The state of Baden-Württemberg can be found in southwestern Germany, roughly the area between Mannheim and Lake Constance. A region almost as large as the Netherlands. Winter sports enthusiasts will mainly know Baden-Württemberg as the region through which you drive on the way to the Alps. You know the fixed junction Pforzheim, notorious for the eternal traffic jams, Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, the Swabian Alb and Ulm with its famous Münster. But not the region itself. And that’s a shame, because Baden-Württemberg is surprisingly wild, untouched and enchanting.
It is therefore not for nothing that Baden-Württemberg is a popular holiday area. My first encounter with the province in 2016 was surprising. I was amazed by the hilly and wooded area, but above all by the involvement and environmentally conscious way of thinking of the locals. The region, in its own words, is The Sunny Side of Germany and does many things slightly differently than the rest of Germany. This is the area of Germany with the most Michelin stars and the most hours of sunshine. Baden-Württemberg is aimed at nature lovers, gourmets and those interested in culture. Sustainable travel is an important pillar.
Welcome to the south!
During a trip to Baden-Württemberg you will not only discover the dense forests of the Black Forest, the beauty of the Swabian Alb and Lake Constance. But a variety of charming villages with typical German half-timbered houses, fortresses, castles, monasteries, churches, caves and vineyards ensure that every year masses of tourists flock to this area. And then you can also enjoy the tastiest specialties. Have a look!
#1 Taste the flavors of Baden-Württemberg – combine hiking with culinary delights
Ask a foodie and they will unanimously answer that you have to go to Southwest Germany for gastronomic highlights. The border triangle of Germany, France and Switzerland has long been known for its high-quality cuisine with regional ingredients. Here we work with quality, stuff that is involved with regular local partners. Small scale, craftsmanship and innovation in the field of recipes. You can get acquainted with local ingredients on a wild herbs tour. Or you can follow a workshop at the pastry chef, because the Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte is of course the culinary icon of the Black Forest.
Taste Maultaschen and Spätzle, Brezeln, Flammkuchen and Rostbraten. You will also find Baden wines, specialty beers from Baden and Württemberg, German Gin and ʹWässerliʹ (a fruit brandy) in this region. Talk to brewers and winemakers about their crafts and learn about centuries-old traditions. Try locally distilled fruit brandy cooling in “schnapps fountains” on the Schnapps Distillery Trails in Sasbachwalden. Taste award-winning beers in Ehingen at five breweries on the so-called Beer Hiking Trail. In early summer you cycle on the Baden Asparagus Trail through asparagus fields and order fresh asparagus from taverns.
Baiersbronn is located in the northernmost part of the Black Forest. This city is both a good base for beautiful walks and a place for excellent gastronomy. With several world-famous star restaurants, the city offers visitors not only beautiful, untouched nature, but also first-class culinary delights. Several challenging hikes have been set out in the region that lead to eateries in the area. There is nothing better than a good meal after a brisk walk. You will be spoiled with regional delicacies, such as the so-called Baiersbronner Schätzen.
For more information and gastronomic walking routes, view the interactive map on the website Wandern im Schwarzwald.
#2 Discover the “small town gems”
Everyone knows Stuttgart and Heidelberg, the Black Forest and Lake Constance. But to understand the heart and soul of the region, you need the so-called Kleinstadtperlen of Baden-Württemberg explore. Beautiful towns, little gems, partly hidden in the midst of beautiful natural landscapes. Some are known for their fine wine, beer or schnapps; others for a special bread, cake or dish. There are unusual little museums and pedestrian shopping streets with unique boutiques. Beautiful old market squares and the surrounding historic alleys still host bustling weekly markets, where farmers sell their fresh produce and neighbors meet to catch up. The locals are happy to tell you all the ins and outs about the region!
#3 Bathe in style – relax in harmony with nature
In Southwest Germany you will not only find historic bathhouses, but also modern wellness oases. For centuries, tourists from far and wide have come for the springs with ‘Heilwasser’, which are attributed medicinal properties. Spas are part of the culture of the region and a part of this is the sauna. For example, you can sweat in a treehouse sauna in Baiersbronn, opt for the historic Belle Epoque and Art Nouveau baths that provide aesthetic pleasure and well-being, bathe in elegant Moorish baths and no nonsense discover forest baths with mud, peat and clay.
A pleasure for the senses is”Wellness on tour” around the Swabian Alb, where you can expect wellness treatments such as hand peeling, relaxation exercises and musical stimulation. All in the heart of the countryside and surrounded by the breathtaking scenery of the biosphere area. Here you don’t necessarily need an expensive beauty farm, but just time, muse and creativity. Because do you know how nice it is to walk barefoot on the soft forest floor? Or how soothing a mud bath is? Experts say we relax better in harmony with nature.
