Burg Eltz Castle: Germany’s Iconic Medieval Castle that was Disney’s Inspiration

Burg Eltz Castle: Germany’s Iconic Medieval Castle that was Disney’s Inspiration

Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Burg Eltz – a Castle that’s so stunning that it will make your eyes pop.

Brace yourself, I’m about to tell you about the most magical medieval castle that will transport you to the world of fairytales – Burg Eltz.

Burg Eltz is Germany’s iconic medieval castle that is more than 850 years old. Did I mention that it was an inspiration for one of Disney castles? A blueprint of this castle was actually used for Disney’s Cinderella movie. It is dreamy, romantic and serene, and that’s not even the best part.

The Spectacular Burg Eltz Castle in Germany

The best part about Burg Eltz is the abundance of natural beauty around it. The Eltz Castle is surrounded by nature and there is the Elzbach river that’s next to it. There is a forest around it that’s hilly. You have to take a little hiking path through the forest from the parking place to reach here.

I have been living in Germany since the last five years. The countries is known for it’s stunning medieval castles and for me Burg Eltz is the best of all.

Burg Eltz surrounded by the Eltz Forest in Germany CCO via Unsplash

Strangely enough, a lot of tour guides and articles about visiting Germany don’t mention Burg Eltz at all. You would read about the castles in Bavaria or the famous Heidelberg castle but enough about this one. However, the Eltz Castle gained a massive popularity because of Instagram.

Fun fact: an image of the castle was on the old 500 Deutsche Mark note. I wish I could hold one right now in my hands.

The old 500 Deutsche Mark note featuring Burg Eltz

Oh and it is owned privately by the descendants of the same Eltz family that lived here in the 12th century. How cool is that?

Our favorite thing about this castle is that it is surrounded by nature. Moselle River makes a tributary – Elzbach river that surrounds the castle. Even if you don’t want to go inside the castle, there’s plenty to do around. You can sit by the river, hike or cycle around. 

What’s So Special about Burg Eltz?

Posing Outside Disney’s Cinderella Castle – Burg Eltz, Germany (I was 8 months pregnant)

I mention a lot of these points in detail over the article but here’s why Burg Eltz castle so special:

  • Burg Eltz castle was not destroyed in any of the wars, unlike many other European castles and old buildings.
  • It is architecturally stunning, and is surrounded by spectacular natural beauty. The castle towers over the valley that it is built in.
  • It is owned and taken care of by the same family since it was built, till today.
  • Many of the original furnishings still exist in the castle since the last eight centuries.
  • The castle treasury boasts of the best in the world gold and silver artwork.

 

Is Burg a Castle or a Fortress? Burg vs Schloss

Burg Eltz Castle – Burg vs Schloss – Castle or a Fortress – CCO via Unsplash

Before we go further, I’d like to mention that the German word “Burg” directly translates into “fortress”. There’s another German word for castle – Schloss.

In most cases, a Burg (or a Fortress) is a castle designed for defense in battle and palace or a castle (Schloss) is more of a place of residence. To make matters confusing, Burg Eltz was never designed to be for defense, but it is still called eine Burg and not ein Schloss.

But, we will try to make things easy, let’s call it Burg Eltz, or Burg Eltz Castle as it is popularly known with English speaking travelers.

Yes, I know if you’re a German, you’re probably shaking your head in disappointment because calling it “Burg Eltz Castle” is like calling it “Castle Eltz Castle”, but hey, a lot of people say “Chai Tea”, and I’m and Indian and I’m not even complaining, haha.

Burg Eltz Name – is it a family name?

Burg Eltz hasn’t been named after a family, but the Eltzbach River.

A Brief History of Burg Eltz (Castle)

Burg Eltz – Germany’s Medieval castle – CCO via Unsplash

How can I talk about a historical building and not discuss the history? Well, about Burg Eltz, it was constructed between the 11th and the 13th century so it is around 850 years old. It is STILL owned by the descendants of the same family that lived here in the 12th century, 33 generations back. 

Back in the 11th to 13th century, the Eltz Castle was built alone the trade route that linked the Moselle river with the Eifel and Maifeld. It was one of the most important trade routes in the German empire and therefore Burg Eltz’s location was strategically important.

The castle and the estate was divided in 1269 by the brothers Elias II, Wilhelm II and Theoderich. Three succession lines were established, which were “with the Golden Lion”, “with the Silver Lion” and “with the Buffalo Horns”. These three families shared the estate and lived together in the castle, forming a constitution – “Ganerbengemeinschaft”.

The Romantic Medieval Castle – Burg Eltz in Germany

Until 1815, this joint constitution remained but after that “the Silver Lion” line sold their share of the castle and the “Ganerbengemeinschaft” was then dissolved.  In the 15th and 18th century, the “Buffalo Horns” line (later the line Eltz-Rodendorf) had ended and the shares were transferred to the Kempenich line (of the house Eltz-Kempenich), that remained as the only owner of the Eltz castle.

Today the Rübenach and Rodendorf families’ homes in the castle are open to the public, while the Kempenich branch of the family uses the other third of the castle.

Honestly, if I start detailing out the history of Burg Eltz, I’d need much more than just one page. You can check the official page of Burg Eltz to read more about the history.

Fun Fact: Burg Eltz was featured on postal stamps from 1977 to 1982 which were published by the German post office.

Anyway, enough about the history and fun facts, now let me help you plan a trip to the Burg Eltz and enjoy everything in and around the castle.

How to Reach Burg Eltz Castle

As with most of the destinations in Europe, the easiest way to visit Burg Eltz is by driving to it. The parking place is around a kilometer away from the Eltz Castle so remember to wear comfortable shoes.

The hiking trail from Castle Parking to Burg Eltz

Alternatively, you can also take a train to Moselkern or Hatzenport, or Mueden stations and from a taxi from there. Call Taxi Charly, Pillig, Telephone: +49 2605 2022 or TAXI-Reuter GmbH, Treis-Karden, Telephone: +49 2672 1407.

If you’re visiting Burg Eltz on the weekends and public holidays, there’s also a bus – “RegioRadler Burgenbus” that takes you from all the above mentioned train stations to the castle. This bus is only on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from May to October.

Visiting the Eltz Castle can be an adventure because you can walk from the train station, it is just 5 KMs. The forest around the castle makes this walk super rewarding. But remember, that you will again have to walk 5 KMs back to the train station and also 1-2 kilometer around the castle so that’s a lot of walking for a day.

If you’re arriving at Burg Eltz by train, then I suggest you stay in the town Moselkern overnight. Book Hotel Moselkern, that’s next to the train station and then hike to Burg Eltz whenever you want to.

What to Know Before Visiting Burg Eltz

Burg Eltz – castle surrounded by the forest – CCO Unsplash

Burg Eltz Corona Restrictions

  1. As of September 2021, the entry for the castle is only for those who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, or those who can show a proof of recovering from the disease in the last 6 months, and also those who can show a negative corona test.
  2. Only a limited number of people can enter the Eltz Castle complex.
  3. Children under 11 are exempt from these rules.
  4. It is mandatory to wear a mask inside and outside the castle while on the castle ground.

No Photos Inside the Castle Grounds

You Can’t Click Photos Inside Burg Eltz but the Best Photo Spot is Outside

If you decide to enter the castle or do a tour, then be informed that you aren’t going to be allowed to click photos. Yes, you can click a lot of photos outside and you will find many stunning spots but not when you’re inside.

This is also the reason why you wouldn’t find any photos of Burg Eltz’ interiors, unless someone found a way not to follow the rules. You can buy pictures of certain interior sections in the gift shop as postcards, but that’s only if you want to.

Book Your Castle Tour in Advance to Avoid Waiting

The stunning Burg Eltz and the line of people to enter the castle – CCO via Unsplash

In order to enter the castle grounds of Burg Eltz, you have to take a tour. The tours are available in English, German, Dutch and Ferench.

If you’d like a German language tour then most likely you won’t have to wait for more than 10-15 mins. However if you’d like a tour in English, then be prepared to wait for a long time. See the above picture for a row of people that are waiting to enter. If you’d like a tour in Dutch or French, then keep in mind that they are only available if you prebook.

There is more to Burg Eltz than just entering the castle complex

I have mentioned it before but Burg Eltz can be enjoyed by just hiking and looking at the castle from the entry area as well as some other viewpoints. The above corona restrictions apply to those who’d like to enter the complex. You can still enjoy the beauty of the castle from outside.

Be Prepared to Walk / Hike

Sure, you want to click a picture in a pretty dress in front of the castle for your Instagram, but make sure you wear comfortable shoes because you will have to walk a lot. I suggest sneakers or flats for the trail that goes in the forest.

The View of Burg Eltz Castle from the hiking trail

Burg Eltz Parking Location and Costs

If you are driving to Burg Eltz, then here are the google coordinates of the castle parking. Parking isn’t free, it is € 2 for cars and scooters and € for vans and camper vans or any cars with trailers.

The path that goes from the parking to the castle is more of a hiking trail. It goes through the woods and offers at least 1 or 2 spots from where you admire the view. The hike is short, fun and adds to the experience of visiting Burg Eltz castle.

Burg Eltz Shuttle Bus

If you’d prefer not to walk, then be informed that there is a ssuttle bus that goes till the Burg Eltz castle entry point. The shuttle stop is next to the barrier near Antonius Chapel. The shuttle isn’t free, it costs € 2 per person.

Honestly, I didn’t take the shuttle because I walked.

Burg Eltz Hours of Operation

Burg Eltz is closed in Winter – CCO via Unsplash

Burg Eltz is open everyday during summer, autumn and spring from 9:30 am to 5 pm. When I say “open” I mean everything beyond the entry gate that you see on this path that leads to the castle.

In winters the castle is usually closed from the inside but it can still be enjoyed from the outside. It actually looks amazing when it snows!

Honestly, the castle is so lovely and the hike around it is refreshing that one doesn’t really need to feel sad about not being able to go in when it’s not possible.

