The first thing that comes to mind when someone says Black Forest is likely to be the dark chocolate cake with layers of cream, drenched in Kirsch with a cherry on top. Right? But don’t be fooled. The Black forest is a place and it’s absolutely magical. Locally known as the Schwarzwald, the region got its name because its forests are so thick the locals called them black. Queen Victoria spent her holidays here, Victor Hugo visited often, and Mark Twain made it known to Americans in one of his books by stating:
"Here you lose track of time in ten minutes and the world in twenty" Mark Twain in A Tramp Abroad
The vast forest stretches for a hundred miles along Germany’s southwestern borders. Its hills, valleys and forests stretch from the spa town of Baden-Baden to the Swiss border. Learn more about exploring this wonderful land below.
Karlsruhe – The Black Forest gateway
The city of Karlsruhe offers an extensive range of cultural activities, including theatres, galleries, architecture, concerts, shopping, and delicious dining options. In the town center, you'll find the enormous Schlossplatz with its Grand Ducal Palace. The building is now home to the Landesmuseum, which displays an array of the region's early history. You’ll also see antiquities, folk art and a glorious Art Nouveau collection. Behind the palace, lies the landscapes lawns and the Botanic Garden. Other highlights include the old Margravial Palace, the beautiful Stadtgarten with its Japanese Garden and several baths and spas.
Ideally located in green fields, our Radisson Blu Hotel, Karlsruhe is easily accessible from the highway and only ten minutes away from the main train station, which makes it an ideal stop-over for your Black Forest Adventure. Frankfurt International Airport is an hour’s drive away. From here there are many public transport options including local daily buses and trains that will take you right to the heart of the Black Forest and its many quaint villages.
Villages and must-see’s in the Black Forest
The Black Forest is mainly rural and comprises many scattered villages and a few larger towns. Tradition and custom are celebrated, and the locals are proud of their rich heritage. While hiking through the pretty woods, you’ll come across several of these quaint, traditional and slow-paced villages, ideal for a pit stop with lunch and perhaps a local brew. Somewhat surprisingly there are no fewer than 17 Michelin-starred restaurants in the Schwarzwald, so you will not have any trouble finding delicious local cuisine!
One of the most known is Baden-Baden, a grand nineteenth century spa town that specializes in pampering. Bad Wildbad is another less expensive option with marked streets to take you through the wine country. Go from here to see Gutach Valley, the most quintessential and idyllic area of the Black Forest.
Further south you’ll find the more upbeat town of Freiburg with sunny narrow streets. Here you’ll find one of the great masterpieces of Gothic architecture in Germany – Freiburg im Breisgau Münster. It’s beautifully decorated with stained glass windows and contains a famous altarpiece from as early as 1521. Climb up and be rewarded with some spectacular old city views.
In the picturesque town of Pforzheim, famous for its goldsmiths and jewelry production, you’ll find Black Forest highlights such as Schlosskirche, Marktplatz with quaint shops and cafes, and even some Roman ruins.
Also worth a visit is the charming town of Breisach along the Rhine river, about halfway between Freiburg and Colmar. It’s name stems from Celtic and translates to breakwater. One of the main sights is the St Stephansmünster, a cathedral that can be seen towering over the village.
Kloster Maulbronn is another spot worth checking out. Situated in the small town of Maulbronn, this monastery, founded in 1147, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and houses a crucifix from 1473 amongst other things. There are many informative guided tours available, should you wish to explore this ancient building more closely.
The baths of Badenweiler is a must-do for spa lovers, beautifully nestled among rolling hills and woodlands. This picturesque village is best known for its revitalizing baths; remains of Roman baths and Margrave’s baths with thermal water, treatment facilities and indoor and outdoor pools for you to pamper yourself in.
Hiking trails for everyone
In spring, summer and autumn an extensive network of hiking trails and mountain bike routes enable different groups of people to use the natural region. There are endless varieties of trails to suit everyone, whether you’re a hardcore hiker or just want a leisurely stroll through the woods.
There are spectacular rivers, lakes, and waterfalls all waiting to be discovered. The many trail options are clearly signed throughout the vast forest and its villages. This is thanks to the Black Forest Association, who has maintained a network of hiking trails for more than 140 years in order to make them accessible to locals and tourists. In winter, various types of winter sports such as cross country and downhill skiing is popular.
Are you planning a trip to explore the Black Forest? Share your experience with #RadissonBlu!