Black Forest Travel Guide

By Admin | Last Updated August 30, 2019

Black Forest is a hilly region in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg in southwestern Germany. Also called Schwarzwald, it extends for 100 miles or 160 kilometers from the Swiss border to Karlsruhe. It is popularly referred to as the Black Forest because of the dark fir and spruce forests you will find here. You will find many woodlands, mountain pastures, scenic waterfalls, and rushing streams. In between, there are beautiful timber farmhouses that add to the scenery. Feldberg with an altitude of 4,898 feet or 1,493 meters is the highest peak.

Somewhat oblong in shape, Black Forest is extremely popular with tourists. The Rhine valley runs on its south and west. You will also find many historic towns and lakes to explore here.

Black Forest owes its name to the 100-mile stretch of pine trees. In fact, it was so dense that even sunlight could not reach the forest floor. Natural hot springs in the northwestern region of the area influenced the culture of communal bathing in ancient Rome, especially after Romans arrived in the region nearly 2,000 years back. Roman soldiers used to rest here after their battles.

Germany’s Black Forest became a popular destination with the kings and queens, emperors and celebrities once information spread about the healing springs at the beginning of the 19th century. Mark Twain mentioned of the spas of Black Forest in his 1880 book ‘A Tramp Abroad’.

Black Forest – Quick Facts

  • Location – South west Germany along the border with Switzerland and France
  • Area – 2,320.2 square miles or 6,009.2 square kilometers
  • Hilly terrain between 200 and 1500 meters above sea level
  • 60% of the land has forests
  • Highest peak – Feldberg, which is 4,898 feet or 1,493 meters
  • Rivers – Danube, Kinzig, Murg, Enz, Neckar, Wiese, and Rench. Danube originates in the Black Forest region
  • Triberg is Germany’s highest waterfall. It comes down 535 feet or 163 meters
  • Glacial lakes – Titisee, Feldsee, and Mummelsee. Titisee stretching for 2 kilometers is the largest lake
  • Wood-carving is a traditional cottage industry in the Black Forest region
  • Many small towns and beautiful villages
  • Fairy tale forests in ‘Hansel and Gretel’, ‘Snow White’, and ‘Rapunzel are based on the Black Forest.

The Black Forest name comes from the dark pine trees found here. It is said that the Romans first coined the name when Roman soldiers lost their way in the dense and dark forested area. It was called ‘Silva Nigra’, which in Latin means ‘Black Forest’.

Top 10 Reasons To Visit The Black Forest

Black Forest National Park Drive through the picturesque scenery. Stroll through the dense forest. Explore ruins of ancient castles. Go on a hiking adventure. Visit the Rhine valley. At 10,000 hectares, the national park is huge.
Greenery and Clean Air Connect with nature. There are 9 gardens and parks at Baden-Baden. See the many exotic species of plants and flowers.
Art & Culture There are many museums where you can learn about the rich heritage and culture of Baden-Baden. Museum Frieder Burda has more than 800 sketches, sculptures and paintings. Also visit the Baden-Baden City Museum and the Festival Hall in the town, which has the biggest opera house and concert hall in Germany.
Thermal Spas The ancient thermal spas of Baden-Baden are famous. The water has many minerals that cures cardiovascular and respiratory problems, and improves metabolism. Caracalla Spa and Friedrichsbad are two famous spas here.
Food The region is known for exceptional wines and delicious cuisines. You will find many Michelin star restaurants and chefs, wine taverns, and gourmet restaurants.
Wine The Rebland wine region is just 15 minutes from Baden-Baden. Rebland is one of the best wine growing regions in Germany. There are wine tours to the vineyards. There is wine tasting too. You will find many home stays and guest houses here.
Adventure Activities There are many adventure sports and outdoor activities. Cycling tracks of 200 miles through the woodlands. Rock climbing, paragliding, and hot air balloon rides. There is motorcycling, mountain biking, and many hiking trails too. Try snowboarding in the winter.
Water Sports You can do sailing and windsurfing at the Titisee and Schluchsee lakes.
Towns and Villages Black Forest is mostly rural. You will find many beautiful villages, rivers, creeks and valleys. See traditional farmhouses. There are many small historic towns in scenic locations. Baden-Baden and Titisee are both spa towns.
Cuckoo Clocks Black Forest makes the prettiest cuckoo clocks. The tradition goes back to the 18th century. The biggest Black Forest cuckoo clock has a height of 15 meters. It weighs 150 kilos. See an impressive collection at Furtwangen’s Deutsches Uhrenmuseum.
Baden-Baden is a popular spa town. See the Museum Frieder Burda, and visit the thermal spas here. The town also has several beautiful parks. See artworks by painters like Gerhard Richter. Baden-Baden hosts concerts and opera shows.

