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12 Best Things to do in Karlsruhe, Germany | Points of Interest

Are you visiting Germany or planning to? Here are some incredible things to do in Karlsruhe, Germany, that you certainly should check out.

Baden-Wurttemberg state is home to Karlsruhe city. It’s the 2nd largest city in the state and boasts of numerous tourist attractions. In fact, there are lots of amazing things to do in Karlsruhe, and its surrounding regions, more than you can imagine.

Even better, you’ll be next to the French-German border and can enjoy influences from both countries. Karlsruhe dates back to 1715, being founded by Charles William, to become his new capital city. He’d fallen out with citizens of Durlach, his former capital city. The city remained the capital of united Baden up to 1945.

During WW2, the city sustained extensive damage due to war bombings. However, it’s been extensively rebuilt and continues to attract droves of tourists each year. Frankly, you won’t want to miss out on any of the Karlsruhe attractions. It’s a splendid city with unique sights suitable for everyone. 

light rail, northern black forest

Things to do in Karlsruhe, Germany

Let us take a look at some of the most incredible things that this city has to offer.

1. Schloss Gottesaue Palace

Gottesau Palace

Picture this: a renovated historic palace that’s now a prestigious music school on Karlsruhe. That’s the Schloss Gottesaue palace that was renovated in 1971 to host Hochschulle fur Musik Karlsruhe.

Before it was a music school, the palace was built to be a summer house for the royals. Architect Johannes Schoch was commissioned in 1550 to begin construction. However, since then, it’s seen lots of action, including being destroyed several times.

In 1689, it was destroyed during the Palatinate wars then rebuilt. Next, a fire razed it down in 1735. After the fire, it was rebuilt much smaller than the previous palace. Since then, it served as a storage space for fruits and a military barrack.

That was until 1944 when Allied bombs destroyed the palace again. It lay in ruins for almost 40 years as a reminder of the horrific war times in Germany. However, it was later chosen as the perfect location for Hochschule fur Musik Karlsruhe and rebuilt in 1982.

The exterior resembles the numerous eras it has passed through, while the interior is modern. Students get to learn music courses, and it hosts excellent shows each year.

See Related: Best Tourist Destinations in the World

2. St. Bernard Church

Catholic Church of St. Bernard

Another of the top Karlsruhe tourist attractions is the St. Bernard Church. You can’t miss its distinctive Gothic architectural style when noting down things to see in Karlsruhe. Head East of the city and marvel at the church whose construction began in 1893.

The Roman Catholic Church began as a structure made using distinctive red brick. However, several of its parts are different today. Back then, Bade region had a more protestant population. However, the Grand Duke of Freidrich felt a need to establish more Catholic influence in the area.

As a guest to the city, you can view the church tower from all over Karlsruhe. It stands at 86m, and the whole building has a cross shape similar to numerous other historic churches in Europe.

Previously, the church had a magnificent organ that was destroyed during WW2. Later, in 1959, it received a new one that’s fully functional today. As a visitor, you can attend mass or take a tour of the church.

3. Karlsruhe Palace

Karlsruhe palace

Did you know there’s a grand palace in Karlsruhe? Add it to your things to do in Karlsruhe and surroundings. After falling out with the citizens of Durlach, the Margrave Charles William founded the city of Karlsruhe. It was his new capital city, and he needed a matching palace to go with it. As you tour the city, you notice all roads head to the Karlsruhe Palace.

After 1715, power in Baden-Durlach shifted. Karlsruhe was the capital city of the region. All the Margraves that followed after its establishment in 1715 resided in the grand palace. However, things changed in 1918.

Today, the palace remains intact and welcomes visitors from across the world. You can enjoy magnificent gardens, lavish exteriors, and intriguing interior designs.

Therefore, bring your camera along and snap memorable pictures with the whole family. It is home to the State Museum of Baden.

See related: Must-See Castles in Germany

4. Botanischer Garten

Trail in Karlsruhe Botanical Garden

Remember, no trip is complete without a stroll in a fantastic garden. One you can’t afford to miss here is Butanisher Garten. If you haven’t yet figured out what to see in Karlsruhe, spending time in this marvelous botanical garden is the best deal. Margrave Charles William was determined to make Karlsruhe a grand city. With that goal in mind, he commissioned the botanical garden in 1853.

Karls Christian Gmelin was charged with the mandate of designing the garden. Apart from the fantastic floral variety, three plant houses were constructed. Though they were damaged during WW2, reconstruction followed from 1952 to 1956.

Today, visitors can tour the plant houses for a small fee. Some things to see in this botanical garden include trees dating back to the 19th century. However, there are many plants planted much later in the garden.

5. Karlsruhe Marktplatz

Karlsruhe Marktplatz and Skyline
trabantos /

There is plenty of stuff to do in Karlsruhe, including visiting the historic Marktplatz. South from the Karlsruhe palace lies the center of the whole city. Here you can wander down the famous main shopping street in Karlsruhe.

This area was the region’s focal point back in the day, with numerous activities happening every day. Notable buildings include the old town hall and the Evangelical City Church.

Additionally, spectacular views of the Karlsruhe pyramid are visible at the square. The pyramid is a tomb for Margrave Karl Wilhelm and a significant part of the city. From here, find your direction to any place you want.

One crucial point is that Freidrich Weinbrenner is the brain behind the magnificent marketplace square. He was a planner and an architect responsible for designing Karlsruhe when Charles William picked it as his new capital city.

