The center of any spa town is the Kurhaus where the guests meet for entertainment, food and drink, to watch and be watched. The Kurhaus contains halls for concerts, dancing and other events, a restaurant and cafe, and of course Baden-Baden's famous casino. See my travelogue page for pictures of the casino's extravagant, impressive interior.
The restaurant is not bad but not the greatest I've ever been in, and not the cheapest either.
The casino is open for gambling after 2 p.m. Minimum age 21. Dress code: jacket and tie for men, women adequate. In case of emergency (= lack of such in travel luggage) jacket and tie can be borrowed from the reception.
Passport or ID card have to be shown (driver's licence is not accepted) - because they check if your name is on the list of banned gambling addicts, that's all.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Spa and Resort
- Casino and Gambling
Here are our (me and my sister) experiences of saunas in Caracalla:
Crystal sauna, 90 C: there were "some kind of crystal" in the sauna and some essential oils in the air. The sauna was quite hot and dry (even to us who has used to sauna a lot).
Vapour sauna, 85 C: essential oils were too much for me in this sauna.
Aroma sauna, 85 C: there were green lightning and the essential oils were quite strong but I kind of liked it.
Sauna of silence, 95 C: this was a nice sauna. The main thing in this sauna is that there should be a total silence. This was the nearest to the Finnish sauna and propably that was a reason why I liked it so much.
Sanarium, 57 C: this was too easy for us. This is an alternative if you can't stand the real Finnish sauna. If you think that Finnish sauna is too dry and hot, try this instead. It has been said that this sauna improves and purifies your skin.
Blue space: this was a kind of odd experience. Everyone was laying in those illuminated (hard) beds, there were optical sounds and the beds were vibrating. This was too strange for me and I couldn't relax there.
There's also solarium and hot lamps ("airjets" as they call it) but we didn't try them.
The spa has more than 3,000 m² space. The water is healing thermal water and water temperatures are from 18 to 38 C. The thermal water comes from natural springs in the Florentine Hill in Baden-Baden. It has been said that bathing in thermal water actives, rejuvenates and stimulates the entire body and it's a good treatment for example rheumatoid arthritis, spinal and locomotive disorders etc.
Notice that children under 3 years are not allowed in the spa! Children between 7 and 14 years may only go if they are accompanied by an adult.
The spa is open Mon-Sun 8 am - 10 pm.
2 hours visit is 12 € and 4 hours visit 16 €.
Ruins of the Roman Baths
The ancient Romans have already enjoyed the thermal springs of Aquae, the settlement that later became Baden-Baden. Excavations have unearthed the remnants of the Roman spa. The ruins can be seen underneath the Friedrichsbad at the entrance to the parking garage.
Opening hours: March 16 to Nov 15, 11.00-12.00 and 15.00-16.00 (Nov 16 to March 15 closed). Opening hours have been reduced to one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon in 2010!
Entrance fee: adults € 2.50, kids (14 and under) € 1.00. The entrance fee includes an audioguide which is helpful to understand what you see, there are no written explanations in the excavations. The audioguide is available in several languages.
Strictly no photography inside (*whispers* but when the thing is closed no one can keep you from taking photos through the window)
- Spa and Resort
- Historical Travel
Neues Schloss - New Palace
The former residence of the Marggraves of Baden-Baden on the Florentinerberg was first built in the 16th century and later extended. In 1700 Marggrave Ludwig Wilhelm decided to move to Rastatt where he had his new baroque palace and town erected. The palace in Baden-Baden served only for occasional visits from then on.
In 1995 the Marggraves of Baden sold the palace and all its interior in an auction. An investor bought the building and planned to turn it into a luxury hotel. So far, nothing has happened, probably due to financial problems. The decay of the building continues, its further fate is yet to decide about.
The terrace (photo 2) offers a nice view of the town and the valley.
The palace itself is closed to visitors. If the main gate is open, at least a (forbidden) peep into the courtyard is possible (photo 5).
Update, summer 2010: Seems a new investor has been found and new plans have been made. A recent press release announced the the works to start soon. "With utmost care" (whatever that is supposed to mean) the palace will be turned into a luxury hotel. A new building is planned in the park. The hotel is to open in 2013. The picture (photo 5) is taken from the sign they have put up outside the palace.
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
Hang Gliding on Merkurberg
Merkurberg has become a popular hang gliding base in recent years. A big gale in 1999 (the infamous “Lothar”) has left large clearings in the forest around the summit and the local hanggliding club has, in close contact with the authorities and in regard of protection of nature, been able to establish two starting points, one to the west and one to the northeast.
On fine days there are often hang gliders around and you can watch them from close by.
See a hang glider take off in my travelogue
In case you are a hang glider and want to fly from Merkurberg: Yes you can, though not ‘just like that’. Apologies because I do not know a thing about hang gliding but I have read the information boards on the mountain top... The base on Merkurberg is controlled by the local hang gliding club named Schwarzwaldgeier, the “Black Forest Vultures”. Everyone can fly there but you must have a licence, buy a day membership and be instructed about the area by one of them. Check out their website and/or contact them for terms and conditions and all details: www.schwarzwaldgeier.de
- Hang Gliding
Climbing Merkurberg can be done easily by funicular. It runs every 8-15 minutes depending on demand. Return fare is 4 €. You can buy tickets either from the souvenir shop in the station or from a ticket machine. KVV tickets are not valid on the funicular.
