The word “Bad” means bath in German. When it is added to the name of the town it means that it has a spa. Indeed, Baden-Baden has 12 hot springs and has been welcoming those seeking to relax and reconnect for centuries.
Baden Baden’s heydays were in the 19th century when its fantastic location, spa facilities and fabulous casino attracted the elite of Europe to travel to South West Germany. Today it has managed to keep all of those wonderful historical elements but added in more modern spa facilities, fantastic food, modern art and much more.
The city has so much on offer but in this post, I am going to focus on how to get to choose the Baden-Baden spa option that you will most enjoy. A critical factor of that choice is your level of comfort in getting naked with strangers!
The reason to be naked is one of hygiene. Sweat is the body’s way of cooling itself down. When in a sauna or a steam room any clothing slows that process down. This means that the body will not cool as well and therefore you may not be able to take being in the sauna or steam room for the recommended time.
Wearing a bathing costume is considered unhygienic and uncomfortable. However, for those of us that aren’t German or from a country where wandering naked apart from a plastic bracelet would not happen in public, this is a very daunting prospect.
I was determined to try all the Baden-Baden spa options – and was quite surprised by how I ended up feeling about my spa options!
How to get to Baden-Baden Spa Town
Baden-Baden is in the south-west of Germany and on the edge of the Black Forest. It is only 40km from the French town of Strasbourg.
The only direct flight (90 minutes) is with Ryan Air from Stansted to Baden Airpark – Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden. The airport is about 20 minutes in a cab from Baden-Baden. There are also indirect flights but the layovers can be lengthy.
The next option is Strasbourg in France. Strasbourg is just under one hour by car from Baden-Baden and 90 minutes by train. However, if you are coming from London there are no direct flights which is a bit of a pain.
I ended up flying into Stuttgart as I can only fly with Ryan Air when I literally have no other choice! British Airways and Germany Wings fly directly from Heathrow to Stuttgart and Easyjet from Gatwick. I went with BA.
Drive time between Stuttgart airport and Baden-Baden is only one hour and ten minutes. However, it isn’t cheap to get a taxi. Ours was 154 euros each way with Kiwi Taxi and that was considerably cheaper than all other options. Having said that, Kiwi Taxi was excellent and I would absolutely recommend them.
There are bus and train options but they are lengthy and rely on making at least one change – most times of day two changes.
Once you have arrived in Baden-Baden the town is very much walkable. There is no need for any form of transport other than just your two feet!
What is the Best Spa to go to in Baden-Baden?
This very much depends on what you would like to get out of your Spa experience. Friedrichsbad is the oldest and most traditional of the Baden-Baden Thermal Spa options. However, the only option for visiting Friedrichsbad is a naked experience. Also, it is all about bathing rather than treatments or swimming etc.
Caracalla is the most modern option and combines 12 curative thermal springs with amazing modern facilities. There are some naked areas within the sauna area of Caracalla but it is possible to experience virtually all of the spa clothed.
If you are looking for modern and medical-style treatments then Brenners Park-Hotel is the place to go. For a more unique experience try the Salina Sea Salt Grotto. Finally, Baden-Baden even has its own Thai spa with the traditional Thai massage at Sabai Jai.
Most hotels have their own spas and Heliopark Bad-hotel Zum Hirsch where I stayed even has its own hot spring so it is also possible to experience a spa without leaving your hotel! However, the two most famous options are Friedrichsbad and Caracalla.
I’ll go through all the options in detail to help you make a decision on which – or which combination – is best for you.
For another amazing place to spa check out my post on the 3 Best Czech Spa Towns.
Getting to the Baden-Baden Spas
Caracalla and Friedrichsbad are virtually next door to each other and are less than a five-minute walk from the main shopping street in Baden-Baden. Salina Sea Salt Grotto is also in the main town and a short walk away.
Travelling solo? Check out my post on 30 Great Solo Spa Breaks.
1. Caracalla Spa Baden-Baden
Caracalla Therme Baden-Baden Germany has 43000 square feet of thermal waters, saunas, hot and cold pools and a stylish wellness lounge. It is extremely impressive! It has 12 curative thermal springs, a café, giant pools, outdoor areas – really it has everything!
Upon arrival at Caracalla, you will choose which spa options in which you would like to partake. After receiving a plastic bracelet next up is the mixed changing areas which have many lockers as well as private sort of dressing rooms. It is very easy to get changed here in complete privacy.
Once out of the change rooms the first area you will encounter is the Caracalla thermal baths bathing area. It is easiest to divide Caracalla Baden Baden Spa into the bathing area and the sauna area. There is a huge indoor pool with a fountain/mushroom inside it. There are then two outdoor pools which are accessed by swimming through.
The two outdoor pools feature water currents, whirlpools and lots of different options to enjoy bathing at different temperatures and pressure levels.
The area also has a rock grotto with hot and cold water pools as well as an aroma steam bath and a brine inhalation room. There are lounge chairs everywhere for relaxing and a few even have infrared lamps above them which can be used free of charge.
