Impressive thermal baths, stunning Belle Époque architecture, royal history, a charming historical city, a lush green environment and all this just a stone’s throw from the Black Forest. In this article I’ll take you along the best things to do in Baden-Baden in Germany.
It’s no secret that I think Germany is an incredible country to travel to. Just a few years ago I explored the beautiful Rhineland. I was therefore very excited when I received the invitation to visit Baden-Baden near the Black Forest.
To be honest, I didn’t know this city yet and had no idea what to expect, but the surprising beauty of Baden-Baden and the versatile character of this charming city quickly melted my heart.
** disclaimer: This is a sponsored post but this does not alter the fact that I share my own honest experiences about this service. **
In the south-west of Germany, more specifically the border triangle of Germany with Switzerland and France, you will find the picturesque city of Baden-Baden. Baden-Baden is located on the edge of the Black Forest and is surrounded by a varied landscape of vineyards, forests, river landscapes and mountain peaks.
This German city has a very rich history that dates back to the time of ancient Rome. The Romans discoverd hot springs with temperatures up to 68 degrees celsius here. Which of course the Romans eagerly used. Unfortunately, these thermae were destroyed by their successors and eventually forgotten. It wasn’t until the early 14th century that the hot springs were used again. Due to the rising popularity of bathing in the 19th century, more and more wealthy people traveled to Baden-Baden to enjoy the springs. This is how Baden-Baden became a luxurious spa town with impressive buildings such as the Kurhaus, the Trinkhalle, the theater and numerous impressive wellness hotels. It will therefore come as no surprise that Baden-Baden has earned a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of Europe’s historic spa towns.
Today Baden-Baden is still known for its thermal baths, but the city has way more to offer. In the vibrant city centre you can get lost in the charming streets. Here you can shop to your heart’s content at local boutiques and at more well-known stores. In addition to the second largest concert hall in Europe, the theater and the beautiful casino, Baden-Baden also houses several top museums. Culinary wise, this city also has a lot to offer, ranging from gourmet dining to authentic eateries where you can taste the local cuisine. Due to its excellent location on the edge of the Black Forest, Baden-Baden is also the perfect base for nature lovers and active, outdoor travellers.
How to travel to Baden-Baden?
We traveled by car from Belgium to Baden-Baden. From central Belgium it is about a five to six hour drive. The advantage of traveling by car is of course that you can explore the area around Baden-Baden more easily. But you definitely don’t need a car to explore the city itself. Everything is within walking distance and there is a good public transport network if you want to visit places nearby.
Baden-Baden has a train station where several high-speed trains pass. This makes this destination very easily accessible by train. From Antwerp Central Station you can travel to Baden-Baden in about 5 hours and 30 minutes, with only 2 two transfers. You can plan your itinerary to Baden-Baden from various European destinations via NMBS international.
Traveling from another destination by plane? Then it’s best to fly to one of the nearest German airports such as Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden or Stuttgard airport.
The best travel time for Baden-Baden
Baden-Baden is charming during all seasons. In winter you can find many ski areas in the neighbourhood. Then this city is the ideal destination to combine your winter sports holiday with a relaxing wellness experience.
In the spring you can literally see Baden-Baden blossom. The fragrant of blooming flowers and beautiful purple-colored Wisterias make this charming city even more like a fairytale setting, where you can get lost in the narrow streets or enjoy on one of the cozy terraces.
Even during the summer, colorful flowers continue to provide a magical atmosphere in the city. When the weather is too hot, you can cool down under the lush trees of the city park or in the nearby Black Forest.
Autumn is the ideal season for nature lovers or active travelers to try out the various outdoor activities in the nearby area. If the weather is bad, there are also plenty of indoor activities that are definitely worth visiting.
Where to stay in Baden-Baden?
We stayed in the luxurious Maison Messmer. This beautiful 5-star hotel is located in the heart of the city, close to the Kurhaus, the theater and the beautiful historical Trinkhalle. With its convenient location, this elegant accommodation is the ideal base to discover all the best things to do in Baden-Baden.
The history of the hotel dates back to the mid-19th century, when Baden-Baden was a popular destination for the beau monde who visited the city to enjoy the thermal baths. Today, Maison Messmer offers an extensive range of luxurious accommodations, including beautifully decorated rooms and suites that combine historic charm with modern amenities.
The hotel also features a fitness centre, indoor pool and a spa that offers various wellness treatments, including massages and facials.
