A German Escapade
Heppenheim is notable for its viniculture! But did you know it is the birthplace of 4-time Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel?
It is a sleepy, little, quaint town in the hills of south Hesse on the border of Baden-Württemberg amid the vineyards and forests in southern Germany. The old town’s cobblestone lanes flanked by flower-embellished timber-framed houses not only give you fairy tale vibes but also reflect its rich, gorgeous medieval history.
The town is the kernel for wine and theatre festivals. Rows of manicured vineyards stretching across the hillside terraces are a delightful sight. Riesling is the chief variety of wine harvested in this region. Due to the favorable soil conditions and its ideal climate, the dry Riesling is of high quality.
The town is readily accessible via roads and by hourly direct regional trains. It is just about 60 kilometers south of Frankfurt, over 1 hour east of Kaiserslautern, 2 hours north of Stuttgart, and 1 hour south of Wiesbaden.
Altstadt, the old town, meanders up on a hill to a picturesque town square (which definitely is a postcard material). The square further leads to an impressive structure, Saint Peter’s Church, aka the “Cathedral of the Bergstrasse.” Inspired by the famous Carolingian Cathedral in Aachen, Germany, the cathedral features an architectural mix of Medieval and Neo-Gothic elements. Though its origin dates back to 755, it was constructed between 1900 and 1904. The church also has a magnificent pipe organ, saved from fires and destruction of an earlier church, dating back to 1700. In addition, the stained-glass windows on the façade often radiate with sunlight. Due to its aloft location — on the hill lying on the route halfway between Heidelberg and Darmstadt — this Neo-Gothic brick edifice is visible from kilometers away.
Another glaring tourist attraction of the town is the Marktplatz (Marketplace). The Marktplatz is centered around the Marienbrunnen (market fountain), surrounded by historical half-timbered buildings housing local cafes, restaurants, bars, and more. The Marktplatz is an idyllic setting to sit and enjoy a lovely evening with a drink or a meal. The old town is small and can be easily explored on foot.
On the other side is the Schlossberg Hill with Starkenburg Castle on top. Built in 1065 to protect the “Lorsch Monastery,” the castle renders an enchanting panoramic view over Rhine Plain up to the Palatinate; on a clear day, the view extends up to the Alsace (France). The hike to the castle starts off the street Starkenburgweg and zigzags through residential roads until it opens up to the small vineyard paths. All paths are made of either concrete, rubble, or cobblestones. Several buildings of Heppenheim were rebuilt after the fire of 1693.
Apart from the bestowed attractions, Heppenheim’s legacy goes far beyond its captivating landscape. (Lately) This compact town made its place on every traveler’s wanderlust list for two reasons:
- It makes an excellent base for travelers who want to explore Europe.
- Plenty of adventure activities around the town.
From hiking and cycling to mountain biking trails, there are plenty of outdoor activities in and around Heppenheim.
Read on to know more about the tracks and routes.
There are numerous hiking and walking trails around Heppenheim. Here I have picked three paths that comprise some of the major sightseeing areas.
Heppenheim Altstadt — Starkenburg Castle
The Heppenheim Altstadt — Starkenburg Castle Loop from Heppenheim is one of the easily-accessible routes for hikes and great for people with any fitness level. The loop runs for 2.48 miles and takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete. The start of the tour is at the Winzerhof parking lot. The hiking highlights include Altstadt (Old Town), Starkenburg, Sternwarte in Heppenheim (Observatory), Hermann Kohl Hütte (Hermann Kohl Hut), view of St. Peter Cathedral of the Bergstrasse, Wormser Tor, and Muse Chocolat in Heppenheim.
Heppenheim Altstadt — Blick ins Rheintal
The Heppenheim Altstadt — Blick ins Rheintal Loop Heppenheim is an intermediate hiking trail stretching for about 10.8 miles. The path commences from Heppenheim Train Station, and it takes about 5 hours to finish. The hiking highlights include Rathaus (Town Hall), Altstadt (Old Town), Kirche Saint Peter (St. Peter church), and Blick ins Rheintal (View of the Rhine Valley).
Starkenburg — Heppenheim Altstadt
The Starkenburg — Heppenheim Altstadt Loop from Heppenheim is one of the expert-level hiking routes that need extreme physical fitness. The loop runs for 11.4 miles and takes about 05 hours and 20 minutes to complete. The starting point of the trail is the Heppenheim Train Station. The waypoints include Weinaroma (Wine Aroma), Oberhambacher Tal (Oberhambacher valley), Starkenburg, Kirche Saint Peter (St. Peter church), Altstadt (Old Town) and Rathaus (Town Hall).
Mountain biking around Heppenheim is an excellent experience to embrace the landscape around this charming town. But it’s often tough to know where to start or how to go about the region. So, here is a compilation of MTB trails that sure would excite your visit to Heppenheim.
Marketplace — Old Town Heppenheim
The Marketplace — Old Town Heppenheim Loop from Kolpingstraße is the easiest mountain bike ride track that is great for people with any fitness level. The trail runs for 6.14 miles (850 feet uphill and downhill rides) and takes about 55 minutes to complete. The loop starts at the Haus Johannes Bus Station. The waypoints include Marketplace, Old Town, Bombachbrucke, Schlucht (Canyons), and Arnoldseiche & Unterstand (Arnold oak & shelter).
Zum Steigkopf — Waldner Tower
The Zum Steigkopf — Waldner Tower Loop from Heppenheim is an intermediate mountain bike ride track. The loop runs around 23.7 miles with 2,400 feet of uphill and downhill rides. It takes about 03 hours and requires a good fitness level and advanced riding skills. The loop commences at Heppenheim Train Station, and the Mountain Biking Highlights include Marketplace, Jägerrast, Zum Steigkopf, Juhöhe, Steinerner Gaul, Waldner Tower, and Forester Braun hut.
Felsenmeer — Furstenlager Auerbach
The Felsenmeer — Furstenlager Auerbach Loop is an expert-level mountain biking track. It requires the utmost fitness level and riding skills. It takes about 03 hours and 30 minutes to complete this 22.9-mile loop that comprises 2,800 feet of uphill and downhill rides. The route begins at Heppenheim Train Station, and goes around, Marketplace, Old Town, Jägerrast, Felsenmeer, Felsberg Ohlyturm, Felsberg, Bensheim High City Peace Memorial, and
Princely camp Auerbach.
With unspoiled forests and vineyards, diverse landscapes to explore, and outdoor adventure activities, the town of Heppenheim creates memories that will last forever — whether you want to live like a local for a couple of weeks or relish a day out.
If you are hungry for more adventurous and compelling hiking and biking trails, do check out Komoot.com. They present some of the most unique and exciting route maps and suggestions.