What to do when you reach Burg Eltz

Hike around Burg Eltz, 5 Hiking Trails

The Many Hiking Trails of Burg Eltz

In order to arrive at Burg Eltz, you will most likely walk for a kilometer or more. Even if you arrive by car or a shuttle till the entry point, I highly suggest you take out at least 30-60 minutes to walk around the castle. This trail is super easy. I was 8 months pregnant when I did this!

For many people this hike is enough but some hikers will crave for more. There are five hiking trails that go around the castle through the forest and along the Eltzbach river. These trails are very nicely marked and you will see the distance in kilometers on most of the markings as well.

Burg Eltz Castle panorama views from different hikes CC0 via Unsplash

1) Eltz Castle Panorama trail

The length of the Eltz Castle panorama trail is 12.5 kilometers and it takes approximately 4-5 hours to complete. This hike starts in Wiesen at Wierschem community centre. It offers amazing views from the Mosel plateau. 

2) Up the Romantic Eltz Stream

The length of this hiking trail is 2.5 kilometers, and it takes approximately 35 mins to complete. This hike goes along the Eltzbach river. It starts in Ringelsteiner Mühle in Moselkern and ends at Burg Eltz. If you’re traveling with children that are over 4 or 5 years, then this is the hike that you should pick.

3) From Pyrmont Castle to Eltz Castle

There’s another castle in the area and it is the Pymont Castle. It isn’t as stunning as the Eltz Castle but you can enjoy an amazing hike that’s 9.5 KMs long that goes from one castle to another.

4) From Müdener Berg to Eltz Castle

The word “Berg” means mountain in German, so this hike starts at Müdener and goes to Burg Eltz. Even though it is a short route of 1.7 KMs, the hike is challenging because it gets steep in places. You can enjoy the views of both the Eltz and Pyrmont Castles along this hike.

5) From Karden to Eltz Castle

This hiking trail is 7 KMs long, it starts at Karden and ends at Burg Eltz. It goes through meadows, vineyard and goes along the Moselle river during the first half of the hike. 

Inside Burg Eltz – the Castle Attractions

Inside Burg Eltz, Germany – CCO via Unsplash

A tour inside the Elz Castle costs €11 per person. The duration of the tour is around 35 minutes and is in German, English, French and Dutch.

When you’re inside Burg Eltz, you will see the famous inner courtyard that was built over 500 years ago. If you decide to do a tour, you will get to witness the Armoury and Treasury of Eltz Castle, which is world renowned for gold and silver artifacts, as well as many other interesting precious things from the three families’ collections.

One of the most interesting sights inside any preserved palace or a castle museum is a historical kitchen. Burg Eltz also has one of them and it is the Rodendorf Kitchen. It is where you will see the mediaeval way of kitchen life with old school cooking machines and utensils. 

Burg Eltz castle tour will also take you to the Knights Hall, which is the place where many important discussions and meetings took place. It was also the location for many festivities.

Burg Elz also has a restaurant and a souvenir shop inside.

Best Time to Visit Burg Eltz

Burg Eltz looks stunning at Sunsets and Sunrise – CCO via Unsplash

This completely depends on your purpose of visit. If you’re visiting Burg Eltz for hiking, cycling, photography or to enter the castle grounds for a tour.

For hiking or cycling, pick a day of spring, summer or autumn months when it doesn’t rain. Check the weather forecast to know when it will rain and avoid that day because the path through the forest will be slippery. Another purpose of these hikes is to enjoy the views of the castle. When it is raining or cloudy, then you may not get good views. Of course, you can hike or cycle around in winter months but be prepared to handle German winters.

Burg Eltz on a cold and foggy winter day – cco Via Unsplash

If you’d like to enter the castle and do a tour, then be aware that you can only do it from May till October starting at 9:30 am to 5 pm.

You can do photography at anytime in Burg Eltz, each season adds something special. The colours of the forest changes throughout the year. I visited Burg Eltz in early autumn and it looked spectacular because some of the trees had turned a little yellow. Even the small hike from the parking spot to the castle offers amazing views to see fall foliage in Germany.

You can’t enter Burg Eltz in winter but it looks stunning when it snows, when it is foggy or even when it rains. It is a popular spot for astrophotography because the forest around is obviously dark. Hiking in the forest at night isn’t advisable but do this in a group or call a taxi.

Burg Eltz Map

Here is a map of Burg Eltz Castle as fetched by Google Maps.

 

Where to Stay when visiting Burg Eltz

Burg Eltz is a short drive away from the lovely Bonn city, which is the birth place of the legendary Beethoven. You can either stay in Bonn, or pick one of the below mentioned hotels that are just a hike away from Burg Eltz:

Hotel Ostermann

Hotel Ostermann is 2.5 KMs away from Burg Eltz and is along the Mosel River. This hotel also has a swimming pool and a restaurant on the terrace.

Hotel Moselkern

Hotel Moselkern is also next to the River Mosel and is 2.8 KMs from Burg Eltz. This hotel is pretty convinient for those who are visiting by train because Moselkern Train Station is less than 500 meters away.

Ferienwohnung Moselallee 5 Sterne (Apartments)

If you’d like to book an entire apartment with kitchen so that you can cook your own meals, then check out the newly renovated Ferienwohnung Moselallee.

Burg Eltz Castle Germany’s Iconic Medieval Castle, which was Disney’s Inspiration

Why Visit Puglia? I fell in Love with Puglia in Italy, Here’s Why

Why Visit Puglia? I fell in Love with Puglia in Italy, Here’s Why

Ciao Puglia, can I stay with you forever? I spent a month in Puglia in 2021, here’s my love letter.

So, it finally happened. After talking about it for years, I finally got to visit Puglia in 2021 – the heel of Italy’s boot. Not for a week or two but an ENTIRE MONTH. I sure am glad that I married a half-Italian.

A little background, my husband’s father’s family is from Salento in Puglia and they even have a place to stay there on the beach. After hearing about this place ever since I got married, I ended up visiting six years after being married to San. 

My Father-in-law is from Leverano, Puglia, Italy

Honestly, it wasn’t my first time in Italy. I was in the Trentino region before but most of the Italians told me that “the real Italy only starts from the south of Rome”. Really? I thought that was a snobbish thing to say.

Anyway, I was all set to have a very “average” experience in south of Italy in every sense but I was in for a surprise. It’s because I have visited a lot of amazing beach destinations and paradise islands, moreover, I have also visited countries that are known for their amazing food and I thought I’d find Italian food very “plain and basic” – but hey, I was wrong.

So, Where is Puglia in Italy?

Ever seen the map of Italy? It looks like a high heeled boot. Being in the absolute south of Italy, Puglia is the heel of that boot. So, it has coast on two sides so it means plenty of sun (and fun).

To make things confusing, Puglia is also sometimes called Apuglia. 

Reasons to Visit Puglia, Italy

1) Puglia’s Coastline is Massive

My fav beach spot in Porto Cesareo, Puglia

Puglia has the longest coastline if you compare it to any other region of the mainland Italy. There’s the Adriatic sea, the Ionian Sea, gulf of Taranto and the Strait of Otranto on all the sides, so it means plenty of beach time.

No doubt there are many other things to do in Puglia, but beach-ing is something you will end up doing the most while you’re here. I don’t know about you but when I go for a beach vacation, then I don’t want to go to the exact same beach every single day. If you’re like me then you will be spoilt for choice in Puglia. 

Puglia’s Coastline – South Italy

In fact, Puglia’s Salento region has so many beaches that I couldn’t even visit a fraction of them in one month. I visited many of them but I had to leave many others on my list for my next visit. But hey, Puglia’s beaches aren’t just your typical sandy beaches. There’s a lot of other stuff going on, read on!

2) Cliffs, Arches, Caves – the Coastline has More Than Just Beaches

Sant’Andrea in Puglia, Italy

Puglia’s coastline will give you more than just beaches. You will see other amazing natural wonders like arches, caves, cliffs, and insane rock formations that will stun you.

When I saw the rock formations in Sant’Andrea with stunning arches and I swan in the caves of Porto Selvaggio, I wondered why aren’t these places more famous than they are? Maybe it’s a good thing!

I have seen the arches of Étretat, France, Rugen Island’s high sea cliffs, insane rock formations of Zumaia in Spain and also Ireland’s Achill Island stunning seacliffs but I actually got to witness something way more spectacular in Puglia. And what’s insane is that in Puglia, all these stunning places with amazing rock formations that are so different from each other are in the same region.

Vieste in Gargano National Park, Puglia, Italy – CC0 via Pixabay

See the picture of Vieste in Gargano National Park. It reminded me of Thailand’s famous Phra Nang cave beach with limestone formations.

The beach that we visited everyday ion Porto Cesareo had multiple freshwater springs in the shallow part of the water near the shore, it was an amazing experience to cool off in them.

3) Puglia’s Culture will Amaze You

Locally Orchestra at Sant’Rocco festival Leverano, Italy

If there’s one country that’s so culturally powerful that everyone has to experience it at least once, it has got to be Italy. What’s better is that everything gets highly exaggerated as you move further South.

Art on the streets of Leverano, Puglia

In terms of culture, family, food, art, architecture and music – they all play an important part individually and collectively. This is something you will witness at every step, every bite, every sip and on every face. Italians take pride in their culture

It is hard to describe how it is to experience a new culture. I come from a country where culture plays a very visible part (India) and I felt something similar in Italy. Even if you arrive in Italy with a closed mine, over time the country will win you over because you can’t help but fall in love with it.

4) Puglia’s Food will WOW You

Cozze Gratin – Mussels baked with Parmesan – food in Puglia, Italy

I did experience the country’s food scene in North Italy and I was definitely aware of the fact that the food gets even better as one moves to the South from Rome. I love seafood and I usually prefer asian food over European any day. So, I didn’t expect to fall in love with Italian food in a way that I did.

Pizza quattro formaggi – Napoli style in Puglia, Italy

Italian food outside Italy is highly altered with loads of cheese, cream and butter. In reality Italian food in Italy is much lighter, even the pizza. One might say that the best Italian pizzas can be found in Napoli, but the best food overall definitely comes from South Italy.

Salento (Puglia) has the best Seafood in Italy

If you’re used to the typical “creamy” Italian food and if that’s what you’re seeking, then you will be disappointed. But if you’re ready to experience food that’s made with just a handful of simple ingredients and yet tastes divine, then Puglia is the place for you.

