The jewels of SouthWest Germany are the Black Forest, Lake Constance and cities like Heidelberg, Baden-Baden and Stuttgart. Bordered by Bavaria, the French Alsace region, Switzerland and Austria, this sunny state in the very heart of Europe is called Baden-Württemberg in German.
This region really is “Germany for connoisseurs”, whether they are looking for great music or art, fine dining or relaxing spas, unspoilt nature, vibrant cities or historic towns and romantic castles. SouthWest Germany is also the home to global brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and the cuddly Steiff Teddy Bears !
It is a perfect all-year-round destination and offers an abundance of magnificent landscapes : dense forests, lush valleys and sparkling glacial lakes in the Black Forest, exquisite vineyards along the Rhine and Neckar rivers, the spectacular plateaus of the Swabian Mountains and the Mediterranean-like shorelines of Lake Constance.
SouthWest Germany does offer something for everyone. Not only it is famous for its stunning vineyards but it is also one of Europe’s leading dining destinations. Furthermore, as Germany’s premier spa destination it offers high quality health resorts, thermal mineral baths and the latest treatments.
Favourite festivals include the Stuttgart Beer Festival during late September/early October, the Heidelberg Castle Illuminations in June, July and September, the Wine Villages in Freiburg and Stuttgart which take place in July and in August respectively, as well as the romantic Christmas markets in November and December all over the region.
Stuttgart, the capital city of the region, can be reached in less than 90 minutes by the ICE train from Frankfurt, 2h40 from Basel and 2h18 from Munich.
Explore Stuttgart through the historic city centre with its New and Old Palaces and the spectacular Museum of Art which is set in a glass cube. Make sure you don’t miss the architecturally-stunning Mercedes-Benz Museum and the Porsche Museum. For first-time visitors, the biggest surprise about Stuttgart is wine : not only do vineyards surround the city but they extend into the centre itself. After a visit to the Viniculture Museum, relax by tasting a glass of white wine.
Our tip : Take one of the two Stuttgart Hop-On Hop-Off sightseeing tours to enjoy all major attractions.
Stuttgart > Heidelberg
From Stuttgart, travel by IC train to Heidelberg (39 min trip) which is one of Europe’s most romantic cities. It is known for its world-famous castle, picturesque old town and for Germany’s oldest university which was built in 1386. Visit the castle to see the world’s biggest wine barrel and for the fabulous view over the old town and the Rhine Valley beyond. The pedestrian Hauptstrasse is great for shopping.
Our tip : The HeidelbergBeWelcomeCARD offers free use of public transport as well as free admission to many attractions in Heidelberg.
Heidelberg > Karlsruhe > Baden-Baden > Freiburg
On the 3rd day take the S-Bahn urban train line to Karlsruhe (32 min trip) to discover a perfect example of early town planning, with 32 streets radiating out from the Karlsruhe Palace and to visit the avant-garde ZKM, a Centre of Art and Media that features the latest in technology.
Continue to Baden-Baden (16 min trip) to explore the chic spa resort on the edge of the Black Forest with its aristocratic heritage, glamorous casino, grand hotels, elegant boutiques and parks. Don’t miss to stop at the Café König to try a slice of the original Black Forest Cake.
Dedicate the 4th day to enjoy the unspoilt scenery of the Black Forest, famous for its cuckoo clocks and lovely old farmhouses with sloping roofs, by taking the train south to Freiburg (43 min trip), the world’s leading eco-city. The old city centre, with its cobbled streets, is a treat for pedestrians. You’ll be able to enjoy fresh market products from farmers who have stalls everyday around the Gothic Cathedral.
Our tip : When in Baden-Baden, enjoyment and relaxation is guaranteed in the thermal pools of the modern Caracalla Spa and the neighbouring historic Roman-Irish Friedrichsbad. In Freiburg, take Germany’s longest cable car to the top of Schauinsland Mountain for great walks and fabulous views.
Freiburg > Konstanz
Take an early train from Freiburg to Konstanz (2h35 trip), the largest town on Lake Constance. Lake Constance (Bodensee in German), one of Europe’s largest and most beautiful lakes, is known as Germany’s Riviera. The scenery is glorious with vineyards, orchards, charming baroque towns and the snow-capped Alps. As for the town of Konstanz, the lively university town has plenty to offer with its 2,000 years of history, extensive lakeside gardens and medieval town centre criss-crossed with alleyways. In summer, enjoy great views of town, lake and mountain aboard an excursion boat.
Our tip : Just outside town, don’t miss the Mediterranean-like Mainau Island, famous for its flower gardens. Another must-see is the nearby Reichenau Island, with its impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site monastery.