Lively and Urban

Celebrate and Enjoy in the Water-Rich Cities of SouthWest Germany 

Schwarzwald, Freiburg, Bächle-Picknick

Picnic at the Freiburger Bächle | © Freiburg Erleben, Foto: Andreas Frank

STUTTGART – Urban flair or historical charm, modern architecture or traditional half-timbered, colorful street art or ancient Ice Age art: Anyone planning a city trip in Baden-Württemberg has an abundance of choices. Each of the cities of Southwest Germany has its own character and offers countless opportunities to explore local characteristics. What unites them is their location on the water, which guarantees lively experiences everywhere.


Refreshing Outdoor Escape: the Neckar Beach in Mannheim

Mannheim is greener than many other cities in Germany.  Around two thirds of Mannheim is made up of natural areas, and some of it is even under nature and landscape protection. Two rivers, the Rhine and Neckar, meander through the city, and there are many green oases on its banks. One of them is the Neckar beach, where you can unwind in the deckchairs and hammocks with a view of the water. On sunny days and mild evenings, cool drinks from the Beach Bar are especially enjoyable. There are many other natural places to relax in the “square city:” In Luisenpark, old giant trees form the backdrop for a meditative sound concert and in the enchanted rose garden in Herzogenriedpark, you can daydream in the scent of flowers surrender.


Dolce Vita on the Neckar: Summer by the River in Heidelberg

Strolling, chatting and munching – you can always live well in Heidelberg. When the official “Summer by the River” is declared in August, the “dolce vita” dominates the weekend agenda and the city moves a little closer to the River Neckar. On these days, even the busy street B37 is closed to car traffic and belongs entirely to pedestrians and passers-by. People can experience a lot on the temporary promenade between Alter Brücke (the old bridge) and Neckarlauer (the lookout). There are two stages, a children's program, delicious street food and many attractions ranging from a drone laser show to water skiing. A real holiday feeling permeates the city beach, and it becomes a feel-good place on the Neckar River with a chillout area, live music and beach yoga.


Family Party in the Park: The Karlsruhe Festival

Clueso, Peter Fox, BAP, Simple Minds, Sunrise Avenue…The list of bands and artists who have already been on stage at “Das Fest” in Karlsruhe is long. Close to the city and idyllically located on the Alb River in the Günther Klotz complex, the family festival combines culture and the countryside. The unique selling point is the “Mount Klotz” opposite the main stage: Goosebumps are guaranteed when you watch La Ola waves crashing or when the river sparkles in the light of lighters and cell phone flashlights at night. The classic breakfast on Sunday morning, followed by the subsequent “Karlsruhe Duck Race,” is also an integral part of the program. Thousands of bright yellow rubber duckies swim around the Alb for charity. Impatient people can get in the mood for the big hill event one week before the actual festival at “The Festival by the Lake.”


Water Fun along the River: the Banks of the Neckar River in Heilbronn

Whether you are a nature fan, a connoisseur, or an athlete, Heilbronn offers water options for everyone - especially in summer when leisure life takes place around the Neckar. Active people plunge into the cool water by canoe, SUP (Stand Up Paddle Board) or pedal boat. If you like a more relaxed pace, you will find many beautiful places on the banks of the Neckar for a break or you can explore the diversity of the “Neckarmeile,” southern Germany's largest restaurant mile. You can combine water fun and enjoyment with a ride in a “BBQ Donut.” The round boats are eye-catching and offer various culinary arrangements from barbecue sets to wine tasting. The Neckar shines in a very special light at the Heilbronn Light Festival in June. In addition to atmospheric illuminations, visitors can expect culture, music and great food.


Nightlife in a World Heritage Site: Caracalla Therme Baden-Baden

Baden-Baden is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Great Spa Towns of Europe” and is famous for its thermal springs. Several thousand gallons of thermal water have been gushing out of the springs every day for over 2,000 years. The Romans knew about the healing power of the thermal springs and built the first thermal baths. In the historic Friedrichsbad, you can immerse yourself in the past: the extensive bath was opened in 1877 based on the model of the Roman thermal baths, the ruins of which lie directly below. The modern counterpart is the Caracalla thermal baths with its extensive bathing and sauna area. Every first Friday of the month, the spa invites visitors to celebrate and relax in the evening with special performances, unique sauna infusions, live music by the water pool and spectacular dance shows.


Surfing in the City: the Black Forest Wave in Pforzheim

Water lovers beware! In Pforzheim, you can surf in the middle of the city. After seven years and many hours of volunteer work, the “Blackforestwave” has been bringing a real hang-loose feeling to the Black Forest since 2021 and making the hearts of surfers big and small beat faster. It's not just club members who can let off steam on the wave in Metzelgraben, a canal on the Nagold. Beginners and curious people are also invited to try out the beginner-friendly wave and celebrate their first successes. The “Open Surf” events in April and September are good opportunities for this. An open-air stage right next to the wave, ukulele workshops, food trucks, balance boards, a slackline and the chillout area ensure that landlubbers don't miss out during the festival.


Good Times with Street Streams: Enjoying the Bächle (little streams) in Freiburg

Freiburg im Breisgau is known for its mild climate, good wines, sustainable buildings, and, of course, the pretty old town with its cathedral, and the weekly market that takes place around it. The little streams running through the streets have become famous and help to cool down the citizens and guests. These little streams are at the heart of the many festivals in spring and summer and are equally popular with all generations. Children float their “Bächle boats” in the clear water of the paved channels while adults give their feet a break with a glass of wine. The Freiburg Wine Festival in July and the “Freiburg Bächle Picnic” are popular city festivals. Booked online in advance, you can pick up your box filled with sweet and salty delicacies, beer and wine in the city center and then find a cozy Bächle place to linger around and enjoy.


Clubbing Underwater: Frida's Pier in Stuttgart

The former freight tanker “Wilhelm Knipscheer” is located in the middle of Stuttgart’s industrial area, between the B10 and the Mercedes-Benz test track. The site was formerly a coal loading point and was converted into a cultural shipyard with great attention to detail. The heart of “Frida's Pier” beats on the lower deck of the freighter: where 900 tons of gravel and coal used to be stored. Well-known international DJs, collectives, and sound artists offer the best clubbing below the surface of the water on the weekends. When the weather is good, the upper deck and the adjacent pier with lounge furniture, bars, food stalls and several floors create a unique open-air feeling. Daytime catering, and an area dedicated to children, will soon make the special location on and under the water accessible to even more people.


River Party on the Banks of the Danube: International Danube Festival in Ulm

When the Donaubüro (Danube Office) in Ulm/Neu-Ulm hosts the ten-day “International Danube Festival” every two years, there is a lot of activity on both sides of the Danube. At the festival of cultural encounters, international artists and guests from all countries along the Danube come together and celebrate their exchange and solidarity. The program is correspondingly colorful and ranges from traditional music and dance performances to authentic crafts, local art and literature. Foodies can go on a short trip to Europe at the international festival and try out the culinary specialties of the Danube kitchens. And, since eating together is known to bring people together, new friendships are quickly made.