Frutti di mare – Seafood Pasta in Puglia, Italy

Some of the local specialities that I loved are:

  • Cozza Gratin (mussels baked with parmesan on top)
  • Pulpetti (Meatball)
  • Pulpo (Octopus) – Italians make the tastiest octopus
  • Handmade Pasta
  • Frutti di Mare Pasta or Fruitti di Mare risotto (Fruitti di mare means fruit of the sea, or seafood)

Honestly, I was knew I’d like the food in Italy but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. I normally prefer complicated Asian dishes with a lot of spice but shockingly loved everything in Puglia.

5) Puglia’s Trullo (or Trulli) in Alberobello – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Trulli houses in Alberobello Puglia, Italy via Pixabay

If you’re active on Instagram then you’ve surely seen pictures of Puglia’s Trulli. Most likely the location of the picture was Alberobello.

A Trullo is a traditional dry stone hut that can only be found in the Apuglia region of Italy. Trulli is the plural term of Trullo. Trulli are protected under UNESCO World heritage law. 

Some Trulli were built as early as the 17th century as a temporary shelter by farmers and labourours. Some were also built as a permanent place to live.

Trulli Village – Alberobello, Puglia in Italy via Pixabay

Trulli aren’t just found in Alberobello, but also in Locorotondo, Fasano, Ostuni, Cisternino, Martina Franca, and Ceglie Messapica. The ones in Alberobello are the most famous ones because there are many of them together and are highly photographed. 

Can you rent a trulli and sleep in it? Sure, you can in Alberobello. Once upon a time a local bought a lot of abandoned Trulli, renovated them and started renting them out to visitors. The locals in Alberobello still live in their Trulli and have converted some to host others.

6) Puglia Has a Lot of Historical Landmarks

The Historical Old Town of Lecce in Puglia

Puglia has a lot of history, and you don’t have to visit just the famous Historical Towns like Lecce, Ostuni, Otranto, etc – but even the smaller towns have a lot to offer. No doubt the famous bigger towns are spectacular but I found some of the similar looking buildings and landmarks in the smaller ones without any tourists.

The Barouque Old Town in Lecce city in Puglia, Italy

Did you know that Lecce city in Puglia is called the Florence of the South? Broadly speaking, it is in Salento part of Puglia. Lecce is also a province and a city. We’re talking about the city here.

Lecce city boasts of a stunning old town with  Baroque architectural buildings. The buildings here are made with a famous limestone that’s called “Lecce stone” and is sold all over the world for sculptures. It also has a Roman amphitheater that dates back to the 2nd century.

Another notable historical town in Puglia is Martina Franca, which is also in Salento. Martina Franca has a beatufully preserved baroque old town with stunning gates, narrow streets, Piazzas (the squares), and palaces.

Imagine seeing the charming historical buildings next to the beach! Yes, most of the beach towns have historical buildings. No matter where you go, you will most likely see a historical tower (Torre) near the beaches in Puglia.

7) Puglia’s Streets Are Stunning

A stunning bougainvillea fringed street in Leverano, Puglia

I have this thing for streets. I love photographing them, love walking and getting lost and discovering more in the process. If you love streets as much as I do, then you’re going to adore Puglia. 

Exploring the Historical Lecce city in Puglia, Italy

Some of the streets that I walked on in the old towns of Lecce, Leverano and Copertino are said to be 1000 years old and were built during the time of the Roman Empire. 

Cobbled streets that are lined with hold houses on each side with a lot of landmarks, it made me feel like I was walking around in a museum city. What is even better is that most of these streets were fringed with flowering vines like bougainvillea. 

The above are just some of the 100s of street photos that I clicked in Puglia. When I came back to Germany after Italy, I was shocked to see I had so many street photos. Even more than the beaches!

8) Coffee Lover or Not, You Will Love the Coffee

My cappuccino with cornetto in Porto Cesareo, Puglia, Italy

Strangely the cafes in Italy are called bars. Even if you love coffee or hate it, you will LOVE the coffee culture in Italy. Now before you say that this point is true for most of the Italian destinations, well here’s more. Puglia’s cafes (or bars) have some interesting things that can just be found here and not in other parts of Italy. 

Caffè Mousse in Leverano, Puglia, Italy

Most of us know about espresso – the little Italian coffee which is the base of cappuccino. I normally drink cappuccino back home in Germany but in Italy I fell in love with so many different ways to enjoy espresso. I’d like to mention a few that I regularly ordered:

  • Caffè ghiacciato – espresso with ice. Some will add a bit of almond syrup for sweetness and I enjoyed the marzipan kind of flavor.
  • Caffè granita – it is the normal slushie but it is made with coffee. YUM and super cooling.
  • caffè mousse – even though they called it mousse, but the texture is more like a softie ice cream. Some bars make it in coffee flavor and others in vanilla flavor and add cold espresso on top. This was my favorite.
  • Gelato Coffee flavor – this gelato that has a decent amount to get anyone caffeinated. I loved having my coffee in this form on some days.

You know what goes well with coffee? Breakfast of course. Italy with its elaborate meals has somehow a simple breakfast – pastry with coffee. I love how the cafes are full every morning till mid noon with people who visit for early to late breakfast. The most popular breakfast pastries were Pasticciotto and Cornetto.

Caffè ghiacciato with Pasticciotto, Salento, Puglia, Italy

If you don’t like sweet breakfast (like me at the beginning of my Italy trip) and want something salty, then ask for “rustico”. It is a pastry that’s stuffed with mozzarella and tomato. This is usually hidden in a very small section because most of the people order something sweet.

The cafes aren’t just open at breakfast time but till late at night. You can also order “aperitivo” and beer. Many places will also give you a few snacks (free) with aperitivo.

9) Puglia Has an Abundant Local Produce – Olive Oil, Wines, Figs

Primitivo Grape growing in Salento, Puglia, Italy

Why does everything taste better in Italy? A lot of that is because of the country’s abundant fresh produce. Tomatoes, olives, figs, lemons, oranges, apples, grapes, cactus-fruit, garlic, chili-peppers, lettuce, extra virgin olive oil, wines, breads and so many other things are freshly produced right here in Italy.

Guess what, Apulia has one of the highest concentration of fruits and vegetable production in Italy. You can taste the freshness in the food and the richness when you buy them from the supermarket to cook at home. Not just the fruits and the vegetables, even the fresh seafood and meat tastes much better here than the rest of Europe.

Olives on an Olive tree in Puglia, Italy

Things like olive oil, Primitivo red wine, cookies, handmade pasta make excellent gifts for your family and friends after your visit to Puglia. Don’t forget to buy these things for yourself too before you leave.

If you drive around in Apuglia, be ready to pick fruits from trees that are growing in public spaces and have fruits that are ready to be picked. We picked a lot of figs and cactus fruit, which were growing everywhere in summer. They tasted much better than the ones in the supermarkets.

If you’re picking your own cactus-fruit (prickly pear) then you need to be extremely careful. Make sure you wear the thickest gloves.

10) Adventure Lovers will Love Puglia

Porto Selvaggio Caves & Kayaking, Puglia, Italy

Cliff Jumping, Scuba diving, canyoning, snorkeling, kayaking – you name it, you’ve got it. Puglia has it all to keep adventure lovers entertained.

Puglia not only has sandy beaches but high sea cliffs too. There are some spots that are perfect for cliff jumping. The water clarity is impressive and with just swim goggles, we had a memorable experience in one particular location that reminded us of snorkeling in the Philippines.

Did you know that Puglia is also the location for Red Bull Cliff diving tournament for 2021? Those who follow the tournament love the location. The exact location for the Red Bull Cliff Diving 2021 is Polignano a Mare near Bari in Puglia. No doubt it is stunning but it isn’t even the most amazing cliff jumping spot that Puglia has to offer.

Cliff Jumping in Porto Selvaggio, Puglia, Italy

There are places on Puglia’s coast where one can find caves (or grottos). You can literally cliff jump, swim and go inside the grotto. We did that in Porto Selvaggio in Salento.

Stay Safe while cliff jumping: I’d like to mention that one needs to be very careful when cliff jumping. If you follow me on Instagram then you surely know that San had a cliff jumping accident in Puglia and he fractured his vertebrae. He was in an intensive care unit in a hospital in Lecce for almost a week after this.

He is an excellent swimmer and diver, so what went wrong? Even the slightest wrong entry while cliff jumping can have dangerous consequences.  This is a warning to all my adventure lover friends, please be careful and don’t do cliff jumps from higher than 10 meters (he did from 20 meters). If something doesn’t feel right then there’s no reason to push yourself to do it.

11) Puglia has Warm Weather = Real Summer

A Beach near Torre Lapillo, Puglia, Italy

Living in Germany, I miss real summer when one doesn’t need to carry a light jacket, just in case it gets chilly. Thankfully Puglia’s summer reminded me of India’s summer, where summer meant warm weather every single hour of the day or night.

Summers season in Puglia is long and one can expect sunshine almost every single day. Yes, it does rain and when it does, then it rains a lot. But then again, the sun shines the very next day. 

12) Puglia is a Shopping Heaven

Shopping in Porto Cesareo, Puglia

One of the things that I crib about after moving to Europe is about shopping. I love flea markets and handmade things, and I found a lot of amazing dresses, shoes, bags and home decor for cheap in Asia, but never in Europe. Even though I did find flea markets in Amsterdam and vintage shops in Hamburg, but nothing was affordable at the same level as Asia.

Guess what, there’s a weekly market in most of the towns in Puglia where one can get everything – clothes, shoes, food, household things, etc. I didn’t think I’d buy anything and my visit was purely for photography purposes but I came back home with 4 bags.

Imagine my surprise when I found amazing dresses for 7 Euros and shorts for 1 Euro. Yes, just ONE Euro. The Italians are known for their amazing sense of style and I found some amazing clothes even in the small town markets.

13) Puglia’s Beauty Salons are Awesome (and CHEAP)

Who visits a salon on a vacation? I did because it was a month long vacation. Also, I will do so again even if it is a short trip because the beauty salons in Italy are amazing and ridiculously cheap.