Every morning you can enjoy an extensive breakfast buffet with a great choice of different dishes and local specialties. At weekends you can also have breakfast in the majestic painters’ hall where many major festivities used to take place with royal visitors such as Kaiser Wilhelm. For me, this was definitely an unforgettable breakfast experience.
You can also enjoy delicious cocktails or local wines in the bar. Futhermore, the hotel houses a restaurant serving traditional German dishes.
With its combination of historical elegance and modern luxury and its ideal location, Maison Messmer is the perfect place to stay for anyone who wants to experience the best of Baden-Baden.
The best sights and things to do in Baden-Baden
Relaxing in the thermal baths of Baden-Baden
As mentioned earlier, Baden-Baden is best known for its ancient hot springs. That’s why a visit to the thermal baths should certainly not be missing from your Baden-Baden itinerary.
The city has two public thermal baths, the Friedrichsbad and Caracalla Spa, where you can bathe in the healing thermal water that bubbles up from the ancient hot springs.
Due to the heat and the ingredients of the thermal water it should have a positive effect on your blood circulation, muscles, joints and skin. It also has a soothing effect on the body, mind and soul.
Both public thermal baths are very different and provide a completely different bathing experience.
The Friedrichsbad is a historic thermal bath founded at the end of the 19th century. This Renaissance bathhouse was the most modern in Europe. Since then, almost nothing has been changed in the interior. That means when you visit this bath you are going on a journey back in time to the period when German bathing culture was at its peek.
This bathhouse also gives an insight into the ancient bathing traditions by following the different traditional steps in a certain order. Please take your time to enjoy the full experience, which lasts approximately three hours.
Do’t forget to admire the unique architecture of the bath with its impressive dome, beautiful mosaics, graceful columns, sculptures, original shower taps, … This all contributes to the authentic bath experience and creates an atmosphere of total tranquility and luxury.
The Friedrichsbad is definitely recommended if you want to relax and enjoy an authentic wellness experience.
Caracalla Spa named after the Roman emperor Caracalla who was known for his love of thermal baths, is a modern thermal bath complex. Here the focus is less on the authentic bath experience, but more on enjoying together. It’s therefore the ideal place for a fun family day out.
This spa features a variety of pools, including a large outdoor pool with stunning views of the surrounding Black Forest, as well as indoor pools and Jacuzzis. In addition, there are many sunbeds around where you can relax. You can also use the saunas and steam baths. A wide range of spa treatments are offered, including massages, facials and body wraps.
On the ground floor where the swimming pools are located, you can find a little snack bar. There you can buy a drink or snack. That way you can easily spend a half day or even a day here.
Get lost in the picturesque, historical centre of Baden-Baden
The historical centre of Baden-Baden consists of a maze of narrow streets where you can get wonderfully lost. This is actually the only way to discover the most beautiful, hidden places in the city.
The city radiates cozyness. You can shop to your heart’s content in local boutiques and in more well-known shops or enjoy local specialties on one of the many terraces.
In addition, the historical centre of Baden-Baden is a treasure trove of beautiful buildings that will delight both architecture- as well as history lovers. You should definitely visit:
- The Kurhaus is a beautiful building dating back to the 19th century and is an excellent example of neoclassical architecture. It houses a casino, restaurants and a concert hall. Close by you can find two beautiful Belle Époque galleries that house an array of local boutiques, art galleries and cozy cafes with terraces. It is wonderful to hang around in this adorable area.
The Trinkhalle is an elegant 19th-century building decorated with frescoes and a colonnade of Corinthian columns. It was originally used as a pump room for the city’s natural hot springs. The inhabitants used to come here to get their thermal water supply.
Another impressive building that is notable for its stunning architecture, with grand facade and elegant interior, is the Theater. Today, it’s the cultural center of the city.
The Stiftskirche is the oldest building in the historical centre of Baden-Baden. The history of the church dates back to 987. It was originally built as a Romanesque basilica, but has undergone several renovations over the centuries. As a result, you can now also find traces of Gothic and Baroque architecture in it.
- The Friedrichsbad is a thermal bath from the 19th century. Inspired by classical antiquity, it features stunning mosaics, marble columns and a very impressive dome. It is still in use as a spa.
Get your game on in the Casino of Baden-Baden
The Baden-Baden Casino is a world-famous gambling and entertainment destination. Founded in the 19th century, it has a rich history. The casino has been visited by many famous persons over the years, including European royalty, Hollywood celebrities and prominent politicians.
The casino offers a variety of games, including roulette, blackjack and poker, as well as slots and electronic gaming options. But the real eye-catcher is the fantastic interior. With its elegant decoration such as the opulent chandeliers, beautiful statues, wall decorations and colors, it exudes refinement and elegance. It is this setting that makes the Casino one of the best things to do in Baden-Baden.
Would you like to learn more about the casino itself and its history? Then opt for a guided tour of the casino during the morning.
If you want to experience the real atmosphere of the casino, then definitely spend an evening there. Try your luck at one of the games or enjoy a drink at the bar. Remember that there is a dress code in the Casino. As a man you have to wear a vest to get in. Don’t have one? Don’t worry, at the entrance of the casino you can rent an elegant vest for only 9 euros.
Stroll through the city park Lichtenaler Allee
Lichteraler Allee is a beautiful avenue surrounded by lush trees, that takes you from the city center of Baden-Baden to Kloster Lichtenthal.
This three-kilometer long walk takes you along impressive, historical villas, lush trees, colorful gardens, graceful bridges, … During the walk you also have a beautiful view of the nearby Black Forest.
At the end of this route you will be rewarded with a great sight, the very beautiful monastery complex Kloster Lichtenthal. In the courtyard of the monastery you can take a breather at café Lumen where you can taste delicious homemade cakes. I can definitely recommend the local schwarzwald torte.
If you don’t feel like walking, Lichtenaler Allee is also the perfect place to relax in a lush, green setting. There are enough spots to just sit and enjoy the surroundings. This park is also the place-to-be for locals to enjoy a relaxing walk or bike ride along the beautiful and quiet paths of Lichtenaler Allee.
Admire modern art in the Frieder Burda Museum
Located along the beautiful city park Lichtenaler Allee you will find the Frieder Burda Museum. Here you can admire a diverse range of modern and contemporary art, with a special focus on German art from the 20th and 21st centuries. The building itself is a beautiful example of modern architecture, designed by architect Richard Meier and features natural light-filled galleries that provide visitors with a serene environment in which to enjoy the art on display.
The museum’s permanent collection includes works by renowned artists such as Gerhard Richter, Georg Baselitz, and Sigmar Polke.Throughout the year, the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions.
We visited the ‘Transformers’ exhibition where we could see how different artists used a wide range of technologies, from 3D printing and robotics to augmented reality and virtual reality, to create surprising artworks and at the same time made us think about the power of technology to inspire and push the boundaries of artistic expression.
The Frieder Burda Museum is definitely a must-visit for art lovers visiting Baden-Baden.
Disover the beautiful vineyards around Baden-Baden with a Segway.
One of the best things to do in Baden-Baden is definitely a breathtaking sunset tour with Cityseg. Together with a guide you travel on a Segway through the beautiful wine landscapes around the city. As the sun slowly fades away, you can enjoy the most spectacular views of Baden-Baden and the Black Forest.
Although I’m not a great Segway talent, I definitely enjoyed this tour. At times I felt a bit insecure, but the guides always reassured me and made sure that I finished the tour unscathed.
In addition to this Segway tour, Cityseg offers several tours in and around Baden-Baden. Is driving a Segway not you cup of tea? Then you can also try out the Scrooser. Be sure to take a look at Cityseg’s extensive range of tours to discover this region in a fun, original way.
Take the MerkurBergbahn to the top of the Merkur mountain
Are you looking for a unique and unforgettable experience that captures the natural beauty and cultural history of this charming city? Then you should not miss a ride in the historic cable car ‘the MerkurBergbahn’ during your visit to Baden-Baden.
The MerkurBergbahn was opened in 1913 and has been transporting passengers on the steep slopes of the Black Forest ever since. Moreover, it’s also an important part of the history and cultural heritage of Baden-Baden. The funicular has been carefully maintained over the years, retaining its original charm and character. You can still take a seat in the original wooden charoit from that time. This definitely creates a nostalgic and authentic experience.
Buy your ticket from the machine at the station. Please note that you have to keep this ticket with you if you also like to return via the MerkurBergbahn. A single ride takes about 5 minutes.
From the top of the Merkur you have a breathtaking, panoramic view of the surrounding landscape. It is the perfect place to watch a beautiful sunset. Those who want to admire everything from a little higher can climb the watchtower. At the door you have to push a button to unlock the lock before you can enter the tower.
On top of the Merkur you can also find a restaurant and numerous hiking trails.
Make a little road trip along Schwarzwaldhochstraße B500
The Schwarzwaldhochstraße B500 is the oldest and most famous panoramic road and one of the most beautiful routes in Germany. This 60-kilometer route runs from Baden-Baden to Freudenstadt through the Black Forest and takes you past picturesque villages, dense forests and breathtaking landscapes.
Along the way you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding hills, valleys and mountains. The road is lined with charming restaurants, cafes and shops, making it a popular destination for many tourists who want to experience the beauty and culture of the Black Forest.
An absolute must-see on the Schwarzwaldhochstraße B500 is the Mummelsee. This crystal clear glacial lake is located in the heart of the Black Forest. Here you can relax beside the lake or go for a walk. This way you can explore the beautiful landscape via the most beautiful hiking trails and climb to the highest point of the northern Black Forest, Hornisgrinde.
A fun fact is that the Mummelsee is the subject of many legends. According to local folklore, it is said to be inhabited by a water spirit who can be seen on quiet nights.
Good food in Baden-Baden
In addition to wellness, culture and nature, you can also enjoy the culinary delights of Baden-Baden. Don’t forget to try the authentic cuisine with regional ingredients and of course, local wines and beers. Below I’ll share some of my favorite addresses.
Wirthaus zur Geroldsauer Mühle
Would you like to experience the authentic flavors of the Black Forest? Then Wirthaus zur Geroldsauer Mühle is the place to be. This restaurant is part of Geroldsauer Mühle, a domain that focuses on sustainability, ecology and innovation. In addition to the restaurant, you will also find a supermarket with regionally produced products, a bakery, guest rooms, spaces for exhibitions, …
Wirthaus zur Geroldsauer Mühle serves traditional German dishes made with local ingredients. You can sit comfortably inside or on the sun-drenched terrace. The menu includes hearty dishes such as schnitzel, sausages and roast pork, as well as vegetarian options and seasonal specials. We can definitely recommend the meatballs and ham.
Weinstube zum Engel
Weinstube zum Engel is a very cozy restaurant about a 10-minute drive from the city centre of Baden-Baden. Perhaps this name sounds familiar, because you can find this extremely charming address in the Michelin guide.
This restaurant specializes in regional dishes and offers a varied selection of local wines. The menu includes traditional dishes such as Maultaschen (stuffed pasta), Spätzle (German egg noodles) and Flammkuchen (a kind of thin-crust pizza).
We tried the Maultaschen and found out that this dish has a funny legend. The meat-filled pasta was the way of the Cistercian monks of the Maulbronn monastery, hence the name Maultasche, to hide the meat from Our Lord during Lent. In addition to this fun fact, it is also good to know that Maultaschen are super delicious!
Have your dishes accompanied by matching local wines. The staff will gladly help you with the pairing.
Furthermore, Weinstube zum Engel has a cozy interior decorated in a rustic style, with wooden beams and antique furniture, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
In short, this restaurant is an absolute must for anyone who wants to enjoy the local cuisine in a cozy setting.
Hectors is located in the beautiful Kurhaus of Baden-Baden. It is literally situated in the heart of the city within walking distance of all the sights.
It’s an extremely stylish restaurant where you can enjoy classic German dishes with a modern twist. The menu offers a range of dishes made with high quality, seasonal ingredients, including fresh seafood, meat dishes and vegetarian options.
The elegant interior is designed with a contemporary flair and sleek furniture, but with cozy nooks that create more privacy and cosiness. In addition to the main dining room, Hectors also has a trendy bar, perfect for an aperitif or a nightcap.
With its innovative menu and sophisticated atmosphere, Hectors is a popular choice for foodies looking for a special dining experience in the city. Moreover, with its ideal location, Hectors is the perfect restaurant to combine with an evening at the casino.
How stunning is this city? We were able to enjoy the best things to do in Baden-Baden for 3 whole days. Moreover, we were very surprised by the versatility of this city. Baden-Baden is the perfect vacation destination for both culture and nature lovers, not to mention foodies and bon vivants!
Which things to do in Baden-Baden can’t be missing from your itinerary? Let me know in the comments below.
Would you like to discover more of Germany? Then definitely read:
- 7 romantic towns in and around Rhineland in Germany
- The best things to do in Monschau during a day trip
Thank you for reading.