How Heidelberg charms the meeting industry
Heidelberg: not only a destination for tourists
Who doesn’t love Heidelberg: Internationally renowned for its idyllic setting on the river Neckar and the mighty castle towering above town, Heidelberg each year attracts millions of visitors from around the world. Meeting planners looking for a uniquely charming location with plenty of character will love it, too.
Cosmopolitan & cosy
With a population of 150,000, Heidelberg has just the right size to be cosmopolitan and cosy in equal measures. Germany’s oldest university, founded in 1386, continues to attract students and a science community from Germany and abroad, giving the city an international and vibrant flair. As a city of science and research, Heidelberg is a hub for the medical, health, chemical, pharma, environment and technology sectors and provides many options for conference organisers to tap into local know-how. It is also a very green city that is committed to sustainable living as exemplified in the world’s largest passive house (ultral-low energy buildings) development that is currently taking shape in the Bahnstadt neighbourhood. In 2015, Heidelberg also received the Global Green City Award that is presented by the Global Forum on Human Settlements in cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme.
Did you know?
In the early 18th century, Elector Karl Philipp employed the Italian court dwarf Perkeo for his entertaiment. Legend has it that Perkeo could hold his drink remarkably well – and was able to empty the famous over 200,000 litre barrel in the castle’s wine cellar in one go. Funnily enough, he is said not to have died from excessive wine consumption but a glass of water that he drank by mistake.
Transport & Location
Transport and Location
Heidelberg is nestled between the Neckar river and the foothills of the Odenwald forest in the heart of the so-called “Rhine-Neckar-Triangle“. Major cities in this economically thriving region between Frankfurt in the north and Stuttgart in the south are Heidelberg, Mannheim and Ludwigshafen. Frankfurt airport is less than an hour away by car or train and high-speed ICE trains call at the city’s station, providing connections all across Germany. The city itself is walkable and compact, with the old town at its centre and bridges crossing the Neckar to neighbourhoods on the right bank of the river. There’s also a comprehensive public transport system of buses and trams.
Heidelberg offers a wide array of venues, including conference hotels, a convention centre as well as a number of historical and formerly industrial locations that have been re-purposed and are now attractive locations for meetings and events. Kongresshalle Heidelberg, or: Heidelberg Convention Center, is the flagship venue right in the old town on the river Neckar, with 13 meeting rooms and a capacity for up to 1,250. It benefits from a prime location in walking distance to many hotels and you could even whisk away your guests on a Neckar trip from here, with boats stopping right at the venue’s doorsteps.
Heidelberg’s world-famous castle, which has only been partly renovated after its destruction in the late 17th century, is not only one of the country’s most loved historical structures but also a stunning event venue that throws in a range of architectural styles, from Gothic to Renaissance, for guests to marvel at. Event planners can organise receptions on the castle’s terrace with views on Heidelberg or book themed tours and dinners. Different function rooms offer space for 20 to 650 people and the castle courtyard has a capacity for 2,000.
For some industrial chic, try Halle02, a former goods station next to the main train station, with a large outdoor space. Also just opposite the train station stands the futuristic Print Media Academy. The 50 metre high glass structure is one of Heidelberg’s most distinctive features and a major event and conference venue in the region. The Frauenbad, a former indoor ladies swimming-pool, is a popular cultural centre where congresses, conferences and functions can be held in art nouveau surroundings. A bit outside town, the Gutshof is a beautiful, spacious estate with a history going back to Roman times. The stunning location with two large halls and a park is perfect for any kind of corporate event that requires an extra portion of style thrown in.
Among the conference hotels, the venerable Europäischer Hof in the centre is probably Heidelberg’s most famous one. The 5-start property has been privately run since 1865 and offers ten function rooms for up to 160 guests.
Things to see & do
Things to see & do
From the mighty castle ruins, perched 70 metres above Heidelberg on Mount Königsstuhl, to the famous Old Bridge across the Neckar and the surrounding historical buildings –picture-perfect scenery and attractions worth exploring abound. The fortress above towns offers a fantastic stroll in the past and, with seven metres width and over eight metres in length, features the world’s biggest wine barrel, to be seen in the royal wine cellar. Hop on the Bergbahn, Heidelberg’s funicular railway which stops at the castle and take the path back into the old town which is full of historic buildings, squares and churches.
The central market square features the famous Church of the Holy Spirit and is surrounded by grand houses, cafés and shops. Nearby Kornmarkt square is as pretty as they come and a local favourite. Heidelberg’s centre benefits from Europe’s longest pedestrianised zone and many restaurants and historical venues such as the Güldenes Schaf with a secluded, idyllic beer garden. Among the many cafés, don’t miss Heidelberg’s oldest: Café Knösel is famous for the local chocolate creation “Studentenkuss“ (student’s kiss) which was invented here in 1863 – and should be tried!