Living in India, I visited salons for things like haircuts, styling, waxing, etc, monthly. I don’t in Germany because they are crazy expensive (and most aren’t good). Believe it or not, I paid just 45 euros for a haircut & color and just 30 euros for waxing. Insane!

14) The Festivals of Puglia

San’Rocco Fireworks in Leverano, Puglia

We visited Puglia in August and got to witness a few festivals. We witnessed San’t Lorenzo, Ferragosto and San’Rocco and all of them involved fireworks. The locals came out of their homes and sat all over the beach in groups. The town centers were lit up and some of them also had elaborate stalls that were set up.

San’Rocco Festival Celebration in Leverano, Puglia

I did mention in my earlier point about Italy’s culture and I’d like to mention how strongly it shone in front of our eyes when we saw people celebrate. 

15) The People

There’s definitely something about the weather effecting the mood of the people, and it is always evident when one visits a warm country. I felt this the first time when I traveled to Portugal and Spain after spending a month in colder parts of Europe, and I definitely felt it in South Italy.

The people of Puglia are extremely warm, friendly, expressive, lively and most of all – approachable. They don’t shy away from a conversation after finding out that one doesn’t know their language, they still find a way to communicate. My little girl made more friends in our one month in Italy than she has ever made in Germany (and we live here!).

Locals who saw me on the beach everyday came up to me eventually to introduce themselves and to chat a little, even if we didn’t speak the language. By the end of my second day in Salento, I was saying Ciao to everyone who lived around our apartment (and there were many). They are all just so approachable, friendly and they acknowledged me each time I walked by.

What’s the Best Time to Visit Puglia

Polignano a Mare, Puglia, Italy

Puglia’s summer months are long so you can visit from May to September. The beaches get crowded in August but in terms of weather, that month is really good. Also, if you want to experience Puglia’s lively culture then August is the time when most of the festivals and celebrations happen.

August is the month when most of the European countries go for their summer vacation. Puglia is a very popular destination for Italians, hence you may not find an empty spot for your mat on the popular beaches. To avoid crowds, visit Puglia in the months of May, June, July or even September.

Leverano’s lively Piazza in Summer – Puglia, Italy

I have been told by my husband’s family that Puglia’s towns feel completely dead in the winter months and most people stay indoors. The liveliness of summer and staying outdoor ends when winter arrives. Of course the whole culture of restaurants with outdoor seating ends but they still remain open with indoor seating.

Airports in Puglia

There are two airports in Puglia – Bari and Brindisi. Bari is served by more flights and a lot of budget airlines too. Brindisi is served by fewer airlines. Brindisi is closer to Salento – the gem of Puglia. That’s where everything is – the best beaches, the stunning old towns like Lecce because that’s the Southmost province.

Check Car Rental Prices in Italy

If you can’t find a flight to Bari or Brindisi for Puglia, then you should know that some people fly to an airport in Tuscany instead. From there they rent a car and drive to Puglia.

Where to Stay in Puglia as a Base

Bahia Porto Cesareo – Sandy beach in Puglia

A lot of first timers stay in Bari and drive to the nearby beaches but honestly that’s like just like viewing the top layer. Sure, Bari is lovely but if you want to experience the best of Puglia, then you have to make your base somewhere in Salento.

Porto Cesareo was an amazing base for us because we were right on the beach. We could see it from our balcony and went there at every opportunity. Porto Cesareo has an amazing stretch of sandy beach

Also, from Porto Cesareo we could just drive to all the famous landmarks, towns and beaches in just an hour (mostly). The city centre does get extremely crowded in August, but the trick is to stay away from the centre. 

Lecce is also an amazing place for a base for those who don’t need to wake up on the beach. Lecce has the best food, the most amazing historical landmarks and you will feel like you’re walking in a museum. Lecce is literally in the middle of Salento so you can drive to the east coast, the west coast or the absolutely Southern tip from here. 

To experience Puglia like a local then find base in a smaller town like Leverano or the nearby Copertino. These towns aren’t on the beach but they are just 15 mins drive away. Both these cities have a stunning old towns and you can create some magical photos without crowds. Here the restaurant scene is even better because there are just locals. Of course, it helps if you can speak a few words of Italian.

How to Travel within Puglia?

By car. Really there isn’t a better way because not everything is connected well with public transport. If you live in Europe then you can just drive to Puglia from your place of residence. We did from Germany. Yes the duration was crazy long but it can be a fun road trip with stops.

Check Car Rental Prices in Italy

A better option would be to arrive in Puglia by air and rent a car (click here to check the prices) from Bari or Brindisi airports. The car rental prices shoot up very high in August, so it is better if you in a group of 3 or 4, so that you can split the cost.

How Many Days do you Need for Puglia?

A lot. I spent a month and I still didn’t see all the famous spots. If you want to see at least some of them, then spend no less than two weeks. If you just have a week then don’t stress yourself in trying to do too much. Focus on a handful of places and do them well.

Is Puglia Crowded or Touristy?

The answer depends on when you visit and where you visit (like most destinations). Most people fly and stay in Bari as their base so of course it is crowded there.

A lot of Italians and Europeans in general visit in Puglia in August. During that month most of the popular places to visit in Puglia are crowded. However, if you know of some less visited places then you can find empty areas in Puglia in August too.

Pin it – Why visit Puglia in Italy

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Beach Packing List: Must Haves for a Beach Day + Tropical Vacations

Beach Packing List: Must Haves for a Beach Day + Tropical Vacations

Summer is almost over in Europe and North America but the beach holidays are not. Yes, if you’re going for a beach vacation in Europe or North America then the season is over. However the beach holiday season is just about to begin in Asia, South America and Australia.

You see, if you’re in a warmer country like India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, etc then the perfect time for a beach vacation in winter time (because summer is either too hot or it rains all the time). Yes, the “peak” beach vacation months are October to February. In case of Australia, the seasons are completely opposite in the Southern Hemisphere so what’s winter in Europe or America is summer in Australia.

If you’re a beach bum like me then you’re perhaps trying to maximize your beach time by spending summer in European beaches and winter months in places like Goa, Bali, Sri Lanka, or Thailand’s many beaches.

Maya Bay in Thailand – one of the most beautiful beaches in the world

When it comes to packing for the beach, then remember the mantra – LESS IS MORE. Make your life easier by packing less. Some items can be used in a multiple ways. Carry more items only if you’re sure you’re going to use them.

Before I start the list of essential things to pack for the beach,  I’m assuming that you’re at least wearing (or carrying):

  • a swimsuit,
  • beach clothes, (a summer dress, or shorts with a tank for guys and gals)
  • flip flops (or sandals). 
  • a beach bag

So what stuff to bring to the beach? Below is my list and it usually changes if I travel with or without family.

Of course, my beach packing list also depends on which kind of beach I’m going to, if I’m flying for a beach vacation or driving to a beach for a beach day with family. This is why I have mentioned “optional” next to a few items, so this beach packing checklist is super flexible.

Packing List for Beach Day

Sunscreen

Pure Obagi Sunscreen Matte SPF 50 – Beach Packing List

Let’s face it. It’s no fun wearing sunscreen because most are heavy, greasy and uncomfortable. Moreover, many of them make the face look super oily – yuck! 

Over the years I have realized that I damaged my skin when I was backpacking in Sri Lanka. I didn’t use a sunscreen but used coconut oil like a hippie (just because I had read somewhere that it’s a natural sunscreen – ouch!). Don’t get me wrong, coconut oil is amazing but it isn’t a sunscreen. It is a good after sun moisturizer though.

So what damage did I cause? I’m not talking about a burn, but fine lines in some areas of my neck and face. Guess what, I’m not in a hurry to get wrinkles.

I have learned my lesson and I now take my sunscreen very seriously. It is an investment that’s not just limited to the beach holiday, but how I look for months or years after the holiday. 

So, after trying many sunscreens, I have realized that I hate most of them. I dislike the texture and how my face looks oiled up and feels sticky after. The so called “matte look” sunscreen are sometimes look like heavy foundation. Most likely you’re nodding while reading this because you have faced this too, right?

Pure Obagi Sunscreen – beach packing list

There’s one particular sunscreen that changed my like. It’s Pure Obagi Sun Shield Matte (Broad Spectrum SPF 50). Not only does it feel good on the skin, but it highly effective. 

If you know a little about skincare, then you would have heard of Obagi Medical Products already. Pure Obagi is the retailer for Obagi Medical Products in EU and the UK.

Once you have a decent sunscreen with you, then make sure you apply it from head to toes before you step out. Carry it with you so that you can reapply in a few hours or after your swim. Yes, you need a sunscreen even when it is cloudy.

Sunglasses

A nice pair of sunglasses are a “must have” for any beach trip. They will make you more comfortable because you won’t have to squint your eyes when you look up on a sunny day. Plus point, go crazy and express your style and make a statement with a fun pair of sunglasses. 

Ray Ban Sunglasses – What to pack for beach

I love RayBans – they are timeless. Not just in terms of fashion but also the worth. Once you buy a pair, then you don’t need anything else. They come with a lifetime warranty, so you can get them repaired for free in any authorized RayBan shop. 

I have had my amber RayBan aviator glasses since 2009 and they went perfectly with my mood and all my tropical outfits. Sadly between so much traveling and moving my base from one country to another, I seem to have lost them. But I highly recommend them in case you want the same. 

Sunhat 

Sant’Andrea beach in Puglia, Italy

A wide-brimmed sun hat will keep your head cool during the times when. you don’t have a shade on your head.You don’t have to even carry one from before, you can just buy it from your beach destination. They sell them everywhere anyways.

I have kept this item as optional because I’m aware that not everyone wants to wear a hat. It is good to wear one and at times I have avoided sickness just because I had a hat on. 

If you’re traveling with children, then make sure they wear hats because their head will get heated up before they realize (or even you realize). I often forget to carry my hat but I make sure I carry at least two for my little girl.

Beach Mat (if you’re not in a resort)

I have kept this point as an optional one because you won’t need a beach mat everywhere. In many places you can get a sun-bed on the beach. Almost all resorts, restaurants or beach bars have them. In case you’re not going to one then carry a beach mat by all means.

