The famous Black Forest is a mountainous region in southwest Germany, bordering France. It’s one of David’s favourite spots for weekend getaways!
Known for its dense, evergreen forests, picturesque villages and mysterious lakes, the Black Forest is often associated with the Brothers Grimm fairy tales – particularly Hansel and Gretel. It’s also renowned for healing waters in various spas towns and the traditional cuckoo clock which have been produced in the region since the 1700s.
The unspoilt landscape of the Black Forest, which characterize this unique and varied part of the country has now been designated as a nature park – the largest one in Germany
The region’s largest city, Freiburg, is filled with Gothic buildings and surrounded by vineyards. It’s well worth a visiting several times during your tour of Germany for weekends and even longer, there really is a lot to do and it embodies the fairytale of living in Germany.
The Home of Hiking
The Black Forest Association has signposted walking trails of over 23,000 kilometres in the Black Forest. One popular route is the Schluchtensteig – a trail that runs 118 kilometres through the southern Black Forest nature park. Starting from Stühlingen and passing through the Wutach Gorge, along the shores of Lake Schluchsee, through the wildly romantic Wehra Valley and towards the small city of Wehr. But don’t fear, it’s also possible to enjoy short walks too if you prefer to the return to the comfort of your bed each evening.
If you have children with you then adding geo-caching (electronic treasure hunts) to your walks is a fantastic way to add orienteering and intrigue to the hikes! You can borrow GPS devices from local tourist offices or download an app to your smartphone. There are hundreds of hidden notes and treasures to discover all over the Black Forest for the adventurous.
More than 8,000 kilometres of cycle trails have been signposted especially for mountain bikers all over the Black Forest. If you are a brave mountain biker then there are plenty of daring peaks and trails to keep your adrenaline pumping.
For those that a more relaxed day on two wheels then you will find plenty of tarmac and relatively gentle trails that offer more family friendly options. One of our favourites is a disused railway line called the Bänhle-Radweg that has been mostly paved over to provide a paved cycling route across 30km of scenic landscape between the beautiful towns of Titisee and Bonndorf, via Lenzkirch.
Find out more about the Bänhle-Radweg here.
You can also hire electronic bikes in lots of different places if you need some extra help!
The Black Forest features the highest peaks of Germany’s low mountain ranges.
In summer and winter, the Feldberg Mountain with its 1493 metres altitude its the highest peak in the Black Forest and offers a wealth of choice for people looking for revitalisation as well as sport. It’s a hiking paradise in summer and a skiing hub in the winter.
At Belchen Mountain you can go on discovery tours and enjoy the beauty of the southern Black Forest nature park through a range of guided hiking tours, with highlights like sunrise tours. In addition, there are weekly Nordic walking courses for beginners and advanced learners. All this takes place in a magical landscape with unique scenery – from the charming region of Markgräflerland with its vineyards across to the 1,414 metres high Belchen Mountain.
The Hornisgrinde Mountain is the highest peak in the northern Black Forest, with an altitude of 1,164 metres. The mountain is situated on the eastern edge of the flood plain of Rhine River, the Rheinebene. On days with good visibility you may even see the tower of the Minster in Straßburg/France from there.
Freiburg’s very own mountain, the Schauinsland stands 1,294 metres high and features beech trees shaped by the wind. On the western edge, the Schauinsland Mountain gondola, the Schauinslandbahn, climbs 746 metres over the course of 3,600 metres. The view from the gondola cabin reaches from the flood plain of Rhine River and the Kaiserstuhl low mountain range as far as the Vosges mountain range in France.
The 1,242 high Kandel Mountain is the highest mountain in the central Black Forest and is situated in the administrative district of Emmendingen, between Waldkirch and St. Peter. It provides a fantastic view from the Thomashütte, a lodge situated on a rock called Kleiner Kandelfels.
Open Air Museum / Schwarzwälder Freilichtmuseum
This beautiful folk museum spirals around the Vogtsbauernhof, a self-contained, early-17th-century farmstead. Farmhouses shifted from their original locations have been painstakingly reconstructed, using techniques such as thatching and panelling, to create this authentic farming hamlet and preserve age-old Black Forest traditions.
