This small and charming medieval town on the shores of Limmat river, known for its mineral waters as a wellness destination, is only 20 minutes away from Zurich by train and is perfect for a short weekend trip.
Arriving in Baden you will be greeted by cobblestone streets, colorful buildings and a slow, laid-back rhythm of a town with only 17,000 inhabitants.
Similar to Zurich, the city is divided into two by the Limmat, so you can get beautiful vantage points from each shore. Looking over the skyline, our tour guide explained to us that the buildings with stairlike structures along their roofs (didn’t catch the proper name) – are historically important administrative locations – the special roofs were meant to protect the buildings in case there is a big fire spreading across town. You can see them in the next photo if you look closely.
From the heart of old town, a stairway leads to the castle above, and here you can catch a beautiful view of the city, spot Zurich’s Uetliberg in the distance, and watch the sunset over the Alps. Even on a gray day, I sat there for half an hour just enjoying the atmosphere, so I’d imagine with a bit of sun and color, it’s even better.
For dinner and night out, we went to the Grand Casino: a 3-course meal, followed by drinks and instructions on how to play Roulette and Black Jack. I was lucky that night and won amongst the team, which saved me some chips for my next visit 🙂
We stayed in the historical Hotel Blume, the oldest in the city. Inside it’s a garden, complete with sounds of a fountain and chirping birds. Rooms are cozy and rustic – no modern touches here. The experience is more about stepping into the history of this town and letting time pass slowly and relaxed.
The mineral bath and spa at Hotel Limmathof is stunning. The hotel itself is located in a grand pink building looking over the river, and the spa is housed on the ground floor, beneath arch ceilings and with natural light coming through the windows.
There is a traditional Finnish sauna and a steam room, an illuminated ice room that looks like the inside of an igloo and a bright and peaceful relaxation room – but the best part, of course, is the mineral bath. It’s spacious and beautifully illuminated, and depending on which corner you park yourself in, there are different bubbles and jet-streams to revitalize your body. We spent two hours there and it was really hard to leave!
NOT TO MISS
- relax outside along the river and in front of Hotel Blume, there were outdoor baths with hot mineral water, where you could dress down to your skivvies right on the street and hop in to warm up from the low temperatures. A unique feature of this city and looked so much fun to do. I didn’t try this and really regret it!
- try a Spanischbrötli this delicious local pastry has a legend of its own – apparently wealthy Zurich residents who came to enjoy Baden’s mineral waters, liked this pastry so much that they sent their servants back to the town to get more and for this reason the Zurich-Baden train was built, affectionately known as the Spanischbrötli train. It’s a very tasty mix of apricot jam and hazelnuts and you can only get it here!
- feel the wellness my favorite thing about this town is that it feels like going to a resort, where time slows down and little things become very enjoyable. Take a long stroll along the river, have a nice long conversation over a glass of wine, treat yourself to several hours at the spa and let Baden charm you into a relaxed state for a day.
My time in Baden was organized by Stadt Baden who invited us over to experience a special weekend program. Starting at 109CHF per night, you can enjoy a hotel and a free time activity (spa, culture, etc) – all included for two people: http://weekend.baden.ch/ just pick where you want to stay and what you want to do, and voila – you have a mini weekend getaway 🙂