Some pictures of Karlsruhe and its metropolitan region © Nico Brähler & Max Hagelstein
Due to its central location within Europe, Karlsruhe is an optimal starting point for trips to many popular destinations. Attractive locations that are reachable by train include Berlin (5-6 hours), Prague (8 hours), Vienna (8 hours), Zurich (3 hours), Milan (6 hours), Amsterdam (5 hours), London (7 hours), Brussels (5 hours) and of course Paris which has a direct connection to Karlsruhe via the high-speed TGV resulting in a travel time of only 3 hours.
There are several options for European rail passes that provide a ticket for European travel, one of them can be found here (other options may be cheaper, including intercity buses). Other destinations in Europe may be reached by airplane with inexpensive flights going out of the Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden airport (FKB) to Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and many more European destinations.
Munich is one of the favourite destinations for tourists interested in Bavarian culture (which is shown as “German culture” on a lot of postcards). It is also the home of the Deutsches Museum which houses many historical and technical artefacts.
Hamburg is considered the entertainment capital of Germany with the newly built Elbphilharmonie and its many concert halls and musicals. But it also offers many more sights such as the Harbour or the Reeperbahn. Cologne is famous for its Cathedral but also has an interesting cuisine and a beautiful (reconstructed) old town.
Baden-Württemberg, the federal state that Karlsruhe is located in, offers a car enthusiast’s dream with having both the Porsche museum and the Mercedes-Benz museum in the capital city of Stuttgart. Baden-Württemberg has also internationally renowned towns such as Baden-Baden with its hot springs and casino (more below) or the Black Forest (both only 20 mins by train from Karlsruhe) for tourists preferring nature and old German culture. The famous towns Heidelberg (more below) and Freiburg offer medieval city centres and are less than an hour by train away from Karlsruhe, the same is true for Strasbourg or Wissembourg in France, just on the other side of the Rhine river (more below).
For those who prefer staying in Karlsruhe there are quite a few attractions: The Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM) houses a very unique media and contemporary art museum, comparable with the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and is always worth a visit. Parts of the conference will take place there. There is also the State Art Gallery (Staatliche Kunsthalle) which shows masterpieces from various periods. The Karlsruhe Palace houses the Baden State Museum (Badisches Landesmuseum) with a good exhibition section on local culture and history (which includes the democratic Baden Revolution 1848/49) and its park and botanical garden is an attraction on its own. The Naturkundemuseum is a small natural history museum but big enough for an interesting half-day trip.
As Karlsruhe is a planned recidence town which was founded in 1715, its main historical buildings are (neo-)classicist (many have been destroyed in WW2). Thomas Jefferson sent a sketch of
Karlsruhe’s fan-shaped layout to Pierre L’Enfant, who used it later on as a source of inspiration in designing the shape of Washington D.C.
The old medieval residence is located further away, in Karlsruhe-Durlach. That is also where the hill overlooking the city is located, the Turmberg. It offers a restaurant and a panoramic view over the Rhine valley.
The city centre of Karlsruhe is filled with restaurants and cafés and has a pleasant atmosphere especially in the warm and sunny summer time. The area around KIT is dominated by take-aways serving the student population, so we decided to list some of the restaurants we regularly go to ourselves or think might be interesting for you, all in walking distance unless noted otherwise (in no particular order):
Restaurants and Bars
Zum Kleinen Ketterer: Restaurant run by an Irish couple, local dishes, on a nice square
Il Caminetto: Plain Italian restaurant/pizzeria near KIT
Schlosscafe: Cafe with lunch and dinner with view on the park, at the back of the Karlsruhe Palace
Badische Weinstuben: Modest restaurant serving local wine and food, outside spaces with view on the Botanical Garden and the Constitutional Court
Mauritius: Affordable cocktails and simple food in a beach-hut athmosphere, right at KIT
Carlos Cocktailbar: Traditional cocktail bar near a nice square
Im Schlachthof: Hip restaurant with a beautiful terrace in the artsy surrounding of Alter Schlachthof
Bratar Burgers: Good burgers and local beer, several restaurants across town
La Rose Falafel: Arab restaurant/take away with Falafel, Shawarma and tea
DeliBurgers: Opposite La Rose, very good burgers, small selection of craft beers
Die Zwiebel: More burgers and German food
Brick and Bone: Upmarket steak house
Stövchen: cosy restaurant with a nice beer garden and a bar
Yang Da: Comparatively authentic Chinese restaurant
Casa do José: Very popular Portuguese restaurant
Toro: Equally popular Spanish tapas
L'Osteria: Modern Italian restaurant with very good pizza
Thai Foodland: Thai Foodland
Sushi Circle: Sushi from the conveyor belt
Vogelbräu: Local brewery with matching food, mostly frequented by students
Kippe 23: Restaurant for a student’s budget.5 mins on foot away. Nice wall decorations.