If you visit the city around Christmas time, you’ll certainly be awed by the spectacular German Christmas activities here. It is usually the center of Christmas markets in Karlsruhe.

6. Zoological City Garden Karlsruhe

karlsruhe zooligal city garden

Children love animals, meaning you must add a zoo to your list of things to do in Karlsruhe. Thankfully, the Zoological City Garden offers a perfect choice where you and your kids can have lots of fun.

Millions of visitors flock here to enjoy the beautiful sights and animals each year. The good news is, the setup is smack in the middle of the city and oozes with history.

For instance, learn about the ancient trees that dot the green park. Not to mention checking out all the different animal and bird species. There are more than 4,000 animals on sight, and the zoo is among the oldest in the region.

Get ready to snap some pictures of animals from all over the world. The whole family can enjoy seeing penguins, elephants, seals, and meerkats. Also, spend time at the park with over 15,000 roses.

7. Mercedes Benz Museum

Mercedes Benz Museum
Bogdan Lazar –

Are you a car enthusiast or just curious about them? How about topping your list of things to do in Karlsruhe with a tour of the Mercedes Benz Museum?

All you need is a short drive to Stuggart, and spend the day touring this fantastic car museum. Here, get ready to learn everything you want about the car and view the different makes spanning decades. The museum is an architectural marvel but more modern than other buildings in the area from the outside.

The doors of the museum were opened in May 2006 and receive millions of guests annually. The concept of the museum includes room divisions to host legendary and collectible cars made by Mercedes.

You can tour one of each and have the tours merge into one at any point. That way, you see most of the collection without rushing through.

Typically, the tours are led by guides. But you can listen to an audio tour as per your preference. That gives you room to check out the cars you want first.

8. Turmberg Hill

Turmberg Hill Scenery

On your list of things to do in Karlsruhe, slot in spending some time up the Turmberg hill. All you need is a map or a guide, and you’ll be on your way. It’s the best location for a day tour and seeing some old castle ruins.

Visitors hiking up the hill can do so from numerous directions. Once you get to the top, pick a spot, have a picnic, and spend some time reflecting. Also, you can play games with the family and take in some breathtaking scenery.

Moreover, you can challenge yourself and go up the hill steps. 528 steps lead to the top of the hill, and a great way to get some holiday exercise.

Once at the top, you can see Durlach and the city of Karlsruhe. Then, you can enjoy some high course ropes set up recently. An ancient tower at the top of the hill gives it its name. It’s over two centuries old, and some old castle ruins are nearby.

9. The State Museum of Baden

State Museum of Baden

Some more things to do in Karlsruhe include a tour of the State Museum of Baden inside the Karlsruhe Palace. It’s the main cultural museum in the state and contains amazing collections spanning different eras.

Typically, visitors can enjoy collections of artifacts and artworks from as far back as pre-historic times. You will learn more about human history and development from ancient times to the 21st century.

Topping that off are frequent temporary exhibitions showcasing collections borrowed from other museums. For a small fee, tour the museum alone or join the guided tours. Either way, you end up with an excellent understanding of humanity and the history of the world.

See related: 10 Things that will SHOCK you about Germany

10. Day Trip to the Black Forest

touring black forest

Mystery and adventure await you in the nearby Black Forest as you tour the city of Karlsruhe. So, make sure to plan a day trip to this amazing place. You only need to hire a car and gather the family before heading in.

The Black Forest covers more than 6000km, but you don’t have to visit all of it during a day trip. Top attractions you can check out include Baden Baden Spa, Titisee Lake, Triberg waterfalls, and the open-air museum.

Be sure to check if there are any guided tours into the forest from Karlsruhe. Guided tours are a great way to see different things, but you can still enjoy the adventure alone.

You can also choose to ditch the car and spend time walking the different hiking trails. And, you can stay inside the forest overnight at one of the numerous hotels or head back to Karlsruhe.

11. Baden Baden Spa Town

Caracalla Spa in Baden-Baden

Imagine spending time in a spa town! This should certainly be on your list of things to do in Karlsruhe. Baden Baden offers you a chance to learn more about the Roman bathe culture.

Firstly, this beautiful town is lined with rows of colorful homes and cobblestone streets. Everywhere you turn, you see Baroque architecture similar to many cities in neighboring France. You might think you are in the middle of a fairytale.

Everything about the small spa town speaks of relaxation and tranquility. You can visit the spas and enjoy some time in the Roman baths.

There are contemporary spas for those who want to taste both worlds. After that, please spend some time visiting the majestic buildings in town with their opulent design. This is one of those things you shouldn’t miss on your bucket list when planning to tour Germany.

See Related: Most Famous Landmarks in Germany

12. Irish Pubs in Karlsruhe

Flynn's Inn Irish Pub, Karlsruhe
image by JMai/TripAdvisor

You might be forgiven for thinking you are in Ireland once you enter the Irish pubs in this city. Grab a pint and mingle with the locals as part of things to do in Karlsruhe at night.

Inside the pubs, get to sample fantastic craft beers and wash down Irish cuisine. The ambient atmosphere helps you relax and get into a party mood. There are several pubs in the city, meaning you can visit a new one each night with friends during your trip.

The welcoming feeling inside the pubs makes you forget you are in an Irish establishment in Germany. It’s homely and just what you need to unwind after a day of checking out amazing sites. Some have outside seating, which is quite enjoyable in the height of summer.

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