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Baden-Baden is the ideal city to take a break following the route through the Black Forest. But I’m not talking about a simple break, but a break dedicated to well-being (and also to luxury, elegance, relaxation, cultural activities as well as beautiful walks).
The streets of Baden Baden, and always within walking distance there are beautiful gardens and parks
If you want to know about my trip through Selva Negra, I recommend you to start by seeing the detail of my route through seven villages and essential corners. The Black Forest is one of the most beautiful regions of Germany along the French border (and is almost parallel and very close to the French region of Alsace). If we go to this region it’s a must to pass through Baden-Baden one day.
Why visit Baden-Baden?
This city of palaces, mansions, parks and beautiful gardens, luxury, elegance and hot springs, can take us to the extreme of dressing in etiquette to enter its famous casino, or leave us far from the clothing shelter in its legendary thermal baths (some of them without bathing suit). It is located in a valley legendary for its microclimate and thermal waters (in fact there are thermal baths there since Roman times). Baden-Baden is a vestige of the Belle Epoque in the 21st century, memories of its splendour as a renowned spa at the beginning of the 20th century. But that doesn’t mean it’s a “time-stayed” city. It seems more like a city nostalgic and proud of its past, but adapted to the changes of the present.
Some brief facts illustrating Baden-Baden. It has a microclimate that makes its winters a little milder than we might expect. Thermal waters at 68º C with therapeutic properties sprout under the city floor. It has 55,000 inhabitants. Just as in Roman times it summoned the upper classes with its thermal waters, today they are assiduous members of the royalty, owners of fortunes and famous personalities.
How to get to Baden-Baden.
The nearest (not the most important) airport is Karlsruhe Baden-Baden Airport. For example from Spain there are Ryanair flights from Girona direct to this airport (it was the one I used in my visit). Once at the airport, by car it is only 17 minutes to Baden-Baden.
Tip for car hire (and discount): if you programme to explore by car Alsace or the Black Forest region, you will almost certainly need a rental car. From the blog we manage more than 1,500 rental car reservations with Rentalcars from this search engine. If you use it, as if you hire any service from the blog, you will not have any extra cost. They are services that I also use in my travels, and by hiring from these links also collaborate with the blog as they leave small commissions for each recommendation (and in results you can access discounts of up to 15%). Finally my recommendation is always that you try to rent your car in the airports because there are the best prices.
Train and buses. There are bus connections from the airport to Baden-Baden, as well as a train station in Baden-Baden that connects with Strasbourg, and other cities in the Black Forest, in addition to the possibility of making connections with Germany and France.
From Strasbourg. Many come to visit the neighbouring region of Alsace in France (I also made a guide to visit Alsace), and from there make an excursion to Baden-Baden. This of course you can do either on your own, or on an organised day trip (with Spanish speaking guides).
How many days to stay in Baden-Baden?
At this point I will make a few clarifications. If we go with the idea of having a screenshot of the city, even half a day might be enough. It is not a big city, and all its tourist area is pedestrian and suitable for walking in just over a morning. If what we want is to enjoy some of its spas, then I do recommend staying a full day, or even spending the night there. The visits to these spa resorts, to enjoy them, take at least four hours between when we arrive and when we are inside. Baden-Baden is also a good option to base and tour the northernmost part of the Black Forest, so we could even stay two or three nights there. To travel the Black Forest I recommend to dedicate at least three days, and an ideal of five full days to do it at a more complete and relaxed pace (five days would be the minimum to do the route that I recommend and link from the second paragraph of the post).
Stay in Baden-Baden.
Surely you will be wondering about the options for staying in a city that boasts luxury tourism. Although average prices may be higher than other regions of Europe, there are always options for all types of budgets and requirements. There is a wide range of accommodation (more than 200 options that you can view and compare prices from this link). By the way, one hotel that has a good equation between user reviews and prices is the Hotel Quellenhof Sophia. The recommendation is to anticipate in time for the reservation, since hotels like the one mentioned are usually very demanded.
Stay in an Airbnb in Baden-Baden. Another option is to find a good apartment or room to rent. If you register with AIRBNB for the first time, you can take advantage of this discount of up to 31 euros for your first booking. There are some alternatives available in Baden-Baden, although not always with the best location.
The best time in Baden-Baden.
Of course the best climate is in spring and summer, especially if we program to enjoy the open air of its gardens, or summer shows. Now, it is a destination that thanks to the tourism of well-being and thermal, it is possible to visit and to enjoy all the year. In fact in the middle of winter to enjoy its spas, covered swimming pools in the spas, and historical thermal sites like the Friedrichsbad (which I explain below) is quite a success to deceive the cold of the European winter. Another good time to visit the city is in the month before Christmas, when everything is decorated, plus there are Christmas markets, something that extends to the Black Forest region and Alsace.
What to see and do: the buildings and places that will attract your attention in Baden-Baden
Spas and thermal baths. There is no doubt that the therapeutic quality of the thermal waters is one of the raisons d’être of Baden-Baden. Among the most mentioned are the thermal baths of Caracalla, or the legendary Friedrichsbad spa (which has been operating for over 100 years and was considered one of the most luxurious in Europe). Below I tell you about the singularities of these spas and why you shouldn’t miss them in my experience. By the way, in addition to the current spas in operation, you can visit the ruins of the Roman spa under the Market Square and just under the Friedrichsbad spa. It’s a 2,000-year walk backwards, and with well-preserved ruins.
