The Black Forest is a mountainous region in southwest Germany that was once completely covered by an ancient forest. It’s now home to some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe and offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures.
When you visit the Black Forest, there are several things you can do and see to get the most out of your trip. With its thick coniferous forests, inspirational medieval castles, scenic lakes, and picturesque villages nestled amongst the mountainsides, you’ll find it hard not to be inspired here.
Known as Germany’s largest nature park, the Black Forest is a bucket-list destination for people all over the place. The Black Forest is a mountainous region in the southwest corner of Germany in Baden-Württemberg state. It is bounded by the Rhine valley to the south and west and near the borders of Switzerland and France.
The Black Forest or German Schwarzwald gets its name from its unique canopy of pine trees. The trees are so dense that it is even hard for the sun to hit the floor of the forest. Measuring 160 km from bottom to top, this forest is an incredible expanse of valleys, hills, lakes, and forests.
What is the Black Forest Known For?
Germany’s Black Forest is known for its dark pine forests, picturesque villages with half-timbered houses, spa towns, and rushing waterfalls. It is home to the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales, the world’s largest cuckoo clock, and the highest non-alpine mountains.
It is hauntingly beautiful, majestic, and home to centuries of German history. Covering an area of about 2,320 miles, there are endless things to discover at this destination. Overall, this forest is one of the most popular hiking and tourist places in Europe. You’ll find some stunning views here if you can make it past all those trees.
Let’s read on for our favorite reasons why you should visit this forest.
1. Cherish Breathtaking Scenery
The name ‘Black Forest‘ was given to it by the Romans from the fact that dense forests covered most of the area of this mountain region until relatively recently. Nowadays the Black Forest is still a lush green region. Nothing can beat its rugged beauty, and it is home to some of Europe’s most spectacular scenery. The scenic lakes, waterfalls, half-timbered houses, and thick pine forests are some of the highlights of this destination.
2. Try Skiing
Skiing is one of the best things to do in Black Forest, Germany in winter. The Black Forest is one of Germany’s premier ski destinations. It offers over 170 ski lifts and 250 km of ski slopes in more than 80 different small and large ski regions.
Most of the ski lifts are around Todtnauberg and Feldberg. Since the region features some of the best ski slopes and coolest ski lifts in Europe, it’s no wonder this mountainous region is famous for skiing.
3. Hike in the Forest
You don’t need to be physically fit to enjoy a hike in the Black Forest (although it helps). There are routes for everyone, regardless of their ability.
With picturesque mountain vistas that entice visitors on every trail, the Black Forest hiking trails of this forest will never disappoint you. But if you want to make the most of your hike, try the Black Forest High Trail. This scenic route runs about 1,100 miles across Germany and takes you through some of the country’s most breathtaking scenery – wanderlust guaranteed!
4. Explore Elegant German Towns
Most people associate the Black Forest with its magnificent scenery. But the region is also home to some of Germany’s beautiful small towns. Baden-Baden, Heidelberg, and Gengenbach are the names of a few top spots.
Each town has its own significance and offers so much for its visitors. For instance, Baden-Baden has been famed as a spa town since Roman times. This town offers multiple spa options for tourists to warm themselves in the frigid weather, with water coming from natural hot springs. Sitting in forested valleys or perched on wooded hillsides, you can often see these beautiful towns from great distances.
5. Visit the Black Forest Museum
There are several museums throughout the Black Forest. Among them, the Black Forest Museum in Triberg takes people back to what life was like hundreds of years ago in the region. This is the perfect place to explore the history and culture of this region.
It has a selection of exhibits and subjects colorfully displayed. The museum features exhibitions on mining, clocks, handicrafts, woodwork, and the region’s unique traditions. Here, you can also take a glimpse into mined minerals and rocks, traditional costumes, straw weaving, musical instruments, antique watches, and jewels.
6. Stop by the Black Forest Spa Route
The Schwarzwald Bäderstrasse (Black Forest Spa Route) runs between Freudenstadt and Pforzheim. The route takes visitors on a 270 km circular path through historic villages, lovely valleys, elegant town spas, and monasteries. Since the route is a loop of spas, including Baden Baden, you’re sure to find a place to relax along this massive stretch of road. If you want to take a break while enjoying some of the world’s incredible scenery, stop by one of the spas on the route for a massage, pedicure, and facial.
7. Plan a Trip to the Europa Park
Europa Park is one of the best and biggest amusement parks in Europe. Spread over 160 acres, this is one of the most visited attractions in Germany. Each section of this theme park is a reflection of a different European country and its architecture. It features hundreds of attractions, including sledding, roller coasters, a model of Russia’s Mir Space Station, and rafting through an African jungle! Europa Park also hosts different competitions and shows throughout the year. In short, the park offers something for every age. If you’re a thrill-seeker, you should definitely stop by this incredible amusement park.