#4 The journey is the reward – towards inner balance
Of course, in Baden-Württemberg there are plenty of ziplines, treetop paths, rope bridges and watchtowers with beautiful names like “Himmelsglück”. But those who prefer to get involved in small adventures should go off the beaten track into the forest. There you will experience the silence and get the opportunity to discover small wonders along the way. In the southwest, you’ll find plenty of reflective and pilgrimage routes that promote a slower pace and are guaranteed to feel that closeness to nature. Take a look at the Huguenot and Waldenzen path, the Martinusweg route, the Upper Swabia Pilgrim Route or the Salem to Birnau Pilgrimage Route.
The biosphere region of the Swabian Alb has a lot to offer when it comes to varied hiking trails. In the vicinity of Ehingen you will also find many meditation trails. The Ehinger Alb Trails for reflection and introspection follow a circular route through a varied landscape and invite you to step by step leave your daily life behind and achieve a new quality of life. Signs along the path ask you to rethink the old and familiar and give new stimuli in the form of “reflective feelings”.
Of a slightly different caliber are the ‘Pfade der Stille’ in the valley of the Jagst where nature and culture merge. These spiritual rest paths lead around five communities in particularly revitalizing locations: places that offer a surprising and moving meditative tranquility as well as a tangible spirituality. Examples include natural monuments such as a 1000-year-old lime tree, a cooling cave and a lake that only arises occasionally. The trails in the Hohenlohe region also connect monasteries, chapels and pilgrimage sites such as Lourdes Grotto in Zaisenhausen. Of course you can occasionally make a stop at the winery or one of the many breweries to sit down for a traditional dish such as Spätzle or Maultaschen. Not only tasty, but also good fuel for the walker.
#5 Discover the highlights of wine culture
Some of the most famous holiday routes run right through Baden-Württemberg, such as the Romantic Road, the Burgenstrae (Castle Route) and the Deutsche Fachwerkstraße. A total of twenty holiday routes lead through the most beautiful regions and to famous sights in this area. The Badische Weinstraße is a route for connoisseurs. The route starts in Switzerland and winds via beautiful roads through the German wine region “Baden” to Hesse. It is recommended to explore the many wine routes in southwest Germany, from the Kaiserstuhl in the west to Lake Constance in the east, along the lovely Tauber valley and the Neckar valley.
Numerous half-timbered villages, wine villages, farms, vineyards and wineries lure you along the Badische Weinstrae with fun activities and many events. Winegrowers, wine villages and scenic highlights come together like a string of pearls. From the four large barrels in Heidelberg Castle to the Erlebnispfad “Wein und Stein” in Heppenheim on Bergstraße, where you can look for traces of German wine culture. From a visit to the winery in the Lorsch monastery to organic viticulture in Abril – the largest ecological winery in the Kaiserstuhl region. From a hiking trail through the volcanic rock garden Winklerberg near the village of Ihringen to the Winegrowing Museum in Meersburg on Lake Constance. There is always something to do on the Baden Wine Route.
The most beautiful places of the “Weinstrasse” see you with one of the “Weinerlebnisführer Baden“. A network of guides from the region, with a passion for Baden wines, offer numerous tours through the region. The so-called wine experience guides provide special wine packages, culinary wine tastings or vineyard tours. You can walk, bike, e-scooter or even take a tuk-tuk through the wine region. At the seasonal “Besenwirtschaften” or “Straussenwirtschaften”, small pop-up bars on the winegrowers’ grounds, you can enjoy their own products such as asparagus, ham, trout and of course wine. From wine cellar tours to wine walks that clearly show you the difference between the professional organic farmer and the ‘normal’ farmer, you will learn all the wine secrets here!
Baden-Württemberg – The Relaxed South
Baden-Württemberg has it all. Mountains, dense forests, atmospheric cities, river valleys, romantic castles and fortresses, caves, lakes and vineyards. It’s not hip, but traditional. The combination of untouched nature and sunny weather is unbeatable. Plus: excellent cuisine, warm hospitality and people who live surprisingly close to nature, with an unprecedented love for the environment. The special experiences in the Black Forest are focused on slow travel, slow food, nature experience and wellness. Because slow and mindful living seems to come naturally here. I feel rich to have discovered this place not too far from home. Highly recommended for the conscious traveler!
More inspiration for a special holiday can be found on the very nice English site of Tourism Baden-Wurttemberg!