The sumptuous Kurhaus Casino. Entering the casino requires dressing in a suit. It is one of the most legendary and luxurious palace casinos in Europe. More than a games room, it is a space that has great architectural value as well as a luxury in keeping with the visitors who have been coming to Baden-Baden for centuries. That’s why you can not only visit as a casino customer, but also as a tourist taking advantage of the guided tours to the casino. Thus you will be able to appreciate the ostentation in its decoration, as if you were inside a luxurious French palace. In addition, they will tell you stories about personalities who passed through the casino halls. The casino in Baden-Baden is also a place for activities, concerts and dances. In the vicinity of the casino you will find an ornate gallery which is another of Baden-Baden’s icons. It is called Trinkhalle gallery, and it is advisable to walk through it and appreciate its frescoes or columns.
Museums. There are several notable museums in a city that boasts of its art. The Frieder Burda Museum exhibits for example one of the best collections of modern art in the world. But there is a good list of museums to confirm that we could well stay longer in the city: the Municipal Museum, the Fabergé Museum.
Gardens and parks. The splendour, tidiness and beauty of Baden-Baden’s public gardens is another good reason to walk through the city. One of the most remarkable walks is the Lichtentaler (Lichtentaler Alle) boulevard. This park extends for more than two kilometers on the banks of the Oos River. It’s free so it’s just a matter of spending a good time walking and enjoying its beauty with more than 300 species of trees. In my case I was able to visit him in the spring, and the beauty of his flowers is multiplied with an unusual coloring.
The Stiftskirche church. This church is the one that stands out most over the city, for its size, its tower, but also for its history. It was the first church in the city and dates back to the 15th century. Inside there is a large collection of graves of the noble personalities of the region (margraves of Baden). Above all it impresses its tower in baroque style (built to posterior).
A trip to the hot springs of the past (Friedrichsbad Hot Springs).
The most legendary spa and thermal baths in Baden-Baden are the so-called Friedrichsbad. And if we are not regulars at German hot springs and spas, visiting this spa may be one of the most authentic experiences (starting with the fact that no bathing suit or towel is used). In fact deciding to do so is a whole stage of the visit, because it implies being willing to shed all our belongings in a locker room before entering (and that includes taking off all our clothes). Why would we do something like that to spend three hours naked? Because those three hours (which the experience lasts at least) will be the opportunity to enjoy staying inside the sumptuous building, where we will feel basically like a Roman emperor taking a bath. And between the rooms (for example) we will swim in pools under sumptuous domes with an architecture designed to dazzle us with its elegance.
How’s the experience of the Friedrichsbad spa? The experience in this spa that works in continuous and without changes since 1877 is based on the Roman, and Irish baths (in the hot air stages). About 17 different stations (rooms with different types of bathrooms) are travelled over a period of three hours. This whole tour will be repairing for our body (and relaxing for our soul as advertised). Why don’t you wear a bathing suit? I’d say this is pure German pragmatism and practicality. The bathing suit is a nuisance, uncomfortable to be in rooms with wet baths and a lot of heat. And believe that in a few minutes you forget that you are without a bathing suit, to lend to enjoy.
Experience in the Friedrichsbad. Maybe many people think that being naked for three hours through the different stages of this spa is the center of this experience, or intimidating. And nothing could be further from the truth. To leave the clothes behind is the previous step to three hours so that our body relaxes and enjoys, and above all, that quickly our head forgets that we are without clothes in only a few minutes. Once we pay our visit at the access (the basic pass is 25 euros for the three hours), we will be given an electronic bracelet that we will use to enter and mark our time both when entering and leaving. That same bracelet serves us to open the lockers where we will leave all our belongings and clothes. For the next three hours, we’ll only be wearing that bracelet. From the locker to the next stage in the shower, it will be the only time when we will bring a towel that provides the same spa, plus a shoe (flip-flops) that also provide us there (it is not necessary to bring absolutely nothing). Once we get to the shower, the experience begins. The 17 stages follow one after the other, and they are all very well signposted to follow that order from room to room: showers, wet baths, dry heat, thermal pools at different temperatures, more showers, and immersions in cold water, massages (some stages are optional and are paid in advance), a relaxing and reading room, and even a nap in a dark room where you should not hesitate to relax and sleep for a while. Each stage and up to the order is all designed to provide the body with the perfect process of pleasure and relaxation, as well as repair.
Practical information from the Friedrichsbad: open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. There are days when the spaces are mixed, and there are days when the spaces are separated by sex (Mixed days: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday / Days separated by sex: Monday, Tuesday and Saturday). Do I recommend visiting it?. If we put our modesty aside, yes, I definitely recommend it. The possibility of enjoying sumptuous spaces with all the splendorous air of the golden years of Baden-Baden is in itself an experience (it is like enjoying an authentic temple of thermal waters), or swimming in pools under immense domes, in addition to the experience of living a German spa “German style” (without clothes).
What if I want to go to a spa in Baden-Baden and I don’t feel like being without a bathing suit? In this case the option to choose between several will be for example the modern spa Caracalla (I want to clarify that this is not a mention related to any advertising, only that both spas are the most famous and mentioned of Baden-Baden and were part of my visit to the city).
This spa brother of the Friedrichsbad (belong to the same company) are very close to each other. In fact they have an underground car park to leave our car a step away from both spas. The Caracalla is the most modern version (and suitable for all ages, as the Friedrichsbad is from 16 years), with bright spaces with huge windows outside and varied. At the same time, the Caracalla is also divided into two levels, the ground floor is the part with bathing suit and suitable for all ages, and the upper part on the second floor, which is paid as a plus when entering, is the area without bathing suit (or textile free), with various saunas at different temperatures, hydromassage, solariums.
What to see near Baden-Baden.
Above all I leave you the link to the post with the details of the route to explore the Black Forest. There are many nearby towns and cities of great interest, especially nearby is Gengenbach, which is one of the most beautiful towns in the Black Forest and Germany.
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