The beautiful city of Heidelberg in southwest Germany is an absolutely classic destination in this part of the world and should not be missed for its famous castle, historic university and beautiful forest location.
But how to get there?
Well most travellers will likely arrive into the nearest biggest city in Germany – Frankfurt – and from there head to Heidelberg, which is exactly why I’ve written this article.
Whether it’s via train, bus or car, I’ve got you covered when it comes to travelling from Frankfurt to Heidelberg, as well as plenty of tips to enjoy these 2 great German cities to the max.
So here goes…
- How to Travel from Frankfurt to Berlin
- 10 Best Heidelberg Airbnbs
- How to Travel from Frankfurt to Strasbourg
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How to Travel from Frankfurt to Heidelberg
The distance from Frankfurt to Heidelberg is just 78km which means it’s quick and easy to travel between these 2 destinations.
You can make this journey via train, bus, car (or, if you’re feeling really brave) bicycle too!
The factors that are likely to determine which option you choose are price, equipment / fitness levels, amount of luggage you have, length of your overall trip and level of luxury or adventure you want.
You may also want to consider your carbon footprint.
Using public transport or a bicycle are of course the most eco-friendly options here.
The car is the least eco-friendly option, but may be best for you if there’s a group or family of you travelling together or you have a lot of luggage.
For the purposes of this article, I’m going to discuss travelling from Frankfurt to Heidelberg, i.e. in the direction of north to south, but please do bear in mind, you can absolutely visit these 2 cities the other way around too.
All this information will still apply in exactly the same way if you are travelling in the other direction, you’ll just have to follow it in reverse!
I’ve chosen to give details from Frankfurt to Heidelberg, rather than visa-versa, because as a major city, it’s likely most people will arrive into Frankfurt first and from there, be looking to travel on.
Train from Frankfurt to Heidelberg
Direct trains run frequently between Frankfurt to Heidelberg. In fact, there are over 60 trains a day making this journey, so plenty to choose from!
The journey generally takes just over an hour, but if you manage to grab a high-speed service, known as an Inter-City Express (ICE), you can do it in under 50 minutes.
As such, travelling by train between these 2 German cities is a quick, efficient and easy way to do it, as you’ll be using Deutsche Bahn’s excellent which offers a great level of comfort with onboard wifi, power sockets, toilet facilities and good seats.
All trains, no matter whether they are high speed or not, are DB trains and leave from Frankfurt’s Hbf station and arrive into Heidelberg’s Hbf.
Hbf stands for Hauptbahnhof, which means main station in German.
Frankfurt Hbf is a central hub on the German rail network and many international connections pass through here on their way to Switzerland or Austria, as well as to other long-distance destinations in Germany such as Berlin.
Heidelberg Hbf is located just outside the historic centre in Weststadt. From here it’s about a 30 minute walk to the main tourist pedestrianised area.
As usual, I just use Google maps’ direction feature to navigate my way to stations using public transport or my own 2 feet.
Buying Tickets for the Train
So now that we’ve covered the basics about travelling from Frankfurt to Heidelberg by train, it’s time to cover how to buy tickets for this service.
As is commonly the case when booking trains in Europe, you can book direct through the national railway site.
However, I very often find these sites hard to decipher and confusing to use.
Which is why I always book European trains using Trainline, who make everything easy to understand in English!
In general, train tickets can be booked up to 6 months in advance and start from as low as €15, but can go up to €40.
Comparing all train services between Frankfurt and Heidelberg is made super easy by Trainline’s easy booking service, which is totally secure and can be used across multiple currencies and languages.
Plus, their simple-to-use app is great for checking if your train is on time, knowing the number of stops before you have to get off the train and for storing your e-tickets all in one place too!
Yes you can forget the hassle of having to collect any tickets at a station, as tickets with Trainline are all electronic.
Reserving online with Trainline allows you to book your tickets in advance too, which is likely to give you the best price.
To secure the cheapest train tickets for Frankfurt to Heidelberg, booking non-refundable options with no seat reservations is likely to offer the best rates.
When you book with Trainline, you can upgrade to ensure you have seat reservations for an extra €4.
You can also buy semi-flexible fares, which allow for some changes or refunds in the form of vouchers.
This level of ticket costs an extra €6.
You can also buy fully flexible tickets, which are significantly more.
As a budget traveller however, I’d always opt for a standard ticket with no seat reservation and no flexibility, especially on a journey as short as that from Frankfurt to Heidelberg
The other thing to remember is that you can absolutely just turn up on the day and buy your train ticket at your departure station then and there.
This won’t give you the best price but, by leaving things to the last minute, it will grant you a high degree of flexibility.
The Train Journey
As with the vast majority of trains in Europe, there’s no need to check-in for your German train ride.
You simply enter the station and then check the boards for the platform your departing train will leave from.
