Baden-WürttembergBaden-Württemberg is a federal state (Bundesland) in Germany. Its world famous Black Forest and the celebrated, romantic city of Heidelberg are top tourist destinations within Germany and Central Europe, but there is much more to see.
It's part of the southern German speaking world where dialect and tradition remain strong and shares many traditions with its neighbours in Alsace, France to the west and in Switzerland and Vorarlberg, (Austria) to the south. It's also much more rural and bucolic than central and northern Germany; this makes it a popular destination for visiting natural spas with supposed curative properties or going on long hikes in its many old-growth forests.
Alternative spellings of the Land's name are Baden-Wuerttemberg and Baden-Wurttemberg.
- - the green capital with its world-class opera house the Staatstheater, city castle and famous gallery of modern art
- - the romantic student city with its famed castle, Germany's oldest University and scenic setting at the opening of the Neckar valley into the Rhine valley is an absolute must for most tourists
- - the "Jewel of the Black Forest" is a laid-back, beautiful university city which enjoys one of the sunniest and warmest climates among German cities
- - on the border to Switzerland at Lake Constance
- - spa town built on thermal springs at the edge of the Black Forest
- - a fan-shaped city towards the beautiful Karlsruhe palace
- - the Calvinist city with the world's tallest church
- - the "Squared City" is almost unique in Germany in being a planned, rectilinear city and has one of the most important theatres (the National Theatre)
- - beautiful university town with crooked half-timbered houses in a charming historical city centre
- - a route with vineyards and several attractive towns between Darmstadt and Heidelberg
- Upper Swabia (Oberschwaben) also known as the Westallgäu area of Allgäu
And indeed, Baden-Württemberg is doing quite well in terms of economics compared to other places in Germany. It boasts the lowest unemployment rate among all states, some of the best universities in Germany, a GDP per capita that rivals Switzerland and is the only German state that still has a higher birth than death rate. The European Statistics Office (Eurostat) has called Baden-Württemberg the "high-tech central of Europe". And, famously, the percentage of people owning their own home is by far the highest in Germany—which aligns well the cliché of the Eigenheim obsessed people from Swabia. The Swabiand stereotypical creed is Schaffe, schaffe, Häusle baue—"Work, work, and build a little house".
The main reason for all those superlatives lies deeply in the history of the land: Although nowadays there are about as many Catholics as Protestants and believers of other denominations living in Baden-Württemberg (and a third group of comparable size without religious faith), during the reformation South-West Germany was strongly influenced by the schools of Martin Luther, John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli, which left behind a society with moral values circling around hard work, self-control and the general motto "God helps those who help themselves".
Hence the country that was once dirt poor, having to struggle with hard winters and frequent famines, today is plastered with high technology companies. The most important sectors are mechanical engineering (most famously Robert Bosch), Chemistry, Biotechnology and, above all, motor vehicles. The state is also where the car was invented, at least according to the locals. And while there may be other claimants, this state has the Bertha Benz Memorial Route and a pharmacy on the route where she stopped to get gas can legitimately be called "the first gas station". Daimler and Porsche were founded and still have their headquarters around Stuttgart; Audi, Volkswagen and others have large plants in the state. If you count the small and medium-sized suppliers, every other employee in Baden-Württemberg is working for the car industry, directly or indirectly. As Max Weber, a philosopher at Heidelberg University said, around here, it's "Capitalism as it was meant to be".
The traditional "dialect" in most of the state is Alemannic (Alemannisch) which is by far the main language in German-speaking Switzerland, Liechteinstein and Vorarlberg in Austria, as well as being spoken natively by many is western Bavaria and as a minority language in Alsace in eastern France. As it is divided into numerous local dialects and has its own written language, it is very disputed as to whether it is a dialect or in fact a separate language. More and more people understandably state the latter. Ultimately, the old Yiddish adage applies - a language is a dialect with an army and a navy.
The exact proportion between native speakers of Standard German and Alemannic is unclear; however in general more Alemannic speakers are found in rural areas than in say, Stuttgart, where Standard German nowadays seems to be the more common mother tongue.
Kurpfälzisch is the traditional language in the north of the state (i.e. the region surrounding Mannheim and Heidelberg) but standard German is what dominates in most places. That said, it is still spoken by many people in the rural areas.
As good as all Alemannic-speakers are fluent in Standard German and many also in English, even in rural areas, but also tend to be surprisingly proud of their "dialect" and learning a few words or phrases in it might in fact not be the most foolish thing to do. Although native Standard German-speakers are a majority in many cities, you still will encounter plenty of native Alemannic-speakers as well, some of whom might in fact be uneasy about speaking Standard German (mostly rural elders).