I have a folding one which I carry on the beach all the time ever since I have started traveling my my little one.

Sarong or a Cover Up

San and I at Phra Nang Beach after attempting to reach the lagoon

Wearing my sarong as a skirt at Phra Nang Beach

I love Sarongs and I have many of them. They can be used in so many ways. They make an amazing cover up over the swim suit with endless possibilities.

More than just a cover up, a nice sarong can be used in many ways. I often travel light and I ditch the bigger towels and use my sarong to dry my body. On days I don’t want to carry my beach mat, I use my sarong as a mat and it works well. 

You can wear your sarong as a skirt, as a dress or even use it as a headwrap in case you forget to carry your hat. It is really one of the most versatile item for any kind of a beach vacation. That’s why I carry 2-3 of them, it is my must-have beach packing list item.

Sarongs aren’t just for women, they are for men too. If you ever travel to South India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Myanmar and many other asian countries, you will notice that it is an important part of men’s traditional outfits. They are called “lungi”s.

Towel (Optional)

I have put towel as an optional item because if you’re at a resort then most likely you will get a towel from there. Even if you’re not at a resort, and you’re a “sarong person”, then you will most likely not need a towel because you will air dry yourself and then your sarong will dry you further.


 

In any case, I love fluffy towels but I believe one should pack as light as possible so check out microfiber towels that are thin and pack super tiny. And they do the job.

Something to Drink

King’s Beer in Goa – Pack something to drink on the beach

This is a must for not just a beach day but every single outing. Carry water in a reusable bottle, especially if you’re traveling with children. It is always a good idea to carry your own bottle that can be refilled. 

I don’t know about you, but I also usually carry 1-2 beers in case I don’t find a beach bar. After all, it is a vacation. Yes, I did say one should travel light but beer is always an exception.

A Snack (Optional)

Enjoying an ice cream in Denovici, Kotor Bay in Montenegro

A Snack on the Beach in Denovici, Kotor Bay in Montenegro

I never carried a snack for myself when I visited the beach but I do now for my little girl. It can be cookies, fruit or even crackers or even an energy bar. Children create more tantrums on empty stomachs so make sure you don’t forget something sweet or salty for your little one.

Face Mask as per Corona Restrictions

It’s 2021, no one ever leaves their home without a face mask. In most of the places on a public beach, you may not need to wear a face mask but if you need to visit a restaurant, a bar or a public toilet, then you will surely need your mask.

If you’re heading out of your hometown to a beach destination, then be smart and buy a pack of 20 before you go so that you don’t have to worry about it later.

Snorkel Gear (Optional)

Not every place to swim is snorkel worthy, this is why this point is optional. Snorkeling is so much easier as compared to scuba diving and this is something most people can do without any experience or training. 

Find out about the water clarity and marine life and if possible, try to snorkel to get more out of your beach time. After all, you won’t be just sitting on the beach the entire time, right?

Dry Bag (Optional)

Do you need a dry bag for every beach vacation? No. You only need one in case you (+ your travel buddy) going to be swimming and snorkeling so that you can keep your valuables safe with you on your back.  

When I travel with my husband and our little girl, I normally don’t need a dry bag unless we’re on a kayak or something. However, when it is me and my husband together then I carry a dry bag because we both often swim together or snorkel together.

A Waterproof Camera (Optional)

You don’t need a waterproof camera, unless you want to click epic underwater shots. In case you do, then pick the best – GoPro. You can really elevate your beach pictures if you can capture some underwater moments. 

I always travel with my GoPro and I use it for more than just action photography. I sometimes use it as a “normal” camera and guess what, it never disappoints me.

Power Bank (Optional)

In case you use a lot of gadgets or you’re heading to the beach for photography purposes, then make sure you carry your power bank. Charge your battery so that you don’t miss out on capturing epic beach sunsets as the day ends.

If you’re flying for a beach vacation, then keep in mind that you can’t usually carry a power bank in your check in luggage. Some airlines will ask you to carry it with you on the flight. Make sure you clarify this while you’re checking in. I once had to throw away my power bank because they found it later in my check in bag and asked me to go through the security again. I was already late for my flight so I had to give it away, to avoid missing my flight.

Sand Toys (for families with small children)

Sand Toys - Beach checklist for family

Sand Toys – Beach checklist for family

Children love beaches because it means endless play time. I also think that there’s so much one can find on the beach to play with that there’s no need for toys. There are seashells, sand, water, sticks, etc.

However, I spent a month in a beach town in Puglia (Italy) with my little one and realized that sand toys are mandatory because every single kid around us had them. As soon as my girl saw other kids with their own sand buckets and shovels, she wanted a set for her too!

If you’re flying for a beach vacation then you don’t have to buy a set from before because you will see people selling them around beaches everywhere. In case you’re driving to a beach then by all means buy from before.

Beach Racket Ball or Frisbee (Optional)

Sunset at Candolim Beach, North Goa

Sunset Racketball Game at Candolim Beach, North Goa – Beach packing list

Beach games aren’t just for small children or families. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time on the beach then make the most of it by playing your favorite outdoor game.

Get a frisbee, a ball or racketball or be inventive and create a new game.

Inflatable Floaties or floating Hammock

So I was never into floaties, till I discovered the joys of floating in an inflatable hammock. I don’t like most of the floties because I’d rather be in the water but with an inflatable hammock, you can hang in water but your feet and head are above the water. It is just like a hammock but in water.

Moreover, as we traveled more with our daughter, we realized that she had much more fun on a floatie. If you’re traveling with family then this is a fun item to pack to make your beach time memorable.

Toddler Swim Diapers (if you’re with a baby or a toddler)

Heading to the beach with your little one? Then make them wear a swim diaper and make sure you carry some extra ones. I always bought them from before when we traveled with our girl when she was smaller. Traveling with a baby is sometimes not so easy and I tried to leave as less things to last minute as possible.

Wet Wipes (Beach Checklist for Family)

Not just for a beach day, but this is something I have in my bag on most days. I like to carry wet wipes not just for my little one but also for cleaning my hands, face or even cleaning the toilet seat in case I go to a public toilet.

Your Phone + Wallet with Money

I don’t even need to mention these two things because everyone moves around with their smart phone and their wallets. Since it’s a packing list for the beach, I wanted to make sure to mention everything possible in order to help you.

If you’re carrying your credit card and debit card, make sure to carry a bit of loose change – just in case a few beach bars or restaurants don’t accept cash. Or, in some areas you may have to use a paid public toilet and some of them can only be accessed with coins.

The Ultimate Beach packing list for Families, Couples or Singles

Final Thoughts on Beach Packing List

Remember – you don’t need to pack everything in your beach bag that I have mentioned on this list. Just pack your sun protection and the things that are important to you (or your family). Don’t forget to smile and have a good time – because hey, you’re on a beach and it doesn’t get better than this – am I right?

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Amsterdam Instagram Spots: 17 Photo Spots in Amsterdam (+ Map)

Amsterdam Instagram Spots: 17 Photo Spots in Amsterdam (+ Map)

You asked and I answered, here are the exact locations of some of my Instagram posts from Amsterdam. It took me five visits to find some of the most amazing photo spots and to compile this list of my favorite Amsterdam instagram spots.
 
I have said it before and I will again – Amsterdam is a beautiful city and every spot is picture perfect. There are canals, rivers, bridges, narrow streets – Amsterdam has everything it takes to make a city pretty. Ok, so a lot of European cities already have all this, so what makes Amsterdam special?
 
Amsterdam has something that’s unique to it – super narrow old buildings that look insanely beautiful along the water. Not all the buildings look symmetrical and some appear to be leaning. And that’s exactly what makes them even more interesting because they all seem to fit well together for an insanely beautiful photo.
 
 
So where should you go in Amsterdam to capture the best of all? I will let you all know my favorite spots which I discovered during my 5 visited to this lovely city over the last few years:
 

1) Damrak, Near Amsterdam Centraal

Amsterdam’s Narrow Buildings by the water

Damrak is in Amsterdam Centrum and you will surely cross it at some point. It is literally just 2 minute walk from the Amsterdam Centraal Station and Dam Square.

Damrak is the most popular photo spot in Amsterdam and it is for a reason – it is easy to click a good photo here and the results are always good.

If you have a little more time on your hands then you can play with the reflection and create something unique. I didn’t because I was alone for a weekend trip in Amsterdam and I did not have a lot of time. If you have a tripod then this spot is excellent for capturing a night photo of Amsterdam with long exposure. 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Sonal | Drifter Planet (@drifterplanet)

I’d also like to mention that Damrak is excellent for creating an Instagram Reels because it fits a vertical frame really well.

You don’t need to arrive here at a particular time to avoid the crowd because this part of Amsterdam is always crowded. Still, it isn’t difficult to capture this place without people if you can wait for 2-5 minutes. But sometimes there are too many boats parked so you may need to wait a little for them to leave.

Tip: Get yourself a cheap Amsterdam souvenir and hold it in front of the Damrak houses for an interesting photo..
  • How to reach Damrak: Just walk here from Dam Square station or Amsterdam Centraal train or tram stations. There’s another tram station that’s just 200 meters away – Nieuwezijds Kolk.
  • Click here for map coordinates.

 

2) Staalmeestersbrug over Groenburgwal with Zuidkerk View

Staalmeestersbrug over Groenburgwal with Zuidkerk – Amsterdam Photo Spots – CCO Unsplash

Yes, I can’t get enough of canal photo spots. This post does contain many different types of photo spots but my best performing Amsterdam photos on Instagram are the ones that show canals, narrow houses and bridges. Bonus points if you can capture bicycles or an iconic building in the background. In this particular location, it is the Zuiderkerk Church tower.

The name of the bridge is Staalmeestersbrug and it goes over the Groenburgwal canal and on one side you can see the Zuidkerk. There’s a painting by Claude Monet that depicts this exact setting. This is why this view is sometimes called “the million dollar view”.

