16km (10 miles) N of Frankfurt, 45km (28 miles) NE of Wiesbaden

Bad Homburg is one of Germany's most attractive spas, still basking in the grandeur left over from turn-of-the-20th-century Europe. The spa's saline springs are known to treat various disorders, especially heart and circulatory diseases. This popular watering spot has attracted commoners and royalty from all over the world since Roman times. King Chulalongkorn of Siam (Thailand) was so impressed that he built a Buddhist temple in the Kurpark. Czar Nicholas I erected an onion-domed Russian chapel nearby. The name of the town was popularized by England's Edward VII when, as Prince of Wales, he visited the spa and introduced a new hat style, which he called the "homburg." The town became the gaming capital of Europe when the Blanc brothers opened the casino in 1841.

The Spa Park is a verdant, carefully landscaped oasis in the middle of an otherwise rather commercial-looking town. The actual spa facilities are in the Kaiser Wilhelms Bad im Kurpark (tel. 06172/178178; www.kur-royal.de). They're open daily 10am to 10pm. Entrance to the facilities is 40€ per person for 4 hours, 60€ for a full-day admission. Patrons have access to a wide range of facilities, including thermally heated pools, saunas, steam baths, and herb-enriched hot-water baths. Massage facilities and special mud baths require additional fees. The immaculately tended gardens in the surrounding Kurpark are filled with brooks, ponds, arbors, and seasonal flowers. The town center has a sprawling pedestrian-only district with many shops, restaurants, and cafes.