We love exploring the destinations we visit and sharing our insights with you – our members. These destination guides will give you plenty of inspiration about what you should – and could – be enjoying, whether it will be the first or the tenth time you’ve visited. From exciting activities, tips about where to head for luxury shopping and even things that you may find a little bit quirky, you’ll find something new and inspiring to try. Explore Baden-Baden.
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Live like a local
Baden-Baden’s raison d’être is its health-giving spring water, and its pump room, the Trinkhalle, is an elegant neoclassical monument with a café and a park full of grottoes. If you want to do more than taste the waters, however, you need to visit Friedrichsbad, the most splendidly ornate public baths (hot air and steam as well as water) in the world, established in 1869 (be warned, nudity is compulsory). Across the square, the much newer Caracalla-Spa lets you keep your swimsuit on except in the sauna. For medical intervention as well as massages, Villa Stéphanie was built in the 1880s as an annexe to the venerableBrenners Park-Hotel & Spa or visiting royalty.
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For a town with a population of 54,000, Baden-Baden is packed with museums and galleries, outstanding among which is the Museum Frieder Burda. Designed by Richard Meier, it shows works from the 800-work collection amassed by the scion of the German publishing and printing dynasty after whom it is named. It’s strong on German art from the past century, notably works by Max Beckmann and other Expressionists, Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter, but American Abstraction (Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning) features prominently too. Also well worth checking out is the Fabergé Museum, which claims the largest collection of works by Carl Fabergé, as well as his contemporary jewellers and goldsmiths, Boucheron and Cartier among them.Find out more
Housed in the Kurhaus, literally ‘cure house’, Baden-Baden’s opulent casino opened in 1827, lit by a cluster of dazzling gilded chandeliers, and is the reason that, by the middle of the 19th century, the town’s summer population numbered as many Russians as Germans. Marlene Dietrich called it ‘the most beautiful casino in the world’, and it’s still worth a look even if you have no desire to gamble, though you should dress up. (At the very least, men need a jacket, women a skirt.) If you prefer a flutter on a horse to the roulette tables, then the three annual meetings at the town’s racecourse, Iffezheim, in May, late August/early September and October, are as glamorous as Royal Ascot.Find out more
With the kids
Seven kilometres south-west of Baden-Baden (10 minutes by car), lies Varnhalt, home of Mini Schwarzwald Dorf, a model village built into the rock face of an abandoned stone quarry, full of chalets typical of the area, complete with a viaduct, water-powered sawmill and Lilliputian cable car. Or head into the Black Forest for a walk or bike ride along trails dotted with waterfalls (Geroldsau is the most spectacular). The funicular that whisks you up to the 2,191ft summit of Merkur Mountain, beyond the eastern edge of the town, is said to be the steepest and most technically advanced in Europe. Walk down, stopping at the Wildgehege Wildlife Reserve, to see deer and possibly wild boar.Find out more
Given the wealth concentrated in Baden-Baden, there are numerous shops selling all the familiar luxury labels. Check out Monika Scholz and Antora for designer womenswear; Scheyder for men’s; and Tourbillon for watches. But there are also some unusual specialist shops. Millinery may be a dying art but Olivier Maugé on Lange Strasse is held to be Germany’s, possibly Europe’s, largest ‘hat salon’. Any sort of headgear can be custom-made, or you can buy off the peg. Also long-established, Vickermann und Stoya specialises in bespoke handmade shoes. For stationery, Horst Höll stocks more than 40,000 different articles pertaining to writing, and the leather goods purveyor Inka has been in business since the 1950s.Find out more
Food and drink
Baden-Baden is the home of Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte – Black Forest gateau – a glorious confection of kirsch-soaked chocolate sponge, cherries, curls of chocolate and whipped cream that bears scant relation to the frozen dessert of that name found in the UK. And Café König on Lichtentaler Strasse is the place to order it. For a slap-up dinner after a day in the forest, the Park restaurant at Brenners has two Michelin stars and an outstanding cellar of local wines.Find out more