Explore barns filled with wagons and horn sleds, Rauchküchen (kitchens for smoking fish and meat) and the Hippenseppenhof (1599), with its chapel and massive hipped roof constructed from 400 trees. It’s a great place for families, with inquisitive farmyard animals to pet, artisans on hand to explain their crafts and frequent demonstrations, from sheep shearing to butter-making.
Discover more about the museum here.
The Rothaus Brewery / Brauerei Rothaus
The Rothaus brewery is located in the middle of Black Forest, one of the most beautiful landscapes in Germany. The 90-minute brewery tour offers a glimpse behind the scenes of this state brewery and introduces you to their philosophy of preserving the natural environment. Tour guides share background information about the brewmasters’ labor and craftsmanship. After the tour you can enjoy a famous Tannenzäpfle in the Zäpflebar.
Find out more about brewery tours here.
Freiburg Cathedral / Freiburger Münster
With its lacy spires, cheeky gargoyles and intricate entrance portal, Freiburg’s 11th-century minster cuts an impressive figure above the central market square. It has dazzling kaleidoscopic stained-glass windows that were mostly financed by medieval guilds and a high altar with a masterful triptych by Dürer protégé Hans Baldung Grien. Square at the base, the tower becomes an octagon higher up and is crowned by a filigreed 116m-high spire. On clear days you can spy the Vosges Mountains in France.
Freiburg im Breisgau is considered one of the most beautiful cities in southern Germany. Visit the Münster, which dates from 1200 and then take the Schlosberg wooded walk in the foothills of the Schwarzwald for excellent views of the same building.
It isn’t quite Niagra or Victoria Falls, but it is magnificent all the same for its setting. Germany’s highest seven-tiered waterfall plummets down a 535-foot (163-meter) mountain slope into the valley of Triberg. The falls are formed by the Gutach River and located at the head of the Kinzig and Gutach valleys. At night, the fall are illuminated until 10pm which presents a striking view.
Enjoy the view of the gorgeous natural scene from the bottom of the falls. Come after a heavy rain or a snow melt to see the falls at their best (and loudest).
The main entrance is easily reached from the city center in Triberg, a town that caters to tourists with lots of colourful cuckoo-clock shops!
The largest natural lake (1.2 miles long by 0.6 miles wide) in Black Forest and one of the most popular attractions of the region. Titisee was carved straight out of a glacier, which makes the water a special green blue colour and sits in a picturesque center of forests and hills.
Titisee is also perfect for rowing, windsurfing, waterskiing, swimming, kayaking and boating. After a long hike in the surrounding forests, we can recommend hiring one of the electric donut boats and bobbing about on the lake for a couple of hours to relax.
This is the largest lake in Black Forest, is perched at a height of 930 meters (3,050 feet) above sea level. Thanks to its stunning panorama, crystal-clear water and the opportunity to engage in a number of water sports as well as swimming, this glacial lake is a tourist hotspot. Hiking along the lake or boating in its calm surface while enjoying the mesmerizing beauty of the Black Forest are also much-loved activities in this region.
Thermal baths can be found in beautiful Black Forest spa-towns like like Baden-Baden, Badenweiler and Bad Wildbad which have a long and rich tradition for their healing waters. Nowhere else in Germany has as many springs in such close proximity. A day at the baths is a pleasure no matter the weather. In winter, or after a long day of sport, the heat does wonders, but in summer also, reading or sitting in a warming pool outside is also something special.
Tropical temperatures, turquoise water and pure a Caribbean feeling no matter what the weather! The Bad Paradies in Titisee, is an indoor oasis of fun and action including 22 high-energy waterslides slides, a swim up indoor and outdoor bar, more than 300 genuine palm trees, themed saunas and whirlpools.
Find out more about the Bad Paradies here.
Black Forest Cake
And finally, no trip to the Black Forest is complete without indulging in a giant slice of the famous gateaux. Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte is layers of chocolate cake infused with cherry brandy and topped with fresh whipped cream, sour cherries and shaved chocolate…..definitely worth the trip!