Blick über Karlsruhe

Short Trip to Karlsruhe – Our Top Tips for the Fan City

If Karl Wilhelm, Margrave of Baden-Durlach, hadn’t felt cramped in his residence in Durlach 300 years ago, Karlsruhe as we know it today would not exist. The third-largest city in Baden-Württemberg is the result of a daring idea of an ideal city, designed on the drawing board. That alone makes for a compelling short trip to the so-called “Fan City.” Additionally, Karlsruhe impresses with its multifaceted city quarters, interactive museums, exciting restaurant concepts, and good coffee.

An Overview of Karlsruhe’s Attractions

The melodious nickname “Fan City” comes from Karlsruhe’s urban layout, with 32 avenues radiating from the palace into the city. The palace is also one of Karlsruhe’s landmarks and the main tourist attraction. Today, it houses the Baden State Museum and is surrounded by a spacious park. A few steps away is the market square with the “Pyramid” — the tomb of the city’s founder, Karl Wilhelm of Baden-Durlach.

Another attraction is the Center for Art and Media (ZKM), located in a former munitions factory. The ambiance of the listed building provides an architecturally exciting setting for the changing art exhibitions. Since 2019, Karlsruhe has also been entitled to the designation “UNESCO City of Media Arts.”

A change of scenery is offered by a detour to Durlach. The once-independent residence city is now a lively and extremely charming district of Karlsruhe. From here, it’s just a few minutes to the green vineyards of the Turmberg.

In the following map, you can see the attractions mentioned in this post, as well as our dining tips located.

And now, let me show you how a short trip to Karlsruhe can be very entertaining.

11:00 AM – Exploring Turmberg with Public Transport

Karlsruhe greets us with radiant weather. And since we want to make the most of the warm spring sun, we head directly towards Turmberg after our arrival. The 256-meter-high local mountain of the former residence city of Durlach attracts with a magnificent view over Karlsruhe and invites you to linger.

For transportation, we utilize the well-developed public transit system. Since December 2021, as a result of the innovative combined solution, it traverses the city center of Karlsruhe underground. The seven newly built underground tram stations stand out with their ingenious lighting concept and are a real eye-catcher.

Karlsruhe Subway

We take line 1 to the Durlach Turmberg stop. After a brief, 5-minute walk along Bergbahnstrasse, we reach the valley station of the Turmbergbahn. Germany’s oldest operational funicular railway, opened in 1888, comfortably overcomes the altitude difference. For those who prefer a more active approach, there’s the Hexenstäffele. Once at the top, a stop at the sun terrace of the Restaurant Anders on the Turmberg is a must. We share a serving of Maultaschen and enjoy the delicious homemade lemonades.


Turmberg Aussicht     

1:00 PM – Exploring the Old Town of Durlach

Now that we’re energized, it’s time to follow one of the three Durlach Wine Hiking Trails of varying lengths. The routes are marked on Turmberg, and you can simply follow the colored grape signs. If you choose to follow the red sign like we did (the longest route), you’ll be guided on a roughly 5.5 kilometers circular route from Turmberg through the charming old town center of Durlach. It’s a truly leisurely walk, for which you should allocate about 1.5 hours.




3:00 PM – Sweet Break in Karlsruhe’s City Center

In the late afternoon, we return to the vibrant city center of Karlsruhe by tram. The over 40,000 students, who attend the renowned Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) among others, give the city a youthful vibe and positively influence the coffee culture. Fans of trendy cafés are spoiled for choice here. Although we didn’t have time to explore all the exciting spots, we were impressed by the offerings at Café Winter on Adlerstrasse. Moreover, the café is ideally located for a stopover on the way from Durlach to the city center.

Winter Kaffee Karlsruhe

5:00 PM – To the Castle Tower

Next, we visit Karlsruhe Castle. In 1715, Margrave Karl Wilhelm laid the foundation stone for his new residence in the midst of the forests of Baden-Württemberg. For nearly 200 years, the castle served as a residence and government seat until it lost this function in 1918 and became the seat of the Baden State Museum a year later.

At the castle entrance, 165 steps separate us from the viewing platform on the octagonal castle tower. Those who don’t want to miss this view should head to the foyer of the Baden State Museum (main entrance to the castle) to purchase the ticket for the tower ascent. Planning the visit on a Friday also benefits from free admission to the collection.

Schloss KarlsruheKarlsruhe SchlossturmAussicht vom Schlossturm KarlsruheSchlosspark Karlsruhe

Cost of tower ascent: 4 euros for adults, 2 euros for children | Closed on Mondays, Tues-Thurs 10 – 16:15, Fri-Sun and public holidays 10-17:15 (last ascent 15 min before tower closes), more information: Opening hours and prices for Karlsruhe Castle and Castle Tower

7:00 PM – Organic Cuisine in Bauhaus Building or Fine Dining

From cozy beer gardens to Michelin-starred restaurants, Karlsruhe offers the right restaurant for every taste. We tried both a classic brewery pub, Vogelbräu, and indulged in two gourmet restaurants.

