Wiesbaden is situated in the southwest of Germany and has more than a quarter of a million inhabitants. On top of this, it also has around ten thousand Americans who are in the US Army. It is classed as one of the most aged spa towns within the EU and its name literally means ‘meadow baths’. To qualify for this, fourteen springs are still operating today.
History and Geography
Wiesbaden sits right on the Rhine and, on the opposite bank, is Mainz. The centre of the city is around five kilometers away, sitting on flat land. In the distance are the Taunus Heights, with the Hainerbert to the east of the city. However, it is the wide and flat plains that make this place ideal for cycling and hiking. The municipality is just 204 square kilometers, but the north has some extremely large forest areas. On the western side, expect to see grapes growing and general farmland.
Best time to go
Wiesbaden is a very moderate place when it comes to temperatures with May to September being the warmest months. Even then, the temperatures will not usually go above 25°C (77°F), which is really quite pleasant. Winter sees daytime temperatures dropping down to around 4°C (39°F).
Getting Around in Wiesbaden
Since the centre of Wiesbaden is usually clogged with traffic, having a self drive car or taxi during the working week is probably not the best choice for tourists. Spending hours in traffic jams is what most of us want to get away from on holidays, so think carefully here.
There is a good train service in Wiesbaden and visitors can easily connect to places like Frankfurt and Koblenz or Mainz. There is also high speed train that runs from the city to Cologne-Frankfurt and beyond. Those who are staying for some time may find it more economical to purchase a BahnCard to get discounts along the way.
The bus service is good and connects all the districts with a half-hourly service. This is increased to a fifteen minute service during the rush hour so people do not have to wait long to get on board.
Since Frankfurt Airport is not far away, Wiesbaden can be accessed by visitors from around the globe. The airport also has two railway stations making it extremely easy for visitors to get into the city.
Major Attractions and Sights
Some of the buildings in this part of the world are absolutely stunning. The Baroque-style state theatre is a masterpiece of over the top design. It was designed by two Viennese men, Fellner and Helmer, in the late nineteenth century. Along the same complex of buildings, find the Theatre Kolonnade and the Kurhaus Kolonnade among others. Expect to see performances brought in from the wider Germany area which will include theatrical shows, classical music and opera.
Another great place to explore is the Market Church (Marktkirche) which, at 92 meters, it is the tallest building in the town. Try to catch a glimpse of it in late afternoon when the masonry turns to a lovely orange color in the fading sunlight.
One of the largest churches in Wiesbarden is the St Boniface church which has a really striking appearance. Not only can it seat 4,500 people, it has two huge spires which look out over the town. It has a bit of a history since it almost fell down not long after it was built in the early nineteenth century, but locals got together to ensure that it went back up again, this time with a completely different feel to the place.
Being a spa town, a must-visit is the spa rooms. Located next door to the casino, it features the longest colonnaded hall in Europe, a clutch of assembly rooms and a pretty English-inspired garden where you can follow in the footsteps of such luminaries as Goethe, Brahms, Wagner and Dostoevsky.
The old city is charming and its main attraction is Schlossplatz with the magnificent city palace that was once home to the Prussian royal family. The winding narrow streets make for an interesting walking tour and you can see the old structure of Weisbaden – the Heathen’s Wall, and also the Bäckerbrunnen fountain. As you meander, you’ll hear the striking and the call of the Wiesbaden Cuckoo Clock – reputedly, the largest in the world.
It may be a good idea to jump on a train and take a trip to Koblenz. The railway line goes all the way along the Rhine and there are beautiful castles en route for photo opportunities. While in Koblenz, grab a lovely lunch in the old Prussian fort which has a remarkable statue of Kaiser Willhelm himself.
There is a lovely spa town in the Taunus hills with the Taunus Wunderland with a host of fun attractions for the rest of the family. Here, expect to ride on the overhead railway, rides for the brave of heart or those who would much rather something a little more sedentary. There is even a carousel ride for the very young and they get to play at being pirates or challenging the older folks to a great water fight.
There is all kinds of stuff going on here, for example, spot the dragons hiding behind the rocks, a haunted house, giant water slides and pirate ships to hitch a ride on.
Another energy sapping place to go to is the Kletterwal Neroberg which is situated out of Wiesbaden. Not only is the place scenically beautiful, it is also home to the largest ropes course in the whole area. There are four different courses on offer which challenge people to climb, just dangle or balance across the course. Don’t forget to cover legs with good trousers or track suit bottoms and wear comfortable flat shoes for the climbing parts. They only close when it is raining or snowing or the wind is too high so ensure that weather appropriate clothes are brought along.
