An advertising for Baden-Württemberg aimed at investors reads "We can do everything - except talk Standard German." And it is true. While being far lesser known Baden-Württemberg forms the other half of the industrial powerhouse that is Southern Germany. It is mainly due to its people. A saying describes them as "schaffe, schaffe, Häusle baue" (work, work, build a small little house) - a shorthand for being industrious, hard working, staid, honest, conservative, down to earth and having a horrible accent. All building societies that are in operation today in Germany were founded in Baden-Württemberg. Telling, huh? To top it of most of them are staunchly Christian, either Catholic or Protestant. There was a strong Pietism movement in the 18th century that still affects life today, no other area of Germany has as many Protestant fundamentalists as Baden-Württemberg.
Due to its size, Baden-Württemberg offers enough to see for even the most jaded traveller. Ranging from the warm Neckar valley in the north to the hilly regions of the Swabian Alps (Schwäbische Alb) in the south, as well as from the Rhine valley in the west via the world-famous Black Forest to the Allgäu in the east, Baden-Württemberg might well be the most diverse of Germany's federal states. Giving a complete list of interesting places is impossible, so here is just a general overview.
The Black Forest (in German: Schwarzwald) has been a dream destination for many tourists coming to Germany since the early days of tourism. Think of steep hills and mountains overgrown with dark fir trees, the alps dotted with massive wooden farm houses whose windows are decorated with a vast array of geraniums. Think of cuckoo clocks, of skiing, of traditional costumes, of Black Forest gâteau, you get the idea.
Lake Konstanz, (in German: Bodensee) is the largest lake in all of Germany, it borders aswell to Austria and Switzerland. This is a great place for swimming, boating and cycling. There are several ferries crossing the lake from one place to another, and there is a cycling route going around the lake, that can be done over several days. On the German part of the lake, the famous flower island Mainau, is a place of interest for lovers of flowers and gardens. The city of Konstanz offers a lovely old town and some great restaurants. Other places worth visiting along the lakeshore include Überlingen and Meersburg.
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The Ulm Minster (Ulmer Münster), located in Ulm, is the highest church in the world with a steeple that measures 161.53 metres. To make it up this steeple a traveller must climb up 768 steps. Once at the top there is stunning view of all of Ulm that makes the climb very worthwhile. Construction was started in the 14th century but the slow process of constructing this huge Gothic church was not completed until the 19th century. There is great art to be enjoyed inside the Church and a wonderful feeling of knowing that Mozart once played on its famous massive organ can be felt.
The city of Heidelberg is the epitome of romantic Germany, complete with a castle, a river, lots of lovely houses in the old town and a path on the other side of the Neckar (Philosophenweg) to enjoy the panorama from.
Yet another romantic city - a bit smaller than Heidelberg, but at least as lovely. Tübingen's old and crooked streets are lined with half-timbered houses in which you can find cosy cafes and fine shops. One of Germany's most famous views can be enjoyed from Eberhardsbrücke towards the Neckarinsel and the houses lining the river.
By no means a beautiful city, Stuttgart is still worth a visit if you're up for some serious shopping. Its main shopping street, the Königsstraße, offers enough shops to spend a week there. Other sights include the TV tower as well as some car museums (see links at the bottom of this section).
Located in the warmest area of Germany and very close to the border of France, Freiburg is home to a beautiful dome church, lots of fine houses and the peculiar "Bächle" - ditches next to pretty much every street in the old town. Freiburg is also the gateway to the Black Forest and the Kaiserstuhl, a wine-growing region just outside the city limits. The city makes for an excellent base to explore this part of Germany.
Stuttgart Airport (STA), about 12 kilometres from Stuttgart, offers a wide range of flights. Although there is only one runway, it's the major hub for German based lowcost airlines German Wings and TuiFly. Together they form the bulk of arriving and departing flights, with connections throughout Europe and the north of Africa mainly. A few destinations include Moscow, London, Agadir, Funchal, Barcelona, Reykjavik, Madrid, Rome, Luxor, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Palma de Mallorca, Vienna, Warsaw, Thessaloniki and Lisbon.
KLM has regular flights to Amsterdam and other destinations with airlines include Atlanta, Helsinki, Paris, Tel Aviv, Copenhagen and Malta.
Stuttgart Airport can be easily reached within 30 minutes from the city's central railway station using the Stuttgart suburban railway S2 or S3. The airport lies right next to the Autobahn A8 that connects the cities of Karlsruhe, Stuttgart and Munich.
Baden Airpark is located some 40 kilometres from Karlsruhe and just 12 kilometres from Baden-Baden. It's mainly served by lowcostairlines, like Ryanair which flies to/from Alicante, Cagliari, Dublin, Girona, London, Porto, Rome and Stockholm.
TuiFly serves Palma de Mallorca, Antalya, Rhodes and Tenerife, while Hamburg International serves more destinations in southern Europe like Corfu, Fuerteventura, Hurghada, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Tel Aviv and Malaga. Finally, Air Berlin has a few flights, including Rimini and Vienna as destinations.
EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg (IATA: BSL) is the only airport in Europe that is jointly operated by three countries. It is located entirely on French soil, but has excellent connections to Basel (in fact, much better than to farther-away Mulhouse and Freiburg).
Although the airport is on French soil, there is a special Swiss customs area connected to Basel by a border road.
The airport receives flights from all major European airports, a few intercontinental flights and numerous smaller cities in Europe. Easyjet flies to/from Berlin, London, Porto, Alicante, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bordeaux, Cagliari, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Istanbul, Lisbon, Madrid, Málaga, Marrakech, Naples, Nice, Olbia, Palma de Mallorca and Rome. Places served further away include Algiers, Montreal, Istanbul and Reykjavik, though most cities are located in central, western and southern Europe.
The airports connects to the A3 Motorway. Basel's BVB bus No. 50 connects the Swiss sector of the airport to the Bahnhof SBB, which is the main Swiss and French railway station in Basel. French Distribus bus No. 11 connects the French sector of the airport to the Saint-Louis railway station.
Baden-Württemberg has an excellent rail network, serving even quite remote areas. Especially rural villages are served by buses which generally leave from main train stations in larger towns and cities. Buses are quite frequent near big cities, but especially on weekend in rural areas there are only 2-4 bus connections a day.
If you're travelling within Baden-Württemberg, you can purchase the http://www.bahn.de/regional/view/regionen/bawue/freizeit/bawue_ticket.shtml|Baden-Württemberg-Ticket]], which will give you all-day travel in regional trains (categories S, RB, RE and IRE) within Baden-Württemberg and also to some cities closely beyond the state's boundaries, like Basel, Lindau and Würzburg. You can use it for trains of all operators, and most of local buses and city transport. On working days the ticket is valid 09:00-15:00 the following day. On weekends it is valid the entire day. It is sold on most ticket vending machines within the region.
Of course you can always use your car. If you are travelling in the Black Forest or the Swabian Alb during winter, bring snow chains as some smaller roads may not see snow ploughs frequently enough. When travelling on the Autobahn, the same precautions as everywhere on German high speed roads apply: If you're not willing (and prepared) to drive consistently at or above the official reference speed of 130 kilometres per hour (81 mph), stay on the right. Move to the right if that lane is vacant for a stretch long enough to safely use it, use your common sense, don't drive faster than you can think.
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I've lived in southern BW for the last 3.5 years.
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