Germany's Most Famous Spa Town: Baden-Baden

Baden-Baden's Trinkhalle
••• Baden-Baden's Trinkhalle. GettyImages / Doug Pearson 

Once the playground of the rich, the gates of Germany's most famous spa town are now open to everyone. Fantastic Rocco villas, the mystery of the Black Forest, boutique shops and - best of all - its restorative waters all make Baden-Baden a top attraction in Germany.

How to Get to Baden-Baden

The closest airport is Karlsruhe/Baden Baden only 10km from the city from the city center, but most international travelers arrive through Frankfurt's International Airport

The city is easily reachable on the country's extensive train network. Baden-Baden's Bahnhof (train station) is a 15 minute bus ride on the 201 to the town center.  It is also well-connected by Germany's extensive motorways.

History of Baden-Baden

Located in the darkly romantic southwest corner of Germany known as the Black Forest, the spa-loving Romans called the town Aquae ("the waters") for its healing springs. They were supposedly responsible for curing Emperor Caracalla's rheumatism and he celebrated this natural phenomenon by building three regal baths.

After the Romans left the area, the town retained its reputation as a health center. It was hailed in the Middle Ages for saving people from the Black Death. Its current name, the old plural form of Bad or "bath", got a second Baden to distinguish it from all the other Badens in Europe.

By the 19th-century, architect Friedrich Weinbrenner capitalized on the city's reputation with a Neoclassical spa quarter. A casino was added and the city's status was cemented as a place for relaxation and pleasure. Illustrious visitors include Tolstoy, many a Vanderbilt, Queen Victoria, Kaiser Wilhelm I and much more recently former US President Barack Obama.

Spas in Baden-Baden

Baden-Baden's baths are still the star attraction of the town. The curative waters are said to rise from a depth of 6,500 feet underground at temperatures of between 50°C and 68°C. Along the way it collects valuable minerals that give the waters its unique properties.

Hotels offer their own spas and services, but there are several other world-class spas that can tempt you to leave your room.

This historic spa is the most famous in Baden-Baden. It was built in the mid-1800s and is modeled on the Roman baths it was built upon. Marble, statues, and ornate domed ceilings provide a rich air of elegance. Mark Twain credited this spa with relieving his rheumatism and their treatments take you through a regimented program to reach perfect health.

Sea salts have a proven positive effect on the skin and respiratory tract and are utilized by this spa with the Kneipp therapy. This spa specializes in treatment with the otherworldly Salina Sea Salt Grotto. Using Dead Sea and Himalayas salts, this soothing environment treats the immune system in addition to its beauty benefits.

This chic, modern 4,000-square-meter spa has everything. Seven pools, saunas, grottoes, and a cafe provide enough restorative function to be a fountain of youth. For shy spa-goers, nudity is restricted to the upstairs sauna and the pools are swimsuit required.  

This 19th-century hotel offers complete spa services. Along with the usual pampering of sauna, pools, and massage, doctors and dentist are on staff so you can put your body right.

Baden-Baden's Other Attractions

  • Kurhaus - This spa complex that dates from 1824 and houses the Versailles-inspired casino and concert hall. Explore the regal Trinkhalle with its many frescoes, 16 towering Corinthian columns, and views of the river Oos. It also holds one of the city's tourist information centers.
  • Casino Baden-Baden - Opened in the early 1800s, this casino is the height of luxury and even Marlene Dietrich called it the world's most beautiful casino.
  • Römerplatz - Visitors can examine the ruins of the Roman baths before dipping into the same healing waters the elites of that age enjoyed.

To pair with this environment of indoor relaxation, Baden-Baden is also a haven for outdoor activities. Favorite German past times like hiking can be enjoyed year-round with golf and tennis facilities providing summer entertainment and skiing taking priority in winter.