The Black Forest, with its panoramic views and unique attractions, is a place where you’ll never run out of things to see, even over a few days.
From the world’s largest cuckoo clock to a park offering glimpses of different parts of Europe, there are so many things to see and places to visit in the Black Forest. This includes the beautiful towns and villages in the Black Forest, which seem as if they’ve come straight out of a fairy tale! As the birthplace of some of the world’s most influential fairy tales, there’s no room for doubt.
Once you see the towns and villages in the Black Forest, you would undoubtedly agree that it’s a region straight out of a fairy tale. Adding to this enchantment is the mystical appearance of the Black Forest’s dense pine woods. Seeing these scenes, you’ll definitely agree!
If you’re planning to visit one or two of these beautiful towns and villages in the Black Forest, I have seven suggestions for you. In my opinion, these stand out not only for their appearance but also for the unique experiences they offer.
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I’m going to introduce you to some beautiful towns and villages in the Black Forest. Additionally, I’ll provide suggestions on how you can spend your time in these places. Lastly, if you’re planning to stay in one of the towns in the Black Forest, here’s where you can find the best hotel deals in the region.
In my compilation of stunning towns and villages in the Black Forest, I’ve chosen to organize them alphabetically.
The Black Forest is a vast region in southern Germany. It did not surprise me to discover that it has a variety of destinations to visit.
Like, while it is known for its natural attractions and fairytale towns, the Black Forest also has a town that offers a unique experience compared to most destinations in the country. This town, famous for its thermal baths, is called Baden-Baden. It is located on the north-western edge of the Black Forest where it sits to offer travelers a blend of relaxation and sophistication.
The unique charm of Baden-Baden lies in its reputation as the ‘Summer Capital of Europe’ during the belle époque. The town’s thermal baths, Friedrichsbad and Caracalla, are a must-visit. Built around 1810, these baths provide a unique experience of relaxation and rejuvenation.
When you visit Baden-Baden, don’t also miss out on the Kurhaus, a symbol of the town’s elegance, housing the casino. And for a unique twist to your visit, consider attending the International Horse Races, a major attraction that offers a unique experience.
Finally, for the most breathtaking views, head to the castle ruin Hohenbaden. From here, you can soak in panoramic views of Baden-Baden, the surrounding countryside, and the distant Black Forest mountains. This is Baden-Baden, a destination that promises an unforgettable journey.
Tucked away in the northern part of the Black Forest, Baiersbronn is a tranquil haven for travelers. This mountain resort is actually a collection of nine separate villages, each offering a unique charm and a range of high-end accommodations.
But what truly sets Baiersbronn apart is its extraordinary culinary scene. With a total of eight Michelin stars spread across three restaurants, it’s a food lover’s paradise. Whether you choose to dine at the Bareiss Restaurant, the Restaurant Schlossberg, or the Schwarzwaldstube, you’re in for a treat.
Actually, Baiersbronn offers a unique blend of natural beauty and gourmet cuisine. The surrounding national park is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, with opportunities for walking, skiing, golfing, and horseback riding. Don’t miss the chance to explore the area’s scenic hiking routes. These trails will lead you through lush forests, picturesque valleys, and offer breathtaking views.
For something a bit different, why not explore Baiersbronn by bike? Rent a bicycle and pedal your way through the charming villages, past traditional half-timbered houses and idyllic countryside.
Nestled in the eastern edge of the Black Forest and arguably one of the highlights of the Swabian region, Calw is a town steeped architectural beauty and history, with the Castle Waldeck and Hirsau Monastery stand testament to it.
Calw holds the distinction of being the birthplace of Hermann Hesse, the esteemed Nobel Prize-winning novelist. This fact has drawn numerous admirers of his work to the town, making it a must-visit destination for literature enthusiasts.
The town’s best appeal, however, lies in its picturesque market square. Adorned with two sparkling fountains and surrounded by 18th-century half-timber houses with sharp gables piercing the sky, the square is a sight to behold. It’s the perfect spot for a relaxing picnic or a bit of people-watching, especially during market time.
The most popular tourist attraction in Calw is the birthplace of Hermann Hesse, now a museum dedicated to the famous writer. A visit here offers a special experience, allowing you to delve into the life and works of Hesse.
For an unusual tip, consider visiting the old jail in a tower, known as “Der Lange”. This unique attraction provides a glimpse into the town’s past and is sure to make your visit more worthwhile.
Gengenbach, nestled in the lower Kinzig valley in the central part of the Black Forest, is a must-visit place where history and beauty intertwine. This charming town, located southeast of Offenburg, is a popular tourist destination known for its traditional Alemannic “fasnacht”, a historical carnival celebration.
Walking through Gengenbach is like stepping back in time. The cobblestone streets are lined with half-timbered houses, each one a testament to the town’s rich history. The medieval architecture, combined with the natural beauty of the surrounding vineyards and rolling hills, creates a picturesque setting that’s nothing short of a photographer’s paradise!
The town’s architecture is a reflection of its prosperous past as an Imperial Free City during the Holy Roman Empire. The Oberstadt (Upper Town) is home to several beautiful houses dating back to the 16th to 18th centuries.
There’s no shortage of activities in Gengenbach for a day. You can explore the former Gengenbach Abbey, scale the ancient town walls, savor local cuisine and wine, or embark on a hike in the surrounding Black Forest. And if you’re up for a serene journey, a visit to the tranquil Jakobus Kapelle is a must.
