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Dine Like a Local 8 Foods to Try in Heidelberg

Chocolates, wine and inimitable heritage – say hello to Heidelberg, the German capital of romance.

With its medieval architecture, fairytale castle ruins and glut of confectioners, Heidelberg is a chocolate-box city in more ways than one. Nestled beside the Neckar River in the heart of Baden-Württemberg, this dreamy city has plenty to offer the curious traveler – be it historic architecture, beautiful natural surroundings or the opportunity to dine on some of Germany’s finest cuisine.

To inspire your visit to Heidelberg as part of a Rhine river cruise with Scenic, we’re exploring some of the delicious dishes you can sample during your time in the city, and shining a light on some of its must-see sights.

1. Spargel

Spargel is the German word for white asparagus – a vegetable beloved in this area of Baden-Württemberg, southwest Germany. Here, the spargel season takes place between late April to the end of June, a time when Heidelberg’s restaurant menus are packed with asparagus dishes – from spargel soup to asparagus with hollandaise. So popular is asparagus to the people of Heidelberg and the wider region that the growing season is considered a harvest festival period, which goes by the name of Spargelzeit. If you’ve never sampled asparagus, we’d urge you to give it a try during your visit.

2. Saugmagen

Of all Germany’s regional dishes, saumagen has undergone the biggest transformation since it was conceived in the 18th century. Originating as a peasant dish and comprising mainly of leftovers, it’s now made using only the finest ingredients, and was popularized in the 80s and 90s by the then-chancellor, Helmut Kohl. ‘Saumagen’ translates as ‘stomach’, which is derived from the use of a pig’s stomach lining. This forms the case for the saumagen filling, which traditionally combines minced veal with potatoes, vegetables and herbs. Not for everyone, saumagen promises a rustic plate that’s ideal with a glass of local red wine.

3. Dampfnudel

If you’re traveling with vegetarians or are averse to such meaty cuisine, look no further than dampfnudel – a form of German pasta that’s very popular in the Palatinate region. We use the term ‘pasta’ loosely here, for dampfnudel are traditionally made using a blend of milk, yeast, salt, sugar and butter, and aren’t anything like the pasta dishes you’d find in Italy. That said, dampfnudel are fairly similar to gnocchi, and can be enjoyed with both sweet and savory ingredient variations. In Heidelberg, they’re popularly served with vanilla sauce and plum jam as an indulgent dessert or sweet treat at a local café.

4. Quetschekuchen

If you spot ‘quetschekuchen’ chalked up on a café’s specials board during your visit to Heidelberg, don’t be put off through fear of pronouncing it, because it’s one of the city’s foremost sweet treats. This is a regional take on the classic German dessert of plum tart, which is popular from Bonn to Berlin. In Heidelberg, a shallow sheet cake replaces the traditional sweetened shortcrust, and added to this comes fresh plums, sugar, cinnamon and, often, apricot jam. It’s as sweet, sticky and indulgent as it sounds, and is traditionally served alongside potato soup – though don’t ask us why!

Must-See Sights in Heidelberg

From its exquisite Renaissance castle to its postcard-worthy old town, Heidelberg is among the most picturesque cities in Germany. Tear yourself away from its tempting food for long enough, and you’ll discover history and culture in abundance. Here are a few must-see sights to look out for on your visit.

5. Studentenkuss

As you travel the waters of the Rhine, Main and Moselle rivers, you’ll come to realize that Germany has a word for everything – including the charming sweet treat of Studentenkuss. Translating as ‘student’s kiss’, this renowned local delicacy is partly the reason why Heidelberg enjoys such a reputation for its sweets and desserts. Invented at the famous Café Knösel, a mainstay eatery of Heidelberg’s Old Town, by master chocolatier Fridolin Knösel, Studentenkuss is a small, chocolate gift inspired by Heidelberg’s student population and their romantic legacy. Since 1863, this has been the go-to treat for young lovers hoping to woo their date, and it’s become one of the must-buy edible souvenirs for those visiting the city.

6. Herzdrigger

Herzdrigger is a local dish you’ll want to try while you’re in Heidelberg, because it can be tricky to recreate back home. One of several potato-based dishes you’ll find in Baden-Württemberg, herzdrigger comprises of grated and boiled potato, mashed with eggs, flour and salt, formed into balls and stuffed with liver sausage. From here, they’re either boiled or fried, and traditionally served in a creamy sauce with bacon lardons, as well as a side of seasonal vegetables. Herzdrigger is characterized by the quality of the sausages used as a filling, which is why it can be difficult to source the right ingredients to make the dish in your kitchen.

7. Leberknödel

Leberknödel is a classic meat dish in Heidelberg, beloved by locals for centuries for its blend of regional ingredients and distinct variations. Essentially, this is a meat dumpling, traditionally made from a blend of beef liver, veal and minced meat, as well as eggs that bind everything together. Depending on how you order it – it’s available as a soup or as a standalone dish served with sauerkraut – leberknödel is cooked in one of two ways: sliced and pan-fried or steamed in a broth. As with saumagen, such an indulgent plate deserves a robust red to wash it down.

Heidelberg Wines

Heidelberg Wines
Thanks to its position on the Neckar River, close to the heart of Rhineland wine country, Heidelberg is a mecca for wine aficionados. The city is dotted with traditional wine taverns serving up some of the region’s finest vintages, from Heidelberger Herrenberg to Chardonnay Kabinett. White wines are the order of the day in this region of southern Germany, with historic varieties like Müller-Thurgau and Riesling creating crisp, fresh wines. That said, reds are on the rise, while a growing number of sparkling rosé varietals bring a refreshing change of pace on a warm, sunny afternoon.

Featured Tours

Charmed by the sights and flavors of Heidelberg? Join us on a luxury Rhine river cruise and take advantage of a Scenic Freechoice experience in this irresistible German city. For more information and to find out more, call our team today at 855 430 4464.