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Karlsruhe is one of Germany's youngest cities, built in the 18th century. It's known for its distinctive 'fan' layout, with a magnificent palace at its heart. It's been a centre of art and culture since its foundation, with lots of museums, theatres and peaceful green spaces studded with sculptures. As it's home to a large university, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, it has a lively student nightlife as well, with cocktail bars, clubs and live music from local bands.
Hostels in Karlsruhe have common spaces where you can make new friends or just relax after a day out sightseeing. Take in some fresh air on an outdoor terrace, work on your table football skills in a games room or settle in for a free breakfast and good conversation. A Karlsruhe hostel often has free Wi-Fi so you can stay up to date with what's happening at home. Some also have free towels to save space in your backpack.
Karlsruhe has a fan-shaped layout, with the palace in the centre and 32 streets radiating out. Innenstadt-West (Inner City West) is Karlsruhe's small and easily walkable heart. Marktplatz (Market Square) is home to the landmark Karlsruhe Pyramid, the tomb of the city's founder, and leads to the main street, Kaiserstraße. This is the place to go for high street shopping during the day and bars and restaurants at night. South of the centre is Südweststadt (Southwest City), where you'll find the main train station.
A climb to the top of Karlsruhe Palace tower is the best way to see the city's unique layout. It's worth stopping at the palace's Baden State Museum to learn about local history. The ZKM (Centre for Art and Media) is the place to go for a cultural fix. Set in an old munitions factory, it covers the evolution of art and media with everything from oil paintings and canvases to phone apps. The city is one of the warmest in Germany and there are often open air events in its lively squares.
You can fly into Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden International Airport, about a 40-minute drive from the city centre. Take a short bus ride to Baden-Baden railway station and change to a direct train to Karlsruhe; the journey takes about an hour. If you're coming from another European city by rail, the Karlsruhe Hauptbahnhof (main train station) is about 25 minutes' walk from Kaiserstraße, or 10 to 15 minutes on public transport. The city has an excellent train and tram network.