If you’ve booked a trip to the Black Forest, remember it’s not all long walks and beer. Make sure you schedule in some time for some unforgettable experiences. I am providing plenty of ideas on things to do in the Black Forest Region!
Located in the southwest of Germany, the Black Forest region is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Germany. The Romans coined the term ‘Black Forest’, due to the area being a largely dense and dark, intimidating place.
The Black Forest may be the setting where Hansel and Gretel almost met their fate, but that hasn’t put off the swarms of tourists who visit it each year. And for good reason too.
The Black Forest region is actually made up of not just forest, but towns and cities as well, so for the eager explorer, it offers a superb mix of hiking and trailing options as well as delicious restaurants and towns to enjoy in between hikes.
How to Reach the Black Forest?
Stuttgart is the closest major city to the area. It is located about 110 km from the cities on the northern part of the region and 200 km from the cities in the southern part of the region.
Frankfurt is located 200 to 300 km from the main towns in the area. The area can also be accessed from Munich. The Black Forest main cities are located 300 to 400 km from the Bavarian capital.
The area can also be accessed from France (Strasbourg, Colmar) or Switzerland (Zurich, Basel).
Main cities can be reached by train but a car provides more ease of movement.
Cities and Towns in the Black Forest
Here is a list of the cities and towns that can be used as a base to explore the area.
Baden Baden has been a popular spa destination for over two thousand years. The resort offers twelve thermal spas and is a favorite amongst foreign and domestic tourists alike. Previous visitors to the spa have included Barak Obama and Victoria Beckham.
The town’s therapeutic waters bubble away from two thousand meters below, providing relief from a variety of illnesses and conditions, including heart problems and arthritis.
It’s a wonderful way to end your holiday in the Black Forest, as you can rest and recuperate your tired body in the beautiful setting of one of Germany’s most lusted after resorts.
Gengenbach, a town of about 11,000 residents, is regarded as one of the most beautiful places in the Black Forest area. In addition, it is of easy access to independent travelers since it has a major train station in the regional network.
A lot of people chose to stay here in order to take in the Medieval architectures, the tall spires, and the homey food. A favorite activity is to hike to a chapel located on a hill to take in scenic views of the town and surrounding vineyards.
Offenburg, a bigger city, is located 15 km away and Strasbourg (France) is located 40 km away.
Freiburg is one of the main entry points to the Black Forest (it is well connected to cities in France, Switzerland and, of course, Germany). And, for some visitors, it is all they see in the region.
This city is known for its minster, Medieval gate, university, and template climate. It is advised to take at least a day to see the main sights. Then, move on to enjoy the surrounding natural attractions.
Schauinsland is a popular day trip. A cable car takes you to the top of the mountain from where you can admire impressive views of the area.
Keep in mind Freiburg is quite large (over 200,000 residents). This is not the place to stay if you are looking for peace and quietness.
This town, located on the banks of the Rhine River and the border between Germany and France, is another gem in the area.
People come here to explore the ruined castles scattered around, the drink the unique wines product of the region and sail along the Rhine.
All the towns I have discussed, are located on the Western part of the Black Forest. Triberg is located in the central part of the area.
Triberg is the perfect place to get a storybook feeling. You are going to be welcomed by colorful structures, dozens of cuckoo clocks and classic figurines (reminiscent of the ones used in Christmas trees).
The learn more about the area, you can visit the Black Forest Museum. And, do not miss the House of the 1000 Clocks.
Things to Do in the Black Forest
Here are some of our favorite ways to spend time in the Black Forest.
This small waterfall can be reached by a short path. There are other marked trails in the area if you want to continue hiking.
This spot is located 10 km from Baden Baden.
This adventure park has ropes courses, hanging bridges, treetop paths and a big toboggan. It is a great place to visit with kids. Children as young as 6 years old are allowed to complete certain circuits.
Visitors can ski during winter.
This reservoir has swimming areas (during summer) and offers boat rentals to visitors. It is located 30 km from Baden Baden.
I am including this place since it is a great stop for those traveling with kids. This game reserve allows you to observe deer and wild boars (among other creatures). It is located 30 km from Baden Baden.
As a lake lover, this is one of my favorite spots in the Black Forest.
