The 15 Most Beautiful Spots in Germany's Black Forest

The small village Hornberg is located in the Gutach Valley in the Black Forest
The small village Hornberg is located in the Gutach Valley in the Black Forest | © Thomas Klee/Shutterstock
Courtney Stanley

Ever wanted to visit the setting of the fairy tales written by the Brothers Grimm? Legend has it they were inspired by Germany’s Black Forest (Schwarzwald) – the spectacular mountain range in Baden-Württemberg. Munich has famous Christmas markets, but these spots are also worth a visit next time you’re here.

The Black Forest gets its name from the oppressive canopy of evergreens looming above the forest floor. Home to elaborate cuckoo clocks, striking half-timbered houses, ruined castles and quaint towns, the Black Forest is a magical land full of cultural traditions. Here’s our guide to some of the most beautiful spots in the area.

1. Baden-Baden

Natural Feature, Train Station, Architectural Landmark

Panoramic view of Baden-Baden, Germany
© 50u15pec7a70r / Shutterstock

Baden-Baden, one of Europe’s most fashionable spa towns, is an ideal base for exploring the Black Forest and the perfect place to stay for maximum pampering. Located in the rolling hills of the northern part of the forest, the 19th-century town is filled with striking Belle Époque-era architecture and old-world luxury. Baden-Baden has a vibrant cultural community with events and art exhibitions throughout the year. Take a guided walk or adventure tour into the heavily wooded Black Forest National Park, or stay in the town center and enjoy the curative waters of the thermal baths, which were built in roughly 1810.

2. Titisee Lake

Natural Feature

The shore of Titisee Lake in autumn, Germany
© Natalia Paklina/Shutterstock

This glacially carved lake in the southern region of the Black Forest is one of the area’s most popular resorts. The lake is around 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) long and 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) wide, and is the largest natural lake in the Black Forest. Travelers flock to Titisee to swim, windsurf and sail in good weather. Occasionally, in the winter, the lake will freeze over enough to allow ice skating. There are beautiful areas for lakeside strolls throughout the year, including a 5-mile (8-kilometer) trail around the lake that leads up the Hochfirst Mountain. Surrounded by tall pine forests on the low, rolling mountains, Titisee Lake is a place of otherworldly natural beauty.

3. Freiburg

Natural Feature

Freiburg, Germany
© milosk50/Shutterstock
Freiburg is a university town and an excellent base from which to explore the southern side of the Black Forest. The cheerful city sits at the bottom of the Black Forest’s wooded slopes and vineyards, and is chock-full of gabled, half-timbered houses and twisting cobblestone streets. The local student population has given the town a lively nightlife scene, but anyone can enjoy the lovely beer gardens along the canal. Freiburg has been named Germany’s warmest city, with unusually high levels of sunshine. As a result, it is a center for solar energy. Hike up through the woods or ride the Schlossbergbahn cable car up the Schlossberg mountain to the lookout tower, where you can enjoy views of the city, including sightings of 11th-century Münster cathedral’s iconic spire.

4. Lake Mummelsee

Forest

Semi-frozen Mummelsee Lake in the Black Forest region of Germany
Tina Kempka / Unsplash
Conveniently located right on the Black Forest High Road is this gorgeous cirque lake, found in the shadow of Hornisgrinde, the tallest mountain in the Black Forest. It’s the largest lake in the region, framed beautifully by dense forestry, which you can explore on a number of hiking trails. The lake itself is steeped in folklore and myth, so keep an eye out for the water spirits supposedly hanging out below the surface. If you like the vibes at Mummelsee you can even book in to Berghotel Mummelsee, which sits right on the banks of the lake and boasts splendid views of the water. Recommended by Gethin Morgan.

5. Black Forest High Road

Architectural Landmark

One of Germany’s most famously beautiful driving routes begins in Baden-Baden and carves its way through the scenic countryside of the Black Forest. Far from just connecting you to many of the region’s most scenic spots, traversing the Schwarzwaldhochstraße is an experience in and of itself, as you wind through forests, across mountains and past tranquil lakes. Be sure to plan plenty of stops so you can properly appreciate the surrounding natural beauty, and don’t forget to keep those eyes on the road! Recommended by Gethin Morgan.

6. Triberg Falls

Natural Feature

Triberg, Germany
© MyImages - Micha / Shutterstock

Germany’s highest waterfall plummets down a 535-foot (163-meter) mountain slope into the valley of Triberg. The falls are formed by the Gutach River and located at the head of the Kinzig and Gutach valleys. Enjoy the view of the gorgeous natural scene from the bottom of the falls. Come after a heavy rain or a snow melt to see the falls at their best (and loudest). The main entrance can be reached easily from the city center in Triberg, a town that caters to tourists with a huge number of cuckoo-clock shops. At night, the illuminated water is striking, and even in the winter, the Triberg Falls look beautiful surrounded by snow.

7. Heidelberg

Architectural Landmark

Heidelberg, Germany
© leoks / Shutterstock
Heidelberg, an old town on the river Neckar, is the epitome of German romanticism. Home to the country’s oldest university, The University of Heidelberg, and one of the most popular castle ruins in Germany, this town is filled with majestic cityscapes and a palpable historic atmosphere. The red-hued castle, located on the northern slope of the Königstuhl mountain, was destroyed and rebuilt over several hundred years, so it has a mix of Gothic and Renaissance styles. Visit the castle gardens for a fantastic view of the city. Take a walk through the baroque-style Old Town and view the historic stone bridge, built in the 1780s. Or take a stroll along Philosophers’ Walk, a famous ramble along the banks of the Neckar where Heidelberg’s philosophers and professors came to contemplate their high-minded ideas.

