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The region draws its strength from a very special blend: its landscape, history, tradition, and way of life.
World-renowned historic sites. Three major cities with a vast industrial and cultural appeal. Together with charming towns and communities as well as varied landscapes awash with nature. Fantastic hiking, famous vineyards, more than a dozen starred restaurants, and numerous wine taverns on both sides of the Rhine and Neckar rivers. A sun-kissed climate. And above all, the fun-loving mentality of its people – a pleasure for tourists who love to visit, but even better for the ones who stay.
Lots going on. With great variety.
Rhine-Neckar’s cultural calendar offers variety 365 days a year: theatres, festivals, concerts, musicals, cabarets, exhibitions, readings, and films – in small and large venues, in unusual places and outdoors – to mention just a few. Among the 110-plus theatre and cabaret stages that are regularly “raising the curtain” is Germany’s most traditional municipal venue, Mannheim’s four-theme National Theatre.
A kaleidoscope of cultural and technological history from ancient to modern times awaits visitors to the more than 230 museums. One of the most famous museum complexes in Europe is the Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen in Mannheim. Over one million exhibits and elaborately staged special exhibitions in the fields of archaeology, world cultures, photography, and art, as well as cultural and regional history, make it a magnet for visitors. The technological and social history of past centuries is presented at the Technoseum Mannheim and the Technik Museum in Sinsheim and Speyer.
Museums and castles
Evidence of an eventful past is found all over the Rhine-Neckar region. The most well-known examples include these UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Speyer Cathedral, the Abbey of Lorsch, and the Obergermanisch-Raetische Limes of the Odenwald. Palaces, castles, and significant sacred buildings from every era characterise the region. These include the electoral residences in Heidelberg, Mannheim, and Schwetzingen, as well as the Hambach Castle near Neustadt an der Weinstraße, also known as the cradle of unity and democracy in Germany since 1832.
230 museums with highly regarded exhibitions bring the past and cultural history to life. The 13 most visited museums and castles announce events, exhibitions, and programmes in a magazine three times a year.
The events calendar of Rhine-Neckar is bursting with cultural genres and varieties: theatre and film, literature and poetry slam, dance and performance, photography and visual arts, classical music and musicals, rock and pop, indie and jazz. Publicly funded organisations and a diverse independent scene complement each other marvellously – from classical to progressive.
This especially applies to the 15 biggest festivals in Rhine-Neckar. They are the highlights in the cultural calendar and are popular as well as highly regarded far beyond the region. Three times a year a magazine shares information on seasonal highlights and insider tips.
Theatres and cinemas
Raise the curtain!
The traditional and modern combine on the many theatre and cabaret stages in Rhine-Neckar. The National Theatre Mannheim has a very long history as Germany’s oldest four-theme municipal venue. Shortly after its opening, it gave the first performance of Friedrich Schiller’s “Die Räuber” in 1782, making both the theatre and the playwright famous. The Theater im Pfalzbau in Ludwigshafen and the Heidelberg Theatre are also attracting nationwide interest.
Cinema enthusiasts can choose between more than 30 different cinemas in the region. These range from modern multiplex chains to IMAX theatres to romantic art house cinemas.
Festivals and celebrations
Time to celebrate!
The Rhine-Neckar region enjoys a particularly mild climate all year round with lots of sunny days in which wine, almonds, figs, and even citrus fruit thrive – perhaps one of the reasons why people enjoy celebrating so much here. Irrespective of whether it is spring, summer, autumn, or winter, barely a week goes by without a festival, fair, or celebration.
There are occasions galore. Some provided by nature, such as the Grape Harvest Festival in Neustadt an der Weinstraße or the Almond Blossom Festival. Nowhere else in Germany do people come outdoors to celebrate as early as on the German Wine Route. Other occasions to celebrate, such as the “fifth season” or town jubilees, have historical origins. While yet others have long impressed with their size and reach, for example the Wurstmarkt in Bad Dürkheim: every year for six centuries already, people have been celebrating the world’s largest wine festival here!
Recreation and enjoyment of nature
A paradise of a location.
