Augustaplatz fountain in Baden-Baden
Baden-Baden is one of the most popular towns to visit in Germany’s beautiful Black Forest Region. It is most well known for being at the centre of the spa scene in the Black Forest and is one of Germany’s most prominent spa towns.
But a visit to Baden-Baden isn’t just all about a visit to the spa! There’s so much more to be discovered in Baden-Baden. From wandering around the historic Old Town, hitting the shops, or getting into nature, there’s lots to do in Baden-Baden. Whether you visit Baden-Baden for the day, or stay for several, it is a great addition to your Black Forest itinerary! Let's look at the best things to see and do in Baden-Baden, Germany...
Have a little more time to spend in Germany? Make sure you visit the romantic Rhine Valley, another one of Germany’s most scenic destinations.
10 Great things to do in Baden-Baden, Germany
1. Walk the Panorama trail
The Panorama trail (Panoramaweg) is one of the best long distance hiking trails in the Black Forest. This circular trail surrounds the town of Baden-Baden with stunning views. The trail is 45 km in distance and comprises of 4 stages. To complete the full trail it would take around 12 hours, without stops. If that sounds a bit much, each stage can be done individually as a point to point trail. One of the most popular stages of the Panorama trail is stage 1. Stage 1 is 9 km in distance and leads from Baden-Baden town to the Merkur cable car station. This hike is often considered one of Germany’s most beautiful hiking trails, and makes for a great day out in Baden-Baden.
The views over Baden-Baden at the start of Stage 1 of the Panorama trail
2. Explore the ruins of Hohenbaden castle
Hohenbaden castle is one of the best free attractions in Baden-Baden and a great activity for all the family. The castle was built in the 12th century, and later expanded in the 14th century. Unfortunately the castle was abandoned in the 16th century following a fire and fell into disuse. The popularity of Baden-Baden as a prominent spa town during the 19th century prompted the resurrection of Hohenbaden castle and restoration began on the ruins.
Entry into the ruins of the castle is free and you can explore at your own pace. Climb up the tower walls for fantastic views over Baden-Baden town.
To get to Hohenbaden castle, you can drive and park at the small onsite car park, or you can easily walk. If you are walking from town, start at the New castle on the edge of Baden-Baden town. From here, pass through the hilltop park and following signs for the ‘Wegweiser’ trail into the forest.
Extend your visit to the castle, spend some time exploring the Battert nature reserve, which forms part of the castle grounds. Within the nature reserve are several observation points with stunning views. This is a great way to get into nature without heading too far out of Baden-Baden town.
The impressive ruins of Hohenbaden castle
3. Wander around Baden-Baden’s Old Town
Strolling around Baden-Baden’s Old Town (Aldstadt) is a great way to soak up the charm of this historic spa town. Above the busy pedestrian precinct of the town sits the narrow alleyways, cobbled streets, decorative fountains and beautiful architecture of the Old Town. Here, you’ll find exclusive wine shops, crafts shops and jewellery designers. When you're ready for a break, enjoy lunch in the scenic Marketplatz and watch the world go by. Getting lost in the little streets of the Old Town is a great way to spend an hour or so and a must-do when visiting Baden-Baden.
Collegiate Church in Baden-Baden's Old Town
4. Relax in a Spa
The Black Forest is known for its spa towns and Baden-Baden is the most popular spa town in the region. The famous Friedrichsbad spa has been at the centre of the spa ritual in the Black Forest for over 140 years. Built in a renaissance building, you can enjoy pure indulgence at 17 different stations within the spa. If you prefer a more modern experience, the Caracalla with its large outdoor area and picturesque garden is perfect. Both spas are very popular, so book in advance!
5. Visit the original Roman Baths
If you’re interested in the history of the spa scene in Baden-Baden, you can visit the original Roman Baths. These historic baths lie underneath the carpark of the Friedrichsbad spa! The Roman baths here are some of the oldest bathing ruins in Germany, dating back over 2000 years. Entry is €5 for adults and €2 for children between the age of 7-14 years. Whilst the ruins here are not be as big as the Roman Baths complex which you visit visit in the UK town of Bath, they are still a great attraction to visit when in Baden-Baden.
6. Try Black Forest gateau
Black Forest gateau, as the name implies, originated from the Black Forest region in Germany. Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (as it is called in Germany) consists of delicious chocolate sponge, layered with whipped cream and boozy, kirsch-soaked cherries. There are plenty of cafes in Baden-Baden all serving this local treat, so you will have plenty of opportunity to try it for yourself!
Getting ready to tuck into a big slice of Black Forest gateau (My husband opted for the chocolate cake!)
