Photo by David Jancik
Photo by David Jancik

Germany Highlight: Karlsruhe

by Amanda Palumbo
Stripes Europe

If you’re looking for a quick and fun family getaway look no further than Karlsruhe. Just 50 miles northwest of Stuttgart, Baden Württemberg’s second-biggest city is the perfect day trip for the entire family. No matter what Germany’s fickle weather brings, fun will be had in Karlsruhe.

Karlsruhe Palace

The city’s most notable landmark is the Karlsruhe Palace. It’s a massive yellow structure with an iconic layout called “Fächer,” or fan. The more than 200-year-old palace has been home to the Baden State Museum since 1921. Here you can learn how Grand Dukes lived and entertained within its walls. In late summer, a gorgeous and intricate light show splashes on the palace’s Baroque facade. In the winter, you can ice skate and drink Glühwein, all while gazing at this beautiful structure. 

State Museum of Natural History

While your kids may groan at the words “museum” and “natural history,” once they walk in they will be enamored with its exhibits. My favorite part of this museum is its vast aquariums showing off all sorts of sea life from sharks to octopuses, jelly fish and even sea horses. Once you’re done with life under the sea, head above ground to the museum’s terrariums. Inside you’ll see snakes, frogs and every bug imaginable, live and up close. Kids can even watch a colony of ants burrow and build their homes. 

Karlsruhe Zoo

If it’s a beautiful day, take the family to the Karlsruhe Zoo. You can spend all day here watching animals from all over the world. There’s a reason one million people flock to this zoo every year. You can see animals from the African Savanna like zebras and giraffes. Learn about those indigenous to Asia like snow leopards and pandas. There’s even a petting zoo where kids and adults can play with sheep, goats and pigs. 


Botanical Gardens

Karlsruhe has a botanical garden rightfully nicknamed, “oasis of green.” Here you can see everything from gorgeous flowers to exotic plants. This isn’t your ordinary park and garden. Some of the world’s best botanists and gardeners designed it.

Europabad Karlsruhe 

If you decide to turn this day trip into a weekend, we highly suggest you check out Europabad Karlsruhe, a triple threat for families. It’s a sauna, a spa and an indoor/outdoor waterpark rolled into one. Kids can race down exhilarating water slides or stay inside and visit KAi - The Shark Child World. Mom and Dad can sneak off and relax in the sauna by getting a footbath, reenergizing in the solarium or if you haven’t gotten enough of winter, visiting the Ice Lounge. There are spa packages that include massages, facials and beauty treatments. 

Tasty schnitzel at Vogelbraeu | Photo by Amanda Palumbo


For a traditional German meal head to Vogelbraeu, a brewery and restaurant where the staff is friendly, the food is amazing and the Bier is flowing. Burnt out on sausage and schnitzel? Karlsruhe has a wide variety of Italian, Spanish and Asian cuisine.

Getting around

The city is very walkable and has excellent public transportation. Karlsruhe has a tram and light-rail system that winds throughout the city and connects at the city’s central station. Trains that run from Stuttgart HBF to Karlsruhe HBF roughly every 20 minutes and tickets cost 10-15 euros. From Munich, it’s a four-hour train ride with a connection in Stuttgart.

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