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Many of the older generation only recall that General De Gaulle took refuge in Baden-Baden during the events of May ’68. But this town in the state of Baden-Württemberg, nestled in the heart of the Black Forest, isn’t just a footnote in history. On the contrary, Baden-Baden has everything to offer, from ancient Roman architecture to wild and mysterious nature. Tourists looking for long bike rides and hikes will get their money’s worth. And if you’re a wine enthusiast, you’ll also love this place: it’s the third largest wine-producing region in Germany. Lastly, if you need some relaxation between wine tasting and nature walks, Baden-Baden is also famous for its spa treatments. Now, let’s go over the top 10 things to see in Baden-Baden and its surroundings.
🗒️ Climate, hikes: some information before your visit to Baden-Baden
Before we start our list of things to do in Baden-Baden, here are some frequently asked questions by visitors.
How to get to Baden-Baden from major German cities?
Baden-Baden is quite accessible. From Frankfurt or Stuttgart, you can take a train to Baden-Baden station. From there, local buses can take you to the city centre. If you’re flying, the nearest airport is Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden (FKB), which has connections to many European destinations. Shuttle and car rental services are available at the airport to make your journey to the town easier.
What’s the climate like in Baden-Baden?
Baden-Baden has a temperate maritime climate with continental influences. Summers are generally warm and can reach temperatures up to 30°C, while winters are cool, with temperatures often dropping below freezing. Rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, although summer months are slightly wetter. It’s advisable to carry an umbrella, regardless of when you visit.
Are there any hikes or outdoor activities nearby?
Absolutely! The area around Baden-Baden is perfect for outdoor activities. The Black Forest National Park is close by and offers a plethora of hiking trails for all levels. Additionally, the “Battertfelsen”, a rock formation, is a favourite among climbers. For those who prefer gentler walks, the surrounding hills and vineyards provide stunning views of the region.
Which hotel to choose in Baden-Baden?
Being a renowned spa town across the continent, Baden-Baden has no shortage of places to stay. Here are three popular ones:
The Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa is a luxury establishment nestled in a private park, offering a refined experience with world-class spa facilities and gourmet dining.
The Maison Messmer Hotel is an elegant sanctuary that blends tradition with modernity, located near the town’s famous casino, providing its guests with an unforgettable stay with a touch of opulence.
The Quellenhof Hotel is ideally located near the Caracalla thermal baths, offering comfortable accommodation with a warm and welcoming atmosphere, perfect for those looking to unwind after a day of exploration.
🔝 What are the things to do in Baden-Baden?
Come on, we attack the heart of our subject, and we review the essential things to do in Baden-Baden. Let’s go.
Relax at the thermal baths of Friedrichsbad or Caracalla
Baden-Baden is above all famous for its hot baths, and there are many to choose from in the region. The city is therefore ideal if you suffer from many different ailments. The baths are unmissable, both for the care provided and for their architecture. Take, for example, the Friedrichsbad thermal baths, inaugurated in 1877, which combines Roman and Irish culture, or the modern Caracalla thermal baths which impress with their gigantic size.
💧 Water with recognized benefits! The water from the Baden-Baden thermal baths rises for nearly 2 kilometres and spouts out at a temperature of between 50 and 68 degrees, carrying chloride and sodium from the rocks with it. “The water is also home to at least one gram of precious minerals per litre: lithium, cesium, silicic acid, boric acid, manganese, magnesium, as well as traces of cobalt, zinc and copper.” – the official website of the city.
Visit the Fabergé Museum
The Fabergé Museum (official site) is an amazing place in Baden-Baden. This building, dedicated to the works of the famous jeweller Pierre-Karl Fabergé , houses a unique collection of pieces, including more than 3,000 works of art. Among the sumptuous and unusual jewels, there are gifts received and given by the Tsar of Russia, Alexander III, and, of course, the famous Imperial Easter Eggs. You can also admire the largest collection of designer cigarette cases in the world. In addition, the museum presents creations by contemporaries of the Russian jeweler, such as Cartier, Boucheron and even Tiffany.
