Karlsruhe is a city on the Rhine in Baden-Württemberg in Germany. It is located in the north of the Black Forest, close to the French border. Karlsruhe is famous in Germany for both hosting two federal courts and being a major hub for science and technology. Populated by about 300,000 people, Karlsruhe is the largest city within 60 km. And it is not usually visited for touristic reasons by anyone coming from farther away while being a relaxed and pleasant city to work and study in.
Currently the city centre is plagued by considerable construction sites for a tram subway ("Kombilösung") that is to be completed in 2017.
The city was founded in 1715 by margrave Karl Wilhelm von Baden. The city was laid out on the drawing board. It consists of a central circle, containing the castle, and streets running towards the castle as radial "spokes". This pattern is still visible today. Due to the fan-like layout, Karlsruhe is known as the "fan city" (Fächerstadt).
The Rhine valley, where Karlsruhe is located, is the warmest part of Germany because it is only about 115 m above sea level and there are mountains in the east (black forest) and west (vogesen). Therefore, Karlsruhe has more sunny days than many other parts of Germany.
There isn't a lot of tourist traffic to Karlsruhe. Tourists generally tend to gravitate towards the cities of Heidelberg (50 km to the north) and Freiburg (100 km to the south), with their well-preserved old towns. It's a shame though, as Karlsruhe's radial layout is one of the best early examples of New Urbanism, and is really a joy to explore. Maybe that's a benefit to travelers who do venture there as the number of visitors is low enough to be sort of a novelty for the locals.
Karlsruhe is home to the two highest federal courts of Germany, the Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal constitutional court) and the Bundesgerichtshof (Supreme federal court). Because of this and other administrative facilities, Karlsruhe has a reputation as a city of civil servants.
Karlsruhe has a large and renowned technical university (KIT) as well as several other colleges. The presence of the technical university has promoted the city somewhat in the world of Free and Open Source Software: Karlsruhe was the home of LinuxTag until 2005. Karlsruhe also hosts some of the major internet companies of Germany.
- Baden-Airpark is the nearest local airport, about 40 km from the city. The airport is now served by low-cost carrier Ryanair, which offers cheap flights to several European destinations. There is a cheap airport shuttle bus (Baden-Airport-Express) (leaving 8 times a day on weekdays but no buses on weekends, synchronized with the flight schedule) to Karlsruhe Main Station. One-way-tickets can be bought from the driver (€9, cash only); alternatively, you can take a train or a tram-train to Rastatt or Baden-Baden and take a connecting bus to Baden-Airport. Through-ticketing is available, for current prices and schedules see (Karlsruher Verkehrsverbund (Karlsruhe Area Mass Transit Authority))
- Frankfurt airport is Germany's biggest airport and is served by all major carriers that operate in Germany. It has a direct ICE high speed train connection to Karlsruhe (1 hour).
- Stuttgart airport is reachable by train in one and a half hours.
The train station (Karlsruhe Hauptbahnhof) is located south of the city centre, with roughly 5–10 minutes by tram to the central market square, and direct tram links to other parts of the city. Karlsruhe is well linked to other larger cities by ICE high-speed trains. The schedules for the inter-city connections can be found on the site of Deutsche Bahn (German railroads). There are also direct links to Paris and Marseille by French TGV high-speed trains.
Karlsruhe has several exits from the A5 autobahn, approximately 130 km south of Frankfurt. The autobahn A8 joins the A5 just south of the city, connecting to Stuttgart 80 km east.
The bus station is located at the south entrance of the train station. You can buy tickets for a couple of international destinations inside the train station.
There are long-distance cycle routes connecting Karlsruhe with the surrounding cities, such as Heidelberg and Pforzheim. It is especially convenient travelling along the Upper Rhine Plain between the cities of Mainz and Basel.