If you are most comfortable clothed or with kids this is definitely the area to be in. There is also a café with indoor and outdoor seating and quite a good menu.
The Baden-Baden Spa Caracella sauna area is upstairs in the complex. In this area, you must remove your bathing suit but can have a towel. The majority of people in the area are naked and it is mixed sex. I did think I would find this uncomfortable but I was quite surprised by how quickly it just seemed quite normal. Having said that I kept my towel around me!!!!
Baden-Baden Caracalla Spa has five different saunas, a steam bath and two log cabin saunas outside. The saunas are kept at different temperatures – from 47 degrees in the steam bath to 95 degrees Celsius in the fire sauna! I didn’t brave that last one. 85 degrees was as hot as I got and that was more than sufficient!
I really liked heading outdoors. In addition to the log cabin saunas, there are many deck chairs etc for relaxing. It felt very peaceful out there and the air was so fresh!
This area also has a bar area with fresh juices and some snacks.
Spa Etiquette Tip – If you are going to keep your towel wrapped around you it is important that you sit on the bottom level in the saunas. This is so that your feet are only on the ground and not on any of the seating areas. It is recommended that your towel should be under your body so your skin does not make direct contact.
However, this means removing the towel! I didn’t realise this until a man kept gesturing at me and I finally realized it was because I was on the second “step” of the sauna and had my feet on the sitting area below.
Finally, Caracalla baths Baden-Baden has a wellness lounge that offers beauty and well-being treatments. It also has indoor and outdoor relaxation areas.
Baden Baden Spa Prices Caracalla
Prices start at 15 euros for 90 minutes for the bathing area only. Adding the sauna costs an extra 4 euros per person. 3 hours for both is 23 euros and a full day ticket for 27 euros.
It is generally not necessary to make appointments.
NB – No photos are allowed to be taken after the reception area – the shots in this post past that area were supplied by the Baden-Baden Tourism Board.
2. Brenners Park-Hotel Spa
Do you remember when the world cup was held in Baden-Baden and the WAGs became household names? They were staying at Brenner’s and apparently it was not possible to move on lovely Lichtentaler Allee due to all of the photographers!
Brenner’s has an absolutely stunning location actually on Lichtentaler Allee. This is the most upmarket of the spa options available in Baden-Baden. The hotel doesn’t have thermal waters or springs but it does have its own spa called Villa Stephanie.
Villa Stephanie is a state of the art spa with a focus on treatments. They have multiple offers and programmes including detox, medical treatments, weight loss etc.
Brenners is also home to Fritz and Felix, one of the new up and coming restaurants in Baden-Baden.
Another fantastic European Spa option is Monart Spa Ireland – read my review.
3. Sabai Jai Thai Massage
For a very different type of spa experience check out Sabai Jai. To be honest, the location and look are quite basic after the majestic more traditional spas of Baden-Baden! However, they are well known and rated for offering an excellent Thai massage.
It is run by Thai ladies – to be clear there is no erotic massage here just good old fashioned Thai massage and hot stones etc. Taking on these treatments do require being naked apart from those throwaway underpants but you are in a private room and there are towels – so just the same as most other “typical” spas.
The prices are terrific starting at 25 euros for a 30-minute massage.
If you like heading to Thailand for a spa treatment check out my post on my favourite spa experience – Kamalaya Thailand.
Baden-Baden spa Friedrichsbad is probably exactly what you envisaged when you thought of European classic bathing. 140 years old, this beautiful spa combines traditional Roman Bathing Culture with Irish Hot Air Bathing. When the spa opened back in 1877 it was considered to be the most modern bathing establishment in Europe.
Friedrichsbad Baden-Baden is all about experiencing its 17 stations. The stations are a mix of warm and hot, dry and wet, steam and thermal pools. The main thermal pool has a stunning domed roof. The process begins with a shower. This is followed by a warm area room. In this room, there are lounge chairs with slats for lying and relaxing.
Next up is a hot air room which was 68 degrees Celsius which I found too hot for me! I didn’t last long. This warm air time was followed by some wet time with a soap and brush massage. This is administered by someone else.
The woman asked me if I preferred my massage hard or soft. I chose soft. I would very much dread to imagine what hard must feel like! It was rather full on – but gosh my skin felt amazing and oh so soft after!
Another shower and then on to steam rooms. At this point, I was given a seat “pad” to sit on. That is then disposed of for the baths. This was a mix of lovely warm water for floating and relaxing including a whirlpool bath at 34 degrees which I think was my favourite.
This is all followed by another shower. There is then a cold water bath option at 38 degrees which I chose to mix after dipping in my toe! After drying off there is an area where you can apply moisturizer to yourself and then relaxation rooms.
So will I be really completely Naked?
The key question when it comes to Freidrichsbad! On Monday, Thursday and Saturday women and men bath separately. I visited on a Monday. After arriving and making payment at the spa the next step is the change room.
Each locker contains a sheet of sorts. I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to take this with me so I didn’t – I was then handed one as I moved out of the locker room! Apart from the sheet and the plastic bracelet I was completely naked.
