Situated in the south-west of Germany, in the heart of the Black Forest, Baden-Baden is the perfect weekend getaway for those that want to indulge in some self-pampering and luxury!
1. The Casino
The Baden-Baden Casino can be experienced both day and night. If you are a tourist, you are better off booking a guided tour (as you can wear your travel clothes and still get to appreciate the glitz and glamour of the lavish building, plus learn about its fascinating history). However, if you want the full experience, get your suits and evening gowns ready, pay the entrance fee and pretend you are in a James Bond movie as you gamble your cash away!
Right next to the casino is an old building called the Trinkhalle. Since Roman times, people have come to taste the spring-water and feel its healing properties. On my visit, the sign said no drinking – the pipes are obviously not quite as clean these days, so drinking the water is more likely to cause stomach poisoning – steer clear of the taps for now!
3. Walk along Lichtentaler Allee
As you stroll down the green boulevard of magnificent trees and park land, you can pretend you are walking back in time. Since the 1600s, townsfolk have made this 2.3 km journey, which runs from the town centre to the Lichtentaler Convent. You will still see nuns walking around today. Just follow along the river and you won’t get lost.
4. Shopping in the Old Quarter
One of my favourite things to do in any European city is to take a walk around the old quarter. Pretty cobbled laneways weave through the elegant buildings and there is plenty of shopping to be done. You may as well treat yourself!
5. Feast on Black Forest Cake
Every day of indulgence needs to include a large slice of cake. And when in the Black Forest, you must try the multi-layered chocolate, cherry and cream cake named after the area. I have always wanted to eat this cake in its place of origin and I was not disappointed! Best accompanied by a pot of fresh leaf tea!
6. Thermal Baths
The most exciting attraction, by far, are the Thermal Baths, where you can laze around for hours, dipping in and out of hot and cold pools or subjecting yourself to 95 degree heat in one of the log cabin saunas. The Old Baths and the New Baths offer different experiences and what you choose will probably depend on how comfortable you are getting naked! But the Germans don’t seem to have a problem with stripping off and wandering about starkers, so it does begin to feel normal very quickly! The Old Baths are the most traditional, with a specific order of different pools at different temperatures. No clothes allowed at this one, not even a towel!
For this reason, I opted for the New Baths, where you can choose your level of comfort and clothing. Downstairs, you can easily spend hours hopping from pool to pool – wearing your swimmers! What a relief! I recommend starting in the cooler temperatures and graduating to the warmer pools. The baths are located both inside and outside, so if you wanted to, you could come here in winter and experience bathing in the snow! Every so often, different fountains and waterfalls burst forth, providing delightful water massages and bubbles. Inside, you will also fine steam rooms, where you can sit and sweat for a while before jumping back into the cold pools outside.
Now, I didn’t think I would strip completely, but I did find myself upstairs later in the afternoon, checking out the saunas! Having never been to a proper sauna, this was quite an experience. Firstly, you are only allowed to take in your towel (no swimmers), but it feels very normal very quickly. Walk through the interior saunas and you will find yourself outside in a pine forest. Here, there are a couple of log cabin saunas, complete with wood fires! It is extremely rejuvenating to sweat in a hot room that smells of pine needles for fifteen minutes, before escaping into the fresh, alpine air! You can lie down on one of the deckchairs on the wooden deck and look up into the forest as your body temperature goes back to normal! This is an experience not to be missed!
Have you been to Baden Baden? What are your recommendations?