8. Enjoy Wildlife
The Black Forest is an important European nature reserve. It is a haven for native plants, animals, and birds that depend on forest habitats to survive. Here you’ll find European bison, fallow deer, mouflon, roe deer, and many kinds of birds, including the red-backed shrike. This forest also has a wide range of flora, offering hiking trails for everyone’s taste.
If you’re someone who appreciates wildlife, this park offers endless opportunities to take a glimpse into some rare species of animals.
9. Visit Fairy Tale Villages
The Black Forest is best known for its fairy tale-esque villages, including Triberg, Bühl, Hornberg, and Schiltach. These enchanted places come straight from a storybook. Though some of these villages date back to the 13th Century, they all offer a perfect setting for a fairytale break.
Triberg is a picturesque, tiny town in southwestern Germany. This famous tourist destination features Germany’s highest waterfalls and the world’s smallest and largest cuckoo clocks.
The town has a popular ski resort that attracts visitors for winter sports. Around 600,000 people visit this place each year to enjoy stunning views of this tourist attraction while skiing or hiking. This mountain village is around 20 km southeast of Titisee-Neustadt or Lake Titisee, about 120 km southwest of Freiburg, and about 140 kilometers south of Karlsruhe.
Schiltach is a medieval town in the Black Forest. It is located on the Kinzig River, in a small valley between the Black Forest and the Vosges Mountains. There are many natural wonders to explore, including waterfalls and woodlands with beech trees that take you hundreds of years back.
One of the biggest attractions of Schiltach is its century-old baroque buildings, offering a glimpse into history and culture. Schiltach also has many historical and cultural sites which attract tourists all year round, especially during Christmas.
10. Visit Baiersbronn
Also called the Michelin Star Town of Germany, Baiersbronn is a mountain resort town in Black Forest Germany. Located in the northern part of the forest, it is around 7 km north of Freudenstadt. This mountain town consists of nine scenic hamlets and is famous for its Michelin-star restaurants and distinctive food culture. This place offers multiple choices for fine dining.
When in the town, you can also enjoy long walks through the forests, visit the 12th Century monastery, and shed some calories on ski slopes. Surrounded by greenery and trees, this place is a few miles away from the famous Hotel Traube Tonbach, Germany. If you want, you can book your stay in this luxurious hotel to make the most of your visit to Baiersbronn.
11. Sample The Black Forest Gateau Cake
This German sweet treat is made using cherries, bitter chocolate, and whipped cream – a perfect summer indulgence. The Black Forest Cake is a decadent dessert that contains cherries, chocolate, and whipped cream. This classic German dessert has multiple layers of cake, cherry filling, whipped cream frosting, and dark chocolate topping.
It is a popular dessert in and outside of Germany. A visit to the Black Forest region is incomplete without giving a try to its delicious cake. You can have this eponymous chocolate cherry cake in almost any dining spot throughout the Black Forest area.
History of The Black Forest Germany
The Black Forest is a large landscape in southwest Germany. Though it covers much of the Baden-Württemberg state, it also crosses into the adjacent German states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse.
The Black Forest of Germany was home to several migrant tribes for centuries. In the 19th Century, this expansive forest came into the list of “Seven Wonders of Germany” for its breathtaking natural beauty. It features a wide selection of mountains and hills. The highest mountains in the region are the Feldberg (1,493 m), Herzogenhorn (1,415 m), and Belchen (1,414 m).
Today, this mountain region is renowned for its wooden cuckoo clocks, established crafts, traditional architecture, and rare wildlife. It offers various touristic attractions and a variety of landscape designs largely shaped by time. Overall, this is one of the best-managed forests in Germany.
Nature of The Black Forest
The Black Forest covers part of France’s Rhone-Alps region and Germany’s Central European Plain. Its northern perimeter runs along the western edge of the Upper Rhine Plain as well as the southern boundary of the Central Uplands. The weather can get quite cold in the winter. Therefore, consider packing a warm jacket or puffer coat to stay warm while hiking in this gorgeous mountainous region.
Rivers of the Black Forest Germany
There are many rivers in the region, the major rivers in the Black Forest being the Kinzig, Rhine, Murg, and Brigach. Around 93 km long, the Kinzig is one of the best-known rivers in this mountainous region. Another river that has its source in this dense forest is the Murg. The local dialect assigns it the name Murgäschtrumm. Similarly, the Brigach River has its source at 3,035 ft (925 m) above sea level in this forest.
The Rhine, probably the most famous river in Germany, is the second-longest river in Western and Central Europe. It flows swiftly between the Black Forest region and the Alpine foreland.
Why Is Black Forest Called the Black Forest?
The name has nothing to do with fear, negativity, or a dark history! As touched on earlier, it’s called the Black Forest because it has large expanses of coniferous tree woods that can almost entirely block out the sun in patches. The Black Forest has some great tourist attractions and offers plenty of things for families to do during their trip. Though this mountainous region is a part of Germany, it has its own distinct identity.