7. Stroll along Lichtentaler Allee
Lichtentaler Allee is a riverside promenade through green parkland, in the centre of Baden-Baden. The pretty, paved walkway is lined with trees and seasonal flower beds, with benches to sit and enjoy the ambience. A walk through Lichtentaler Allee is a nice way to spend an hour in Baden-Baden and is a beautiful stroll at any time of year.
8. Try your luck in the casino
The Baden-Baden casino lies opposite the Aldstadt and is the oldest casino in Germany. Here, you can enjoy poker, blackjack and slot machines. Even if you don't want to gamble, you can still visit the casino by taking one of their guided tours, where you will learn about the casino’s history. There are restrictions for entering the casino, such as dress code, so be sure to check before you visit.
9. Take the funicular to Merkur Mountain
The Merkur Mountain offers some of the most spectacular views over Baden-Baden and the surrounding area. The mountain is 668 metres above sea level and can be reached either by hiking up or taking the funicular. The Merkur Mountain funicular is Europe’s steepest funicular railway, but in just a matter of minutes you will have reached the peak. At the top of the Merkur mountain, there is a restaurant, as well as a picnic and Barbeque area. There are several hiking trails which you can take from the top of the peak and also a playground for children. Another way to experience Merkur mountain is by paragliding! Book onto a tandem flight and get a great view of the town as you float down the mountain. The Merkur funicular is €6 for adults and €3.50 for children and is one of the best things to do in Baden-Baden.
10. Go Shopping
If you’re looking for designer Jewellery, watches and fashion, Baden-Baden is the place to go when visiting the Black Forest. From the nostalgic boutiques of the tree-lined Kurhaus Colonnade, to the luxury brands of Sophienstrasse and the fashion favourites of the Pedestrian Zone, you will find it all in the heart of Baden-Baden.
A busy cafe in Baden-Baden (L) and a horse and carriage wait outside the Kurhaus shopping promenade (R)
There's so much to see and do in and around Baden-Baden, but this post should give you some ideas to get you started. To help plan for your trip to Baden-Baden and the Black Forest, here's some key information.
How to get to Baden-Baden?
Getting to Baden-Baden is very easy as it is well-connected.
By plane - The closest airport is Karlsruhe airport, which is just 25 minutes outside of Baden-Baden. Another option is Frankfurt airport, which is two hours away by car, or 90 minutes by train to Baden-Baden.
By car - Baden-Baden is located just off the A5 motorway and there are many large multi-storey car parks within the town. Some hotels also have on-site car parks.
By train - Baden-Baden has its own railway station which is well connected with all big German cities and many major cities in Europe. From the railway station, you can travel by bus or taxi into the centre of town.
By bus - there are major coach companies which offer transport to Baden-Baden, however it is advisable to book ahead as these are limited.
Getting around Baden-Baden
Within the town of Baden-Baden, most attractions can be reached on foot, or by local bus and you will not need a car to explore the town. However, if you are planning to use Baden-Baden as a base to explore the Black Forest, then having your own car is highly recommended. Public transport within the wider Black Forest region is extremely limited. If you are arriving into Baden-Baden by plane, train or bus and plan to explore further afield in the Black Forest, it is advisable to rent a car if you are heading outside of the town.
How long do you need in Baden-Baden?
Baden-Baden is a great place to visit for 1-2 days. If you have one day in Baden-Baden, you will get to enjoy the ‘highlights’ that this beautiful town has to offer. 2 or 3 days in Baden-Baden will give you the chance to enjoy a spa experience and some of the hiking trails around the town too.
A one day itinerary for Baden-Baden
Start your day by visiting the Hohenbaden castle ruins, enjoying the stunning views from the castle tower. Head back into the centre of Baden-Baden and spend an hour wandering around the Old Town. Time for lunch - head to the scenic Marketplatz for a bite to eat and try some famous Black Forest gateau! In the afternoon, you have time to do some shopping and stroll through the Lichtentaler Allee.
A three day itinerary for Baden-Baden
If you have 2-3 days to spend in Baden-Baden, start your second day by taking the Merkur funicular to the top of Merkur mountain and enjoy lunch with a view. After lunch, book into a spa for an afternoon of pure indulgence!
On your third day, spend the day walking stage 1 of the Panorama trail. If hiking is not your cup of tea, visit the ruins of the Roman baths, enjoy a guided tour of the casino, or one of Baden-Baden’s many museums. You could also take a trip to nearby Bad Wildbad and take part in one of the many activities at Sommerberg Mountain Resort.
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