Then you just find the platform, board the train and sit in your reserved or a free seat in the correct carriage class if your ticket is unreserved.
Ensure you then have your tickets (or e-tickets) to hand for when a conductor or inspector passes by.
It’s also good to know that there’s no restrictions on luggage with DB trains.
As long as you can carry your luggage onto the train, there’s usually ample rack space at either of carriages as well as above seats for smaller bags.
Bikes can also be taken onboard, although these generally need to be booked in advance and are likely incur a separate fee, payable at the time of booking.
If you need to arrange luggage storage in either Frankfurt or Heidelberg, then I highly recommend LuggageHero – a great left luggage app I’ve used myself across Europe.
Bus from Frankfurt to Heidelberg
You can also use a bus or coach service to travel Frankfurt to Heidelberg and this can be a great option if you are booking last minute and trains are either full or expensive.
If you are a budget traveller, then you can’t go wrong with Flixbus in my opinion.
Prices start from under €5 and peak around €10.
The journey takes just over 1 hour and is pretty direct and efficient with at least 2 direct services daily.
Flixbus buses leave Frankfurt from both the Central Station (long Stuttgarter Straße) and Hbf (along Mannheimer Street).
Flixbus also runs from Heidelberg direct to Frankfurt airport, which lies on the south side of the city – the same side as Heidelberg.
Flixbus then arrives into Heidelberg along Alte Eppelheimer Straße.
Flixbus has free wifi, free power sockets, as well as free luggage allowances, onboard toilets and their app is great for storing eTickets and checking the location of your bus live.
I’ve used Flixbus as a budget traveller across Europe, including Germany, and can I highly recommend their efficient and safe services.
Book your Frankfurt to Heidelberg FlixBus journey here.
Driving from Frankfurt to Heidelberg
You can also drive or cycle between these 2 destinations too of course.
The short distance means a quick and easy drive taking just over an hour on the Autobahn 5.
Parking is available in both cities, but don’t forget to factor in these costs as well as those of fuel if you are driving.
Personally, I used Parkhaus Hauptwache when I drove to Frankfurt from Heidelberg.
Given the short time I had in the city, this was an excellent choice for a quick spot of sightseeing.
If you’re looking to hire a car in Germany, then check out Thrifty Car Hire who have some of the best deals around and are both safe and reputable.
The pros to renting a car are flexibility and fewer limitations of luggage and plans.
The cons are the expense, organisation and having to drive in a foreign country.
Renting a vehicle is altogether better if there’s a group of you, because you can share the costs and the driving duties.
You may also wish to try out a carpooling service like BlaBlaCar – as always, just exercise caution and common sense when doing this.
Visiting Frankfurt and Heidelberg
Of course, outside of the journey, it’s likely you’ll have some time to explore these 2 great cities too and here’s my top tips for doing just that…
Ideally I’d allow 2 nights for your time in Frankfurt.
The first night should give you the day to arrive and orientate yourself, check in to your accommodation and perhaps visit a museum or enjoy a drink and a meal in the historic centre.
The next day can then act as a full sightseeing day – take a tour or enjoy some time on the river.
When it comes to accommodation in Frankfurt, I recommend you check out my top Airbnb in this city here.
To learn more about how to get to Frankfurt, as well as get around this city and a full list of the top things to do there, check out this post.
When it comes to Heidelberg travel inspiration, the following post I wrote about the city, includes information what you can enjoy doing here, where to eat. stay, walk and how to get around.
When to Visit Frankfurt and Heidelberg
There’s no question in my mind there are 2 great times to visit this part of Germany.
First up, this region has some of the best and oldest festive markets in Germany and heading here to see these great cities lit up like something out a fairy tale, should not be missed.
The other key time to visit these 2 destinations is during the summer, when the hot, warm and long days are perfect for getting outside and enjoying the wonderful nature, walks and historic sights of the cities.
Summer also lends itself to some great beer garden fun and lake swimming – 2 greats parts of German culture!
No matter, which time of year you visit however you’ll have a great time – just beware that in the high season, both Frankfurt and Heidelberg may be a little more crowded and you may need to book things further in advance.
Continuing on Your Journey
Don’t forget that after your time in either Frankfurt or Heidelberg, the fun doesn’t have to stop there.
The wonderful city of Freiburg and the Black Forest area can easily be accessed from Heidelberg and are well worth a few days of exploring!
Otherwise, other German cities such as Stuttgart and Cologne are easy to travel on to as well, or why not head across the border to enjoy the wonderful Alsace region in France with its great vineyards and Medieval villages.
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And there it is, my guide to everything you need to know about travelling from Frankfurt to Heidelberg.
Have you made this journey?
Which method of transport did you use?
Please leave any information about your journey that may help fellow travellers in the comments box below….