The funicular is remarkably steep, 54% in the top part of the line.
To reach the bottom station of the funicular, take bus 204 or 205 from the town centre, 205 also runs to/from the train station. Each of them runs only once per hour, so check the timetables in advance.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Baden-Baden’s „house mountain“ offers a beautiful view of the Oos valley with the town, the mountains of the northern Black Forest and over the Rhine plain to the Vosges. A network of hiking trails start from the top station of Merkurberg funicular, so if you feel like exercise you have plenty of options. If you prefer taking it easy, enjoy the view, walk a bit round the summit, watch the hanggliders, stop for a coffee at the cafe in the top station… If you plan more activity, the summit is connected to the wide network of hiking trails around Baden-Baden.
Originally named Großer Staufenberg, it was renamed Merkurberg after an ancient stone relief of the Roman god mercury had been found here. A copy is put up on the summit.
- Hiking and Walking
- Historical Travel
Enjoy concerts at the Festspielhaus
The Festspielhaus first opened its doors in April 1998. With 2500 seats it is the second largest opera house and concert hall in Europe. The Festspielhaus is the only privately funded opera house in Europe.
The bulding was constructed around the historical train station, and the two architectural styles where combined under the leadership of Viennese architect Wilhelm Holzbauer. The acoustics of the Festspielhaus are considered to be among the best in the world.
I was fortunate enough to attend a concert of Bach's Matthias Passion, and it truly was a magnificent excperience. This was only one of 80 classical concerts presented per year, in addition to the operas, ballets and other concerts.
The Festspielhaus also houses the Restaurant Aida. Tours of the house are available on certain days throughout the year, the duration is around 60 minutes, and the cost 5Eur.
- Luxury Travel
- Theater Travel
Sammlung Frieder Burda
In October 2004 the museum Sammlung Frieder Burda opened its doors. After some month of struggle Mr Burda finally realised his plans for the museum. In Baden-Baden had been some people who weren’t happy with the plans for the museum. E.g . they had the opinion that the museum would destroy the general view of “Lichtentaler Allee” but the objections had been overruled. I’m really happy that Mr. Burda’s plans got accepted because I am a great fan of this building. Since my first visit I am also a fan of the inner parts of the building.
You can buy a ticket which is only valid for “Sammlung Frieder Burda” (at 9 EUR) or one which also allows you to visit Staatliche Kunsthalle (at 11 EUR)
If you are an owner of the ”Museums Pass” you have free entrance.
Don’t miss to use the lift!!!
- Museum Visits
- Arts and Culture
Baden Baden has a long tradition as a spa town stretching back as far as the Roman tines. They built some of the first baths here and the evidence is now preserved for all to see. One of the baths lies beneath the Friedrichsbad and is known as the soldiers bath. Both the floor and wall heating systems are in an amazing state of oreservation.
**Please note there is no photography inside**
Audio guides can be provided and there is also a computer video animation if the original baths.
Entance fee in May 2008 was 2.50 Euro
The Friedrichsbad is one of the oldest and biggest spas in Baden-Baden.
Being prudish I never went into this spa as it is entirely nude! If you have any hang ups about your body then be warned!
The baths offer a unique experience of a routine covering all aspects of the spa from the first shower to the to the rest room at the end. The spa is very popular amongst couples.
Caracalla Thermal Baths
More modern looking than the Friedichsbad. The bathing area has a large variety of bathing pools and a Roman saunascape with an outdoor area in the picturesque castle gardens. Prices vary according to how long you stay and there are parking facilities too.
The New Palace is high above the old town and near to the Stiftskirche. It is the formare home of the Margraves of Baden Baden. It is a pity because the place is run down and nothing is being done to restore it despite investors buying nearly 15 years ago. A piece of history is to be lost if nothing is done soon.
World Famous Casino
The world famous casino is in the centre of the town and visitors can walk in and admire the wonderful building. The casino is housed in the Kurhaus which, was built built between 1821 and 1824. If you can afford to spend the evening here I am sure you will spot some famous people and kiss goodbye to many Euros! "The most beautiful casino in the world”, was how Marlene Dietrich described Germany’s oldest casino. Formal dress is required to gamble or eat there but you can take a guided tour wearing what you like and you don't have to part with much money to do that.
Tinkhalle (Tourist Info Building)
The Trinhalle is now home to the tourist information office and is very close to the casino in the Kurpark. Built between 1839 and 1842, it is 300-feet-long and shows 14 frescoes depicting legends about Baden-Baden. There are also Corinthian pillars adornig the building.
Inside the Trinkhalle you can sample the hot spring water for free If you haven't got a bottle or cup you can buy one very cheaply there.
There is also a small cafe and ticket service in here too.