The lake is small but very scenic and surrounded by legend. Since it is located next to the main road crisscrossing the area, it is a popular spot to walk/hike, rent a pedal boat or have something to eat at the Mummelsee Hotel.
This small town and its surrounding area are known for its well-preserved historic mills.
The “All Saints’ Waterfall” is one of the most popular attractions in the area. The waterfall has a drop of 83 meters over 7 steps. The walk from the parking lot is easy. The step and bridges in the area are easy to conquer too. You can extend your hike by walking to the All Saints’ Abbey.
Located in the Schliffkopf Nature Reserve, the Lothar Path is an 800-meter platform made from dead wood. There is an observation deck from where the tallest mountains in the area can be spotted on a clear day.
This is another beautiful lake located close to the main road. In a land of many lakes, I like this particular one because it has an island in the middle (covering most of the lake’s surface). I think that makes it very unique.
Giant Cuckoo Clocks
You’ll kick yourself if you miss this. The once largest cuckoo clock, built by Joseph Dold in 1980, is certainly something to put on your holiday itinerary. Joseph is also normally around to explain the history and inner workings of the clock. There is nowhere else in the world that offers this opportunity, and it will certainly make for a great story when you return home!
This clock is located in Schonach, three kilometers away from Triberg.
There is even a bigger clock located in Schonachbach.
Much like the ubiquitous cuckoo clock, no trip to the Black Forest is complete without a slice of deliciously rich Black Forest Gateau at Café Schafer. There’s no better place to indulge in this than at Café Schafer, where you can be treated to a traditionally prepared gateau, made with cherry brandy, whipped cream and shaved chocolate. This is an experience not to be missed!
The cafe is located in Triberg.
The Triberg Waterfall, the one of the highest in Germany, descends 535 feet (163 meters) in seven tiers.
After paying a small fee, you can walk an easy one-mile trail around the falls. The waterfalls are located only 2 miles from the center of town.
Open Air Museum
Experience a taste of the past, with a visit to an open-air museum in Vogtsbauernof. Be prepared to spend several hours here, taking in the sights and smells of a traditional German village. Interact with staff in traditional dress and learn about the history of the area as well as how this part of Germany has evolved. The museum features its own train station and you also have the opportunity to purchase authentic food and drink whilst you’re there too.
Titisee, the largest natural lake in the Black Forest, is an outdoor playground.
Visitors go to walk the lake’s perimeter, hike to the top Hochfirst Mountain, cruise the lake or rent a rowboat. Since this is a large resort, nearby attractions include a waterpark, golf course and several campgrounds/
At 1.4 kilometers long and sixty-one meters deep, Lake Schluchsee is the largest lake in the Black Forest. This artificial lake is popular for water sports and due to its clean water; it’s a regular spot for swimmers too.
A walk around the lake offers fantastic views of the forest, from a totally different viewpoint. In the summer months, you might want to take advantage of the heated outdoor pool and children’s adventure playground situated nearby.
Black Forest Hikes
Walk off your gateau by undertaking a hike in the Black Forest. There are hundreds of different trials to choose from, through an impressive fourteen thousand miles of Black Forest scenery. See Black Forest Hikes for routes and advice.
Many of the trials will be color-coded, so you will need to pay attention to your hike to ensure you stick to the right trail. You wouldn’t be the first to get muddled up! Fortunately, there are plenty of huts along the way offering drink and snacks, so you can always stop here and ask if you get stuck.
As with any holiday, make sure you organize European travel insurance. This gives you peace of mind that should you have a slip or trip whilst hiking, you will be fully covered.
You can use three days to explore the northern part of the Black Forest. I would use Day 1 to explore Baden Baden, Day 2 to drive from Baden Baden to Gengenbach and Day 3 to explore Gengenbach and its surroundings.
Or, you can spend three days exploring the Freiburg and Breisach area.
Yet another idea will be to plan a lake centric getaway. Titisee and Schluchsee are located close to each other and you can move from one area to another for a couple of days.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about some of the things to do in the Black Forest. Hope you plan a trip to the area soon!
More of the Area
How have you experienced the Black Forest? What things to do in the Black Forest would you recommend?
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