Baden Baden is one of the most popular places to visit in Germany, one of the most famous spa towns in the world and a city that was nicknamed the ‘summer capital of Europe’ in the 19th century. With so many titles you should expect it to be something special and it truly is!
In this article, I won’t focus on the most popular attractions like Lichtentaler Allee, Merkur Bergbahn, Museum Frieder Burda, Old Town, Roman Bath Ruins and Brahms House, but rather tell you about its spas and Christmas Markets because it’s the coolest things you can discover in Baden Baden in winter.
First things first, let’s look at Baden Baden wellness infrastructure. This town has so many spas because of the twelve springs located 2,000 meters underground. Romans discovered the healing properties of these thermal springs 2000 years ago and people have been enjoying them ever since. These springs generate curative thermal waters that bubble upwards and let you enjoy many rejuvenating facilities. The spas that I recommend you to visit are:
Chances are that after visiting Friedrichsbad you will say ‘Ah, that’s what spa really is!’ I’m saying it because the Friedrichsbad experience is one of a kind. You will experience 17 different spa stations, bathe in the waters of 12,000 – 17,000 years old thermal springs that have the highest concentration of minerals in Baden Baden, enjoy numerous spa procedures and splendor of Roman bathing culture and know the bliss of body and mind. You’ll take a lot of positive energy home. The energy that will keep you going even if life gets tough. Mind that the days for mixed-sex bathing are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and days for single-sex bathing are Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Admission is two hours before closing time and the fee is from 23 to 55 euros. All procedures are bathing suit free, but this is a part of the culture which I wasn’t sure how I would feel — but actually enjoyed. Definitely a one-of -a-kind experience.
2. Caracalla Spa
This spa covers more than 4,000m² and has both indoor and outdoor facilities. Located in beautiful castle gardens, the outdoor area has two whirlpools, a current channel, two marble pools and a large grass sunbathing area. The indoor area has an aromatic steam bath, a saltwater inhalation room, a rock grotto with cold and hot water and a Roman-style sauna.
The temperatures in different pools of Caracalla Spa range from 18° C to 38° C so there’s a place to relax for everyone. Don’t think that it will be too cold to use the outdoor facilities in winter because they become a special highlight of Caracalla Spa during this period. The admission fee to Caracalla Spa ranges from 15 to 27 euros.
Of course, spas are not the only thing to see in Baden Badeen in winter. Since a major part of the winter season is Christmas time, you’d better plan your trip in such a way that you can see the Baden Baden Christmas markets.
This year Baden Baden Christmas Markets will be opened from 28 November 2019 till 6 January 2020 in the gardens in front of the illuminated Kurhaus, in the Kurhaus Colonnade and in the central square.
If you have seen the celebration of Christmas in Germany, you know that it’s something that shouldn’t be missed. Both big megalopolises and little towns get shrouded into the winter fairy tale atmosphere. You can hear carols, smell mulled wine and see thousands of lights around.
If you are lucky to spend the next Christmas season in Baden Baden, make sure to see the world-famous Lichtentaler Allee that gets beautiful decorations and becomes truly magical in winter, spend time at more than 100 stalls to choose some crafts, arts, Christmas jewelry and just have fun, and of course enjoy a varied Christmas program that this city prepares for you. You can read more about it here.
Other places of interest in Baden Baden in winter include:
- Trinkhalle. The striking murals and impressive Corinthian pillars of Trinkhalle (or pump house) can’t leave anyone indifferent. It was built in the 19th century as the main building of a local health resort. After you enjoy the beautiful 14 mural paintings that cover the arcade, you can contemplate the surrounding nature. There’s a fountain with mineral water in the central part of the building, however, it is prohibited to drink it even though many tourists visit the Trinkhalle solely for this purpose.
- Festival Hall Baden-Baden. Being one of the largest classical music venues in Europe and the largest opera house in Germany, this building features offbeat neo-classicist architecture. Johannes Brahms, Clara Schumann, and Richard Wagner were the honorary guests of this Festival Hall and now the program of the opera house is also full of world-famous names, therefore visiting it during your stay in Baden Baden is an excellent idea. And it’s not just about the opera. You can choose between opera, jazz, concerts, ballet and musical shows that make Festive Hall Baden Baden a welcoming place for all kinds of art admirers.