All in all though, language is not a major barrier, and even a monolingual English-speaker should have no difficulty truly enjoying this sunny part of Germany.
Frankfurt airport (FRA), the busiest airport in mainland Europe, although not in Baden-Württemberg, is well within reach by train (90 min. from FRA to Stuttgart main station via the high-speed ICE connection). For most "traditional" airlines and many German charter airlines, a train ticket from FRA can be booked together with the flight for a reduced price or even for free. See rail air alliances for details. Low-fare airlines offer services to the local airports of Karlsruhe-Baden Baden (FKB) and Friedrichshafen (FDH).
Travellers beware: "Frankfurt Hahn" (HHN), the big hub for low-fare airlines, should not be confused with FRA. In stark contrast, it has no train station and is in a rather remote location. It is possible to get from Hahn into Baden-Württemberg rather conveniently, but it definitely takes a lot longer and is much more hassle than from FRA.
For the southern part of Baden-Württemberg, the airports in Zurich, Switzerland, and the EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse on French territory are convenient, too. Another option is Memmingen (FMM) which is deceptively marketed as being close to Munich, while in actuality it is much closer to southern Baden Württemberg than to Munich.
By trainAll major cities are well connected through the Deutsche Bahn (DB) rail system. Ulm, Karlsruhe, Mannheim, Heidelberg, Stuttgart and Freiburg even have ICE connections (slick, comfortable, white high speed trains travelling at up to 250km/h). Tickets can be booked via the Deutsche Bahn website.
Baden-Württemberg (as well as some other regions in Germany) offers a special regional train ticket (in this case, the Baden-Württemberg-Ticket). It's valid for 18 hours from 09:00 until 03:00 the next day on any day you choose. A second class ticket for one person was priced at €24 (with each extra additional passenger just €6) in October 2018. First class tickets cost €32 with each extra additional passenger €14. These prices are valid if you buy the ticket at a machine or in the Internet. An additional charge of €2 is added if you buy the ticket at a service center. The ticket can be used on all regional trains within Baden-Württemberg except InterCity(IC), InterCityExpress(ICE), EuroCity(EC) and some special trains as well as on almost all public buses and for all vehicles of the transport associations within Baden-Württemberg.
By busThe long-distance bus market is exploding in Germany, since a new law was passed in 2013. There are dozens of daily services from most major cities, which are often significantly cheaper than trains. Most buses offer amenities like Wi-Fi and power outlets and some can even transport bicycles.
By train and busBaden-Württemberg has an excellent rail network, serving even quite remote areas. Especially rural villages are served by buses which generally leave from main train stations in larger towns and cities. Buses are quite frequent near big cities, but especially on weekend in rural areas there are only 2–4 bus connections a day. All connections can be checked at this website.
If you're travelling within Baden-Württemberg, you can purchase the Baden-Württemberg-Ticket, which will give you all-day travel in regional trains (categories S, RB, RE and IRE) within Baden-Württemberg and also to some cities closely beyond the state's boundaries, like Basel, Lindau and Würzburg. You can use it for trains of all operators, and most of local buses and city transport. On working days the ticket is valid 09:00-03:00 the following day. On weekends it is valid the entire day.
It is sold on most ticket vending machines within the region. These are the variants of Baden-Württemberg-Ticket:
- Baden-Württemberg-Ticket (€23 for single traveller, + €5 for each additional traveller, up to five total travellers)
- Baden-Württemberg-Ticket Nacht ("Night", €20 + €4 for each additional traveller) for groups of up to five people, valid from 6PM to 6AM the following day (7AM if the following day is weekend or public holiday)
- There also is a first-class variant, starting at 31 €.
For general information about Länder-Tickets see Rail travel in Germany#Länder-Tickets.
Regional offersFor the Stuttgart Metropolitan Region ("Metropolregion Stuttgart"), which covers nearly half of Baden-Württemberg's territory and much of what can be practically be reached on a day trip from Stuttgart, the Metropolticket is a slightly cheaper day ticket than the Baden-Württemberg-Ticket: 20 € for the first traveller, 5 € extra for additional travellers, up to five total travellers. The allowed times of day are the same as for the Baden-Württemberg-Ticket. They also are sold at most ticket vending machines within the region.
Not to be confused with the Stuttgart Metropolitan Region, the Stuttgart Region ("Region Stuttgart") covers a smaller area of roughly around the center of Stuttgart and offers tickets at still lower prices valid within their region. See Stuttgart Region#Get around.
There are about 20 distinct local transport authorities ("Verkehrsverbünde", Map) all over the state, offering tickets valid for both their respective regional trains and buses.
