So good they named it twice, Baden-Baden is located in the south-west of Germany, just a few kilometres from the border with France and a few minutes from the Black Forest.
Its hot springs and thermal baths (popular since Roman times), may grab all the headlines, but if you can drag yourself away from the bubbles for a bit, you’ll discover more than enough attractions to fill a whole weekend.
From theatres to designer boutiques, lush rose gardens to mouth-watering restaurants, there’s certainly more to Baden-Baden than meets the eye. We flew to the city recently and we’ve put together a few tried and tested recommendations …
We wanted a central, not too expensive hotel, with all the comforts of a good hotel but the friendly, cosy welcome of a B&B. Enter The Magnetberg. Rooms are bright and clean with simple furnishings and free TV and Wifi. There’s a generous buffet breakfast, served in the restaurant with chocolate box views of the city.
Parking is available to guests at no extra cost – perfect, if like us you’re taking a road trip through Baden-Württemberg.
Friedrichsbad: Opened in 1877, a range of hot and cold water diving treatments, as well as sauna and massage therapies makes Friedrichsbad the destination of choice for anyone looking for a chilled out escape. One piece of advice – prepare to swap your bathing suit for your birthday suit when you arrive. This spa is officially nudist.
Men and women can enjoy treatments in separate spaces every Monday, Thursday and Saturday. On other days, everyone is free to mix and mingle. If like us, the idea of parading around absolutely starkers makes you a tad uncomfortable, you might want to give it a miss.
Caracalla Spa: Caracalla Spa is located just a few steps from Friedrichsbad. Open to the public since 1985, there are 3 swimming pools, as well as 7 different saunas, waterfalls and cold water caves that stimulate the circulation – perfect after a quick dip in the hot tubs.
Wednesdays are known as “Girls Day”, so if you want to organise a chill out party with friends, this is the place for you. A cafe overlooks the outdoor pool, plus there’s a massage centre and boutiques where you can buy everything you need to enjoy the ultimate pampering sesh.
As we mentioned earlier, there’s more to Baden Baden than just spa treatments – it’s also home to some of Germany’s most beautiful scenery. If you love mountain walks, or if you simply want to get the best possible view of the city, head for the hills of “Mount Merkur”. It takes its name from the Roman god Mercury, the same one that is commemorated by a small memorial stone plate located on the hill overlooking the city.
You reach the top of Mount Merkur (and the panoramic tower that gives a 360 -degree views of the city) via a funicular train – the route is just over 1km long, from the parking lot to the top of the mountain. Tip: Plan your visit to coincide with lunchtime and you have an excuse to gorge on traditional noms at the Merkustüble restaurant.
Our favourite restaurant during our stay in Baden Baden was Leo’s. Located in the heart of the city, we loved it for its chic (but still casual) atmosphere, its beautiful furnishings and its delicious Mediterranean cuisine.
The restaurant is open 365 days a year and is a great option for dinner if you’re planning an evening at the casino. Tip: Trust the restaurant staff with the choice of wines, we’re still talking about an excellent rosé that accompanied our brunch on one of our visits.
Having never been to a casino, we were giddy at the the idea of visiting Baden Baden’s pride and joy. The Baden-Baden Casino is one of the most beautiful and famous casinos in the world. Dating from 1824, it attracts thousands of visitors every year, not only gamblers but also tourists, eager to catch a glimpse of its gilded interiors.
To enter, you need to show an identity card or passport to provide proof of age. Also, you need to wear stylish clothes – a jacket and tie for him, an elegant dress for her. Trainers are a no-no.
Taking a break from the table for a while, we found plenty to distract us at the casino’s Club Bernstein. We loved the cocktails, the beautiful velvet furnishings and cool 1970s – style decor. During the weekend, this is always a popular spot – pack your dancing shoes and round off the weekend in style!
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