Once known by the ancient Romans as "Aquis Mattiacis," Wiesbaden has been renowned as a spa city for centuries, with 14 hot springs you can still enjoy today and a relaxed small city pace. The charmingly restored city center is full of elegant neo-classical architecture to explore. Set against the Rheingau wine-growing region along the Rhine River, you'll find a delicious scene of food and drink in the city to tempt any palate.
There are two public hot spring - or thermal - spas you can experience in town, along with a host of private facilities, including some owned by various hotels and resorts.
The city is set along the Rhine at the eastern edge of the wine region, with hillsides of vineyards and castles to explore via river cruises, tours, or a leisurely drive.
From fine dining to cheap street food, you'll find a thriving dining scene fueled by surrounding farmlands and - naturally - the wine region next door. Sample European favorites along with Indian, Asian, and Turkish cuisines.
The city's core was painstakingly rebuilt after WWII to restore the neo-classical architecture of places like the Kurhaus, a spa house and now a convention center incorporating the Wiesbaden Casino and Wiesbaden City Palace, once the home of the Dukes of Nassau, among many other historic buildings.
Along with spas, lush green parks have always been the city's trademark, including the gorgeous Kurpark, landscaped in the English style with its own lake, near the center of the city.
Wiesbaden's most famous building, the Kurhaus was built in 1907 and is one of the Rhine Valley's major conference and events venues. But it's more than that. The interior is filled with stunning ballrooms, and also houses bars, a vibrant casino, theaters, and concert halls. Then there's the sprawling Kurpark, an extensive green space with elegant "bowling green" fountains. And, to top it all off, the Kurhaus is adjacent to the Wilhelmstrasse - Wiesbaden's liveliest shopping street.
Spas are the reason for Wiesbaden's opulence and prosperity. Or, at least they were in the late 19th century, when the town became a favorite recreational spot for Europe's rich and powerful. The legacy of that period is a cluster of spa facilities that are housed in incredibly elegant surroundings, and Aukammtal is probably the most luxurious of all. Featuring a series of indoor and outdoor pools, the Rettberg (a secluded island getaway), and the Henkell ice rink, which opens seasonally in October, it's a great place for a bit of pampering. But it's also a fascinating window onto the history of tourism and relaxation.
The Biebrich Schloss (Palace) is a stunning example of Baroque architecture, built in the late 17th and early 18th centuries as a home for the local Dukes of Nassau. These days, the dukes have died out, but the palace is very much alive, and it's a delight to explore both the structure and its gardens, which front onto the Rhine. One great way to do so, is to rent bikes and take advantage of the park's network of trails. If you do, try to take in the sunset across the river, as the view is sublime.
On the face of it, the Neroberg is just a hill to the north of Wiesbaden's old town, but there's plenty to discover here. Easily accessible via a cute funicular railway which runs to the city center, the hill is home to Wiesbaden's Russian Orthodox Church, miles and miles of nature trails, and a viewing tower revealing what must be the finest views of the city a photographer could desire. And, if you have your swimming kit, the hill's Opelbad is one of the most spectacular swimming baths in the world.
Situated around 2 miles southwest of Wiesbaden, Schloss Freudenberg isn't simply an impressive palace. It's also a really imaginative museum. Calling itself an "experience field", the museum at Schloss Freudenberg tries to offer new and challenging experiences to visitors (though always in a spirit of fun). For instance, guests might have to identify what they are touching without seeing it, or create sparks to power a bakery. Suitable for kids, it's both educational, absorbing, and almost totally original.
With its seasonal climate and relatively cold winters, most visitors come to Wiesbaden from spring through fall, between April and October, when temperatures range from about 60 to 75 degrees on average.
Frankfurt Airport (FRA) is located just over 17 miles from Wiesbaden. A taxi to town should cost about EUR60, while the S-Bahn commuter train to the city center runs EUR4.25.
There are extensive train connections from Wiesbaden throughout Germany and Europe via Frankfurt or Cologne, including S-Bahn or regional intercity trains run by Deutsche Bahn.
There are easy highway connections along highway A66 between Wiesbaden and Frankfurt, Mainz, and Cologne, along with most centers in the country and beyond.
The city is connected to an extensive network of intercity bus routes under the RMV Travel Network, with destinations available throughout Germany.
Soak up the local color with the restored 19th-century exterior and charming courtyard of the Hotel Aurora, featuring a convenient central location. Stay in contemporary luxury at the Mercure Hotel Wiesbaden City, and enjoy sunny summer days on the terrace.
Mitte - or center, this is where you will find a cache of historic architecture, along with parks and attractions such as the Museum Wiesbaden with its collection of Expressionist art.
Rheingauviertel - this leafy and largely residential area next to the city center is where you will find the stunning Ringkirche, an ornate Romanesque revival-style church, along with a local scene of dining and shopping.
Westend - bordering both Mitte and Rheingauviertel, this is the city's commercial heart, with a busy retail section for shopping and dining.
There is an extensive municipal bus network that will get you anywhere you need to go, with fares that start at EUR1.60.
Taxis are plentiful throughout the downtown areas, with fares that start at EUR3, going up an additional EUR1 for every 0.6 miles.
Large portions of the historic downtown areas are car-free, but a rental can make exploring the region easier. A compact rental starts at about EUR50.
You'll find a range of shopping opportunities along Wilhelmstrasse, and in pretty Art Deco and neo-classical buildings along Taunusstrasse in the downtown area, including national and international brands, antiques and art shops, boutiques, vintage clothing, and other specialties.
REWE has several locations across the city, along with Penny and many other smaller, independent grocery stores. A quart of milk should cost about EUR0.75 and a dozen eggs should run about EUR1.75.
Enjoy the finest European cuisine in lovely surroundings at Michelin-starred ENTE, where a 4-course menu starts at EUR115. For delicious German-style fast food, including Currywurst (sausage with curry-flavored ketchup), try Curry Manufaktur, where main dishes start at EUR11.