One of them is Restaurant Erasmus, which calls itself “Germany’s first organic fine dining restaurant” and has been awarded a green Michelin star. Our expectations were accordingly high. The ambiance is casual and architecturally interesting; the restaurant is located in a listed Bauhaus-style building designed in 1928 by Otto Haesler under the direction of Walter Gropius. Various menus are available, including 100% vegetarian and, upon request, 100% plant-based options (costs from 117 euros for 4 courses). However, our conclusion was mixed. The concept is commendable; yet, in terms of refinement and service quality, Erasmus could step up a notch.

Karlsruhe Erasmus

This is especially true when directly compared to Restaurant Sein. In the two Michelin-starred establishment, we enjoyed a perfect dinner from A to Z. Service, ambiance, drink pairing (including the non-alcoholic options), and each dish were all outstanding! Thus, it’s clear which culinary experience one should not miss as a foodie on a short trip to Karlsruhe. The menu price varies depending on the day of the week, starting at 190 euros for 7 courses (plus prelude and finale).

Michelin Star Restaurant Karlsruhe

11:00 PM – Late Night Drinks

During our two extended dinners, we didn’t have an opportunity to explore the bar scene. However, with places like Guts & Glory or Cocktailbar der Kofferraum, there are some promising spots. For those interested in learning more, this culinary journey through Karlsruhe by “feed me up before you go-go” provides some impressions.

10:00 AM – Freshly Roasted Coffee at the Old Slaughterhouse

The next morning, our first destination is the Old Slaughterhouse in Karlsruhe’s East City. The site of the municipal slaughterhouse was transformed into a creative park after its closure in 2006. Today, the former slaughterhouse buildings host a diverse mix of studio communities, IT companies, startups, non-profit organizations, commercial enterprises, and cultural venues. Amidst this, a recommended spot for coffee lovers is located. The Kaffeerösterei Tostino impresses not only with excellent coffee and freshly baked Franzbrötchen, but also with a sunny front plaza where we enjoy the spring sun while sipping our coffee.

ZKM Karlsruhe

Cost for adults is 8 euros, free for children up to 17 years | Every Friday from 2:00 PM, admission to the ZKM exhibitions is free | Closed on Mon/Tue, open Wed-Fri 10 AM – 6 PM, Sat/Sun 11 AM-6 PM, further information: ZKM Karlsruhe

3:00 PM – Heading Home

And quicker than expected, the 24 hours are up, and our short trip comes to an end. We return the same way we came to Karlsruhe: by train. From Zurich, the journey with the fastest direct connection takes just under three hours – assuming the German Railway is operating. On our short trip, we happened to catch a strike day. Karlsruhe turned out to be a “redundant” travel destination in this context. The city can also be reached by TGV (route Basel – Mulhouse – Strasbourg – Karlsruhe), and it doesn’t take much longer.

Practical Tips for Your Short Trip to Karlsruhe

  • Karlsruhe is perfectly suited for a short trip due to its size. With a time budget of 24 hours, you can already get a good overview of the city’s main attractions. If you prefer a more relaxed pace, I recommend planning for two nights.
  • The hotel selection in Karlsruhe is relatively modest. We opted for the 133 Boutique Hotel (affiliate link) in the city center. It is ideally located to explore Karlsruhe’s downtown and the main attractions on foot. Note that the rooms only have French beds and are designed very openly (bathroom in the room). Moreover, the rooms facing the street, despite supposedly soundproof windows, are rather noisy, or the street noise is audible (we are used to this, so we didn’t find it too bad). Room prices start at around 92 euros. In our opinion, the price/performance ratio is right – you just need to be aware of the points mentioned above.
  • From mid-August to mid-September, the annual Schlosslichtspiele (Castle Light Shows) take place. Another highlight on the event agenda is the Karlsruhe Christmas City, which starts at the end of November and lasts until December 23.


More Tips for City Trips in Southern Germany

Find more inspiration for short trips to cities in southern Germany here:



  • Barbara

    Nochmal hinfahren, die von Lüppertz „Genesis‘ gestalteten UBahnhöfe bewundern!

    • Anita Brechbühl

      Liebe Barbara danke für den Tipp. Die unterirdischen Stadtbahnhaltestellen sind im Beitrag ja bereits als Tipp aufgeführt und Lüpertz Genesis haben wir entsprechend auch gesehen :)

  • Hey, du warst ja mal ganz in der Nähe hier bei mir. Das ist doch mal ein toller Bericht. Ich hab echt noch eine Menge mehr über die Stadt durch dich erfahren. :) Den Turmberg kannte ich noch gar nicht.
    Der alte Schlachthof. Also das Gelände dessen, ist mega umgebaut und saniert worden.
    Liebe Grüße in die Schweiz. (P.S.) Super tolle Bilder. Sehr übersichtlich angeordnetes Essen. :D

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