By carOf course you can always use your car. If you are travelling in the Black Forest or the Swabian Alb during winter, bring snow chains as some smaller roads may not see snow ploughs frequently enough. When travelling on the Autobahn, the same precautions as everywhere on German high speed roads apply: If you're not willing (and prepared) to drive consistently at or above the official reference speed of , stay on the right. Move to the right if that lane is vacant for a stretch long enough to safely use it, use your common sense, don't drive faster than you can think.
MannheimThe "Squared City" is almost unique in Germany in being a planned, rectilinear city and has one of the most important theatres (the National Theatre) besides being the first city in the world to have cars powered by an internal combustion engine driving on its streets.
HeidelbergThe romantic student city with its famed castle, Germany's oldest University and scenic setting at the opening of the Neckar valley into the Rhine valley is an absolute must.
UlmIn the southeast, the Calvinist, protestant citizens of built the world's tallest church.
For those fond of nature:
Black ForestThe world famous Black Forest to the east of the Rhine Valley has been declared national heritage and will gradually return into a wild state over the next century.
Swabian MountainsThe Schwäbische Alb in the south is a rough landscape with limestone geology, featuring huge caves, deep blue lakes (e.g. the Blautopf) and long walking trails.
Lake ConstanceThe Lake Constance (Bodensee) at the border to Switzerland and Austria is Germany's largest lake, source of drinking water for millions and a haven for hikers, cyclists and sailors. Around its banks, you can discover Stone Age settlements, the "Flower Island" Mainau and the medieval peninsula of Lindau where the living Nobel Laureates of the world meet once a year.
For those interested in touring castles
Hohenzollern CastleLike much of Germany, Baden-Württemberg is sprinkled with beautiful castles. From the ancient home of the Hohenzollerns (the house Kaiser Wilhelm II was a member of) to the homes of the Württemberg Dukes and Kings.
For those interested in more ancient history
address: HochdorfReconstruction of burial mound and farmstead. This museum was opened where a Celtic burial mound was found in 1950s.
For those interested in tourist routes
Bertha Benz Memorial RouteThe route follows the tracks of the world's first long-distance journey by automobile in the year 1888, performed by Bertha Benz, the wife of Dr Karl Benz, the inventor of the automobile. It starts and ends in Mannheim.
BergstraßeThe route follows the western edge of the Odenwald mountain range. Along the route are vineyards and several attractive towns.
The official tourism homepage is at http://www.tourismus-bw.de/. Click on the "English" link at the top.
- With the abundance of hills, low mountains, picturesque valleys and forests, as well as quite evenly dispersed hospitable settlements, Baden-Württemberg is among the best places in Europe to go hiking
- If you prefer travelling by car, you may want to follow the Bertha Benz Memorial Route, and visit the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche museums in Stuttgart
- Enjoy the beautiful Lake Constance by getting on a boat or ship in the Bodensee Region...
- ...or fly a Zeppelin in Friedrichshafen!
SpätzleThe "national dish" of Württemberg is Spätzle, a freshly prepared pasta made from eggs, flour, salt and water (and nothing else). It is typically served topped with cheese (Kässpätzle) or lentils and sausage (Spätzle mit Linsen und Saitenwürschdle).
MaultaschenSimilar to ravioli, Maultaschen consists of an outer-layer of pasta dough, which encloses a filling traditionally consisting of minced meat, smoked meat, spinach, bread crumbs and onions and flavoured with various herbs and spices. Mostly served in a soup (in der Brühe) or as cut slices and fried in a pan with onions and scrambled eggs (geröstet).
ZwiebelrostbratenIt is the traditional Sunday dinner dish of the Swabian cuisine and served in every better restaurant. The meat used for Zwiebelrostbraten is traditionally a standing rib roast cut, which is called "Rostbraten" in German. The fried roast beef is topped with roasted onions (German: Zwiebeln) and served with spaetzle and mostly a mixed salat.
Swabian potato saladMostly eaten as a side-dish, the Swabian potato salad (Kartoffelsalat) which, in contrast to the northern German variety is prepared with broth instead of mayonnaise, creating in effect a completely different dish.
BeerWith 185 different breweries Baden-Württemberg is on the second rank after Baveria. There are some breweries of note in the region, of which the state-owned Rothaus or Welde are two beers which enjoys cult status.
WineBaden-Württemberg contains some of Germany's most significant wine-growing regions. Much of the wine economy is in the hands of local co-operatives and the locals enjoy the wine in old-fashioned wine cellars. The best wine grows in an area called the Kaiserstuhl in Baden.
SpiritsFruit brandies, e.g. Obstler (distilled from apples and pears) and Zwetschgenwasser (plums) are just two of the most common spirits. The queen of Schnapps is without any doubt the Kirschwasser (also sometimes referred to as Kirschwaesserle) made out of Morello cherries from the black forest area. These are commonly drunk after a meal in a restaurant.