- On foot: A lot to see in Karlsruhe is along Kaiserstrasse. Because all the streets radiate outward, Marktplatz (market square) is a great place to start a walking tour of the city. If you go up or down Kaiserstrasse, you will find a great variety of shops and restaurants on both sides of the streets. If you go towards the Palace (right in front of you if you're on Marktplatz), you can visit the city museum inside the castle, or the park right behind it, where the people of Karlsruhe congregate to picnic, play sports, and relax on nice days. Go farther and you can take a walk into "Hardtwald" forest which has a lot of trails right near the city center. Go south from Marktplatz and you will soon come upon "Ettlinger Tor" shopping mall and "Staatstheater" theatre. Exploring on foot allows you the opportunity to go down the alleys and smaller streets in Karlsruhe where you can find a wonderful variety of shops, kneipes, and restaurants.
- Public transport: Karlsruhe has an excellent public transport system called KVV. It is mostly built on tram-trains (Stadtbahn). This allows trains to run on tram tracks within the city or on railway tracks to serve the surrounding region. An overview of the entire transport network can be downloaded here Liniennetzplan Schiene. A single ticket for a trip within the city limits costs 2.30 € for adults, 1.30 € for kids. Most tickets have to be stamped upon entering a tram and controllers are quite frequent. In particular, for longer distances outside of Karlsruhe buying the right ticket can be a bit challenging, but in front of the main train station as well as located at Marktplatz, you will find a KVV office that will be happy to assist you. Trains operate late into the night, in particular on weekends, but almost every line stops for a few hours every night. Schedules and maps are posted on virtually every station. You can also find more information on fares and timetables on the KVV homepage (German only).
- Rental bikes: During the summer, spring and autumn rental bikes are available throughout the city from the service "Call a bike". A mobile phone is used to rent a bike and it can be 'returned' (again, using the mobile phone) at any inner city corner. Renting a bike costs no more than 0.08 €/min or 9.00 €/day. More information is available at and at the Call a bike page (German only).
ZKM, ☎ . Lorenzstraße 19, W-F 10AM-6PM Sat, Sun, holidays 11AM-6PM, Mon, Tue closed (Media Museum). The Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie is devoted to interactive and 'media art'. The museum is quite unique, and the exhibitions are world-class. The ZKM also hosts many cultural events, check their home page for the schedule. The same complex also hosts the Museum für Neue Kunst (Museum for new Art) and the city gallery.
Staatliche Kunsthalle (Art Hall of the State), Hans-Thoma-Straße 2 - 6, ☎ . Tu-F 10AM-5PM, Sat, Sun, holidays 10AM-6PM. This museum shows mainly classical paintings from the 16th century on.
- A list of other museums can be found on the city homepage.
Badisches Staatstheather, ☎ . Baumeisterstr. 11, (Reservations) is the biggest theater and opera house in the city, but there are various smaller theaters. A list can be found on the city homepage.
- Cinemas: The Schauburg and the Kino im Prinz-Max-Palais are independent cinemas which occasional show movies in their original language. The other cinemas tend to stick to the usual German-dubbed fare. Schauburg, Marienstr. 16, (0721) 3500018. Kino im Prinz-Max-Palais, Karlstr. 10, (0721) 9374714 (Information).
Palace (directly north of the city center). The palace hosts the Badisches Landesmuseum, Tu-Th 10AM-17PM, F-Su and holidays 10AM-6PM, special exhibitions Tu-Su 10AM-6PM. The palace is directly north of the city center, a 2min walk on foot from the Marktplatz. The palace was rebuilt after World War II, and now hosts the Badisches Landesmuseum, a museum dedicated to historical exhibitions and local interest. There are also special exhibitions from time to time. North of the palace is a vast park area, the palace garden (Schlosspark), where the locals hang out on summer days. On Saturdays, Sundays and holidays during the summer season you can also take a ride on the small train that runs through the gardens. Steam trains usually run on Sundays while dieselpowered trains operate on Saturdays. Entry to the gardens is free, the museum is €4 for adults.
- There are several man-made lakes in towns around (10–20 km) Karlsruhe, e.g. Epplesee in Rheinstetten (no BBQ allowed!) and in Weingarten and Untergrombach. Going by bike is a flat one-hour trip by bicycle, and swimming combined with a barbecue is a nice thing on a hot summer day.
