Anyone who wants to visit one of the world's oldest university cities can easily get to Heidelberg by train. Trains run to Heidelberg Hbf from plenty of major cities, including Dusseldorf, Cologne, and Frankfurt, while indirect services are available from Munich and Paris. Wherever visitors fly into, trains to Heidelberg are an excellent option for onward travel.
All trains bound for Heidelberg will arrive at Heidelberg Hauptbahnhof (usually shortened to Hbf). The station is situated south of the River Neckar, around 10 minutes' walk west of the main commercial part of town. If travelers want to head to the university or the zoo, buses take 15-20 minutes and run constantly from outside the station doors. Trams also run into the Altstadt, so visitors shouldn't struggle to reach their destinations.
The vast majority of direct train services into Heidelberg Hbf are operated by Deutsche Bahn (DB), which runs services all across Germany. If travelers are arriving from French cities, SNCF journeys may also be required.
Taking the train to Heidelberg is often the most relaxing and time-efficient way to travel. DB offers quick connections from the airports at Frankfurt and Dusseldorf, so visitors from North America can transfer within an hour or two of touching down. The journey along the Rhine and Neckar valleys is also absolutely beautiful, with some stunning views along the way. Train travel in general beats coaches in terms of space, and as the nearest airports are at least an hour away, there's no real advantage in taking regional flights.
Heidelberg has an excellent local transport network and it's worth picking up a tram and bus map upon arrival. That way, visitors can plan their sightseeing in depth, and make the best use of their time. When visiting the castle, zoo, university, and Church of the Holy Spirit, it helps to have a HeidelbergCARD as well. This ensures free transport on trams and buses, as well as cut-price admission to major attractions. Don't be afraid to venture off the beaten track. The Heidelberger Bergbahn offers enjoyable funicular rides, the Student Prison is a unique historical attraction at the university, and the Kulturbrauerei is the ideal place for a locally brewed beer by the Neckar.