The vibrant urbanism of the three cities Heidelberg, Ludwigshafen, and Mannheim distinguish Rhine-Neckar just as much as the expanse of the Palatinate Forest and the Odenwald. Together with the vast forests of the Rhine valley, they create a restful and idyllic place for hiking, trekking, mountain biking, geocaching, climbing, swimming, or cross-country skiing – just a wealth of options. And because fresh air whets the appetite, more than 100 serviced huts are open almost all year round, inviting you to take a break.
Pure nature. Pure recreation.
Deep forests, steep gorges, expansive valleys, sunny heathlands and wine landscapes: the three nature reserves in Rhine-Neckar offer a fantastic range of active recreational opportunities right on the doorstep. Hikers and nature watchers enjoy excellent conditions, as do mountain bikers, climbers, and geocachers. The Palatinate Forest and Odenwald uplands also offer a great setting for trekking and cross-country skiing. Nature and adventure trails, lookout points with breathtaking views, themed tours, and many more worthwhile sights provide plenty of variety in the outdoors.
The nature reserve in the Palatinate Forest is the most extensive contiguous woodland in Germany and also the largest forested area in Rhine-Neckar. The Odenwald in the eastern part of the region is divided into two nature reserves – Neckartal-Odenwald and the UNESCO Geopark Bergstraße-Odenwald. Impressive pre-human natural history and settlement history from the Roman period can be examined here.
Being outdoors is the best.
Just dive in. Blast off. Get away. No problem whatsoever in the Rhine-Neckar region. Indoor and outdoor activities on land, on water, and in the air cater for leisure activities to suit every taste. The range of activities in and on water is especially impressive.
Water rats can swim their lengths in the numerous bathing lakes and swimming pools. Fun in the water and relaxation for the whole family can be found in leisure pools and saunas as well as saltwater and thermal baths. The Rhine and Neckar rivers and more than 40 lakes make for great sailing, motorboating, canoeing, rowing, surfing, diving, waterskiing, and much more.
Zoos and wild animals
Expeditions into the animal kingdom.
Red deer in the Odenwald, lynxes in the Palatinate Forest, otters in the Rhine valley, countless bird species: those who love wild animals and are patient enough to spot and observe them will be spoilt in Rhine-Neckar.
If you need something easier and a bit more exotic, several zoos, wildlife parks, and grounds offer great opportunities: get face to face with lions, side by side with elephants, take a break under the protective shelter of sequoia trees or the largest cedar in Germany – all this and much more is available.
Adventures right on the doorstep.
Those looking for adventure on their doorstep have abundant opportunities on forays through the many nature reserves and zoos. The large amusement parks promise adventure and action for the whole family: the Holiday Park in Haßloch and the Kurpfalzpark in Wachenheim.
For a little more quiet, visit the rambling parks such as the Luisenpark in Mannheim or the Palace Gardens in Schwetzingen. Some have been sculpted by nature, such as the cave worlds dating back millions of years in the Odenwald near Eberstadt, and some are man-made, such as the underwater worlds in Speyer’s Sea Life aquarium.
Indulgence of the highest level.
What makes Rhine-Neckar a unique gourmet region? It is home to four of Germany’s 13 wine-growing regions. This is where the traditions and the cuisines of Baden, Hesse, and the Palatinate are coming together to create a culinary experience unlike any other.
It is proof that a cuisine with strong regional roots can rival high-end international gastronomy, which is confirmed year after year by the leading Michelin Guide and Gault Millau critics. First-class restaurants can be found throughout the entire region.
On both sides of the Rhine and Neckar rivers, premium wines, beer from regional breweries, vinegars, and fruit brandies entice those who enjoy a drop of the finer things in life. Regional specialities are also extremely popular and thrive in the mild and sunny climate, which makes the harvest particularly early and delicious: asparagus, almonds, chestnuts, and figs are hardly ever off the menu in Rhine-Neckar.
Only the best for true gourmets!
Rhine-Neckar is a paradise for connoisseurs. Journeys of culinary discovery take you to rustic wine taverns, traditional inns, or to urban gourmet temples. It doesn’t matter where you go, you’ll always find culinary delights!
Experimental chefs who love to create new experiences meet with grateful guests. Among them are the critics of the leading restaurant guides, the Michelin Guide and Gault Millau. Apparently they can’t help swooning over the food more and more, year after year. They continue to award the highest marks, which is an accolade for the entire region.
