine traditional German beers. Meals are not cheap, but you can get 1 litre of freshly brewed beer for 3€ (only take away, plus 3€ for deposit), even after 10pm.
Heidelberg’s watering hole. Try the Lager, with its beer-bottle chandeliers, Palmbräu Gasse, with its stone walls and farm equipment; Sonderbar (“Betreutes Trinken”), a grungy rock bar; and probably Heidelberg’s best-known dive bar, or Destille, offering Heidelberg specialties such as Melonenschnaps, the tasty Warmer Erpel, and the notorious Gehenkten (which you should avoid drinking at all costs).
Electronic devices: Saturn
Department Store: Galeria Kaufhof
7. Bike shops
In Heidelberg, one of the easiest ways to get around is by bike: it’s relatively flat and has many bike lanes. However, please be aware that you are not allowed to ride your bike on Hauptstrasse.
If you need a bike, or if your bike is broken, check out the following places:
Ruprecht Rides (Hans-Bunte-Straße 6, Eppelheim)
Cheap bike store run by students. Mainly focusses on second hand bikes.
Rad Point (Untere Neckarstraße 64)
Conveniently located close to Marstall.
Fahrradhof bike im Bahnhof (Heidelberg main station track 1b)
They have a repair and rent service with some bikes to buy, too.
URRmEL (yellow container at INF 710; http://urrmel.uni-hd.de )
At URRmEL you can fix your bike for free with the help of the stuff. They have some spare parts for free, too. This service is supported by the university
8. Public transport
Heidelberg has a decent public transport system. Check if your Student ID comes with a public transport pass. If it does, you can take public transit within Heidelberg after 7pm during the week and throughout the entire weekend and during public holidays with you for free.
Normal buses stop running around 00:00 - 00:30. After that, use the Moonliners. If you miss the moonliner on a weekday, then you will have to walk.
There are five Moonliners, which run special routes covering most of the city. You can get a map online or at the tourist office near the train station. The Moonliners all depart Bismarckplatz at 00:38 every night of the week, as well as 1:08, 1:38, 2:38, 3:38, and 4:38 on Friday and Saturday nights, plus a final 5:38 on Saturday. Normal buses start running again around 6am :) Wherever you are in the city, you can probably find a Moonliner that will take you back to Bismarckplatz, and another to take you home.
The best app to use the public transport services in Germany is the Deutsche Bahn App. It includes all public transport systems in Germany plus all train connections. For local connections the VRN (our regional public transport provider), app is perfectly fine.
In Germany there are different ways to travel. You can go by bus, train, car sharing, or you can rent a car, depending on your destination, the time of your booking or your luck . Always check for offers.
Trains in Germany are one of the fastest but generally the most expensive way to get around if you buy your tickets immediately before departure., However, there are some ways to get cheaper fares.
Get a BahnCard 25, which gives you 25% off of the regular price. (There is also a BahnCard 50 for a 50% discount. This one is more for frequent travellers )IMPORTANT: You need to terminate your Bahncard contract at least 6 weeks before the expiry date indicated on the card.Otherwise, it will be extended for another year automatically. .
Book your tickets at least 3 days in advance for cheaper prices! You will also get a 25% discount with the Bahncard 25 on top of the already discounted price.
Get a discounted student BahnCard.
Get a “Baden-Wüttenberg-Ticket” if you are travelling in a group of not more than five people. This is the cheapest way to travel around Baden-Wüttenberg as a group. There are similar tickets for other Bundesländer as well. IMPORTANT: Tickets are valid for a day and can be used from 9am weekdays and midnight on weekends. NOT VALID on express trains, such as ICE, IC and EC (most of these trains are white).
There is also a Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket which runs on similar conditions and allows you to travel through all of Germany during a weekend day.
last minute tickets are sold by websites like lturs (google -> lturs bahn) one week in advance (website is only in german)
There is an expanding number of bus connections for travelling distances in Germany. In addition to domestic routes, there is a fast network of international busses. It is an cheap but long (and sometimes painful) way of travelling. Expect traffic jams and many stops along the route. This is the best option if you have time and want to save money. Please note that busses mostly stop in only in big cities, unlike trains. It is best to book bus tickets in advance, as the price rises with the demand. Train fares, on the other hand, rise with time.
In Heidelberg, the long-distance bus stop is found in front of the McDonalds at the main station
Websites to compare/ search:
The most commonly used bus company is meinfernbus/flixbus. You’ll get a few Euros off your first travel with the company if you present your ESN card.
3. Car sharing
A popular way of getting around in Germany is carsharing. Several websites help to find drivers/ fellow passengers.
4. Renting a Car
If your travel with your friends you might consider hiring a car. The services have special deals for the weekend and you normally get new high quality cars. Enjoy your ride on german motorways (Autobahn) without speed limit!
Please note that there are additional charges (which may be very high) if you are under 23 years old!
There are several airports around Heidelberg. Fraport in Frankfurt is the biggest, but cheap airlines like Ryanair normally land at Frankfurt Hahn (Which is not close to Frankfurt!), Stuttgart or Karlsruhe. There are airportshuttles from the main station.
Frankfurt Hahn: Frankfurt Hahn Express leaves several times a day from the main station. It costs 20€ one way or 36 € return, and you don’t need to book in advance
Frankfurt Airport: There is a shuttle service which leaves from a parking lot next to Crowne Plaza and only costs 12.50 € if you book more than 8 weeks in advance. www.transcontinental-group.com/de/frankfurt-airport-shuttles
If you want a fast connection, , there is a good ICE express train between Heidelberg/Mannheim and Frankfurt M Flughafen
10. Websites/ Apps
travelling websites: lturs.de -> train, last minute
airbnb -> accommodation
urlaubspiraten.de -> travel deals
german newspapers: Süddeutsche Zeitung
Rhein Neckar Zeitung (rnz.de)
Die Zeit (Zeit.de)
finding a flat: wg-gesucht.de
immobilienscout24.de (with the setting: "Provisionsfrei")
books/ second hand: ebay-kleinanzeigen.de ->second hand
medimops.de -> books/ specialist books
facebook: sell your stuff
free your stuff
11. ESN Cards
The ESN Card is a discount card offered to international students by the Erasmus Student Network. For you, the card is both, an easy way to save money whenever you’re shopping at one of our partners and a great way to learn about our favorite shops and hidden gems in other cities all over Europe. Check www.esncard.org and www.esn-heidelberg.de to learn about our local and international partners.
Get your ESN Heidelberg ESN Card for only 5 € during our weekly pub nights (Mondays @ Gunnars).
Oh and in case you’re wondering: All money raised through ESN Cards is purely used to improve the quality of our services offered to you.
12. ESN weekly pub nights
Our weekly ESN pub nights Monday evenings at Gunnars bar in the old town are all about YOU! We have negotiated awesome drink specials for you to enjoy. To spice things up, we will have weekly specials and themes to introduce you to German bar classics as well as other specialities from all over the world.
With competitions, quizzes and more, we will make sure that you have a great start to the week, every week of the semester!
Where? Gunnars, Kettengasse 9, old town
Who? You and all your friends. Everyone is welcome :)