Wiesbaden is an elegant spa town in Hesse in the west of Germany, popular for its magical springs since Roman times. Seated beside the Rhine, Wiesbaden is nestled in rolling hills dotted by vineyards and castles.
It is a top destination for river boats with visitors frequenting its rebuilt neo-classical center with Kurhaus, casino and city palace. Here is how to plan a trip to Europe’s oldest spa town, Wiesbaden.
Planning Your Trip to Wiesbaden
- Best Time to Visit: Wiesbaden has distinct seasons which makes any time of year worth a visit. As the "Nice of the North," the best weather is in the shoulder season months of May and October, which also offer better prices and smaller crowds. If you don't mind a crowd, come at Christmas to enjoy the many German Christmas markets and holiday cheer, or you can plan a trip in August for wine week, Rheingauer Weinwoche.
- Language: German, although many people also speak English.
- Currency: Euro
- Getting Around: Wiesbaden's center is easily walkable, with good public transport links via RMV as well as train and highway connections to greater Germany.
- Travel Tip: A visit to Wiesbaden would be incomplete without going to the spa. Treat yourself!
Things to Do in Wiesbaden
The refined city of Wiesbaden survived WWII with minimal damage, maintaining its pristine altstadt (old city). But the city is actually much older than that, known by the Romans as "Aquis Mattiacis" and famed even then for its healing springs. Top things to do include:
- Kurhaus and Kurpark: Built in 1907, this is the Rhine Valley's most storied event venue. The Kurhaus is a lavish complex of stunning ballrooms, intimate bars, and a legendary casino. Outside, the Kurpark is serene bowling green with fountains and pools.
- Spas: In the oldest spa town in Europe there are 14 springs still flowing today and multiple spas where you can rejuvenate your body and soul. Aukammtal is for the moneyed set, Kochbrunnen ("cooking fountain") is among the most famous with an infamous sulfur smell, and Kaiser-Friedrich Therme is a traditional bathhouse from the 1900s.
- Palaces: Wiesbaden is rich in royal buildings from the City Palace in the center to the impressive baroque Biebrich Palace to entertainment centers like the Hessian State Theatre where Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann, and Richard Strauss appeared.
What to Eat and Drink in Wiesbaden
Wiesbaden's dining scene is deeply connected to the rolling hills of vineyards that surround the city. Visitors can enjoy a different local wine with every meal and German staples like sausage and potatoes. Expect bold sauces, influenced by neighboring Belgium, and if you tire of tradition, there is a range of international foods to find in the city.
Wine-lovers should plan their visit in late summer to take advantage of the many events and festivals featuring the vineyards. The best of these is the week-long Rheingauer Weinwoche in August where over 120 food stalls take over the city center with local goods and wines.
Any time of year there are many shops like Weinhaus Kögler where you can buy the best of local wine-growers, as well as the surrounding region of Rhine-Hessen.
Restaurants in Wiesbaden:
- Weinkeller altes Rathaus: Located in the historic town hall, you can get all of the classic Bavarian dishes here.
- Restaurant Orangerie: Elevate your dining experience at the Hotel Nassuer Hoff. Elegant enough for a special occasion, it can also be an everyday treat.
- Webers Wikinger: Classic German food in a traditional setting.
- Brahaus Castle: This modern brewery between Wiesbaden and Mainz offers authentic German meals, with a large biergarten and festivals.
Where to Stay in Wiesbaden
There are youth hostels and several inexpensive hotels around the train station in Wiesbaden, but this is the ideal place to live in the lap of luxury. Wherever you choose, if it is within the Historisches Fünfeck (historical pentagon center), the center of the city is within walking distance.
- Hotel Nassaurhof: This super luxurious, five-star hotel dates back to the early 1800s and sits across from the iconic Kurhaus. Its rooftop thermal pool is one-of-a-kind and it has the city's only Michelin-starred eatery, Restaurant ENTE.
- Hotel Klemm: This boutique hotel is far from cookie-cutter. Each room is unique and service is exemplary.
Getting to Wiesbaden
Just 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Frankfurt, many visitors arrive via Germany's busiest airport. From Frankfurt International Airport, it is about 35 minutes to Wiesbaden. Travelers can arrive by train, bus, or car.
This well-connected city is also just across the Rhine from the city of Mainz. It takes 15 minutes to get to Mainz so a visit to both cities is easily manageable. Slightly further away at 2 hours is another top destination of Cologne.