TOP THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN THE GERMAN HOT SPOT
If you love fairy tale-like destinations and enchanting villages you’ll adore the quaint, cultural and historic city of Baden-Baden. The German town, located near the border of France and Switzerland, is tucked into the foothills of the Black Forest in southwestern Germany, along the east bank of the Rhine River. The area is known for its dense, evergreen woodlands and picturesque villages – often associated with the Brothers Grimm fairy tales.
Baden-Baden is best known for being a spa town, 800,000 litres of 68-degree Celsius hot, curative water rises daily from 12 thermal springs. This unique, mineral-rich water surges from the springs, as it has for thousands of years. The name comes from the German noun Baden meaning “bathing.” It got its formal name Baden-Baden in 1931 and the double name developed to distinguish it from other towns like Baden near Vienna and Baden near Zurich. The area was established over 2,000 years ago as a place for people to relax and reconnect with themselves, with extraordinary hot springs, spas, stunning nature, high-end restaurants and hotels of unparalleled quality.
Much more than a resort town, it’s a cultural capital with annual concerts, festivals, a world-class opera house (Europe’s second largest), art museums (such as Faberge Museum) Michelin-starred fine dining (such as Le Jardin de France) and abundant wineries. The city’s rich history blends seamlessly with a highly contemporary lifestyle, maintaining its 19th century feel with highlights of a modern epicentre for culture and cuisine. The lure of the casino makes it a perfect place to attract many tourists who enjoy glamour and gambling. It offers so much for tourists who are sports enthusiasts. Enjoy golf, tennis, hiking, mountain climbing, skiing, hot air ballooning and riding. An 18-hole golf course is in Fremersbery and horse racing takes place every year in May, August and October at nearby Iffezheim.
WHAT TO DO IN BADEN-BADEN?
1. Sit Back & Relax: Enjoy A Spa Day
If Disney decided to create a world dedicated to a fun contemporary spa, they’d make Caracalla. It features a range of pools with temperatures between 18° C and 38° C, an extensive indoor area with a rock grotto, a relaxing aromatic steam bath, and a saltwater inhalation room. Its USP is the large outdoor area with two gorgeous marble pools, whirlpools and a spot for sunbathing.
For a more traditional experience head to Friedrichsbad. This Roman-Irish bath invites you to swim in thermal waters in the luxurious interiors. There is no need for modesty, as there is no need for clothes: the baths often have mixed days when men and women swim together. Don’t forget to book an invigorating massage, dry or wet – Friedrichsbad is famous for it.
The most luxurious spas can be found at some of the top-rated hotels such as Roomers (known for its party-vibe and its hip crowd) and Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa (popular for its old school glamour and unparalleled attention to detail). Liliane Goschy-Fritz Centre is less of a spa and more of a luxury medical facility. If you plan to visit Baden-Baden for health reasons, put this place on your list, especially if you need quality physiotherapy.
2. Party Like A Rockstar: Baden-Baden's Vibrant Nightlife
Spas and relaxation aren’t the only reasons why people flock to Baden-Baden. This has been the case since the Belle Epoque years and today the rich and famous still continue to visit to gamble, drink and be merry.
Even if you are not a gambling type, the famed Casino Baden-Baden is worth a visit for its high-society atmosphere and opulent design. Dubbed as “the most beautiful casino in the world”, it requires patrons to follow a strict dress code. Not ready for the evening to end? On the weekends, gambling and dancing go on till 3:30 a.m., just move to the casino’s Club Bernstein – an epicentre of nightlife for Baden-Baden’s elite.
An elegant bar at the Fritz & Felix restaurant is now a hot spot for a strong cocktail to set you off on the right foot. Rizzi Winebistro & Restaurant terrace remains the locals’ favourite spot for sundowners, while the bar at the Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa serves as a benchmark for sophistication and elegant service.
Those arriving in Baden-Baden between May to October shouldn’t forget to visit the Gönneranlage garden – a park that features more than 400 varieties of roses. The Lichtentaler, a historic park, also known as “The Promenade,” takes you past grand hotels and museums; keep walking until you reach Festspielhaus – an imposing concert hall building. To make it a bit more interesting why not hire a Segway or explore Baden-Baden and its surroundings on horseback?
Every castle fanatic should take a 3 km trip to Hohenbaden Castle, known locally as the Altes Schloss (Old Castle). Constructed in 1102, it was home to the Margraves of Baden from the 11th until the 15th century. Once there, you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Baden-Baden and the Black Forest.
Baden-Baden belongs to the state of Baden-Württemberg, famous for its National park and adventure trails. Hiking routes are clearly marked throughout the parks and camping is permitted in certain areas. People travel to Schwarzwald to summit Feldberg – the highest point in the Black Forest (1493m or 4,898 ft). Other high summits include Herzogenhorn, Seebuck, Belchen, and Schauinsland.
