Although we landed near Baden-Baden, we only had one afternoon to explore before our return flight. The city has earned its place among the historic spa destinations of Europe, its streets are elegant and lined with sophisticated boutiques, and from the end of November until January, they are filled with the aromas of mulled wine and freshly baked gingerbread coming from the popular Christmas market “Christkindelsmarkt”.
Where is located and how to get there
Located on the northwestern slopes of the Black Forest Mountains, Baden-Baden is part of the state of Baden-Württemberg and is enters in the Karlsruhe region. The two cities even share an airport, which we used as a starting point for our tour of the French region of Alsace. The airport is small, doesn’t have a lot of traffic and is very easy to navigate. Right in front is the stop for bus 215, which leads to the city. It can also be easily reached by train, but the railway station is far from the center and again you will have to supplement the journey by bus.
See car rental options in Baden-Baden
Getting around by car is the most convenient, so we used a rental car that we picked up a few days earlier upon arrival. I advise you to use our reliable partners from Autoeurope, where you can find a variety of companies offering this service. There are several larger car parks in the city, and we stopped at the one on Lichtentaler Str. (HERE), located near the center and the Christmas market.
See places to stay in Baden-BadenBooking.com
Breakfast and coffee – Café König
We arrived in the morning and needed a refreshing shot of caffeine, topped off with a delicious dessert. This leads us directly to the most renowned patisserie in town – Café König. With over 100 years of history, this place is an institution in German and European confectionery! There are legends that Ferenc Liszt and Leo Tolstoy were regular visitors in the past…
We were among the first customers in the sophisticated lounge of the cafe, where you settle in and have to go to the shop window to choose from the huge variety of sweet delights. This is definitely the most pleasant way to start exploring Baden-Baden! In the morning there are still not many people, while in the afternoon it is crowded with people wanting to drink a cup of hot drink, eat a delicious dessert or, as the locals like to say, “to be seen”. If you want to be seen in Baden-Baden, this is the place!
More about Baden-Baden
Perhaps the first thing that arouses the interest of most people is its name. Baden comes from German and quite logically means “baths”. Since there are several other cities with a similar name (Baden in Austria and Baden in Switzerland), the second ending was added to make it Baden-Baden or in translation – Baden city of the province of Baden!
The history of Baden-Baden dates back to ancient Rome, when the first thermal baths were built here. It was subsequently brutally looted and burned by the French in the 17th century, only to be rebuilt at the end of the 18th and reach its apogee in the 19th century during the so-called Belle Époque. It’s becoming one of the most popular spa resorts in Europe and a preferred destination for the elite. The most influential celebrities of the old continent prefer to spend their time around the natural hot springs, as many as 29 in number, indulging in opulence in the luxury hotels that have sprung up. And in 2021, the city joined the big UNESCO family, becoming part of the “Great Spa Cities of Europe”.
Through the streets of Baden-Baden
On this frosty Sunday morning, or almost noon now, we had the pleasure of walking through the almost deserted streets of the Altstadt. It feels like you’ve stepped into a luxury resort from the past. The aristocratic air is fascinating. Shopping in the shiny shops is one of the main activities here, but luckily for me, most of them were closed!
You can start from Augustplatz, with the beautiful Evangelical Church, continue with a walk along the alleys around the shore of the river Oos, weather permitting… Or you can approach like us – head to the main square Leopoldsplatz and embark on a pleasant wander around the city.
The decoration of Brunnen am Jesuitenplatz
Going out to the small square Brunnen am Jesuitenplatz, we found ourselves in a real Christmas fairy tale… Just what we came for! A beautiful Christmas tree was placed in the middle of it, and the several establishments created an incredible atmosphere with their decorations. There was a tunnel with all kinds of toys, as if we were directly in Santa’s workshop! Most of them were even moving, and at one time, artificial snow was falling to add to the even more festive feel!
To the Christmas market
The next stop on our walk is the Christmas market! It opens in November and, unlike many European bazaars, operates until the beginning of January. Its tradition dates back to the Middle Ages, and Baden-Baden’s popularity as a tourist destination in that period and the multitude of foreign visitors gave it various cultural influences.
Now we know where all the people are… at the Christkindelsmarkt! The entrance is right on the alley leading to the most popular building in the city – the Kurhaus. It is best known for being home to the famous casino, which left a strong mark on the city’s history.
💡 In the past, one of the largest foreign communities was the Russian one, and some of the most famous people who lived in the city were Nikolai Gogol, Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It’s on the lives of the last two that the local casino, one of the oldest and most beautiful in Europe, has a huge influence! Tolstoy left the city when he lost everything, even borrowed money, and based on his own experience, Dostoevsky wrote the novel “The Roulette Player”.
Through the wooden chalets of the Christkindelsmarkt
About 100 wooden houses are located throughout the park! We are greeted by festive music and great decorations to complement the Christmas spirit. There are activities and attractions for all ages, and a variety of shows take place on the outdoor stage. The chalets house great things! Handmade wooden, ceramic or glass Christmas toys, holiday scented soaps and candles, knitted scarves and hats, unique wooden toys for children and collectors and many others…
And what I liked most about the German markets compared to the French ones is that there are many more stalls with culinary delights! Our first stop was the mulled wine stand (Glühwein), where we followed the appeal from its sign – Save water, drink wine! Next come the aromatic sausages, so we can make a perfect lunch! Guided by the scent of gingerbread, you can also make your way to one of the sweet stalls to try the famous German sweets Lebkuchen or French nougat.
You can finish the tour around another major landmark in Baden-Baden – the Trinkhalle. Literally translated, it means “Drink Hall” because in the past people came here to drink from the healing thermal waters. It was built in an elegant baroque style, and during the christmas market it turns into a gallery, housing beautiful handmade nativity scene exhibition…
For a final
Baden-Baden has much more to offer its visitors… We never made it to the famous thermal baths, which we would have gladly visited if we had a little more time. But the city is a great choice for a starting point to the beautiful Black Forest region, so I’m sure we’ll be back again and I’ll add more impressions to the article!