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 historic charm, modern architecture or traditional half-timbered, colourful street art or ancient Ice Age art: anyone planning a city trip in Baden-Württemberg is spoilt for choice. Southwest Germany’s cities all have their own character and offers countless opportunities to discover local characteristics. What they all have in common is their location by the water, which guarantees lively experiences everywhere.


Refreshing Outdoor Escape: Neckarstrand Beach in Mannheim

Mannheim is greener than many other cities in Germany: around two thirds of the city is made up of natural areas, and some of it is even a nature and landscape conservation area. Two rivers, the Rhine and Neckar, meander through the city, and there are many green oases on their banks. One of them is Neckarstrand Beach, where you can unwind in the deckchairs and hammocks overlooking the water on sunny days and balmy evenings. Cool drinks from the beach bar will keep you refreshed. There are plenty of other natural places to relax in the ‘city of squares’: In the Luisenpark, ancient giant trees provide the backdrop for a meditative sound concert, and in the enchanted rose garden in the Herzogenriedpark, you can daydream surrounded by the scent of flowers.


La Dolce Vita at the Neckar: Summer at the River in Heidelberg

Strolling, talking and snacking – life is good at any time of the year in Heidelberg. But when the official ‘Summer at the River’ is celebrated at the Neckar River in August, the dolce vita takes over for a weekend and the city moves a little closer to the water. On these days, the busy main road is closed to motorized traffic and belongs entirely to pedestrians. There is plenty to do between the Old Bridge Alter Brücke and the Neckarlauer Promenade. Two stages, a children's programme, delicious street food and many attractions, from drone laser shows to water skiing, guarantee fun, games and enjoyment by the river. For a real holiday feeling, head to the city beach, the feel-good spot on the Neckarlauer Promenade, with a chill-out area, live music and beach yoga.


Family Party in the Park: ‘Das FEST’ in Karlsruhe

Simple Minds, Razorlight, Neneh Cherry, Sunrise Avenue…The list of bands and artists who have already been on stage at ‘Das FEST’ in Karlsruhe is endless. Close to the city and idyllically located by the Alb River in the Günther Klotz Park, the family festival combines culture in the nature and a convenient location with short distances. The so-called ‘Mount Klotz’ opposite the main stage is a unique feature: Goosebumps are guaranteed when the Mexican wave spreads up the hill, or when it sparkles at night in the light of glow sticks and phone torches. Like the Classical Musik Breakfast on Sunday morning, the subsequent Karlsruhe Duck Race is a firm fixture on the programme. Thousands of yellow rubber ducks swim around the Alb River for a good cause. The impatient can get in the mood for ’Das FEST’ a week before the actual festival at ’Das Fest am See’ (the festival by the lake).


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

Whether you are a nature lover, a connoisseur, or a sports enthusiast, Heilbronn offers water fun for everyone - especially in summer, when the Neckar River is the centre of leisure activities. Active people can head out onto the water with a canoe, SUP or pedal boat. Those who prefer a more relaxed pace, will find many beautiful places to take a break on the banks of the Neckar River or enjoy the variety of the ‘Neckarmeile’, the largest gastronomic mile in southern Germany. You can combine water fun and food with a trip in the ‘BBQ Donut’. The round boats are a real eye-catcher and offer a variety of culinary arrangements from barbecue sets to wine tastings. In June, the Neckar River shines bright during the Heilbronner Lichterfest (Heilbronn Festival of Lights), which offers culture, music and culinary delights as well as atmospheric illuminations.


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

Baden-Baden is one of the UNESCO World Heritage ‘Great Spa Towns of Europe’ and is world-famous for its thermal springs. For over 2,000 years, several thousand litres of thermal water have been gushing out of them every day. Even the Romans knew about the healing power of the thermal springs and built the first thermal baths. You can immerse yourself in the past in the historic Friedrichsbad Spa, which was opened in 1877, modelled on the Roman thermal baths, the ruins of which are still directly underneath it. The Caracalla Spa with its extensive bathing and sauna area provides a modern counterpart. 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 pool and spectacular dance shows.


Surfing in the City: The Blackforestwave in Pforzheim

Water lovers beware! In Pforzheim you can surf right in the city centre. After seven years and many hours of voluntary work, the ‘Blackforestwave’ opened in 2021 and brings that ‘hanging loose’ feeling to the Black Forest, making the hearts of surfers young and old beat faster. But it's not just club members who ride the wave in the Metzelgraben, a canal in the Nagold River. Beginners and anyone who just fancies giving it a go can also try out the beginner-friendly wave and celebrate their first successes. The ‘Open Surf’ events in April and September are good opportunities to do so. An open-air stage right next to the wave, ukulele workshops, food trucks, balance boards, a slackline and a chillout area ensure that landlubbers don't miss out on these relaxed festivals.



Good Times at the Little Urban Streams: Enjoying the Bächle in Freiburg

Freiburg im Breisgau is known for its mild climate, good wines, sustainable buildings, and, of course, its pretty old town with the minster and the farmer’s market that takes place around it. The famous ‘Bächle’ Streams are a great way to cool off. These little streams are at the heart of the many festivals in spring and summer and are popular with all generations: Children float their little ‘Bächle boats’ in the clear water of the cobbled canals and adults rest their feet while enjoying a glass of wine or a beer after work. For example, at the Freiburg Wine Festival in July or during a pleasant ‘Freiburg Bächle Picnic’. For the latter, book online in advance and pick up your box of sweet and savoury delicacies, beer and wine in the city centre, then find a cosy Bächle spot to linger and enjoy.


Underwater Clubbing: Frida's Pier in Stuttgart

The former cargo ship ‘Wilhelm Knipscheer’ is located in the middle of Stuttgart’s industrial area, between the state road B10 and the Mercedes-Benz test track. Formerly a coal port and was converted into a cultural shipyard called ‘Frida’s Pier’ with great attention to detail. The heart of the venue beats on the lower deck of the cargo ship, where 900 tons of gravel and coal used to be stored. At the weekends, Well-known international DJs, collectives, and sound artists serve up a fabulous club experience below the water. Weather permitting, the upper deck and the adjacent pier offer a unique open-air experience with lounge furniture, bars, food stands, and several floors. Daytime catering and a children’s area, will soon make this special location on, in and under the water interesting for even more people.


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

Every two years, when the Donaubüro (Danube Office) Ulm/Neu-Ulm hosts the ten-day International Danube Festival, there is a lot of fun and entertainment on both sides of the river. It’s a festival of cultural encounters, that brings together international artists and guests from all countries along the Danube to celebrate exchange and solidarity. The programme is accordingly colourful, ranging from traditional music and dance performances to authentic crafts, local art, and literature. Gourmets can go on a short trip through Europe and try the culinary delights of the Danube cuisine. And since eating together is known to bring people together, new friendships are made quickly.