Tourist Attractions

  1. Towns – Wolfach, Gengenbach, Haslach im Kinzigtal, and Schiltach. Many old beautiful towns in Dornstetten, Altensteig, Gernsbach, Villingen, and Freiburg im Breisgau.
  2. Sasbachwalden – Wine and flower village.
  3. Lakes – Schluchsee and Titisee are both extremely popular for windsurfing and diving. Also visit the Ravenna Gorge. Legend has it that Mummelsee, at 3,399 feet in the hills, is the home of mermaids.
  4. Valleys - Kinzig valley and Murg valley.
  5. Waterfalls – Triberg and Sankenbach, Geroldsau, Todtnau, Rhine, and All Saints waterfalls.
  6. Winter Sports – Around Feldberg with the Fahler Loch downhill ski run, Hinterzarten and Hinterzarten, a favorite with ski jumpers. Also in the ridge between Erz and Murg rivers in the north.
  7. Freiburg – Beautiful old medieval town, now a University city. Farmer’s market, cathedral, restaurants, and bars.
  8. Baden-Baden – Beautiful gardens and mineral spas.
  9. Schiltach – One of the most beautiful towns. Tanneries, craftsmen workshops since the 13th century. Riverside location close to woodlands. Timber houses around the Marktplatz. There are also many museums you can visit.
  10. Gengenbach – Charming stone towers and timber houses around market square. 200 year old town hall. Statues in the town. Fruit orchards.
  11. Bakeries – Try the famous Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte or Black Forest Cake.
  12. Karlsruhe Palace – Baroque palace, now a cultural museum. One of the finest museums in Germany.
  13. Schwarzwald Hochstrasse – 6 kilometer long panoramic road from Freudenstadt to Baden-Badeb. You will see valleys, high mountain ranges, and meadows, full of recreation activities and good food.

How to Reach

  • By Air – The biggest airport of Germany, Frankfurt International, is about 90 minutes by train from North Black Forest. Zurich and Stuttgart also have international airports, which are around 2 hours away. It depends on which part the region you are visiting. Karlsruhe, Konstanz, Basel and Zurich (both Switzerland), Strasburg (France), Stuttgart and Frankfurt are the closest airports. You can hire a car or take a train to reach the Black Forest. Basel-Mulhouse and Karlsruhe-Baden Baden are near Freiburg. Small airports, they serve budget airlines like Easy Jet and Ryan Air.
  • By Road, Train – The region is well connected by train and road from other areas of Germany and neighboring countries. There are scenic train routes here as well on the eurail network. Take a train ride, going through green pine trees, forests, and quaint villages.

Climate

Generally, it is cold and temperate in Black Forest. There is a lot of rainfall almost throughout the year, even in the drier months. The temperature averages 6.1 °C.

Month   High / Low (°C ) Rainfall
January 4° / 0° 14 Days
February 5° / 0° 11 Days
March 9° / 2° 12 Days
April 13° / 5° 11 Days
May 18° / 9° 13 Days
June 21° / 12° 13 Days
July 23° / 14° 12 Days
August 23° / 14° 11 Days
September 19° / 11° 9 Days
October 15° / 8° 11 Days
November 9° / 3° 12 Days
December 5° / 1° 14 Days

 

Best Time To Visit Black Forest

The Black Forest is a year round tourist destination. So you can visit anytime you want.