The Pyramid (on the Marktplatz). the emblem of the city. It marks the place where Karl Wilhelm was buried, and is somewhat unremarkable.
Zoo. Near the main station, opening hours vary throughout the year, but the main entrance is open at least M-Su 9AM-16PM, and longer in the summer months. The other entrances have shorter hours, check on the web page. The zoo is moderately large, and does have some special attractions. The price is €6.50, children (6-15 years) €3. In the Zoo, there is an artificial mountain (the Lauterberg), and a memorial for the 49° N parallel. You can also ride small boats ("gondolettas") in the lake. A so-called water organ (music and fountains) plays every 30 minutes.
- Durlach Nowadays a part of Karlsruhe it is much older (first mentioned in the 12th century) than Karlsruhe itself and has a charming medieval town-center. It can be easily reached by tram 1 in a quarter of an hour. A word of advice: calling an inhabitant of Durlach a "Karlsruher" is asking for trouble. From the Turmberg (tower hill), you have a nice view over the city and the Rhine valley.
Wildparkstadion. The stadium where the Karlsruher Sport Club (KSC) plays all of their home games. If you are in Karlsruhe in the Fall or Spring, during the Bundesliga season, you should try to catch a KSC game during the weekend. KSC fans, including the "Ultras", are some of the loudest and most passionate fans in all of German football, and definitely make the experience a good one. To really get in the action purchase a ticket in the 'Stehplatz' (Standing section) and try to buy early, as these are very popular events and the tickets go quickly!
- Kombilösung: This controversial project refers to the combination of a tram tunnel in Kaiserstrasse and a road tunnel in Kriegsstraße, allegedly the solution (Lösung) for public transport capacity problems in Karlsruhe. There is an information pavillon near the Staatstheater, and in the coming years there will be lots of construction in the city. Not a sight as such, but interesting for public transport geeks.
Bauhaus-Siedlung Dammerstock. The suburb Dammerstock has a residential area in the Bauhaus style, planned i.a. by the renowned architect Walter Gropius.
- Go cycling. The city has developed a 20 point plan to become the cycling city in Germany. Many bike lanes and good direction signs for cyclicts are a visible mark. However, the activists of VCD and ADFC will be able to point out weaknesses and dangerous spots.
- The city lists Karlsruhe's cultural heritage in a database
Naturkundemuseum, Very close to Marktplatz. Here can be found lots of interesting animals also plants. Ideal to see with children.
- July: Das Fest - Karlsruhe's most famous yearly event taking place on a weekend in July in the Günther-Klotz Anlage (a suburban park) with about 200,000 spectators: An open-air festival comprising live music of various genres on multiple stages, presenting a mixture of world-class as well as local and national artists. Attendance is 5€ per day for the main stage, but other stages are free. Tickets are usually sold out about one month in advance.
- July: African Summer Festival - African culture in Karlsruhe's Nordstadt. Markets, drumming workshops, exhibitions, a varied children's programme and musical performances take place during the three days, the aim being enjoyment for the whole family.
- July: Schloss in Flammen - A music and fireworks performance in front of the palace. Tickets are quite expensive.
- August: KAMUNA - Karlsruhe Night of Museums. Once a year many museums in Karlsruhe cooperate to remain open until late into the night, hosting talks, workshops and rallys. The night usually ends with a live concert as the closing event. Special KAMUNA buttons are sold that allow for entrance in all participating museums and are also a ticket for the public transport. On the day of the KAMUNA the schedule of public transport is changed to allow the visitors to get home easily. KAMUNA is very popular in Karlsruhe and many people are attending.
- August: Medieval Spectaculum - Medieval themed event with a market, games, music, knights in armor, magicians, fire show etc. in the area around the Karlsruhe palace.
What to eat (if you want to try something typical):
- Flammkuchen: kind of similar to pizza, but with a much thinner pastry and topped with sour cream instead of tomato sauce. Most typical toppings are onions and bacon, but there are many variants (in particular some very tasty sweet ones that come flambéed). Just order one after the other (they get cold very fast), always sharing each one with everyone on the table.
- Käsespätzle: a special kind of pasta in a heavy cheese sauce.