- Casino Baden-Baden. Casinos are not for everyone, but if you like this kind of entertainment, then Baden Baden has a lot to offer. You can enjoy poker, slot machine, punto banco, roulette and blackjack in Germany’s oldest casino in a charming atmosphere of the Belle Epoque environment. In the past, it was the place for the social elite including Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Marlene Dietrich, Shah of Persia and the Windsor, and many more. But today you can enjoy it as much as anyone else. You can also get guided tours through the world-famous casino here.
Day Trips from Baden Baden
There are many interesting day trips that you can make from Baden Baden and among them, I would recommend three in particular.
- Day trip to Freiburg. Freiburg is only 110 kilometers from Baden Baden so it will take about an hour to get there by car. Freiburg is a beautiful medieval university city with marvelous architecture. Being home to the Green Party, it became one of the most sustainable cities on the planet. Like any other German city, it gets very beautiful during the wintertime.
- Day trip to Heidelberg. Heidelberg is even closer to Baden Baden than Freiburg. Being famous as both one of the most romantic German cities and one of the warmest places in Germany, it has many interesting locations and things to explore. From a beautiful riverside to the old castle ruins, you will definitely find how to entertain yourself. And of course, you will see fabulous Christmas markets.
- Day trip to Strasbourg. I went on a day trip to Baden Baden from Strasburg, but you can easily do it vice versa. Strasbourg is a beautiful city in France that is famous for its Christmas markets and known as the capital of Christmas. You can read my impressions about Strasbourg here. It takes an hour by train to go from Baden Baden to Strasbourg and it can be as cheap as 12 euros. Other ways to go to Strasbourg is by bus, shuttle or a private car.
Where to Stay in Baden Baden
- Radisson Blu Badischer Hof Hotel – if you ever been to Radisson Blue hotels, you know what to expect. But this one is a grand spa hotel and it will surprise you with outdoor and indoor pools fed by a thermal spring. As for the accommodation itself, it’s classy like in all Radisson Blue hotels. The restaurant has a beautiful terrace and serves both international meals and Black Forest specialties.
- Atlantic Parkhotel – this 4-star hotel is located on the bank of the Oos River in the very heart of the city. The famous theater and Kurhaus spa are located opposite Atlantic Parkhotel. There’s a beautiful riverside terrace, elegantly decorated rooms and tasty breakfast in breakfast buffet in the morning.
- Aqua Aurelia Suitenhotel an den Thermen – a cool option for busy people because this hotel features a business center and underground parking. Suites are well furnished and have unusual features like an iPod docking station with speakers and picturesque terraces (only some suites have terraces).
- HELIOPARK Bad Hotel Zum Hirsch – You can enjoy numerous spa facilities (including sauna, bio sauna and steam room for free!) and cozy rooms furnished with antique furniture in HELIOPARK Bad Hotel Zum Hirsch. Located in the central area of Baden Baden, it’s a great place to stay.
- Roomers Baden-Baden, Autograph Collection – if you love rooftop terraces this place is for you. In addition to terraces, the Roomers Baden-Baden, Autograph Collection has a pool, a gym, spa facilities, and a famous smoking bar. And you can enjoy city or mountain views from the windows!
Where to eat in Baden Baden
- Restaurant Nigrum – one of the most famous restaurants in Baden Baden that owns a Michelin star. The menu is rich, the dishes are beautifully cooked and served and the atmosphere is dark golden.
- Schneider’s Weinstube & Vinothek – if you like your food with wine, and if you want your food to be Badisch, you need to go to Schneider’s. Before you decide what to order, make sure to check day specials on the blackboard.
- Café König – this is where Baden Baden’s finest pralines, tortes, truffles, and cakes have been made for more than 250 years and this is where Tolstoy and Liszt sipped their coffee. There are numerous delicious options for a sweet tooth in Café König.
Whether you’re coming to Baden Baden to give rest to your mind, body and spirit, enjoy the Christmas markets or just spend some time in one of the most famous towns of Germany, this incredible place will fill you with its vibrant energy that will keep you going for a long time.