8. Baiersbronn

Natural Feature

Village of Baiersbronn in Black Forest
© travelpeter/Shutterstock

This idyllic mountain resort is made up of nine separate villages, and the recent addition of high-end hotels and bed and breakfasts serving incredible cuisine have put Baiersbronn on the map. The area boasts an incredible 12 Michelin stars in total, including two restaurants with three stars, and another with two stars. So there’s no shortage of choice if you want to indulge in fine dining. When you aren’t gorging on excellent cuisine or enjoying long walks through the conifer-strewn forests, take a trip to the ski slopes or visit the area’s golf courses. And don’t miss the nearby 12th-century monastery – the Allerheiligen ruins – hidden in a quiet, secluded valley.

9. Bad Wildbad

Natural Feature

Bad Wildbad
© LaMiaFotografia/Shutterstock

Not quite as well known as Baden-Baden, Bad Wildabad is another popular spa town and a cheaper option for a home-base in the north of the forest. A tunnel cleverly diverts through traffic so that the area feels as isolated from the world as possible. Bad Wildbad has beautiful views of endless pine trees and the gorge of the Enz river. This town is also filled with thermal baths, which naturally hover around 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius). Enjoy the picturesque village, and be sure to visit the idyllic Wildsee – a small lake outside of the town center.

10. Sasbachwalden

Natural Feature

Verdant vineyard in Sasbachwalden, Black Forest, Germany
Víctor Martín / Unsplash

In classic Black Forest style, 70% of this charming town is occupied by trees rather than buildings. People have been living here since 1347, with wood and wine providing a steady local economy for centuries. It has more recently become a popular vacation spot for domestic tourists in particular, with its quaint half-timbered houses and pretty floral flourishes – not to mention the wine – earning Sasbachwalden a reputation as one of the loveliest villages in Germany. Recommended by Gethin Morgan.

11. Allerheiligen Wasserfalle

Natural Feature

The walking trails leading to All Saints Waterfalls were first created back in the 1840s, and the uniquely cascading waterfalls, found near Oppenau, have dazzled forest explorers ever since. The water spills dramatically for around 83m and, over time, a set of seven basins have formed naturally in the rocks, creating an aesthetically pleasing set of steps for the water to trickle (or torrent) along. The short but immersive trail also leads to the striking ruins of an old Gothic abbey, making this off-the-beaten-path stop even more worthwhile. Recommended by Gethin Morgan.

12. Calw

Natural Feature

Autumn embankment of Nagold river in Calw, Germany
© Sergiy Bykhunenko/Shutterstock

Calw sits in the north of the Black Forest with a reputation as being one of the forest’s prettiest towns. Nobel Prize-winning novelist Hermann Hesse (1877-1962), who wrote Siddhartha among many other books, was born in Calw. The town features a museum and a statue dedicated the famous author. The picturesque market square is a great place to start your tour of the city. Surrounded by 18th-century half-timbered houses, Calw’s square is the picture of a quintessential Black Forest town. The city owes its current growth to tourism – many new bistros, shops and ice cream parlors have recently opened to cater to visitors.

13. Badische Weinstrasse

Winery, Natural Feature

View across the vineyards of Baden Germany, towards a small chapel near Durbach
© SF photo/Shutterstock

Badische Weinstrasse translates to ‘Badische Wine Road‘, and the 99-mile (160-kilometer) route is located in the foothills of the Black Forest. The purpose-built Weinstrasse was created in 1954 to meander through the wine-growing areas of the Black Forest and end up in Weil am Rhein, near the Swiss border. Travelers can drive from Baden-Baden to Freiburg along this alternative route, and instead of dull motorway sights they will pass by historic castle ruins and peaceful vineyards. Stop in Durbach for Durbacher Winzergenossenschaft, a wine co-operative with a winning selection of well-priced local wines.

14. Kinzig and Gutach Valley

Natural Feature

The small village Hornberg is located in the Gutach Valley in the Black Forest
© Thomas Klee/Shutterstock

Take the scenic drive along the Schwarzwaldhochstrasse from Baden-Baden to see the central Black Forest region’s quaint towns. Kinzig and Gutach Valley are heavily forested areas where many traditional Black Forest customs originated, like the cuckoo clock and the Bollenhut, a ladies’ hat topped with red pom-poms. In these sleepy towns, visitors will feel the magical and mysterious nature of the Black Forest come to life. While visiting the region, make a stop in the brewery town of Alpirsbach, and visit Schiltach to see classic examples of timber houses that burst with color and character.

15. Schauinsland

Hill Station

The view of the Black Forest in Germany from atop Schauinsland mountain
photos2webgallery / Unsplash
Just south of Freiburg is Schauinsland, one of the tallest and most beautiful mountains in the Black Forest. Today it’s a popular ski spot – hikers and mountain bikers flock here, too – but it was once a rich seam for silver mining, particularly in the Middle Ages. Take the cable car up to the top of the mountain (there is a road, but that’s less romantic) to enjoy some utterly spellbinding views. On a clear day you’ll not only see the Black Forest, but you can also catch a glimpse at the Rhine Valley, Voges Mountains and sometimes even the Swiss Alps. The mountain itself, meanwhile, is most beautiful in the peak of snowy season. Recommended by Gethin Morgan.

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