The idea of road tripping to the Black Forest did not need much planning. It just came up in a casual conversation between us and our friends, and we were all for it. Since it was a road trip in entirety, all we had to do was book a car and make Airbnb reservations for accommodation. And on a late spring morning, we hit the highway southwards.
What is it about the Black Forest?
That it is simply one of the most scenic drives in Europe, and offers some outstanding views of meandering roads, towering pines, and picturesque German towns and villages dotted in the vast expanse of the forest. Schwarswald in German, the Black Forest is a mountainous range of dense evergreen forests in the southwest of Germany. Its cuckoo clocks and mineral spas are world famous. If you are one for a rejuvenating long drive, this is it.
How to plan a Black Forest trip?
Since it is an evergreen forest, therefore, any time of the year is a good time to visit, basically depending on your personal priorities of preferring one season to another. In my opinion, winter would be one of the best times to visit since the thick blanket of snow on pine trees makes the forest look out of the world. We visited in the late spring and the snow hadn’t completely melted away in some areas. There is no one specific itinerary for this trip and it is up to you to select the route you want to drive through and the towns that you want to stop by. It is best to not have a concrete plan and rather be spontaneous about choosing to stop by and exploring a town whenever you feel like. Baden-Baden and Freiberg are two of the most popular bigger towns and must be included in the itinerary.
Morsdorf – Karlsruhe – Baden-Baden – Freiberg – Triberg – Titisee
Our Place of Stay
Our Airbnb apartment was located in Karlsbad, in the district of Karlsruhe, which is where we were headed to. Karlsbad is a cute little town, with typical German houses, tucked away in one corner of the massive Black Forest. It has very few cafes or restaurants, and in spite of that, we simply enjoyed both the cafes where we had our daily breakfasts in. The fragrance of fresh bread right out of the oven and the smell of coffee in the morning will make your day. While most cafes and shops in Germany (at least in these parts) shut down by 6-7 pm, our respite was an awesome little Chinese fast food joint in Karlsbad, from where we packed our dinner on all the four days. Life was pretty much sorted with that!
MORSDORF We were driving from Amsterdam, and Morsdorf was our first stop. This place is not a part of the Black Forest per se but what attracted us to it is the Geierlay rope suspension bridge. Morsdorf is a very small town with a population of less than a thousand and it took us some time to arrive at the right place. We had to park the car and walk for quite a bit to reach this bridge but the long walk is totally worth it. Since it was late April, there were huge yellow beds of rapeseed blooming spread all over, lush green fields, horses grazing, pretty countryside houses, and windmills at a far off distance. It was as quiet as quiet can be. This suspension bridge is at 12000 ft over the Geierlay canyon and is the longest in Germany. Crossing the bridge seems a little challenging in the beginning, especially for those with a fear of heights (like me), but it eventually turns out to be a smooth walk. We posed, crossed, posed again on the other side, spent a little time there, and leisurely headed back to the parking lot, and sipped a fresh cup of coffee at the cafe, before proceeding to Karlsbad, our place for crashing in.
BADEN-BADEN This spa town is one of the major towns in the Black Forest and I highly recommend a visit. For one thing, it looks very classy. And why not? It was a fashionable resort in the 19th century. We did not visit any spa but we walked around the pretty lanes, explored the market area, and around, and spent some time basking in the sun by a huge fountain, watching passersby. It is a great way of getting the feel of a place, and that stereotypical sightseeing list needn’t always be on the itinerary. The lunch stop was here as well. Do not leave without indulging in the very sinful original Black Forest cake.
When driving around the Black Forest, you cross many little towns. Stop wherever you feel like rather than having one particular place in mind. Also, instead of taking the highway, take internal roads with overshadowing tall pines to get a real experience of this mesmerizing forest. And that is what we exactly did.
FREIBURG Another bigger town in the Black Forest. We reached in the early evening hours and by the time we found a parking space, the town was almost shutting down for the day. This, I think, is a thing with German towns. Markets close down by around 6 pm. I might be wrong in that but it holds true for all the towns that we visited. And we did not really explore Freiburg. Like I said before, this was, by and large, a long driving trip. We walked only to the point of finding a cozy cafe for evening refreshments. Later we also found an Indian fellow whose family runs Indian restaurants in the city. We couldn’t have left without packing some Indian food for dinner from his fast-food stall.
TRIBERG What a bright and shiny day it was. With a very hearty breakfast in Karlsbad, we were on our way to Triberg. This town is world famous for its cuckoo clocks and has Germany’s highest waterfall. The town has a good influx of tourists and therefore has a good deal of souvenir shops too. We bought tickets for a trail along the waterfall. What looks like a long from beneath is actually quite pleasurable and pretty. Inside the forested area are climbing activities too. We walked up and then descended to eventually find a very tiny lake with a beer cafe. We badly needed that.
BREITNAU We picked up our souvenirs from Triberg and were en route to see the cuckoo clock(s).In between Triberg and Breitnau we randomly took a detour and surprisingly found snow! That was beautiful. We drove by some cuckoo clocks too and I cannot really tell how many cuckoo clocks are there along this area but by this time around I got a little nostalgic about my previous Black Forest trip with my parents some years ago, and therefore I suggested that we head there. Hofgut Sternen, located in Breitnau, has a large cuckoo clock that plays every hour, with statues of dancing couples popping out. While I found the place extremely beautiful on my last visit, I think this place has lost its previous charm, owing to the dense footfall of tourists. You can buy cuckoo clocks here. I had bought one the last time. It is carved out with a lot of intricacies but consumes a lot of battery.
TITISEE-NEUSTADT This was the last German town of our trip. We were heading back home the next day. Titisee-Neustadt is famous for Lake Titisee and a good place for scenic walks in the Black Forest. The place looked so vibrant when we were driving in, that we decided that we would leave only after dinner and therefore spend the entire evening there. However, by the time we parked our car and headed towards the lake, the shops and restaurants were already on the brink of closing down for the day. It left us disappointed. We strolled around for a little while by the lake before heading back to Karlsbad.
Our Return Drive
Since we were in the south-western part of Germany, we could not have returned without a short trip to the pretty town of Colmar (about which you can find here) in the north-eastern part of France.
Good to know
- Closest international airports are Frankfurt, Zurich, Strasbourg, Stuttgart, Basel, and Karlsruhe
- Train connections are available to Baden-Baden, Freiburg, Karlsruhe, and Offenburg, from almost all over Europe