 
 

3) Leidsegracht and Keizersgracht Intersections

Leidsegracht and Keizersgracht Intersections – Amsterdam photo spots (CC0 via Unsplash)

Just like the Damrak Buildings, this particular spot is also a super famous photo point that’s usually featured in many famous magazines. This is the point where two canals intersect – Leidesgracht and Keizersgracht and the results are interesting.

Amsterdam Nightlife Guide - best nightclubs and bars

Amsterdam Nightlife Guide – best nightclubs and bars

There It is also a very good spot for night photography if you have a tripod. You can catch the trailing boat nights on long exposure and the results can be breathtaking.

Leidsegracht and Keizersgracht bridges in Amsterdam – IG spots

  • How to reach: Look for Pastini restaurant. From there, walk to the nearest bridge and don’t climb it. Just stand at the end of the bridge and see other bridge that’s going diagonal with arches under it. Capture the photo with water, the arches of the bridge and those 3-4 buildings behind it. 
  • Click here for the Location Coordinates.

 

4) Kapitein Zeppos Restaurant

Kapitein Zeppos restaurant in Amsterdam

Kapitein Zeppos restaurant in Amsterdam

Just look at this picture. Is this the most instagrammable restaurant in Amsterdam? It is just a random restaurant with outdoor seating in a pretty alley and it isn’t even famous. I think it is and it isn’t even featured in any of the top lists. The above is a phone photo but imagine how much more you can do with a slightly better lens.
 
I think Kapitein Zeppos restaurant is very pretty. I love this particular narrow street that’s fringed with flowering vines and the other building in the background. I actually found this place when I was walking around in Amsterdam in 2014 and then once more by chance in 2017. 
 
Tip: For the best result, arrive here a little early before people start sitting on the chairs so that you can capture this spot without people. The best time would be a rainy day, it was for me! 
 
 
 

5) The Bridges on Princengracht or Bloemengracht

Jordaan has a lot of narrow canals with small bridges over them. A Gracht is Dutch for canal and Princengracht or Bloemengracht are the names of two of the canals that are in Jordaan.

 
Amsterdam Looks Stunning at Night - the BEST 2 day itinerary for Amsterdam

Amsterdam Looks Stunning at Night – the BEST 2 day itinerary for Amsterdam

Honestly, all the bridges on Jordaan’s canals are lovely. These bridges are decorated with flowers so you can capture a lovely frame with flowers, canal, narrow houses on each side and sometimes even a seagull or the Westerkerk. (Westerkerk is an iconic church building that’s next to the Ann Frank Haus).

I particularly like Bridge 62 on Princengracht and the bridge 160 on Bloemengracht. Many maps mysteriously don’t show the bridge 62, so you have to look for “Kees de Jongen bridge”.

  • How to reach this photo spot: Just arrive near the Ann Frank Haus and walk in the opposite direction where you see narrower canals. Keep walking and you will find many photo spots.
  • Location coordinates on Google maps.
 
 

6) NDSM Werf, Amsterdam-Noord

If you’re looking for a place in Amsterdam to create unique photos that haven’t been overly popularized, then NDSM Werf is the place for you. Seriously everyone posts a picture of Amsterdam’s canals or bridges, but not enough people post something different. 
 

NDSM Werf was once a shipyard but now is an open air space that’s full of art installations. No, this is more than just your typical street art, many of the installations are interactive and you will enjoy playing around there.

I do have a guide about Amsterdam-Noord neighborhood of Amsterdam, be sure to read it before you go.

Tip: You can rent a bicycle for free with the I Amsterdam City Card. Make sure you do and visit this part of Amsterdam because it is different from the rest of the city.
  • How to Reach NDSM Werf: It is very easy to reach NDSM Werf. Just catch a free ferry from Amsterdam Centrum that goes over the IJ River and will leave you near the A’Dam tower. You can bring your bicycle on the ferry with you. From there, NDSM is 2 KMs away and you can reach there on your bicycle.
  • Location coordinates on Google Maps.

 

7) From the Edge of a Boat

Canal Cruise in Amsterdam on a private open boat by Pure Amsterdam

Canal Cruise in Amsterdam

 
Canals are a very important part of Amsterdam’s cityscape, so make sure you capture the beauty from the source itself. For the best result, stand on the edge of a narrow boat as it floats on a canal that’s lined with buildings on both the sides.
 

Canal View of Amsterdam from the edge of a boat under the bridge – September 2017

 
A typical canal cruise on a boat will take you to most of the scenic spots in Amsterdam, so keep your eyes open and click loads of photos.
 
For an interesting perspective, wait for the boat to go under the bridge and click as soon as the bridge forms an arch with a view of the narrow buildings on the other side.
 
It took me 2 boat tours in Amsterdam to get the photos right, because not all boats are fully open. The semi open or fully open private boats are usually more expensive and don’t safeguard you from the rain. And normally you can’t go to the edge of the boat because you have to stay seated, unless you pick a private boat tour.
 
Tip: The I Amsterdam City Card offers one free canal boat tour. There are many options of different kind of tours, pick one wisely.
 
 

8) Hortus Botanicus

Butterfly Garden in Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam

You may have not heard of this place in Amsterdam but it took my breath away. Not only it is a must visit place in every Amsterdam itinerary but also super instagram worthy.

Guess what, Hortus Botanicus was perhaps the only place that I visited in Amsterdam that had way more locals instead of tourists. That’s always a good sign!

This place is so lovely that people visit it for their wedding photo shoots. The time I visited Hortus Botanicus, there was a wedding photoshoot that was going on inside with an entire photography team.

 
Head to the tropical forest area and you will have endless photo ideas. The tropical forest area also has massive banana trees, vines, big peace-lilies, waterfalls and bridges. There are benches in some special locations where you can put the camera and click your photos.
 
I also clicked my favorite Amsterdam photos in Hortus Botanicus’ Butterfly Garden, but it may not always be possible to enter this section because the entry is restricted to maximum 6 people at a time.
 
Tip: The entry for the Hortus Botanicus is EUR 11,50 but is free with the I Amsterdam City Card, so consider getting the card if you’re visiting at least 2 attractions
 
 
  • How to reach Hortus Botanicus: Get off at Mr. Visserplein or Amsterdam Artis or Plantage tram stations. I was staying in a hostel near Hortus Botanicus so for me Mr. Visserplein was the most convenient one. You can also arrive here from the Waterlooplein Metro station.
  • Location coordinates on Maps
 

9) De Beurs Passage (+ the Arch)

De Beurs Passage doesn’t look like it belongs in Amsterdam at all. In fact, it looks like it would fit Istanbul instead. This passage is in the centrum, just 1 minute walk from Damrak so it is usually crowded unless you are patient because you have to wait for people to move away.
 
I did see a bunch of people at De Beurs Passage who were clicking photos of the ceiling, but for me the end of this passage was way more photogenic because of the arch, and you can see the glimpse of a street behind.
 
I would have absolutely loved to pose here with a pretty flowy dress but I was traveling alone. I didn’t end up wearing dresses because I was always on a bicycle and ended up clicking all the photos without me in them.
 
 

10) A’Dam Lookout Tower, Amsterdam-Noord

View of Amsterdam from A'Dam Tower - how to spend 2 days in Amsterdam

View of Amsterdam from A’Dam Tower – how to spend 2 days in Amsterdam

If you’re looking for a view of Amsterdam from up above, then A’Dam Lookout is the place to be. The rooftop viewing deck here offers amazing views over Amsterdam in all directions.

 
Moon Bar on A'Dam Tower - Amsterdam itinerary

Moon Bar on A’Dam Tower – Amsterdam itinerary

Not just the top, but you can visit the Moon Bar and get a place with a breathtaking view of the city. Honestly, I think the Moon Bar makes a better photo spot than the terrace because you can add an interesting perspective.

Extreme Swing on A'Dam Tower - 2 Days in Amsterdam

Extreme Swing on A’Dam Tower – 2 Days in Amsterdam

I’d like to mention that I also tried the Extreme Swing that’s on top of the A’Dam tower and it was an insane experience! Get someone to click your photo when you’re up there and trust me it will be one of the most memorable photos for you.

Moreover, the extreme swing will also give you an amazing Instagram reel opportunity. I do have a video of it on my YouTube channel, and honestly it was just a super quick edit and I’m surprised that it has so many views.

Tip: The entry for the A’Dam Lookout is EUR 15 per person but is free with the I Amsterdam City Card. Consider getting the card to save money for transport and attractions.
  • How to Reach A’Dam tower: Get to the the Amstradam Centraal station and go on the opposite side. There’s one side that goes into the main city but the other side is towards the IJ river, reach there and you will see a few ferries. These are free public ferries that will take you to Noord. Get on the next ferry, it will leave you just next to the A’Dam tower in Noord.
  • Click here for location coordinates.

 

11) Waterlooplein Market

Waterloo Square Flea Market in Amsterdam

Waterloo Square Flea Market in Amsterdam

I have a thing for flea markets. No, not for shipping but I find them very interesting because of the casual set of shops and hanging merchandise. More than that, you can also see some interesting faces and lots of photo opportunities.

Amsterdam’s Waterlooplein market actually reminds me of Goa’s hippie flea markets. There are usually 300 stalls and they are lined up next to the Amstel river, so the backdrop is lovely.

Tip: The Waterlooplein Market is closed on Sundays, so keep that in mind if you’re spending a weekend in Amsterdam. It is just a quick walk from the Hortus Botanicus which is also featured on this list. You can combine both these spots one after another in your Amsterdam itinerary.

 

12) Rijksmuseum Library

Rijksmuseum Research Library - Amsterdam museums

Rijksmuseum Research Library – Amsterdam museums

Rijksmuseum is legendary and it is Amsterdam’s most famous museum. You can’t click a photo anywhere in this museum except in the library. The Rijksmuseum research library is the largest public art history research library in the Netherlands.

I think Rijksmuseum library is stunning with its high arched ceiling and wooden pillars. I’d actually love to go back to Amsterdam for my 6th visit to click a photo in a dress here.

Tip: The Rijksmuseum is open every day but the library is closed on Sundays. The entry for the museum tickets cost EUR 20 per person but you can enter for free with the I Amsterdam City Card.Make sure you PREBOOK a time slot not just at the museum but ALSO at the library. This is the new rule because of Covid-19 post June 1, 2021.