Gastronomy close to home.
You don’t need to dig deep into your pockets in Rhine-Neckar to enjoy good food and fine wine. The culinary offerings range from the hearty fare typical of Baden, Hesse, and the Palatinate in wine taverns and seasonal wine cellars to the refined regional cuisine in classy inns and delicious menus in starred gourmet temples. That gastronomic boundaries are fluid has been known ever since former Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl served stuffed pig’s stomach from the Palatinate at an official reception.
The special local climate allows citrus fruits and almonds to thrive alongside asparagus, chestnuts, and figs. Many farmers, together with their buyers in gastronomy and retail, are dedicated to the regional production and processing of meat, fruits, and vegetables that respects the animals and the environment.
The ideal accompaniment to these culinary delights is a wine from one of four growing regions on both sides of the Rhine and Neckar rivers or a fruit juice from the sun-kissed fruit-growing areas.
VDP wine estates
Wine, wine, wine.
It’s the climate with more than 1,800 hours of sun per year. It’s the special soil in four growing regions. It’s the viticulturists’ keen eye and good nose, the tradition, international education, ambition, latest technology, and old craftsmanship that turn the grapes in Rhine-Neckar into internationally leading wines and bubblies.
Nowhere else in Germany do you find four growing areas in one region: Badische Bergstraße, Hessian Bergstraße, Rhine-Hesse, and Palatinate. Nowhere else in Germany do more vines grow. Landau and Neustadt an der Weinstraße, each with about 2,000 hectares of vines being cultivated, are Germany’s largest wine-growing communities.
Looking for more superlatives? The oldest productive vineyard in the world, dating back to 1650, is found in Rhodt unter Rietburg. The Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer exhibits the oldest wine in the world that is still liquid, dating back to the third century. In Bad Dürkheim, more than 600,000 people celebrate the world’s largest wine festival every year. The main feature of the festival grounds is the world’s largest wine barrel, which houses a restaurant in place of 1.7 million litres of wine. Interesting to note is that until it was built, the wine barrel in the Heidelberg Castle had been the largest in the world.
Top-class and popular sports
Share in the excitement and take part.
Sport represents determination and performance, team spirit and inspiration, dedication and health. And all this represents the way of life in the Rhine-Neckar region. About 850,000 amateurs and professionals in more than 2,700 clubs play many hundreds of different sports. Those in need of action or sporting camaraderie are guaranteed to find it here.
Top-class sport is firmly established in the region: international motorsport on the Hockenheimring (Formula 1, DTM, motorcycles), the Adler Mannheim ice hockey team, handball with the Rhein-Neckar Löwen and TSG Ludwigshafen-Friesenheim, Bundesliga football with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, top-class golf at the Golf Club St. Leon Rot, first-division wrestling with VfK 07 Schifferstadt, the international horse show at the Maimarkt in Mannheim, and much more guarantee exciting entertainment for all sports fans.
Football, handball, ice hockey, motorsport, tennis, golf, wrestling: these are just some of the different sports that Rhine-Neckar offers in the way of first-class entertainment. Tens of thousands of fans flock to watch TSG 1899 Hoffenheim at the Rhein-Neckar Arena in Sinsheim, or the Rhein-Neckar Löwen and Adler Mannheim at the SAP Arena in Mannheim.
Numerous athletes from the region have achieved international fame – among them Steffi Graf from Brühl, Boris Becker from Leimen, Sebastian Vettel from Heppenheim, André Schürrle from Ludwigshafen, and Sepp Herberger from Mannheim.
Just join in!
Recreational athletes have many options in Rhine-Neckar. Special highlights are major running events such as the SAP Arena Marathon, the Drei-Länder-Laufcup (Baden/Hesse/Palatinate), the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region marathon cup, and the BASF Triathlon Cup Rhine-Neckar.
All kinds of outdoor sports are available in the region: from hiking to mountain biking and cross-country skiing in the Odenwald and the Palatinate Forest, from climbing in the Southern Palatinate to rowing on the Neckar, surfing on the Silbersee in Bobenheim-Roxheim to paragliding from the Königstuhl peak in Heidelberg.