What to do in Karlsruhe | The must-sees in two days

What to do in Karlsruhe | The must-sees in two days

Karlsruhe is a good introduction to German culture, with its many bicycle paths, green spaces and gardens like Stadtgarden opposite the train station, its gentle way of life and its culture.


If you come by train, Karlsruhe (pronounced karlchrouE) will undoubtedly be your first port of call for discovering the Black Forest. This small, recent city of over 310,000 inhabitants doesn’t immediately reveal its charm. Not that it’s unpleasant, but we were in the middle of construction work, which didn’t help us appreciate it either. Despite my initial preconceived ideas, Karlsruhe is an attractive place to eat, with some great addresses and tasty, flavorful dishes – it’s really a pleasant surprise! In just 2-3 days, you’ll already have a good overview of the city.

If you’re planning a trip to the Black Forest, we invite you to read our articles on the subject, such as:




  • Karlsruhe Castle

It’s an unmissable landmark right in the heart of the city. Easily recognized by its yellow color and Austrian-style facades, this Baroque building was erected between 1715 and 1718. The castle gardens occupy the northern half of the circle that forms the center of Karlsruhe. Today, the castle is home to the Badisches Landesmuseum renowned as one of Germany’s most active historical and cultural museums. If you have a little time to spare, you can climb 42 meters to the top of Karlsruhe’s castle tower and take in the city. The view must be pretty nice.

Opening hours : Tuesday to Thursday, 10am to 5pm. Friday to Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm. Closed on Mondays.admission €6/p.



  • The Botanical Garden

The botanical garden (Hans-Thoma Straße 6) next to the castle, is apparently a little haven of peace not to be missed either. If you like cacti, tropical plants and peace and quiet, this is the place for you! (free entry)



  • The medieval quarter of Durlach

The neighborhood Durlachis the city’s oldest, and takes you to the old Karlsruhe, a district with a medieval atmosphere, home to artists’ studios, the market square, the city walls, the castle square, the narrow streets, the city walls and the Turmberg hill at the top of which you can take the funicular for a beautiful view of the city. It’s a very pleasant place to stroll. The Durlach district can be reached by public transport from the center of Karlsruhe. It takes between 15 and 20 minutes to get there. The easiest way is to take line 1 to Frederick School or Castle Square or line 2 towards Wolfartsweier until the stop Auer Str. , Dr W. Schwabe located at the entrance to the town.



  • Le Tower Mountain

At the top of the 256-metre-high hill is the mountain Turmberg, (meaning Tower Mountain, rue Bergbahnstrasse ) a fairly quiet location, with panoramic views over the city and surrounding area. There are 2 ways to get there: either climb the 500-plus steps or, as I did, take Germany’s second oldest aerial tramway. The climb is quite rapid and well worth the effort. We found a very nice terrace to warm up in autumn, the “Anders auf dem Turmberg“. From Karlsruhe city center, take the streetcar line 1 and get off at Durlach Turmberg. Don’t forget to use the free card that you have purchased in advance. Otherwise, count €3/person for the climb



  • ZKM Museum

Unfortunately, I found out too late, but Karlsruhe’s cultural scene boasts incredible museums and galleries, famous operas, ballets and exhibitions, as well as a one-of-a-kind institution, the ZKM interactive museum, the center for art and media! It could be compared to the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris for its modernity. I regret not having visited it. (Opening hours : Wednesday to Friday, 10 am to 6 pm. Saturday and Sunday, 11 am to 6 pm. Closed Monday and Tuesday. ) The museum is free on Friday afternoons.


photo credit Karlsruhe-Erleben website


  • Ettlingen

Ettlingen, Karlsruhe’s neighbouring town, with its famous historic downtown with its medieval streets, half-timbered facades and all the charm of small German towns.


Practical information Karslruhe

  • 2h30 by TGV from Paris Gare de l’Est and 40 minutes from Strasbourg station
  • Thanks to the cooperation between SNCF and Deutsche Bahn, you can travel around Germany with TGV INOUI and ICE, visiting Bavaria, the Rhine Valley or the incredible Black Forest.
  • Getting around the city is easy with the many streetcars on offer. Visit2,40 € for a trip to the center of Karlsruhe.
  • The Karlsruhe Christmas Market is quite famous for its Santa Claus entertainment. The Germans come to have fun at the ice rink just opposite the castle, so it’s a period I can recommend.


