Anyone picturing a trip to Bavaria envisions Neuschwanstein-type fairy tale castles, half-timbered houses and scrumptious pastries. Visit Bad Windsheim Germany and you’ll have castles, people wearing dirndls on special events and more bakeries than your elastic waistband pants can handle.
Many people are familiar with the more famous town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber a few kilometers away, but Bad Windsheim holds its own when it comes to charm and unique attractions.
My husband and I were fortunate to spend a month in this Bavarian town located west of Nuremberg, helping at a German American cultural center. Part of Allan’s duties included hopping on a bike to make the daily bakery “Bun Run” to pick up fresh baked bread for the guests. We also made friends with the locals and sat in on several folk music sing-a-longs.
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If you happen to visit on a Tuesday afternoon, stop by the town courtyard and purchase a freshly roasted chicken from, who else…? The Chicken Man. People in town plan their meals around his weekly visit with his rolling barbecue that serves succulent chicken.
Beware the Salty Spa
Bad Windsheim is notable for its outstanding spa. The Franken Therma, is a spa that overwhelms your senses. Friendly staff guide you through the check-in process with a table top version of the semi-complicated key system to your dressing room. A quick change into your swim suit and you are ready to pick from several pools, each varying in temperature and salt content.
This is where I throw up a very big, CAUTION!, BEWARE! Don’t even think about getting one miniscule drop of water in your eyes.
At first, the experience is deceiving. The main salt water pool is a relaxing temperature and has a slight salty smell. As you move from pool to pool, you end up in the year-round, outdoor “lake.” You’ll notice the numerous drinking fountains surrounding the pool. It’s not that people get thirsty. Those fountains are designed to spray fresh water when you get a drop of the pool’s 26.9% water salinity in your eyes.
This was brought to my attention when my husband shot out of the pool and spent a good 10 minutes dousing his eye with water to counteract the intense stinging. It’s also the reason children under the age of 12 are not permitted in the pools.
If you can avoid the dreaded salt-in-the-eye syndrome, the thermal bath experience is invigorating and relaxing at the same time.
Lean against the edge of one pool and pulsating jets massage your entire body. In the Super Salty pool, (my designated title,) attendants give you cookie sheet sized kickboards. Support your head on them while laying on your back and your entire body floats because of the high salt content. Afterwards, rinse your body in the stylish and efficient showers before heading off to “Kaffe und Kuchen” in the lobby.
Self-Serve RV Campground
A block from the spa is a unique (at least to Americans) self-serve RV park. Drive your RV into a site and pay the meter, just as you would a parking meter in any US city. Clean restrooms with showers are available. Restaurants and historic sites are close by, so it’s a perfect location if you are traveling through Germany in an RV. We always saw seven or eight rigs camped there, even in the middle of November.
Step Back in Time at an Open Air Museum
And what a walk it is. Cobble stone streets, half-timbered houses and ruddy checked preschoolers riding their bikes add to the ambiance. (The whole town screams “quaint,” although travel writers are not supposed to incorporate that overused word into their writing.)
The Open Air museum consists of 127 structures ranging from cottages to barns to bakeries, complete with hand crafted furniture and equipment. Some structures date back 700 years.
The museum is set up with “villages” so you get the first-hand experience what it would be like to walk to church, then buy stone ground bread at the bakery before seeing a one room school.
At times, costumed characters recreate life in early Germany. The village has an authentic feel, right down to the way they cultivate their fields with horses. This is an ideal place for children since they can run from building to building, interspersed with gardens and streams.
The museum also offers a nice break from the usual European stops you make at indoor cathedrals and art museums.
Where to Stay in Bad Windsheim, Germany
Since you are in castle country, why not stay in a 1000 year old castle? Burg Hotel Colmberg sits on a hill, keeping an eye out over Bad Windsheim.
Closer into town, you’ll find hotels and pensions on every corner. I’ve peeked into quite a few, and what always strikes me is the cleanliness of each property. A few places to check out are:
- Hotel Garni Golden Traube (A hotel named Golden Grapes has to be charming!)
- A traditional German hotel: Goldener Schwan
- Here’s a cozy place to rest after spending time in the spa!
Bad Windsheim is just now getting on tourists’ radar, so it still has an authentic ambiance.
If you are touring Germany and need a break from visiting big cities like Munich or Berlin, make a side trip to Bad Windsheim for a relaxed visit to a small town where tourists are made to feel welcome.
Just watch out for the salty water in the spa!