- Gebratene Maultaschen: kind of like Ravioli, but much larger and fried with onions. May sound strange, but you really can't do much wrong with these.
- Wurstsalat: Sausage Salad; well, its Germany after all. Comes with bread and is really quite tasty.
- Hackepeter: Raw minced meat with fresh onions and bread. You don't get this very often (but for example at Vogelbräu).
- Yufka Döner: A kind of döner but a wrap is used instead of proper bread. Sold in dozens of places it is probably the cheapest way to get a complete meal.
Where to eat:
ViVA Restaurant. Offers vegetarian and vegan food in the city center. (Lammstraße 7a)
Shogun. Is a good place to eat Sushi. (Zähringerstraße 96)
- Pizzahaus is an Italian restaurant with good pizza. (Rintheimer Straße 2)
- Vogelbräu Karlsruhe is a beer garden, restaurant and brewery. You get good beer and German food here, really a nice place for lunch, dinner or drinking. There are two more 'Vogelbräu' restaurants in the nearby towns of Ettlingen and Durlach. (Kapellenstraße 50)
Litfaß, Kreuzstraße 10. A restaurant in the heart of Karlsruhe that offers a good variety of regional specialties including Maultaschen, Käsespätzle, and a pretty tasty Jägerschnitzel.
Café Bleu, Café Emaille. Two restaurants owned by the same purveyor that runs "Die Kippe". Both have the same menu as Die Kippe, but different atmospheres. (Bleu is at Kaiserallee 11 and Emaille at Kaiserstrasse 142) All three restaurants are as described above, and always a nice place to grab breakfast, a drink with friends, or a quick meal without breaking the bank.
Dean&David, Kaiserstrasse 223a. A very modern restaurant that strives to offer healthy fast-food from fresh ingredients. It offers mostly curries, soups and a large selection of salads.
- Stoevchen (engl little oven) is a great place to try Flammkuchen and relax with a cocktail or two
- Panda, Scheffelstrasse 2 (on the crossroads between Kaiserallee and Scheffelstrasse), is a food stall serving authentic Chinese food at about €6 per meal.
Badisch Brauhaus. Is a very large multi-story beer garden, brewery and restaurant. On its uppermost floor is a cocktail bar; probably the nicest place in Karlsruhe for cocktails (although on weekends it can be difficult to get a seat and service can be slow). (Stephanienstr. 38-40)
- Hoepfner - like other cities in Germany, Karlsruhe has a few regional brands of beer, of which Hoepfner is the most famous. There is a brewery and Beer Garden at the east site of the town. It is also worth exploring the microbreweries scattered around the city, such as the Vogelbraeu, Wolf Brauerei and the Badische Brauhaus, all of which have seasonal specialities.
- Alter Brauhof - a nice place to sit outside and have a beer (only a good place in summer), also offers decent food. Its not so well known, so you stand a good chance of finding a nice place even on a nice summer evening even on weekends. (Beiertheimer Allee 18a)
Carambolage. Special club near the university and maybe the only place in the city where you can go out until 5AM during the week.
Z-10, Zaehringerstr. 10. A bar run by local university students that is frequented by the Karlsruhe's student population. There are several local beers offered here for very cheap (think €1-1.50) and also decent cocktails. Bands are frequently playing on Saturdays (no entry fee) and visitors can play cards, board games and table soccer with other patrons. Check the website for hours as the bar is generally only open when school is in session.
Scruffy's. Scruffy's is Karlsruhe's best Irish Pub. The interior of the bar is reminiscent of the hold of an old ship and is a comfortable environment. There are a variety of beers and whiskeys, as well as good Irish music every week. Often the owner's band will play, always a treat. The bartenders and some of the patrons are native English speakers, so it's a good place to let the tourist's brain relax after speaking a lot of German! Just make sure you keep a good count on how many beers you order the owner occasionally miscounts. (Karlstr. 4, Across from the Europaplatz)
Dorfschänke. The Dorfschänke is Karlsruhe's oldest Kneipe, and a good place to meet up with people. With the normal selection of beers and drinks, this is also a good place to see bands or to watch soccer outside during the summer. There is also a fairly popular "Kicker" (or Foos-ball to us Americans) table inside where you can pick up a game or two. Be prepared to pay cover on nights when bands are playing. (Am Künstlerhaus 33 )
- Agostea is a nice but pricy club near the Kronenplatz with 2 dancefloors.
