The Black Forest in Germany – famous for its dark delicious cherry gateau, as well as being the setting for some of the Brothers Grimm’s finest fairytales, including Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and Hansel and Gretel. But chocolate cake and breadcrumbs aside, the Black Forest gets its name from its expansive canopy of evergreens.
Where Is the Black Forest?
Stretching 160 km across the country, the Black Forest, or German Schwarzwald, is an infamous mountain region encompassing much of southwestern Germany. Its lush meadows, deep valleys, and thick woodlands are filled with treasures waiting to be discovered.
From rushing waterfalls on forest trails to rustic farmhouses and countless clocks – you’ll soon see why this magical region has inspired many a story and legend. Here’s what you should know about visiting the Black Forest.
What You Should Know Before Visting the Black Forest
Black Forest Cake, Anyone?
To anyone curious (and brave enough) to visit the Black Forest, the reward is cake.
Germany is filled with authentic bakeries and eateries brimming with delicious desserts and pastries galore, and especially the Black Forest region. After all, it is the very inspiration behind the decadent Black Forest cake – a layered chocolate cake filled with cherry alcohol jam. Make sure to grab a slice of this German paradise (it won’t be hard to find) – but Cafe Schwarzwaldmaidle in Feldberg or Schopflin Backhaus in Freiburg im Breisgau are among the most highly recommended places.
Once you get a taste, you won’t be able to blame Hansel and Gretel for being tempted by the sweet lure of the Black Forest’s treats.
Go Chasing The Triberg Waterfalls
The little town of Triberg is a popular stop for those who visit the enchanting Black Forest. While the giant cuckoo clock, Erste weltgrößte Kuckucksuhr, and Schwarzwaldmuseum of Black Forest culture are also frequented, everything else in this village comes second to the Triberg Falls. The tallest in Germany, the majestic Triberg Falls is easily admired from various vantage points along a nearby path.
Don’t resist the urge the follow the trail and enjoy a lovely hike into the mountains. The unspoiled woodlands are bound to bewitch you.
Tick, Tock At The House of 1,000 Clocks
You simply must visit one of the town’s most famous shops. Once you take a step inside The House of 1,000 Clocks, you’ll have no trouble losing track of time. Seemingly countless cuckoo clocks adorn the walls of this fifth-generation family business. Make sure you take a moment to admire each intricate detail carved into these ticking works of art.
If you’re looking for a souvenir to take home with you from your Black Forest trip – a cuckoo clock from Triberg is easily the most timeless.
Water Babies, Schluchsee Is Just For You!
While some visit the Black Forest to explore its inviting hiking trails, others prefer to sneak away to Schluchsee to enjoy some time in the water, away from the crowded spa towns. The glacial lake was expanded into the highest reservoir in Germany, and summer adventures to Schluchsee are perfect for spending all day in the water, peaceful catamaran tours, and picnicking on the shoreline.
Families can enjoy the lake-front fun at Aqua Fun waterpark and Spass Park Hochschwarzwald amusement park.
Toboggan Through The Mountains At Sommerrodelbahn Gutach
Rollercoasters play second fiddle to tobogganing through the mountains of the captivating Black Forest. That’s precisely what you can do at Sommerrodelbahn Gutach. Coast around bends and through tunnels, and take in the crisp mountain air for 1,150m (3,773ft). There’s no doubt that as soon as the ride stops, you’ll be joining the queue to do it all over again.
For those who aren’t interested in the toboggan trip, you can enjoy the beer garden, playground, and ice cream cabinet without missing out on the fresh mountain air.
Take A Drive Along The Black Forest Highway
If you’re worn out from all the Black Forest hiking trails, rest up without missing out on the immaculate views by taking a drive along the Schwarzwald Hochstrasse, also known as the Black Forest Highway. The 37 miles (60km) stretch of road is open to vehicles, cyclists, and hikers – but thankfully, there’s enough of this otherworldly vista to go around – even if you’re sharing it with other vistas.
Don’t cut your trip short by racing through the stretch of roadway – make sure you stop off at all the little villages and nature trails along the way.
Spot A Mermaid At Lake Mummelsee
Sitting at the foot of the Hornisgrinde mountains is Lake Mummelsee. Conveniently positioned on the Black Forest High Road. Legend has it that mermaids call these mysterious 17 ft deep waters home. But if you’re not into myths and legends, the hiking trails of the Hornisgrinde mountains are equally as charming as other Black Forest trails.
If you’re visiting during the warmer months, make sure you rent a pedalo or peddle-boat, but if you happen upon Mummelsee once it’s transformed into a winter wonderland, simply take a walk on the pathway encircling the lake and enjoy the snowy mountain-scape.
The Must-See: Freiburger Münster
Adorned with lacy spires and obscure gargoyles guarding the intricate entrance, Freiburg’s 11th century gothic-style cathedral unashamedly stands out above the central town square. Undoubtedly a must-see for every Black Forest visitor. Medieval guilds financed its kaleidoscopic stained-glass windows, and a high altar features a masterpiece by Dürer protégé Hans Baldung Grien. The cathedral is square at its base, contorting into an octagon as it rises before reaching its 116m-high filigree crown, dazzling onlookers.
You can spot the Vosages Mountains in France on days with good visibility from this vampiric vantage point. While the cathedral is closed for visits during services, you can find out available times at the info desk inside.
Now that you’ve uncovered the mystical world within the Black Forest, don’t be surprised if you cross paths with a witch or huntsman – and maybe leave a trail of breadcrumbs just in case you need to retrace your tracks.