Another unique natural attraction is Geroldsaue Wasserfall, located 6 km from the piazza centre Leopoldsplatz in Baden-Baden. Head south from the square, take a picnic and enjoy the famed beauty of Schwarzwald (the large forested mountain range in the state of Baden-Württemberg otherwise known as the Black Forest).
For thrill-seekers there is Battert Rock with its tempting climbing routes for beginners and advanced climbers. It lies within this protected sanctuary, but it has dense woodland, a jagged rock face, capped with awe-inspiring panoramic views of the region. You can travel by yourself or book a climbing course. The rock lies within a protected area.
The only way to get a better view is from above! Floating over Baden-Baden and the Black Forest in a hot air balloon.
Mark Twain is supposedly responsible for defining golf as a good walk spoiled. In this case, Golf Club Baden-Baden is a place where you can have the finest walk in Baden-Baden. This is the 18-hole golf course, founded in 1901, with fairways embedded in a hilly and wooded terrain, views that extend over the Rhine valley, the Strasbourg Cathedral and the Vosges; it also has a cosy clubhouse and a buzzing terrace.
4. The Culture Club: Museums, Concert Halls & Galleries
Rich is culture and art, Johannes Brahms, Clara Schumann, and Richard Wagner are just a few of the many composers who spent time here. Today, Baden-Baden draws some of the world’s best opera singers and orchestras to its concert halls. The season’s highlight is the Easter performance of the Berliner Philharmoniker, and the annual schedule is packed with jazz and opera concerts, ballet and modern dance performances.
With 2,650 seats Festspielhaus, or the Festival Hall, is the largest opera house in Germany. Its historic facade merges with a modern building; inside it is equipped with one of the best acoustic systems in the world. It’s no surprise famous violinist Anne Sophie Mutter and operatic soprano Anna Netrebko are fans.
The Baden-Baden Theatre will enchant you with its Belle Epoch facade reminiscent of the Paris Opera. The repertoire includes classics and modern works in German and English. The Baden-Baden Tourism Office always has up-to-date information about current performances and exhibitions, but tickets to the best shows are sold-out in advance.
The sleek white building of the Museum Frieder Burda stands out. Dedicated to modern and contemporary art, the museum is largely based on the impressive private collection of a wealthy publisher. It includes significant works by artists Pablo Picasso, Neo Rauch and Gerhard Richter.
Baden-Baden is also home to the world-famous Fabergé Museum, based on a 700-piece private collection of Alexander Ivanov. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but if elaborately ornate imperial Easter eggs and jewellery made for Russian tsars are your thing, you will be thrilled.
5. Gourmet Life: Wine & Food
Gone are the stereotypical German food of schnitzel and schnapps, with German cities fast becoming culinary hot-spots, tempting customers with exotic flavours, hip interiors and Michelin-level standards of presentation and service. Located in southern Germany, Baden-Baden blends its own culinary and wine-making traditions with influences from its French neighbour – Alsace.
Baden-Baden has gone global: from traditional Indian and Asian, to fusion and modern European – you can sample plates from all corners of the world in this small German town. The whole region is a great destination for food and wine lovers: the Baden-Württemberg province has 74 starred restaurants with a total of 84 Michelin stars. The place with the most starred restaurants – eight to be precise – is the town of Baiersbronn. Try and get a table at the two-starred Schlossberg. Baden-Baden’s hottest spots are Fritz & Felix, Moriki, Rizzi Winebistro and Restaurant, The Grill and Leo’s Restaurant. For some hearty Alsatian staples, like a saddle of venison and a breast of Barbarie duck, try La Casserole – a cosy family-run restaurant.
The area around Baden-Baden is surrounded with sun-drenched vineyards producing fruit for Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Gris, sparkling wine and schnapps. When it comes to local wines, all roads lead the Weinhelden wine boutique. Launched by a renowned wine expert, it carries an impressive range of local bottles. There you can arrange tours around local vineyards, too. One of the best German breweries called Rothaus is located very close to Baden-Baden. Where to go for a pint? Everywhere and anywhere.
Outdoor drinking is very popular in Baden-Baden. No trip is complete without visiting Rizzi Winebistro and Restaurant for its enormous cosy terrace and selections of wines. In fact, it tops the list of the best wine-focused restaurants in Schwarzwald. In winter, visit Eiscafé Capri. Wrap yourself in a faux-fur blanket, sit under a heater and watch the world go by while having a glass of crisp sekt (local sparkling wine).
Stop by a delicatessen shop at Geroldsauer Mühle – a restaurant-hotel complex on the outskirts of Baden-Baden, where you can choose from a huge range of local delicacies: cheeses, cured meats, wines, beers and liqueurs.
Germans love coffee. And we mean LOVE! From elaborately decorated Café König, which is a great place for a traditional afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, cakes and cream-filled pastries, all the way to fair-trade hipster café hot spot Kaffeesack. Wherever you choose to go for your shot of caffeine, make sure you try a slice of Black Forest cake – a culinary symbol of the region.