"Leonardo's Expresso Bar" directly located in the Center of Karlsruhe in the Zaehringerstrasse. There you can enjoy original Italian Coffee, good cocktails and also a lot of wines. The bar is a smoker Bar with a separated room where you can smoke cigars. The Bar is also offering many cigars from around the world. The prices are okay. The personnel speak English. The Leonard, or also called Leo is one of the political Bars in Karlsruhe. High ranking Officials from the City, the Courts, the University and the Party are there often seen.
- Thalia - A bookstore in the main shopping street (Kaiserstrasse 167) has some internet terminals in the uppermost floor
- Gelbe Seiten - This quite stylish bar/cafe close to Ettlinger Tor (Karl-Friedrich-Straße 22) has free WLAN, one internet computer; offers a nice selection of drinks&cocktails and some simple food.
- Kaffee Schiller - Has free WLAN and a few computers to use. You also get good coffee, cakes and some simple (but good) food. Its close to the main shopping street and the university. (Kronenstr.30)
- An extensive (but German) list of further locations can be found here.
Most shops are located in the pedestrian zone in the Kaiserstrasse. At Ludwigsplatz, near Kaiserstrasse, there are various open-air cafes where the shopper can relax. Some of the more expensive boutiques and shoe shops are also located in this area. In the south of the Marktplatz, at the end of the pedestrian zone, is a big shopping mall called "Ettlinger Tor". Definitely an alternative to the Kaiserstrasse, especially when the weather is bad.
Bed & Breakfast in Karlsruhe Durlach, Am Steinbruch 1, ☎ . Two furnished guestrooms for 1-3 guests in one of Karlsruhe's historical districts. from 25 € per person.
Youth Hostel. Requires membership in a hostelling organization.
A&O Karlsruhe Hauptbahnhof, Bahnhofsplatz 14-16, ☎ . Hostel
Hotel Garni Betzler, Amalienstraße 3.
Hotel Alfa Karlsruhe-City, Blumenstraße 17, ☎ .
Art Hotel Royal, Kriegsstraße 94, ☎ .
Schlosshotel Karlsruhe, Bahnhofplatz 2.
Novotel Karlsruhe City, Festplatz 2.
Hotel Erbprinz Ettlingen, Rheinstraße 1.
Karlsruhe is maybe one of the safest cities in Germany especially the centre of the town. There are a lot of policemen walking and driving around, mainly because of the important courts. Maybe some suburbs should be avoided at night (Oberreut, Neureut and Daxlanden (not really)), but otherwise, one will feel safe in this city.
Overview over all Catholic churches in Karlsruhe here
- Unsere Liebe Frau, Marienstr. 80 (from central station 800 m direction Nordeast). Sun: 10:15; Tue: 15:00; Th-F: 18:30
- St. Michael, Barbarossaplatz (from central station 1000 m direction west). Sat: 18:00; Sun: 11:15, 16:00 (Croat.); Tue: 8:00; Wed: 7:45; Thu: 18:00
- St. Elisabeth, Südendstraße 39 (from central station 1400 m direction nordwest). Sun: 9:45; Tue: 18:00; Wed: 7:45; Thu: 18:00
Deutschsprachiger Muslimkreis (German-speaking Muslim circle), Kaiserpassage 10 (from central station 1400 m direction center).
Chabad of Karlsruhe Jewish Synagogue and Center that holds services on Friday nights (varying times), Saturday mornings 10 am as well as on other Jewish holidays.
- The neighboring town of Ettlingen
- Bertha Benz Memorial Route- Follow the tracks of the world's first automobile journey (Mannheim - Pforzheim/Black Forest - Mannheim) back in 1888, leading right through Karlsruhe-Grötzingen
- Paris The French TGV high speed train gets you there in as little as 3 hours and 3 minutes