  • Spring can be a good season, but it is likely to rain more this time of the year.
  • Summer is a very good time for outdoor activities. Visit the lakes.
  • Fall is good for winery and harvest tours. There are many wine festivals. You can do mountain biking and hiking.
  • Winter is for cross-country and downhill skiing. You can try ski jumping, dog sled racing, snow shoeing, or snowboarding too.

August is the busiest month, followed by September and May. However, Black Forest will cost more in these months – hotels, flights, attractions, and activities. Book early to save money. There are very few tourists in November, so everything is cheaper.

The Cuckoo Clock

Nobody is quite sure of where the cuckoo clock was invented. But it is generally believed that the clock was first made in Black Forest. The first workshops were in Triberg and Schönwald. It caught the attention almost immediately and became a sensation.

You will find this engineering marvel even today, and in many options too. Local shops will tell you of the 3 designs – the hunting theme, the carved cuckoo, and the chalet. The technology used is almost the same. The clocks have small dangling pine cones. You have to wind every day. The clock with larger cones require weekly winding. These days, you will even find some models that are battery and quartz operated.

The Black Forest Cake

Also called the Black Forest Gateau, it is now an extremely popular dessert the world over. This chocolate sponge cake comes with a rich cherry filling and many layers sandwiched with cherries and whipped cream. The cake is often decorated with chocolate shavings and cherries. In some areas, sour cherries and rum are also added.

It is named after the specialty liquor obtained from the Black Forest region, called Schwarzwälder Kirsch. It is this ingredient that provides the distinctive alcoholic content and cherry pit flavor. However, others believe that the cake gets its name from the traditional dress worn by women from the Black Forest region. Traditionally, they used to wear hat with red and big pom-poms on top known as Bollenhut.

How To Save Money

  • Book your airline, train, and bus tickets as quickly as you can. Prices can go really high close to the peak season.
  • Compare prices between train travel and discount bus lines, such as Flixbus to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
  • Stay outside Baden-Baden. Although Baden-Baden is worth a visit, this town will be more expensive. You can always visit on a day trip.
  • Eat at bakeries and beer gardens instead of upscale restaurants.
  • Get a tourist card.

Night Life

Karlsruhe’s bars are some of the best ones in Germany. Visit the historic part of town to enjoy some locally-brewed beer in a warm, friendly atmosphere. You can also pick one of the trendy bars in the city centre to enjoy some amazing cocktails.

Visit the city center for a night of clubbing. Enjoy dancing and drinking with the locals. They sure know it very well how to have fun. Don’t be surprised to find disco-goers singing along with their favorite tracks.

Best Cities, Towns For Tourists

Baden-Baden - Baden-Baden, one of Europe’s most popular spa towns, is an ideal base for exploring the Black Forest. Take a guided walk to see the town’s attractions. Visit the many parks. Spend time at the thermal spas. The Black Forest National Park is close. There is a lot to do here.

Bad Wildbad – Also a popular spa town! A cheaper base from where you can explore the northern regions. See the beautiful villages, and be sure to visit the idyllic Wildse, a small lake outside the town center.

Calw - Calw is in north Black Forest. It is one of the prettiest towns. You will find many new bistros, shops and ice cream parlors here.

Baiersbronn – A beautiful mountain resort of 9 villages. There are upscale resorts, and bed and breakfasts serving yummy cuisine. Baiersbronn has become very popular with tourists. Choose from 8 Michelin star restaurants. There are also 2 restaurants with three stars, and one with two stars. Plenty of fine dining options!

Freiburg – A university town and excellent base to explore the southern side of the Black Forest. Hike up through the forests or ride the Schlossbergbahn cable car up the Schlossberg Mountain. Reach the lookout tower to enjoy views of the city. Sight the 11th century Munster cathedral.