Germany’s Black Forest National Park is an expansive, mountainous region in southwestern Germany, nestled between France and Switzerland. Known for its picture-perfect evergreen forests, pine-covered gold valley, towering spruce trees, and quaint villages, this forest is famous for its connection to the Brothers Grimm fairy tale. Today, I’m going to tell you about what to see in the Black Forest and how you can maximize your trip.
What is the Black Forest Known For?
Designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2017, the Black Forest is famous for its views of the alps, spa resorts, and shopping for one-of-a-kind items such as cuckoo clocks and other fun, hand-made finds. Upon arrival, you must explore the main town, Freiburg, which is situated on the eastern side of the mountains and is filled with Victorian-style buildings, picture-worthy castles, and a beautiful town hall.
In addition, the Black Forest has been named one of the seven natural wonders of Europe because of its gorgeous natural scenery, outdoor activities, and historic buildings. It’s a wonderful place to get lost, explore, and feel like you’re being transported through time.
While you’re here, take a stroll through the lovely homes, from smaller cottages to larger and more lavish houses. You may even find some more ultra-modern homes which contrast the traditional German ones that are popular in the region.
Where to Stay in the Black Forest
The good news is whether you’re craving a family-friendly experience, a romantic getaway, or some relaxing solo time, the Black Forest is packed with plenty of options for your desired vacation, all surrounded by breathtaking views of the mountains. When selecting the perfect “home base” for your visit to the Black Forest, I recommend considering where you want to visit and how easy it is to get there.
Different parts of the forest have different things to offer visitors depending on what kind of accommodation they are looking for. From luxury countryside stays and relaxing spas to camping in the center of the forest, you can truly explore the forest your way!
This means, if you prefer, you can enjoy a luxurious, comfortable, quiet area right in the middle of the woods where you can cook food and use a fire to cook your meals. Regardless of where you stay, you must try some delicious German food. Some of our favorite dishes include potato salad and a mouthwatering, fresh-baked pretzel.
Trains, Hiking, Cycling, and More: How to Explore the Black Forest Region
Exploring the Black Forest region of Germany is a one-of-a-kind experience that offers something for everyone. If you are interested in hiking, you may want to consider taking a hiking tour through the area. These tours are available throughout the year and you may even get to enjoy a guided trip down the mountains during the summer.
I strongly recommend taking a guided tour so you can relax, enjoy, take photos, and not have to worry about finding your way around. Local guides will also be able to tell you interesting facts and histories about the region. Plus, the local guides know all of the hidden gems away from the tourist hot spots.
One of the best ways to explore the Black Forest is to hop on a train and take a journey through the picturesque towns, which makes it easy to see the attractions along the way. The most iconic scenic train route will pass charming villages such as Triberg, Alpirsbach, Heidelberg, Schiltach, and Hinterzarten.
This ride is also great for breathtaking views of the Alps in addition to castles and vineyards. Traveling by train is a fantastic way to see a lot of the region in a relatively short amount of time. Plus, it offers a more relaxing way to experience the magic of the area for those who don’t like to hike.
If you’re more of a choose-your-own-adventure type, another great way to explore this region is by renting a car or a bike and going on a self-guided tour around the various towns and trails. Bikers can enjoy a variety of designated cycling routes throughout that will take you through stunning vistas, lush forests, and crystal-clear lakes. These paths are also a great option for hikers who want to explore at their own pace.
Our Top Must-Visit Locations in the Black Forest
Located in the quaint township of Durbach, Burg Landeck (or Landeck Castle) is a beautiful castle built around 1200! Get lost in the history while standing atop a mountain that overlooks the countryside down below. You can explore and learn about the history of the castle itself with a tour as well as take pictures from various viewpoints of this beautiful area.
Built as far back as 1100, these castle ruins are an amazing place to get lost and explore. Home to the Margraves of Baden for over 400 years, the ruins include an underground grotto packed with a fascinating history. This iconic piece of history is located in Baden-Baden, which is known for its beautiful casino and numerous spa baths.
Schloss Eberstein is a gorgeous building located above the valley of the Murg river. It’s currently used as a restaurant, where you can take a break from exploring and indulge in a variety of German staple dishes. The building also serves as a great access point to hiking trails for people who would like to take a walk in the woods.
See Related: Best Mountains in Germany
Black Forest Open Air Museum
Love spending hours at a museum? Then the Black Forest Open Air Museum is definitely for you. The museum will take you through the culture and history of the Black Forest region. It is open year-round and features many fascinating exhibits that detail how the region has been used and changed over the years. There are also many traditional buildings nearby that will take you back in time, including a school, barn, and church.
German Clock Museum
Remember when I told you this was the place for cuckoo clocks? This unique and quirky museum is in the center of Furtwangen, which sits in the central Black Forest region. Learn something new while you experience the history and art of clock-making by the Black Forest Clock Association.
You’ll find a variety of fascinating clocks on display, including rare collections as well as the world’s largest cuckoo clock.
Another great museum is located at Titisee-Neustadt, a town sitting in the southwest region of the Black Forest. This museum will let you explore the various culture, histories, and art of the Black Forest. It is open year-round and features rotating exhibits that change frequently.
I definitely recommend stopping at this museum at least at some point in your journey.
Explore the City of Freiburg im Breisgau
Freiburg is another iconic town in the Black Forest of Germany, located in the Southwest. It is part of the state of Baden-Württemberg.