 

13) Pllek Restaurant and Beach Bar

Sipping Beer on the beach in Pllek, Amsterdam-Noord

Did you know it was possible to visit a beach bar in Amsterdam? I didn’t till the time I visited Amsterdam-Noord in 2017. From that time I made sure to include Noord in my itinerary to visit this particular bar and restaurant. I was so happy when I noticed that my favorite bloggers mentioned Pllek as the best sunset spot in Amsterdam.

Visiting Pllek is an experience because it is more than just a normal restaurant or bar, it was once a shipyard. Everything inside and also outside looks insanely interesting and unusual. It overlooks the IJ river and Amsterdam Centrum from the other side.

Beach bar at Pllek, Amsterdam-Noord

 
I love Amsterdam city but sometimes it can get a little too busy and stressful for me. Honestly the hours I spent sipping my beer by the IJ River in Pllek actually felt like a vacation. This place is lively, fun and more than just a pretty photo spot.
 
  • How to Reach Pllek: In order to reach Pllek, you have to reach Amsterdam-Noord first. You can catch a free ferry for Noord from Amsterdam Centrum. Bring your bicycle on the ferry because you will need to ride it to reach here from the pier. And yes, you can rent your bicycle for free with your I Amsterdam City Card.
  • Click here for Pllek Coordinates on Google Map.
 

14) Museumplein Entry Tunnel Arch

Amsterdam Museumplein entry tunnel copy

I have never seen this tunnel ever mentioned in any travel article or blog but I really wonder why. When you enter the Museumplein (museum square) on a bicycle or by walking, you get to see the most amazing entry tunnel with arches and lamps.

Museumplein isn’t exactly small so if you’re looking for this spot, this is the entry tunnel is towards the Rijksmuseum.

The thing is, the middle area is for the bicycles and the one in the corner is for the pedestrians. This isn’t a safe photo spot because you’re going to be standing right in the middle of the cyclists. Amsterdam’s cyclists literally rule the city and they will run over you if you stand in their way (as I mentioned in my travel tips post).

I actually shot a video here while I was cycling and made pictures from the screenshots of the video. Haha. Yes, I cycled here 4-5 times in this tunnel for the best photos.

Tip: Because you have to get into the middle of the cycling lane, the only way I suggest you click this by arriving here super early before the people reach. If you stand in the middle point of the lanes to capture this tunnel, you can get hurt because there is a blind spot here and approaching cyclists may not be able to see you. So, get this shot before people start arriving or do what I did, create a video while cycling.

 

15) Bloemstraat with Westerkerk

Bloemstraat with Westerkerk in the background - Jordaan - Amsterdam IG spots

Bloemstraat with Westerkerk in the background – Jordaan – Amsterdam IG spots – Amsterdam July 2021

 
There’s a street in Jordaan where you will see the Westerkerk in the background. This makes an interesting photo spot, I realized this because I have this photo from many of my Amsterdam trips.
 
Jordaan, Amsterdam - travel tips for Amsterdam

Jordaan, Amsterdam – travel tips for Amsterdam – July 2017

 
If you see the first photo has a better perspective, it is because my photography skills became a little better over the years and so did my gear. The first photo here was clicked in 2021 and the second in 2017.
 
 

16) Vondelkerk

Vondelkerk – Amsterdam photo spots

Vondelkerk is near Vondelpark and near the museum square. I actually arrived here because it is a peaceful area and I wanted to practice riding my new rented bicycle before heading out to the other parts of the city. This church looks very beautiful from many different directions and I cycled all around it and stopped for a few photos.
 
  • How to reach Vondelkerk: The nearest tram stops are 1e Con. Huygensstraat and Overtoom. If you arrive here on a bicycle like I did, then just follow the map coordinates in the next point.
  • Click here for map coordinates.

17) Outside Moco Museum

Moco Museum – visiting Museumplein on my rented bicycle

Moco isn’t the most famous museum in Amsterdam, but I found the building very cute. It is small and there is a lot of empty space in one side. This is in the direction that goes from Rijksmuseum to Moco.

So, one can stand next to it and make a pretty picture. In my case, I was alone so I just parked my rented bicycle where I would have liked to stand and clicked a picture.

  • How to reach: Get to the Museumplein tram stop and just walk or cycle from there to Moco Museum. To reach the location that I’m taking about, just walk from Rijksmuseum to Moco museum. After you will cross a few touristy shops on the right, you will arrive here.
  • Click here for the location coordinates.

BONUS: Intel Hotel Zaandam

There’s a reason why this place didn’t make it into the final list, that’s because the Intel Hotel is in Zaandam (and not in Amsterdam), it is right outside Amsterdam. Nevertheless, it is perhaps the most interesting hotel building that you will ever see. Just like Prague’s dancing house hotel building is now an iconic landmark, so is this particular hotel.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Pema Prima Photography (@pema.prima)

Look how pretty it looks? Honestly I have been eying the photos of this particular hotel on Instagram since ages but I didn’t get an opportunity to visit. I’d still like to mention this place because I’d not want you to miss out on photographing it just because I didn’t.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Travel couple (Roel & Eline) (@trendytravelduo)


 

Map of Amsterdam Instagram Spots

Here’s a map that I have made of all these instagram locations in Amsterdam. This will help you plan your time and know where to go first and which places you can photograph together. If you like my list of photo spots in Amsterdam then please share it with a friend who’s going there.

 

What About the “Wake me up when I’m famous” Bench? It No Longer Exists

There used to be a super popular Instagram photo spot in Amsterdam with a bench right next to “Wake me up when I’m famous” sign. People took some very interesting pictures pretending to sleep on the bench and some of them even carried their rugs and pillows for an elaborate photo shoot.

Sadly the bench is no longer there, but you can see the spot below. It is in a neighborhood called De Pijp, which is an excellent spot for eating and drinking.

Click here for the location coordinates for “Wake me up when I’m famous” sign.

Wake me up when I'm famous sign in Amsterdam

Wake me up when I’m famous sign in Amsterdam

 

I hope you enjoyed my list of Instagram spots in Amsterdam. Over the years I have added more spots to my list because I visit Amsterdam pretty often. I often create the same photos but I change the perspective a little bit. Of course, I am always in a search for more photo spots. If you come to know of any more interesting Insta spots in Amsterdam then please leave a comment and let me know.

Disclosure: I collaborated with the I Amsterdam (Amsterdam city tourism board) for a part of my trip in 2017 and 2021. However, all opinions expressed in this articles are definitely my own.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you.   We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to pro

Things to do in Heidelberg, Germany’s Riverside Castle Town

Things to do in Heidelberg, Germany’s Riverside Castle Town

Here’s everything you need to know before visiting the stunning Heidelberg, things to do, how to reach, where to stay, what do eat and more.

Heidelberg is a student town but it somehow turned into a travel destination because it is pretty. It is small, yet is one of the most picturesque towns in Germany because of the castle, old bridge and an old town that boasts of baroque architecture. Yes, it is like a mini Prague.

We visited Heidelberg in August 2020 during the Corona pandemic. Honestly that was one of the lighter months because there were hardly any restrictions and the number of cases were low. Everything was functioning like normal except one had to wear a mask for even walking in Heidelberg’s old town.

Our visit to Heidelberg was as a family because we were with our 1 year old girl. We arrived here with our camper van and found a nice river side camping place. I will talk more about that at the end, but let’s talk about Heidelberg first. 

The romantic Heidelberg with Castle, river and old town via unsplash

Heidelberg looks like it was plucked straight off a tin fudge box. Also, because it is a student town then it has a decent nightlife. We weren’t able to bar-hopping for German wines and beers in the old town because of our baby girl but we did end up doing more than we thought we would. Here are some of the best things to do in in Heidelberg for every kind of a traveler.

Fun Fact for all the Potterheads out there – Heidelberg actually has a professional Quidditch team and they are called the Heidelberg Harriers. Insane right?

What is Heidelberg in Germany known for & Why visit it?

Heidelberg is situated on the serene banks of the winding Neckar River in the southwest region of Germany. It is a 14th-century town renowned for its local university, but also for its romantic and idyllic cityscape surrounded by green forested hills.

The local castle is one of the most famous landmarks in the area and a stellar example of Renaissance architecture. I have mentioned Heidelberg as a prominent  part of Germany’s “castle route” road trip. If you have a thing for castles, Germany has many of them. Yes, Heidelberg Castle is beautiful but my favorite one is Burg Eltz.

The Arch at the end of the Old Bridge in Heidelberg – small

Despite welcoming many students each year, Heidelberg is not the cheapest German city because it attracts tourists. You may want to keep an eye on the Forex exchange rates before you travel if you’re coming from overseas. But it’s certainly not as expensive as some other European destinations like Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam or Rome.

How to Reach Heidelberg

As mentioned before on this website over and over, the best and the most convenient way to travel in Germany is by road because public transport can be very expensive. Just rent a car and drive to Heidelberg if you don’t have one.

Check Car Rental Prices in Germany

If you arrive in Germany by air, then Heidelberg is 1 hour train ride away from Frankfurt and the train ticket costs EUR 25 – super expensive. Yes, German trains are. You can also look for bus tickets from DeinBus and Flixbus. A one way bus ticket is usually 10 Euros from the nearby Frankfurt or Stuttgart.

Best Things to do in Heidelberg, Germany

1) Philosophenweg (the Philosopher’s Walk) + Heiligenberg

We just happened to walk along the Philosophenweg just by chance because we found a nice path along the river Neckar and decided to take it. It happened to be the most memorable thing that we did in Heidelberg. We were able to take our baby on her stroller for almost the entire part but not all. Which was ok, because we were 4 adults so we could just lift her up and her pram together.

Philosophenweg – Philosopher’s walk in Heidelberg via Unsplash

A little info for you – the Philosopher’s Walk is named as such because it was a walk taken initially by the Heidelberg University’s professors and philosophers. Thanks to them for popularizing this walking path for not just the students but also the visitors, dogs and solo travelers.