One of the most unique attractions in Gengenbach is the world’s biggest advent calendar. Every year, the 24 windows of the 18th-century town hall transform into the “windows” of an Advent calendar, bringing holiday cheer to the town.
Heidelberg, nestled on the banks of the river Neckar, is another beautiful destination in south-western Germany. It is not technically in the Black Forest, but it’s one of the excellent gateways to the Black Forest.
In a nutshell, Heidelberg is a city of knowledge, home to one of Europe’s oldest institutions, Heidelberg University, founded in 1386. It’s also a hub for internationally renowned research facilities, including the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and four Max Planck Institutes.
Interestingly, the city’s rich literary history has earned it the title of a “City of Literature” by the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
However, what sets Heidelberg apart is its romantic charm, fascinating history, and architectural remnants from the Middle Ages through to the Nazi Era. It houses the world’s largest wine barrel, the Heidelberg Tun, in the cellar of Heidelberg Castle. Amazingly, the city was largely spared by the allied bombings during World War II.
When you visit, take a stroll through the charming old town, cross the bridge, and soak in the views from Philosophers’ Way and the charming Heiligenberg. Don’t miss the Heidelberg Castle, a stunning example of German Renaissance architecture. For a unique experience, check out a human jaw that’s estimated to be several million years old at the Heidelberg University Geological Museum.
For the best views of Heidelberg, climb the 208 stairs to the top of the tower of Heidelberg’s famous church, or enjoy the fabulous views from the bridge spanning the Neckar River. The Heidelberg Castle also offers incredible vistas across the river. Heidelberg is truly a place where history, culture, and natural beauty converge.
Schiltach, nestled in the upper Kinzig valley, is one of the picturesque towns at the heart of the Black Forest. Its town center, affectionately known as ‘Städtle’ by the locals, is a living museum of beautifully preserved medieval timber-framed houses.
Did you know that the houses in the town still bear evidence of Schiltach’s past as an important hub for rafting and tanning? This has earned Schiltach the nickname “the city of half-timbering, raftsmen, and tanners.”
From the 13th century, Schiltach was home to craftsmen and tanners. It also served as an important stop on trade routes through the Black Forest.
During your visit, take a leisurely stroll through the old town. Soak in the history and charm of the timber-framed medieval houses. You might also enjoy seeing the murals in some of the houses, which depict the town’s history.
You can also visit the Schüttesäge Museum and the Apothekenmuseum to delve deeper into the town’s past. If you’re a nature lover, the hiking trails in the surrounding nature reserve are a must. And don’t miss the ruins of Schiltach, which were once part of a defence line of the Schiltach valley.
Among the towns in the Black Forest, Triberg is the place where you can immerse yourself in the quintessential Black Forest experience. It’s home to many experiences and discoveries about cuckoo clocks, for which the Black Forest is best known. Some even tag Triberg as the Cuckoo Capital of the Black Forest.
Most importantly, it is from Triberg that you can visit the largest cuckoo clock in the world.
Do you know what’s amazing? You can go inside the largest cuckoo clock. Here’s something you must try: With your watch or digital timer, step inside and see the giant clock mechanism move precisely and accurately in sync with your timepiece. Afterwards, you can browse its gift shop for souvenirs.
Aside from the cuckoo clock, it’s in Triberg that you can find the two best and most famous cuckoo clockmakers: Oli’s Schnitzstube and House of 1000 Clocks. They make quality cuckoo clocks manually, by hand!
Also located in Triberg is the Black Forest Museum, where you can see an amazing exhibit of cuckoos, items used by the locals, traditional costumes, and many more items that depict the culture of the Black Forest. There are also mechanical musical instruments in working order that you can play by inserting a euro or two.
Lastly, from the town center, you can follow a trail that leads to the tallest waterfall in the Black Forest, the Triberg Falls. Within 20 minutes, you can reach the waterfall area and wander around on the wooden boardwalk to see this masterpiece of nature from different angles.
What to Do in the Black Forest
You can choose to stay in one or two of the delightful towns and villages I’ve mentioned above as your base for exploring different parts of the Black Forest.
If you’re planning to visit other attractions or engage in activities in the Black Forest, I recommend trying out the unique ones that truly capture the essence of the region. To learn more here is my list of 20 unique things to do and special things to see in the Black Forest.
Where to Go Next After the Black Forest
One of the great things about the Black Forest is its strategic location for exploring more of Europe. Nestled on the edge of Germany, it’s right next to the French-German and Swiss-German borders. This means you can easily hop over to France and Switzerland after your visit to the Black Forest.
If France is on your itinerary, Strasbourg and Colmar should be at the top of your list. These two towns are the jewels of the Alsace Region, offering a unique blend of German and French influences. If you’re in the western part of the Black Forest, like Baden-Baden and Freiburg, reaching Colmar and Strasbourg is just a quick drive or a short train ride away.
Switzerland is also within easy reach, especially if you’re in the southern part of the Black Forest, like the town of Freiburg. From there, a single train ride will take you straight to Basel.
But before you leave Germany, make sure to explore other stunning locations like the Bavarian Alps, which are also in southern Germany, just like the Black Forest.
You might also want to visit some of the largest cities in southern Germany. These cities offer a range of experiences, from medieval landmarks to modern car museums. Stuttgart, Nuremberg, and Munich are definitely worth a visit. From these cities, you can take a day trip to other amazing destinations like Bamberg, Wurzburg, and Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber.
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