For something a little bit different, adults and kids could try out the Schloss Freudenberg. This Neo Classical mansion provides just the right environment for everyone to experience different ‘sensory’ feelings like touch, smell, thinking etc. The Dark Bar serves up drinks and food in complete darkness, as the name would suggest, by blind waiters who rely on their very honed senses to find the clients. In the gardens there is an Aeolian harp which plays with the strength of the wind blowing through it, a labyrinth made from stone and many other toys and playgrounds for the kids to let off even more steam.
Cycling is a must in this part of the world and whole families can get on their wheels and head off into the Rheingau region. This is a lovely area to view and it is the healthy option for getting around. Not only is the town easily traversed by bike, it is also easy to go off to the mountains in the Taunus Woods. Visitors can book up for the Riesling Routes or try the main Veloroute-Rhine which takes riders through a few countries.
There are cycle maps to show people which way to go and to assure the family that they do not get lost en route. Overnight stays can also be factored in so there is no scramble for shelter at the end of the day. This is a lovely way to reconnect with the family after working hard all year!
Shopping in Wiesbaden
The Sternschnuppenmarkt is within central Schlossplatz and spreads out to the neighboring streets. This enticing show of goodies starts in November and goes on until the day before Christmas Eve every year. This is an extremely colorful market since it is decorated in the national colors; gold, blue and lilies.
There are more than one hundred booths set up, with all kinds of Christmas goodies on offer. There are arts, crafts and rides for the kids to enjoy, all overlooked by a huge Christmas tree. This is decorated with more than a thousand gold and blue ribbons, naturally, and 2,500 lights. The complementing nativity scene is made up of life sized figures.
Wiesbaden has the best of both worlds for shopping in that it has individual outlets and chain stores jostling side by side. There are enough up-market stores to satisfy even the fussiest of tastes, which gives the place a rather cosmopolitan feel. There are antique shops, well known jewelry shops and goldsmiths, sitting side by side with designer stores so, for those with money to fritter away, this is the ideal spot to lose some dollars – or should we say euros?
Don’t forget the twice weekly Farmer’s Market for a taste of local living. Wednesdays and Saturdays are the days when this takes place.
Eating Out in Wiesbaden
It may seem odd but people in Wiesbaden just love Thai food. The Chookdee Thai restaurant is one of the best, but it does tend to get very busy. There are also middle-eastern bistros in Wiesbarden and they are dotted around the place. Cappadocia is one of the better ones and serves up a delicious stew with rice and bread for just a small amount of money.
Lovers of vegetarian food will be well at home in Spital, the restaurant which serves up lovely pastries and drinks in the morning and substantial meals in the evening. However, carnivores are also catered for.
Nova Lounge is situated in a lovely park area. Some tables are set out under the ancient trees and among the beautiful flower beds. It offers some of the most wonderful examples of the national cuisine so this is the place to go for something local. Yet another odd place to take a meal is in the old tower in an establishment called Turm.
Gourmands just have to visit the Ente restaurant. Here there are Oriental foods on offer, chefs cook up wonderfully unique dishes, and visitors can even sample Italian food at the Osteria Da Enzo. There are original recipes enough to keep everyone stuffed!
Maloiseau’s Restaurant sits right next to the Sherry & Port Bistro and, as such, it is drawing a lot of attention. Here find a predominantly French menu with crème brulée taking top awards from the patrons. There is also a huge selection of seafood dishes but it must be said that the menu is on the expensive side. Six courses, including wine, coffee and water will set the diner back at something just below one hundred euro. Since the prices don’t put people off, book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Nightlife in Wiesbaden
Wiesbaden locals just love to gamble and it is no wonder because the casino at Spielbank Wiesbaden is spectacular in style. The building it resides in was partially destroyed in WW2 and stayed that way until about thirty years ago. Now it is an absolute perfection of filigree wood carvings and crystal chandeliers that really make the place sparkle. All the usual casino games are available but it is worth going along just to see the opulence of the place.
Café Hauptwach is a cool place to have lunch or dinner. There are many German dishes on the menu but it is the social side of the place that attracts many. Obviously the American influence can be seen in many places but everyone tends to mingle very well.
If people want to mix with the Brits, the Scotch and Soda Pub is the place to be. Locals love this place even though it is full of ex-pats. It stands on the Goldgasse and the food, which includes the unusual ‘steak on a stone’ dish, which sees people cooking meat right at their tables. The beer is good too and includes brands from Germany and the UK. The ambience is great so give this one a try.
Anything of local interest in Wiesbaden
May is the time to arrive to take part in the arts festival. The May Festival was brought into being in 1896 and features some of the very best music and theatre performances. There are operas, ballets and modern dance shows, as well as cabaret performances and poetry readings.
August sees the Rheingau Wine Week taking place. Here find fine wines and the sparkling variety housed around the town hall. Thousands of people come into the place just for this festival to try out the Riesling wines that the region is famous for. Expect to sample some delicious dishes from the same region and enjoy entertainment all in one very enjoyable week.
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