I was so looking forward to my Baden-Baden spa experience. 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 Germany 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 southwest Germany.
Today Baden Baden 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 options that you will most enjoy.
A critical factor of that choice is your level of comfort in getting naked with strangers. But don’t worry, there are Baden Baden spa with clothes options as well.
⇒ If you’re looking to find things to do in addition to spa read my post on 14 Baden-Baden Tour Options & The Best Things to See.
The reason to be naked in a Baden Baden Germany spa 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 by those who prefer a Baden Baden nude spa experience.
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 thermal spa options – A Baden-Baden spa with clothes and a Baden-Baden nude spa – and was quite surprised by how I ended up feeling about my spa options.
What is the Best Baden-Baden Spa?
The best spa in Baden-Baden very much depends on what you would like to get out of your Spa experience. Friedrichsbad Baden Baden is the oldest and most traditional of the Baden-Baden Thermal Spa options.
However, the only option for visiting Friedrichsbad is to have a naked experience. Also, this spa in Baden Baden is all about bathing rather than treatments or swimming etc.
Baden Baden spa Caracalla is the most modern option of the therme baths 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.
In my view, Caracalla baths Baden Baden is the best choice if you are looking for a Baden Baden spa with clothes option.
If you are looking for modern and medical-style treatments then Brenners Park-Hotel and Spa Baden Baden is the place to go. For a more unique Baden Baden spa day experience try the Salina Sea Salt Grotto Baden Baden.
Finally, Baden-Baden even has its own Thai spa with the traditional Thai massage at Sabai Jai.
There are quite a few Baden-Baden spa hotel options and Heliopark Bad-hotel Zum Hirsch where I stayed even has its own hot spring so it is also possible to experience Baden Baden baths without leaving your hotel!
However, the two most famous spas in Baden Baden are Friedrichsbad Spa and Caracalla Spa. I’ll go through all the spa options in detail to help you make a decision on which – or which combination – of Baden Baden bathhouse options is best for you.
⇒ For another amazing place to spa check out my post on the 3 Best Czech Spa Towns.
Baden Baden Spa – Getting to the Baths
Caracalla Spa and Friedrichsbad Spa 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.
Brenners Park Hotel and Spa is located on the famous Lichtentaler Allee and about a ten-minute walk from the main shopping street. Sabai Jai is a fifteen-minute walk in the other direction from the centre of town.
1. Best Baden Baden Spa with Clothes option – Caracalla Spa Baden-Baden
Caracalla Therme Spa Baden-Baden Germany has 43000 square feet of thermal waters, saunas, hot and cold pools and a stylish wellness lounge. It is extremely impressive. Caracalla Baden Baden has 12 curative thermal springs, a café, giant pools, outdoor areas – really it has everything.
It is home to what seems to the largest Baden Baden swimming pool. Upon arrival at Caracalla Spa, you will choose which spa options you would like to experience.
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 in the Caracalla spa changing rooms with complete privacy.
Once out of the change rooms the first area you will encounter is the Caracalla thermal baths Baden Baden 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 at Caracalla Baden Baden Germany that are accessed by swimming through.
The two outdoor pools at Caracalla feature water currents, whirlpools and lots of different options to enjoy bathing at different temperatures and pressure levels. The pool 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 at Caracalla 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 at Caracalla Germany 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 sauna Baden Baden 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 at Caracalla Spa 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 Caracalla Spa Prices
Baden Baden 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 at Caracalla.
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.
It is easy to find Baden Baden baths pictures online but it is generally not okay to bring your camera into the spa areas – which is understandable.
2. Best Modern Spa Option – Brenners Park-Hotel and Spa Baden-Baden
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 Park Hotel and Spa Baden Barden has an absolutely stunning location actually on Lichtentaler Allee. This is the most upmarket of the Baden Baden resort spa options. 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 Park-Hotel and Spa 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
3. Best option for something different – Sabai Jai Thai Massage
For a very different type of spa experience check out Sabai Jai. To be honest, the location and look of Sabai Jai are quite basic after the majestic more traditional spas of Baden-Baden.
However, Sabai Jai Baden Baden is well known and rated for offering an excellent Thai massage.
⇒ A highlight of Europe is the wonderful Italy. Check out my posts on things to do in Rimini, best places to visit in Puglia, wineries in Montepulciano, things to do in Sicily, where to stay in Sicily and my Sicily Itinerary 7 days.
The spa 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 does 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.
These Baden Baden spa 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.
4. Best Traditional Spa Option – Friedrichsbad
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 and Baden Baden hot springs.
When Friedrichsbad spa opened back in 1877 it was considered to be the most modern bathing establishment in Europe.
Friedrichsbad Spa 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 at Friedrichsbad 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 a staff member.
The woman at Friedrichsbad 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 these Baden Baden 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 at Friedrichsbad 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 at Friedrichsbad 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 wandering around naked 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 at Friedrichsbad 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 Spa Cost?
The entry-level price at Friedrichsbad Baden Baden 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. Something Different – Salina Sea Salt Grotto Baden Baden
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 at Salina Sea Salt Grotto 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. The Salina Sea Salt Grotto is generally open every day and prices start from 12.50 Euros.
⇒ Another fantastic city to visit in Germany is its second-biggest – check out my post on One Day in Hamburg
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.
Heliopark Bad-Hotel Zum Hirsch 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 yogurt and granola.
Heliopark Bad-Hotel Zum Hirsch Baden Baden also has its own spa. As well as a range of treatments it offers a sauna, steam bath, and bio-sauna.
The location of this Baden Baden spa hotel 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.
Some other Baden Baden Hotels are:
For top-end luxury and a stunning in house spa, it has to be Brenner’s Park Hotel and Spa
The newest boutique hotel in town is Roomers. It is super modern and has a fancy rooftop bar and a sushi restaurant with a great reputation.
For a mix of art nouveau and townhouse and a fantastic location near Lichtentaler Allee check out Hotel Der Kleine Prinz
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 that 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 tourist 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.
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 at Cafe Koenig as well – before I decided I couldn’t go past having black forest cake considering where I was – and it was fantastic.
Cafe Koenig Baden Baden has 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.
⇒ Austria has everything from mountains to lakes to fantastic food to the Sound of Music and so much more – find out where to go in my Austria Itinerary, Innsbruck Highlights and the best things to do in Graz.
My best Baden-Baden coffee 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 to Kaffeesack Baden Baden three times during my stay.
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 to Baden Baden 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.
Who Paid for What in this Post
A big thank you to the fantastic team at the City of Baden-Baden. They sponsored my trip (eg covered my accommodation, spa entry, and most meals) and were fabulous. I paid for my flights. 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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