Get on the Merkurberg Funicular
The Merkurberg funicular is one of the most spectacular attractions Baden-Baden offers visitors. The Merkurberg (the “Mountain of Mercury”) is the region’s emblematic summit. You might think that reaching it would be a difficult task, but there is a funicular, the longest in Germany, there to help you. In five minutes, you will be at an altitude of 668 meters, admiring a breath-taking panorama of the surroundings. Each year, more than 150,000 visitors take this little train, proof of its popularity. Cost: 6 euros per adult and 3.50 per child. Read some reviews here.
Clear your mind on Lichtentaler Allee
Lichtentaler Allee is an essential visit in Bande-Baden. The promenade, dotted with gardens and parks, has a few centuries on the clock: it dates back to the middle of the 17th century, but at the time it was only an alley of oak trees. It did not take its current form, more or less, until two centuries later. But what a success! Spanning more than three kilometres, it is a succession of bridges, shrubs and flowers from all over the world. It’s also a great way to see the city as it runs alongside plush villas, museums and restaurants. Read what visitors think here.
Explore the Kurhaus
Kurhaus (official site) is a conference complex, complete with a casino and a spa. It is located on the outskirts of the famous Black Forest. Designed by Friedrich Weinbrenner in 1824, it became a world-class spa center in 1830, seven years later. It is an understatement to say that there are many activities you can enjoy here. It hosts many international events.
Listen to an opera at the Festspielhaus
The Festspielhaus is one of the largest halls dedicated to classical music in Europe, boastins 2,500 seats. And what a place! It is an old station, and the original building still serves as the entrance to the new hall. The stage is a more recent addition, designed by the Viennese architect Wilhelm Holzbauer in the 1990s, giving light pride of place.
Dreaming at the Baden-Baden Christmas Market
As you can understand, this attraction is not open to the public all year round, but if you are visiting the city in December, luck is on your side: head to Lichtentaler Allee (see above). Baden-Baden, like other German cities of a similar size, knows how to create an enchanting, festive atmosphere every year. Chalets, mulled wine, handicrafts, and a living nativity scene: everything is in place to give you a magical moment.
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Pose in front of the Bismarck monument
A monument for a monument of German history. Otto von Bismarck was the German chancellor at the end of the 19th century, famous for making France bend in 1870. He visited Baden-Baden when he was a diplomat so, 17 years after his death, in 1915, the town decided to erect a limestone statute to his glory. The work is by the famous sculptor Oskar Alexander Kiefer (1874 – 1938) and can still be admired today.
Meditate at the Stourdza chapel
This chapel was built by architect Leo Von Klenze in 1886. It was originally created for the family of the Moldovan prince, Michael Stourdza and the entire roof was gold plated. White, yellow, and red sandstone was used for the walls. The interior of the chapel is absolutely breath-taking, making it a must-see in Baden-Baden. It is incidentally the only Romanian Orthodox chapel in Germany. Romanian Orthodox services are still held there.
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Go on a trip to Triberg im Schwarzwald
There is no shortage of charming towns in the Black Forest. But if you plan to go on a trip from Baden-Baden, we recommend Triberg im Schwarzwald, found about sixty kilometres to the south. This is capital of cuckoo clocks, which were invented here in the 18th century, and offers a bucolic atmosphere. Moreover, the city is home to one of the largest cuckoo clocks in the world: each second is a spectacle in itself! In the same vein, the House of 1000 Pendulums is a must, as is the Black Forest Museum, to learn the history of the region. Finally, your visit to Triberg im Schwarzwald would not be complete without a trip to the famous waterfalls.
Our selection of the ten must-do things to do in Baden-Baden is coming to an end, but it is obviously not exhaustive. If you have other ideas for activities, don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments.