While on our whirlwind tour of Christmas markets in Germany last year, we found ourselves in Wiesbaden for the very first time. Although often overlooked by international travelers, Wiesbaden is the high-profile provincial capital in Germany’s Hesse state, one with a rich history that beckons back to the days when the Romans flocked here for its thermal springs.

Situated on the Rhine, Wiesbaden incorporates stately elegance with a welcoming charm, offering visitors top tier galleries, fantastic restaurants and cafes, and natural hot springs – making it the perfect spot to unwind, take in the culture, and, if you’re interested, summon your inner James Bond at the spectacular Spielbank (casino).

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What To Do In Wiesbaden

Nerobergbahn Funicular: Riders have been taking this tram up and down Neroberg since 1888. The trip is short but sweet and the views from the top are spectacular on a clear day. A scenic park and a Russian Orthodox Church greets you once you reach the summit.

Hessisches Staatstheater: The state theatre and opera house is the centre of Wiesbaden’s cultural offerings. Built at the end of the 19th century in the Baroque revival style, the theatre is something to behold both inside and out. The interior is extraordinarily opulent and intricate, worthy of a visit even if you’re not lucky enough to take in an event here.

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Spielbank: The casino in Wiesbaden is spectacular, even if you aren’t into gambling. The casino is part of the impressive Kurhaus building, which used to serve as the town’s central spa. Going to the Wiesbaden casino is a classy affair – the interior is stunning with dark wood, ornate lighting, and elaborate murals making you will feel as though you’re in a different time altogether.

Wiesbaden Travel Guide Christmas Market

Christmas Market: Wiesbaden has one of the most atmospheric Christmas markets in Germany. Officially named the Sternschnuppenmarkt (twinkling star market), the centre of the city along Wilhelmstrasse sparkles with thousands of lights set above the dozens of wooden stalls selling all things Christmas. A pop-up log cabin near the skating rink offers a particularly cozy spot to grab a glass of the locally produced wine.

Drink Wine: Wiesbaden lies in the Rheingau, a small but mighty wine growing region which produces a number of varieties, although Rieslings are most prominent. Wine has been a big deal here for centuries with dozens of festivals held each year in Wiesbaden and the surrounding area. Wine lovers can visit the region’s wineries quite easily either on their own or part of a tour.

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Visit Mainz: Across the Rhine river is Mainz, a similarly sized city with a stunning Altstadt (old town). Although most of the downtown core was destroyed in the war, a small but immaculately preserved portion survives. It’s only a fifteen minute train ride from Wiesbaden so it’s perfect for either a half or full day trip.

Where To Eat In Wiesbaden

Paulaner: You don’t have to be in Munich to experience this infamous Bavarian brewer first hand. Traditional in terms of food and decor, Paulaner is a good bet for hearty German classics like schnitzel or pork knuckle.

Das!Burger: The burger trend has proliferated Germany like much of the world, though Das!Burger is one of the better ones I’ve encountered. Fresh buns, creative ingredients, and the tastiest skinny fries, Das!Burger is the perfect spot for a quick bite in Wiesbaden.

Chateau Kefraya: This Lebanese restaurant is an ideal spot if you’ve had your fill of German food. With lots of smaller plates that are ideal for sharing as well as a selection of full meals, Chateau Kefraya is a fresh, healthy, and delicious option in Wiesbaden.

Kafers Bistro: For something a tad fancier try Kafers Bistro located inside the casino. Dark wood, leather banquettes, and framed photos adorning the walls makes Kafers feels like a throwback to a forgone era. Dinner here is always a good bet but they also offer a fantastic brunch on Sundays.

Cafe Maldaner: This iconic bakery and restaurant is an institution in Wiesbaden. Beloved by locals, Cafe Maldaner is modeled after a Viennese coffee house and serves up caffeinated beverages, decadent pastries and cakes, and light meals in a charming space.

Where To Stay In Wiesbaden

Hotel Klemm: This hotel is downright cool. While there’s been a marked shift in customer preference away from traditional hotels in favour accommodations that give a more local flavour and experience, Hotel Klemm is different. Effortlessly incorporating all of the differentiating elements of a top-notch B&B and avoiding the monotony of its peers, Hotel Klemm is the anti-hotel hotel.

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Set in a restored 19th century building on a quiet, tree-lined residential street, Hotel Klemm exists at the intersection of comfort and quirkiness. Proprietor Heike Lowell has an eye for design, which is apparent from the bold decor of the guest rooms to the small details that make Klemm cozy. From the British room with a huge Union Jack mural to the industrial themed room filled with metal accents, each space is unique.

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Perhaps my favourite part of the Hotel Klemm experience is the breakfast set in a stunning dining room. An expansive spread of cold items including a variety of fresh breads, pastries, cereals, yoghurt, fruit, meat, and cheese as well as hot options like eggs cooked to order ensures that you are ready to take on the day. Or just go back to your room and curl up in bed all day.

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If you’re heading to Wiesbaden, don’t even think about staying anywhere else. If Wiesbaden isn’t on your horizon – it should be!

Full disclosure: we were guests of Hotel Klemm but rest assured, our opinions are 100% honest and completely our own.

Wiesbaden Travel Guide Photos courtesy of Departful, JP Bervoets