The journey starts with the sheet. The sheet can come with you into the first two warm rooms. The sheet goes at the soap and brush massage stage. There is then a brief time with a seat pad before it is just you!
The completely naked with no comfort blanket stage is really just for the bathing pools – where most of your time is spent in the water. After the pools, there is the super cold bath or shower and then to the drying rooms which are filled with warm sheets/towels!
I found that I was far more comfortable than I expected. I thought I would feel terribly exposed when I had literally nothing with me but I feel they kind of break you into it with the sheet and seat pads!
I am not sure how I would have felt if the pools had been mixed. I do think it would have felt a bit odd but I think it would rapidly have seemed quite normal as no one else appears to be phased by the whole experience!
How much does Friedrichsbad Cost?
The entry-level price which covers 3 hours is 25 euros. Adding in the soap and brush massage takes it to 37 euros (this is the option I chose). Add another massage at the moisturizer stage and some more time in the spa and the cost is 49 euros.
It is not necessary to make appointments.
NB – No photos are allowed to be taken after the reception area – the shots in this post past that area were supplied by the Baden-Baden Tourism Board.
Looking for a fully clothed option? No one will be telling you to get naked in Scotland! Check out my post on 9 Brilliant Spa Breaks Scotland.
5. Salina Sea salt grotto
Alas, the Salina Sea Salt Grotto was closed for renovations when I visited Baden-Baden! The grotto is in a lovely old building in Baden-Baden. The salt has been brought in from the dead sea and Himalayas. Special generators and technology create an environment where the air is 40 times saltier than at the North Sea.
A visit to the Salina sea salt grotto is recommended for those suffering from respiratory diseases, hay fever, skin conditions and those just generally looking to relax.
It is generally open every day and prices start from 12.50 Euros.
I stayed at the Heliopark Bad-Hotel Zum Hirsch, one of the oldest buildings in Baden-Baden. It is also one of the few places outside the spas to offer thermal waters – even in your own bathroom!
The hotel has 71 rooms and is decorated in an Art Noveau style. The rooms are huge and feature all the expected modern conveniences!
The buffet breakfast was a highlight for me! There is an extensive range of hot and cold options with some excellent yoghurt and granola.
The hotel also has its own spa. As well as a range of treatments it offers a sauna, steam bath and bio-sauna.
The location could not be better! This hotel is literally in the centre of town and just off the main shopping area. It is also less than a five-minute walk to Caracalla and Friedrichsbad.
Of course, it is also possible to stay at Brenner’s Spa Hotel. The spa, Villa Stephanie, also offers rooms. The newest boutique hotel in town is called Roomers. It is very modern with a fancy rooftop bar and a sushi restaurant with an excellent reputation.
Hotel Der Kleine Prinz is a mix of art nouveau and townhouse with a great location near Lichtentaler Allee.
Where to Eat in Baden-Baden Germany
Baden-Baden is a fantastically foodie town! Let’s start with the fact that it has a Michelin starred restaurant Le Jardin de France which has a wonderful terrace in the courtyard.
Fritz & Felix is the new modern restaurant at Brenners Park Hotel and Spa that I mentioned earlier in the post.
I had a great meal – delicious goulash soup and salad – at Le Bistro. This French street café was buzzing when I visited with a menu that was a terrific mix of French and German and lots of atmosphere.
Restaurant Rizzi is a Mediterranean style restaurant in a gorgeous pink building which also has outdoor and indoor seating. I enjoyed the fantastic bouillabaisse.
Baden-Baden also has some restaurants with excellent reputations located inside some of its main tourism sites. Restaurant Kurhaus is inside the Kurhaus of course – and has some lovely views of the garden. And Leo’s or Nigrum come highly recommended.
Rive Gauche has a brilliant location on Lichtentaler Allee, all glass walls to enjoy the view and a modern French menu.
If you feel like an Indian try Namaskaar.
Moriki is known for great sushi at Roomers Hotel – and have a drink at their Rooftop Bar after your meal.
Cafes in Baden-Baden
I don’t think you should visit Baden-Baden without a trip to Café Koenig. My goodness, the cakes!!!!!! They are things of beauty. I did have some fantastic quiche as well – before I decided I couldn’t go past having black forest cake considering where I was – and it was fantastic!
They have a lovely lovely outdoor seating area which is a great option.
Kaffeehaus Baden-Baden also serves a good coffee as well as some rather amazing chocolates.
My best coffee in Baden-Baden was at Kaffeesack. Literally a few feet away from Heliopark Bad-Hotel Zum Hirsch, this super cute and cool café serves the best flat white in Baden-Baden by far! I went three times during my stay!
See more of lovely Baden-Baden in my video on 36 Hours in this German Spa Town!
A big thank you to the fantastic team at the City of Baden-Baden. They sponsored my trip (eg paid for things) and were fabulous. My costs were covered but the views in this post, as always, are all my own.
And while we’re on that track – some of the links in this post will take you to websites with whom I have a commercial agreement. If you make a purchase on those sites I will receive a small commission. I wanted to make sure you knew this.
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