Lehner's Wirtshaus: Traditional Germanic Wirtshaus with pork knuckles etc.
Badisch' Brauhaus: Home-brewed beer and rustic German food
Kühler Krug: Home-brewed beer with beer garden, slightly further away
Café Emaille: Bar/restaurant with beer garden in the courtyard, mostly students
My Heart Beats Vegan: Innovative all-vegan restaurant
Parkdeckzehn: Beach bar (with sand) on the tenth floor of a parking garage
Oberländer Weinstube: traditional German restaurant in town
EigenArt: modern German restaurant in the city centre
Anders auf dem Turmberg: on top of the local hill with great views, reachable by tram + cable car
Le Salon im Kesselhaus: Michelin-starred, in the Western part of town
Eis Paradies Cassata: Excellent, competing in the Ice Cream World Championship
Eis Cortina: Maybe not as good, but right in the city centre
Goldzünglein: Hole-in-the-wall ice cream (rolled!) and cocktails
Clubs, Events, Cinemas
Das Fest: Free music festival, just before ISUS
Schlosslichtspiele: Beginning July 28, light shows at the Karlsruhe Palace late at night
Tollhaus: Concert Venue at the Alte Schlachthof
Substage: Concert Venue located right next to the Tollhaus.
Marktlücke: Restaurant by day, discotheque by night located at the Marktplatz.
Open Air Cinema Schloss Gottesaue: The best way to enjoy movies during the summer
Schauburg: traditional small movie theatre, offers some movies in English (OmU: original language with German subtitles)
Pools and Spas
Vierordtbad Karlsruhe: Spa near the city centre, traditional architecture
Europabad: Modern swimming pool with slides for the kids and a spa with sauna for the adults
Caracalla Therme Baden-Baden: Located in Baden-Baden but worth a trip on its own
Mummelsee: Beautiful mountain lake near Baden-Baden in the Black Forest, perfect for a daytrip of hiking through the hills. The tourist shops offer specialities from the region.
Local trains to Heidelberg take about 50 mins and run twice every hour. They leave from inside the main station. The line S3 direction Germersheim goes to Heidelberg without change, alternatively take line S32 direction Menzingen, then change at Bruchsal and take line S4 direction Germersheim there. A return ticket will cost about 25E, buy it in the station before the trip.
On the way back, take S3 or S4 direction Karlsruhe. There are various option involving faster trains, but they are unreasonably more expensive in this case.
Trams to Baden-Baden take about 30 mins and run about twice every hour. They leave from the square in front of the main station (Bahnhofsvorplatz). Take S. 7 direction Achern and on the way back, S7 direction Karlsruhe Tullastrasse.
There are also regional trains, from inside the station, but they run less regularly (direction: Konstanz).
Train enthusiasts might be interested in the Albtalbahn, a historic steam train which runs several times from Karlsruhe main station on July 29 only (at 10.16 and 14.16, direction Bad Herrenalb, return one hour after arrival, back in Karlsruhe at 13.15 and 17.17).
Strasbourg and Wissembourg are two beautiful French towns and also easily reachable by train. Strasbourg is home of the European parliament, and offers a historic city centre and many very good restaurants. Wissembourg is a picturesque french town with many historic timber-framed buildings.
For any train travel enquiries, please check the English-language website of the German Bahn.
Weather in Karlsruhe during the summer can reach temperatures of 35°C (95°F), but those are the extremes and are only reached on the hottest days (for instance onJuly 20, 2018).
Germany uses a power plug type F, which can be different from those used in your country. Some hotels may be able to help with power adapters, but the optimal solution would be to bring your own.
A visa will be required for most foreigners from countries outside of the EU (some countries may be exempt; a full list can be found here). The upside is that a visa that is valid in Germany will also be valid in other member states of the Schengen agreement. So, if you plan a longer trip to Europe, you may only need to get a visa once.
Germans traditionally use cash in their daily life, credit cards may be accepted sometimes, but the safest way to make sure you are able to pay is to carry a small amount of cash with you. The easiest way to exchange money is to use a local German ATM machine with a credit card, fees may vary. Another option would be to look for a bank with an open counter. Exchanging money at the airport will be very expensive, so this should be a last resort only. If you plan to take a train to Karlsruhe from Frankfurt airport, the ticket machines will accept cards, but there are cash machines at the airport. Visitors should also think about getting a travel health insurance to cover possible costs.