  • We stayed at the hotel At the market (Kaiserstrasse 76, 76133 Karlsruhe), a family-run hotel right in the center of town and a stone’s throw from the château. The rooms are comfortable and clean, and the Café am Markt on the ground floor invites you to enjoy its sunny terrace overlooking the market square. The hotel has a beautiful terrace, which must be pleasant in the winter sunshine. To get there, take Bus Number 10, station “Marketplace”. Rates from €80 per night.


  • You also have the Berlin Court(Douglas street 7) or the 4-star hotel* Achat Plaza, the 4* Imperial Court, (Karl-Friedich Strabe 12) with its historic façade, right in the heart of the city. It also has a sauna!
  • We had lunch in this very good restaurant “First cargo” (Station Square 6). The dishes were really hearty and delicious, costing between €10 and €19 a dish! Be careful, in Germany we like to eat well and the quantities are very generous! For a more pleasant setting, we also recommended the café Max or the Dom Gril.



In the evening, you can dine in the very good restaurant Peculiarity for excellent fresh and refined cuisine. For gastro fans, there’s also the berländer wine tavern, a restaurant with a shady pergola-style courtyard.

  • For a brunch with German specialities, why not try the restaurantKaiserGarten
  • For value for money, enjoy lunch at one of the city’s oldest brasseries, the Brasserie Bird Brew
  • For the more trendy, you absolutely must have lunch in an atypical district, in the city’s slaughterhouses, go to Alter Schlachthof
  • For vegetarians, you can try the restaurant Viva or My heart beats Vegan
  • For good food with Asian influences, go to Saint Sophie (Sophienstrasse 35)

We also tested the famous Food Tour offered by the city, and it’s a fun night out for families, lovers and friends alike. Go to the original activities tab below.

  • At the top of Turmberg Hill, on the terrace “Different on the Turmberg” for its beautiful panoramic view of the city and its lovely setting;


photo credit Mademoiselle voyage and Clarafotomania


  • Head for the Kaffe Kuchen otherwise known as a German-style snack of coffee and cake. See you at Berry Su, the Confectionery Böcheler or patisserie Ludwig.(85 Forest Road)
  • Where there’s Germany, there’s beer, so for a really good craft beer, head for the brasserie Vogelbräu.
  • If the weather’s fine, it’s quite nice to go for a drink in an original bar, the P10 located on the terrace of a department store parking lot.

  • If you want to relax, take advantage of the thermal baths ” Fourordtbad (Ettlingen Str. 4). Even if the place seems small, the pool is large, with whirlpools and relaxation areas. There’s also the spa Europabad (Hermann-Veit-Strasse 5)


  • If you’re looking for a taste of German gastronomy, this is the place to go. Food Tour Karlsruhe is for you. Meet at the restaurant “Heilige Sophie” to start the guided tour with Mrs. Stefanie Sprenger (+49 176.70067011). It lasts a good two hours, starting with an aperitif in one restaurant, followed by a main course in another. It allows you to get to know several places in one evening, so the concept is validated!


  • If you have a little time to spare, you can also spend 3 hours, visit Karlsruhe by bike for example. A great way to get some fresh air and discover different facets of the city in a supervised and guided way.


  • For those who like to explore the city on their own, you can take advantage of the city pass and benefit from free or reduced-price admission to Karlsruhe’s 30 main attractions. Visit pass Karlsruhe Cardallows you to leave your car parked and discover the city with the bus and tram-train, and explore Karlsruhe’s museums (no less than seven in one go) free of charge. The card is available in 3 durations: 24h, 48h and 72h with or without public transport.


  • If you’d like a guided tour of the castle and to discover the atmosphere of the city, think about book a 1h30 guided tour with a local guide.



If you’re planning a trip to the Black Forest, we invite you to read our articles on the subject, such as:




This article is still my impression. It’s the fruit of a collaboration between several tourist offices in the region and Sncf, whom I’d like to thank for their invitation and this discovery.


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