Even though Heidelberg is a tourist magnet for many reasons, the Heidelberger Bergbahnen (Heidelberg Funiculars) are part of it. They offer you the opportunity to have some amazing views of the city as well as visiting Heidelberg Castle and its attractions like the German Pharmacy Museum. I visited the funiculars in 2022 and share my thoughts with you.
Heidelberg Funiculars – Location & Admission
In fact, there are two Heidelberg Funiculars. Even officially, they are simply called Obere Bahn and Untere Bahn, “Upper Rail and Lower Rail”. The lower rail starts at Kornmarkt, which is right in the Historic City Center of Heidelberg. It leads you up to Molkenkur station, where you transfer from one funicular to the other. In contrast to the upper rail, the lower one has an additional stop at Schloss (“Castle”), where you can leave the car at one part of your rides to visit Heidelberg Castle. The upper rail goes non-stop from Molkenkur to Königstuhl, the local mountain of Heidelberg.
The schedule of the Heidelberg Funiculars depends on the season. In summer, the lower rail typically starts around 9:00 and operates until 20:00. The upper rail starts slightly later (with the first lower rail arriving at Molkenkur) and finishes operation at some 19:55. The lower rail stations are suitable for wheelchair riders, but the transfer and the upper rail does not work out in an accessible manner. For each section, the adult return ticket is 9 EUR. The lower rail ticket includes admission to Heidelberg Castle. You can also buy a Panoramaticket for both rides at the rate of 14 EUR, incl. castle admission.
Heidelberg Lower Funicular – The Ride
The Lower Funicular (which is sometimes referred to as Molkenkurbahn) works with the more modern-looking cars. The total distance of 471 meters is significantly shorter than the upper rail. However, the average steepness is 37.6%, so that the total height difference between Kornmarkt and Molkenkur is 171 meters. The modern cars have glass roofs, which is quite nice to have a look down to the city of Heidelberg. The total capacity of the funicular would be 130 people per carriage – this is, however, never used in normal operation. The total ride, excluding the stop at Heidelberg Castle station is roughly five minutes. A special feature of this part of the visit at the Heidelberger Bergbahnen is also that the funicular passes a tunnel with a total length of 210 meters.
Heidelberg Upper Funicular – The Ride
Despite the upper rail (also Königstuhlbahn) is looking more traditional, the cars and technical equipment of both sections have been upgraded and modernized in the early 2000’s. This part of your trip is significantly slower (2 m/s instead of 5m/s) and the capacity of the cars is lower at a maximum of 50 people per car. The total track is 1,020 meter with a height difference of 260.5 meters. Thus, the average steepness is 29.7%. There are also some other quite interesting differences between the two sections: the upper rail works on DC and has mechanical breaks, while the lower one is AC and is slowed down with hydraulical brakes. The Königstuhlbahn is more picturesque, as you pass a forest and then have a lovely view of the German city.
Apart from the uphill building, there are some attractions on the Königstuhl mountain. To me, the key attraction was the amazing view of Heidelberg and surroundings.
Heidelberg Funiculars – Services
The upper station at the Königstuhl gives you the opportunity (through windows) to see the engines and the transmission of the funicular. The building also hosts a small exhibition about the transport up the Heidelberg mountains.
At Kornmarkt, there are a few exhibits as well as some historic facts about the funiculars. The ticket counter also sells some basic souvenirs about the public transport.
Heidelberg Funiculars – My View
There are more breathtaking mountain rail and funicular rides out there, no doubt. But Heidelberg is a nice one. The view down to the city and the valley is amazing, the two very different rides are cool as well. Finally, you also get the admission to Heidelberg Castle. If weather is permitting, I would definitely put these two funiculars on my bucket list for Heidelberg.
Rides on Rail / Germany
Flyctory.com Sports Reports
Here are the all Flyctory.com sports coverages: