Baden-Baden, Germany (baden means bath in German) is one of my favorite cities in Europe. This well-to-do city nestled in the middle of the Black Forest region (or Schwarzwald in German) is famous for its thermal baths, hot springs, and bathhouses or thermes. Before I continue, I should note that there is a popular trend to bathe/swim in public spa-like bathhouses (it’s not a sexual thing whatsoever, but children or those under the age of 16 are not allowed inside). Later on, I’ll talk more about the hot springs and thermes, because they’re not only prevalent in Germany, but they’re so much fun and a large part of what makes Baden-Baden so special.
In addition to the awesome spas, Baden-Baden has many beautiful museums, high-end shopping stores like Hermes, Celine, and Chanel, incredible food, live performances, great hiking paths, and the city is right at the base of a mountain upon which two large castles are situated, which are free to visit and explore. We spent an entire afternoon hiking around the city and exploring Altes Schloss (old castle) on the mountain just outside of town. The views in this city were unbelievable, and if you’re in Germany, I highly recommend checking out Baden-Baden!
We had never heard of thermes before someone in Baden-Baden explained them to us, and they’re one of the things I miss most about Germany. Germans are all about cleanliness, so before using these large, public bathhouses, everyone is required to shower and wash thoroughly. Men and women typically have separate shower areas and changing areas, but everyone comes out to the thermes and mixes in a co-ed bathing setting. While in Germany, we visited more than half a dozen thermes all over the country, and 2 of the best were right here in Baden-Baden, Caracalla and Friedrichsbad.
Caracalla had a beautiful indoor pool connected to its outdoor pool, a lazy river of sorts, several hot tubs, and an entire floor dedicated to different types of saunas. Saunas in Germany are much different from those we have here in America and are typically hot, steamy rooms that smell strongly of essential oils (dampfbaden in German, which means wet baths or wet saunas), or dry saunas with successive rooms of varying temperatures. Caracalla was much more like an adults-only waterpark and was very relaxing but still had a playful atmosphere.
Where to Stay in Baden-Baden, Germany
Hotel Der Kleine Prinz
We stayed at Der Kleine Prinz (the little prince) hotel, which I highly recommend for its kind staff who speak several languages, including English, convenient location, and comfortable accommodations. Read more about our stay here, and read about the food we ate at the hotel here. Overall, we were very pleased with our stay, and I’d recommend this hotel to anyone looking for a conveniently located hotel in Baden-Baden. Visit their website at http://www.derkleineprinz.de/home/ to learn more.
What to See in Baden-Baden, Germany
Art Galleries, Theatre, Museums & the Casino
Baden-Baden has many great museums and art exhibits such as the Fabergé Egg museum, Museum Frieder Burda, Museum L8 (technology as art), Staatliche Kunsthalle (international contemporary art gallery), and the museum of the Roman Bath Ruins. There are several theaters in town that host plays, ballets, and musical performances, and there’s even a casino if you fancy a spot of gambling.
What to Eat in Baden-Baden, Germany
Le Jardin de France, the restaurant inside Hotel Der Kleine Prinz, the restaurant inside Atlantic Parkhotel Baden Baden, and Restaurant Canzley are all lovely spots for upscale dining. My favorite was The Grill inside Baden-Baden’s casino because it was one of the prettiest restaurants in the city, plus the food was incredible.
Zamui Asian, Namaskaar, Osteria Stromboli, and Geraldsauer Muehle are all delightful casual eateries we visited during our stay. My favorite was the Bavarian-themed Löwenbräu, where the staff wore lederhosen or dirndl and served traditional Bavarian dishes. I highly recommend the spätzle and the Kräuterpfannkuchen mit Pilzen (herb and potato pancakes). Each had a unique atmosphere and delicious food!
Bakeries & Cozy Cafes
Hausbrauerei Cafe, Café Bar Trinkhalle, Cafe Hofmann, and Böckeler Confectionery and Coffee Haus, were all some of the cafes and bakeries that we stopped into. There’s no shortage of cafés in Baden-Baden. They usually have very inviting outdoor setups, as pictured above, with blankets on the chairs outside and fires going in the evening.
What to Do in Baden-Baden, Germany
Friedrichsbad, an Irish-Roman temple devoted to the art of bathing, has a 17 step bathing process that utilizes minerals from the thermal springs to improve bathers’ health. Unlike Caracalla, which is just down the street, Friedrichsbad’s therme is completely nude and is co-ed. The attendant waited until after we’d already purchased our tickets to inform us that clothing is not allowed inside the spa areas, and I thought I’d misunderstood her. While I was a bit shy at first, I quickly realized that nudity is viewed much differently in Germany than in the west because there wasn’t a single person looking our way. Everyone minded their own business, so I was quick to relax and enjoy myself. Since no one was paying attention to anyone else, I didn’t feel uncomfortable or like anyone was watching me during our stay, and I really enjoyed our time inside this therme. If you’re looking to step outside your comfort zone and try something new, I’d really recommend this therme. I’ll be writing a review and guide on what to expect at each of these thermes soon.
The Black Forest, Parks, and Mountains
Baden-Baden is located in Germany’s famous Black Forest region, which means lush forests and rolling mountains surround it. We took the time to drive and climb up the main mountain in town, at the top of which there are the ruins of two ancient castles, Altes Schloss (old castle) and Neues Schloss (new castle), both of which are nearly 1,000 years old. You can read more about it and see more photos in my post here. There are parks and walking paths located all over the city, and many people walked alone, even at night, through these areas. We always felt very safe here.
High-End Shopping & Antique Shops
If mountain climbing isn’t your thing, maybe shopping is more your speed! If so, there are dozens of high-end stores, as I mentioned above, antique shops and local artisan stores to explore and shop in.
Day Trip/Weekend Trip Options
We drove about an hour from Baden-Baden, over the border into France, and visited two villages for the weekend, Strasbourg and Colmar. Europe is wonderful because everything is just a brief train ride or drive away, so weekend trip options are numerous. When planning our trip around the continent, we made a list of the places we wanted to see and created a travel plan based around that. I find this to be the easiest and most efficient way to plan trips such as this.
I hope that you enjoyed this guide and found it useful! If you have anything to add or any questions for me, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. I will reply as soon as possible.
Farewell, fellow adventurers!