View from the Philosophenweg, Heidelberg via Unsplash

The Philosopher’s walking path has some of the most amazing views of the Castle and the old town. It overlooks the winding river beneath so you will have a lot of photo opportunities on this path. Most of the two-kilometre walk is not physically challenging, although there is a steep part towards the end. Take some water and your camera for a great hour outside the hustle and bustle of the town.

 

2) Admire Schloss Heidelberg – Heidelberg Palace

The Massive Heidelberg Castle over the city – via Pixabay

You can’t visit Heidelberg and not admire the Schloss Heidelberg with its mix of Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles. Schloss is a German word that means castle. Actually Heidelberg Castle is many times referred to as the Heidelberg Palace too. Even if you don’t want to visit it from the inside, you will definitely look at it with awe because it is massive. 

Inside Heidelberger-Schloss via Pixabay

Entering Heidelberg Castle is not free. In case you’re visiting the city and are going to do some of the other activities then I highly recommend you get the HeidelbergCard. It includes the public transport, Heidelberg castle entry, cable rail to and back from the castle and a discount on many other attractions.

Click for the HeidelbergCard

This card is valid for 1 – 4 days so make sure you get it if you’re going to visit the castle and ride the cable train to it.

Here’s a little dose of history for you which I found very interesting. Heidelberg Castle was initiated as a royal residence by Prince Elector Ruprecht III who lived from 1398–1410. It was further built in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries by different Princes. However, post that the castle suffered. First, it was destroyed several times during the Thirty Years’ War. Second, it was stuck by the lightning during the restoration attempts. Third, the stones from the castle were taken apart to build new houses. Thankfully it came to an end in 1800 under Count Charles de Graimberg.

Heidelberg Schloss Castle – via Pixabay

Despite its tragic history, today Schloss Heidelberg is the biggest tourist attraction in the town. If you take time to see the castle from inside, you will be charmed by it and love the breathtaking views of the region from the top of its towers. Also on-site in this 14th-century structure is a restaurant and German museum. You’ll be able to spend an entire day here and keep everyone entertained.

The Heidelberg Castle Festival is held every year in the summer months here where one can enjoy concerts, musicals and theatre performances in the courtyard.

3) Ride the Heidelberg Bergbahn Funicular (Cable Rail) to Königstuhl-Mountain

Heidelberg Bergbahn Funicular via Unsplash

The Heidelberger Bergbahn funicular railway runs from the Heidelberg Altstadt to the Königstuhl viewpoint via the castle. “Bergbahn funicular” is actually mountain cable railway, Königstuhl means King’s Chair and Altstadt means old town. So, this train runs from “Kornmakt” in the Old Town to Heidelberg Castle and to the Königstuhl.

If you’re taking the train from the old town to the Königstuhl, then you will have to change the train once. The best part of the journey is the upper section of this cable rail – it is called Königstuhlbahn. It has a 100 year old engine and historical looking wooden cars – so truly a historical ride. The service starts at 9 am and ends late during summer but much earlier during the winter months. You will end up paying around 10-15 euros per person for a return ticket, depending on how many people are together. You can find the updated info and tickets for the train here.

If you’re thinking of riding the cable rail and also entering Heidelberg Castle then we highly recommend you get the HeidelbergCard to save money.

Click for the HeidelbergCard

Heidelberg view from the top – via Unsplash

Königstuhl is 567.8 meters high and is the highest peak in the Lower Odenwald forest. The view from the top at Königstuhl is known for the views of Heidelberg, the Rhine Valley, the Neckar River and Katzenbuckel mountain. Once you’re up there, look out for the two walking paths – Königstuhl Route and the Kohlhof route. They are almost the same length which is between 4.5 to 4.8 KMs and are easy to cover. There is also a 2 KM long nature trail that you can take if you’re here with small children.

4) Walk on Karl Theodor Bridge – the Old Bridge

The Old Bridge in Heidelberg – via Unsplash

Don’t all the famous European cities have famous bridges? Prague has the Charles Bridge, Istanbul has the Bosporus bridge, Paris has the Pont des Arts, Amsterdam has 1200 and Hamburg has 2400 of them. Heidelberg has an awesome one too that goes over the River Neckar. 

Walking on the Old Bridge in Heidelberg

Heidelberg’s bridge Karl Theodor Bridge is usually known as Old Bridge. It is an 18th-century sandstone bridge with interesting arches and located in the northern part of the town. The bridge has Baroque tower helmets and some strange looking structures that make interesting photo subjects. Make sure you spot the Bridge Monkey (Brückenaffe) – it is a funny looking bronze statue of a monkey which is a part of many Instagram photos.

Heidelberg Brückenaffe – the monkey on the bridge – via Pixabay

This bridge is actually a very good starting point if you’re entering the Old Town – Altstadt, because you can see a lot of places from here already. The view from the bridge captures the old town at a glorious angle.

Heidelberg Old Bridge with Baroque tower helmets – via Unsplash

There’s something super romantic about walking on a bridge with your partner and just like most famous bridges all over the world, here too you will see couples. Of course a lot of tourists too who want to click an Instagram-worthy photo.  Many things are closed on Sundays in Germany, so this is an excellent time to explore the bridge.

5) Get Lost in the Altstadt (the Old Town) 

The Streets of Heidelberg Old Town – via Unsplash

Even if you don’t do some of the above mentioned activities, you will surely do this particular one. Heidelberg’s old town is unmissable and you definitely will end up spending most of your time here. After all, it is the city’s historic heart.

Heidelberger Altstadt is long and narrow and has the typical “European-old-town” vibes – cobbled streets, beautifully preserved old buildings, main square, and even a castle. 

I do talk about getting lost in the old town but still, here are the things to do (and see) in Heidelber’s Old Town during your first visit. 

Church of the Holy Spirit

The first thing that you will see in the Old Town is probably the Heidelberg Castle even before you walk on the old bridge. From the old bridge as you walk to the Altstadt, you will see the famous Church of the Holy Spirit.

Montpellierplatz

Montpellierplatz in Heidelberg Old Town

Walk through the Old Town and make sure you also see Montpellierplatz. It is a very peaceful park with a very interesting looking old building. Sit here to relax for a few minutes before you move further.

Hauptstrasse

When you’re in the old town, you will definitely end up walking on the famous Hauptstrasse. It means the main street and is around 1.5 KMs long pedestrian street which is more than just the town’s shopping street. You will definitely see fashion to cosmetics and handmade treasures.

Heidelberg Funny souvenir

The Hauptstrasse has some very interesting stores where you can buy super fun and quirky gifts, like we did. I normally don’t buy travel souvenirs unless they are extra special and I did find something funny here. There is even a booth within the street where you can go to exchange books. Take your used ones and pick up a new title for free.

Enjoy a Roadside Cafe in the Market Square

Heidelberg Main Square, Altstadt Heidelberger – via Unsplash

If you don’t feel like climbing the towers of the castle and would prefer a relaxing few hours, you may like to spend time in the town’s market square. The square is full of life and vibrancy with scores of bars and cafes.

Yes, town squares and market squares are touristy but there’s usually a lot of funny stuff going on to watch. Grab a seat outside, a coffee and watch the world go by in this fabulous location. Once refelled, go and explore the old town.

Heidelberg University Library & Studentenkarzer

I suggest spending some time here with an aim to get lost. We did too and we wandered off inside a part of the Heidelberg University and saw the beautiful Heidelberg University Library building. Another place to see in Heidelberger Altstadt is Studentenkarzer. It was once a university prison cell that’s now covered with graffiti. 

Visit a Brauhaus and Drink Locally Brewed Beer 

We just happened to visit Vetter’s Alt Heidelberger Brauhaus by chance while waiting for a friend and bought extra beer for the road. It ended up being the best tasting beer and we felt stupid for not having bought more. It is in the beginning of the old town and even if you’re not stopping here for a meal, I highly recommend you buy a bottle to try it.

Walking around in Heidelberg’s old town was something that we all enjoyed as a family because there was something for everyone. Moreover, the city’s narrow streets gave me the perfect opportunity to click interesting street view photos and most of them turned out to be amazing.

 

6) Neckarwiese Heidelberg – the Park with a View

Neckarwiese Heidelberg along the Neckar River via Pixabay

Neckarwiese is maybe one of the best places to spend a few hours “on your own terms” while you look at the lovely city. I say in your own terms is because you get to sit, you don’t have to pay a restaurant or a cafe and you’re out in the open. Of course, this is a place to be if it is a sunny day. 

We visited Heidelberg during an especially warm weekend so we did see a lot of sun bathers in Neckarwiese. It is along the Neckar river and on the opposite side of the Old Town, so it is very easy to reach. Due to it’s location, you will have a nice view of Heidelberg castle, the Old Town right behind the river Neckar. 

If you’re traveling with children to Heidelberg, you will be happy to know that this park has a play area of children. There are also toilets and shower areas. Of course, like most of the German areas there is also a skate park here. This park also has a sandy beach volleyball area.

Where to Stay in Heidelberg?

NH Heidelberg

NH Hotel chain is lovely, I have stayed in their Amsterdam one and I highly recommend the Heidelberg one too. It is located just outside the Old Town and hence is super convenient if you don’t have a car. You can read the reviews about this place on TripAdvisor here.

Hotel Garni Am Kornmarkt

If you’re looking for a budget family run place that’s scenic and close to everything, then this is the place for you. The rooms are super spacious and the hotel is located literally right below the Heidelberg Castle. You can check deals for this hotel on Booking.com here or read reviews on TripAdvisor.

Camping in Heidelberg

Camping in Heidelberg

We drove to Heidelberg with our camper van, so of course we found a camp ground since our van has two beds for sleeping. We camped in a place called Camping Heidelberg Fa. Weber and it was right next to the Neckar river. It was actually very peaceful to stay here because it was away from the hustle bustle of the main city. Yet, it wasn’t too far from the city centre too.

There was a REWE Supermarket right next to the campground, which turned out to be super convenient. Also there was a bus stop literally right outside the camp ground. We walked from the camp ground to the old town, it was totally doable because we enjoyed the views. We came back with the bus in the evening.

Heidelberg – Germany’s Riverside Castle Town – Pin it

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