The town borrows its name from the village called Freigeum, which was actually the first town in Germany to be established. The town was founded in 1793 and is home to the famous Gothic Cathedral of Freiberg.
Museum Frieder Burda
The more modern-looking Frieder Burda museum is certainly a stand out from the timeless traditional houses in the region. Perfect for art lovers, this museum is located in Baden-Baden, near the beautiful casino and spa baths.
This museum is dedicated to art and modern designs that were collected by the prominent and celebrated art director, Frieder Burda. It has a large collection of works on display that feature artwork from over four different periods.
Other Amazing Black Forest Tourist Attractions
A hallmark of Gothic architecture, Friedrichstal Church was built between 1734 and 1738 in Frieberg, Germany. It is a popular tourist destination for visitors to the Black Forest each year. Make sure you have time to listen to the famous organ that plays from time to time.
Spa Town of Baden-Baden
Baden-Baden is the perfect spot for those looking to relax and unwind after a long day of cycling. Known for its beautiful casinos, spa baths, and natural hot springs, this beautiful town is a great place for people who are looking to relax and enjoy the scenery of this picturesque town. The Black Forest spa route is a great way to see the area and enjoy its many natural wonders.
Assmannhaus & Tile Museum
Be sure to pencil in a trip to the Assmannhaus, located in the town of Schiltaach and built between 1716 and 1720 by Francois Cuvilliés. While here, you can also explore another popular Black Forest artisan craft: tile making.
If being surrounded by gorgeous nature isn’t quite enough, I recommend a trip to Tierpark Schwarzwald, a well-known zoo located in the town of Triberg and is home to over 400 animals from all around the world. It is open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is a great place to take the family or to explore in small groups.
Eat Black Forest Cake
Just like the name suggests, this decadent sweet treat is a famous dessert that was originally created in the Black Forest region of Germany. Black Forest is a chocolate cake that is filled with whipped cream and cherries.
You’ll find this dessert in many of the restaurants in the region. Even if you’re full, don’t forget to get a slice to share!
See Related: Best Websites for Booking Hotels in Europe
Calling all adrenaline junkies! I have to tell you about my favorite amusement park in all of Europe, Europa-Park. It’s located in Rust, which is about 50 miles away from Offenburg.
This adrenaline-inducing park was voted the second-best amusement park on the continent, right after Disneyland Paris. And it’s another perfect spot to add to your Black Forest itinerary.
Europa-Park is split into 15 different zones, each with a unique theme that replicates historic sights from various European countries. The rides here are world-class and trust me, you won’t be disappointed. From the Poseidon water rollercoaster to the Blue Fire Megacoaster, you’ll be in for a thrill.
But that’s not all, my friends. Europa-Park even has a space-themed rollercoaster called the Euro-Mir that is modeled after the Russian space station Mir. How cool is that?
My absolute must-ride experience at Europa-Park is the Atlantica SuperSplash. It’s seriously an amazing rush. The refreshing sprays and the feeling of being transported to another world make you forget that you’re even in Germany.
Black Forest Travel Tips
Here are some of our favorite tips for visiting the Black Forest in Germany.
1. Bring extra layers regardless of the season
The Black Forest can be quite cold and wet. The temperature can drop quickly in the evenings, so it’s best to prepare for extreme changes in weather, no matter what time of year you visit.
2. Be aware of any potential road closures when planning your trip
In winter months, certain roads may be closed due to snow and ice, so make sure you plan accordingly and check the conditions regularly.
3. Pack your insect repellent
Due to its dense forests, mosquitoes and other insects are common during the summer months. It’s always a good idea to wear long pants when hiking in the dense forest to avoid insects.
4. Book a tour
I strongly recommend a guided tour if you want to get a better sense of the area and explore some hidden gems.
5. Try local restaurants
If you’re looking to sample some local cuisine, keep an eye out for spätzle (a type of egg noodle), spaetzle soup, or flammkuchen (a kind of flatbread). Don’t forget to wash it down with a rich slice of Black Forest cake!
6. Bring extra water
It’s normal to be skeptical about the water quality in a new place. While tap water is generally safe to consume, one may encounter a peculiar sulfur smell or taste occasionally.
This distinct sensory experience is primarily due to the high mineral content present in water, which poses no imminent health risks. Still, if you find it distasteful, it’s a good idea to have some extra water on hand!
If the Black Forest wasn’t on your list before, I hope it is now! This region truly provides something for everyone, from spa towns, lakes, waterfalls, cuckoo clocks, castles, museums, and other beautiful scenery. It is a great place to visit if you want to enjoy the outdoors and the natural beauty of nature and see some of the unique culture and history of this region.
What is the Black Forest known for?
The region is primarily known as the home of the cuckoo clock and Black Forest cakes.
Is there a lake in the Black Forest?
Yes, one of its most popular lakes is Titisee-Neustadt, located near the Schwarzwaldmuseum.
Is the Black Forest in Germany?
Yes, it is located in the southwest region of Germany.
What’s in the southern part of the Black Forest?
One of the most popular cities in this region is Freiburg. It has a castle, cathedral, and many different restaurants for fine dining with delicious traditional food.
How big is the Black Forest?
The forest floor of the Black Forest is about 8,000 km², making it one of the largest forests in Germany.
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