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Hockenheim and Heidelburg

Hockenheim and Heidelberg is the ideal trip for fans of motorsport, rugby and history. These German towns are around 20 minutes apart by car and sit within the Rhine Valley, making them prime destinations for tourists exploring the region.

Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg can be found in the smaller town of Hockenheim. This motor racing course has hosted more than 30 Formula One German Grand Prix races over 46 years. As a result, it's a popular destination for sports enthusiasts visiting the area and its sporting heritage can be seen throughout the town.

Over in Heidelberg, rugby union is the big draw, with RG Heidelberg, SC Neuenheim, Heidelberger RK and TSV Handschuhsheim all calling the town home. Rugby League Deutschland also has teams in the area (Heidelberg Sharks and Rohrbach Hornets), although they are lesser known. It's not just sport that helped this popular spot make its name: its university, castle and old town have been attracting visitors throughout history.

Getting Around

Buses are the main mode of transport for visitors to Hockenheim, while the town’s train station provides a range of local services.

Heidelberg has more travel options with trams and buses being the most popular ways to get around. Individual tickets can be purchased along with day and week passes. The Rhine-Neckar transportation website enables visitors to plan their trips across the city, while a night bus is available between 1am and 4am.

What to see

Hockenheim is split into two regions - the Rheinaue and Niederterrasse - and is believed to date back to Roman times. It's also a large producer of asparagus. Consequently, there's more to see than just motor racing in the town.

Take time to visit the old Catholic church, which still boasts a beautiful late gothic choir tower that is believed to have been built in 1490. The Protestant town church is also beautiful and is set within sculpted gardens. However, it is the water tower that is Hockenheim's main non-sporting landmark. Constructed in Art Nouveau style, it's a beautiful example of German architecture at the start of 20th century.

Of course, the piece-de-resistance is the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg. Originally built in 1932, the motorsport circuit has seen the likes of Kimi Räikkönen and Juan Pablo Montoya set lap records. It's also played host to music legends like Michael Jackson and Tina Turner. There are regular events at the ring so be sure to coincide your visit with a scheduled activity, but for Formula 1 head over in July.

Once you've had your fill of Hockenheim, travel over to Heidelberg to immerse yourself in classic German and Bavarian culture and enjoy the romantic cityscape.

While it's believed there were settlers in the area as far back as 600,000 years ago, the town itself dates back to the fifth century. Most recently, it is famous for the role Heidelberg University played in Humanism, the Reformation and the conflict between Lutheranism and Calvinism. Consequently, the university itself should be your first port of call. This is one of the stops on the Philosopher's Walk - a popular route tread by the university's philosophers as they spoke about their ideas - and helps you get a real sense of the town's academic heritage.

There are many different variations of the walk you can take but to encompass the university buildings start at Bismarckplatz and head towards the Neckar River, Brückenkopfstrasse, Bergstrasse and Philosophenweg.

Another must-see site in Heidelberg is Heidelberg Castle, which dates back to 1398. The ruins of the castle are considered to be some of the most historically significant in the Alps and sit picturesquely in the green hills overlooking the old town. Spend time exploring the castle before wandering down to the old town, where you'll find the medieval bridge gate and the old stone bridge, the Church of the Holy Spirit, Karls' gate and the main street, to name but a few popular spots.

If you're travelling to Heidelberg at the end of November and through January, you'll also get to enjoy the famous Christmas market, which has over 140 unique stalls spread across five locations.

Where to eat and drink

Wander around Hockenheim and you'll stumble on live music venues, as well as restaurants, bars and nightclubs. However, it's over in Heidelberg where you can find the real party. Market Square has bars and restaurants, including the popular Max Bar, which has a Parisian twist.

There is also a vibrant club scene to sample in the town. If you're looking for a club with a young crowd, try Nachtschicht. This is a trendy spot that has live DJs spinning regularly. Fans of dance music will also enjoy Tangente. If jazz is your thing, try Cave 54 located in the cellar vaults of an old student jazz club.

There are, of course, quieter and more sophisticated options. Hemingway's Heidelberg is close to the Neckar River and offers great cocktails, as well as beer and spirits. During the summer months relax in the beer garden.

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