The Black Forest - Fodor's Germany - Fodor's

Fodor's Germany - Fodor's (2016)

The Black Forest

Welcome to the Black Forest

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Top Reasons to Go | Getting Oriented | What’s Where | Planning | Spa Etiquette in the Black Forest

Updated by Courtney Tenz

A wood so dense that the sun couldn’t penetrate the thick pine trees—that’s how the Black Forest—Schwarzwald in German—got its name. Stretching west to the Rhine River and south into the Alpine foothills in Switzerland, this southwest corner of Baden-Württemberg (in the larger region known as Swabia) has one of Germany’s most beautiful natural landscapes.

The Romans arrived in southern Germany nearly 2,000 years ago, bringing with them a spa culture that has remained since the Roman emperor Caracalla and his army rested and soothed their battle wounds in the natural-spring waters at what later became Baden-Baden. Though the area changed hands several times over the course of history, the Black Forest really came into its own in the 19th century, as the dark woods opened up to the outside world.

Europe’s upper-crust society discovered Baden-Baden when it convened nearby for the Congress of Rastatt from 1797 to 1799, which attempted to end the wars of the French Revolution. In the 19th century kings, queens, emperors, princes, princesses, members of Napoléon’s family, and the Russian nobility, along with actors, writers, and composers, flocked to the little spa town. Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy were among the Russian contingent. Victor Hugo was a frequent visitor. Brahms composed lilting melodies in this calm setting. Queen Victoria spent her vacations here. Mark Twain put the Black Forest on the map for Americans by stating, “Here … you lose track of time in ten minutes and the world in twenty,” in his 1880 book A Tramp Abroad.

While today the city has become a favorite getaway for movie stars and millionaires, it’s the national park surrounding Baden-Baden that is the area’s biggest draw for the everyday traveler. Within its protected areas, an adventurous sporting scene has sprouted, with possibilities for kayaking, biking, and hiking. The Schwarzwald-Verein, an outdoors association in the region, maintains no fewer than 30,000 km (18,000 miles) of hiking trails. In winter the terrain is ideally suited for cross-country skiing. A river cruise along the Rhine is worthwhile at any time of year, with its unique perspective on the landscape.


Excellent eats: Enjoy extraordinary regional specialties like Black Forest cake, Schwarzwald ham, and incredible brews from the Alpirsbach Brewery before feasting on Baiersbronn’s gourmet offerings.

Freiburg Münster: One of the most beautiful Gothic churches in Germany, the Cathedral of Freiburg survived the war unscathed. The view from the bell tower is stunning.

Stunning scenery: From the country’s largest waterfall in Triberg to the glacially carved Titisee Lake, the landscape in the Black Forest National Park is unparalleled.

Healing waters: The region is home to more than 30 spas with a wide range of treatments, including a 3½-hour session at the Friedrichsbad in Baden-Baden, the ultimate place for relaxation.

Libations at Kaiserstuhl: With a diversity of wine like nowhere else in Germany, the sunny border region is especially pretty when the grapes are being harvested.


Germany’s southwest corner shifts from the wide flat plains of the Rhine River Valley, which stretches to the French border in the west, into a hilly region dotted with glacier-carved lakes. Along the way, the Black Forest grows thick as you leave the bigger cities of Karlsruhe and Baden-Baden behind and escape up winding mountain roads dotted with picturesque villages.


The Northern Black Forest. The elegance of the region also known as the High Black Forest is unmatched in Germany. Whether in the genteel spa town of Baden-Baden or the quiet resort village of Baiersbronn, the beauty of the lush forest landscape abutting the rolling vineyards along the Badische Wine Route is unparalleled.

The Central Black Forest. The stereotypes representing the Black Forest, from Alpirsbach’s half-timber houses to Triberg’s cuckoo clocks, and the nation’s highest waterfalls all abound in the central Black Forest, a national park with thick pine forests and a series of steep-sided valleys.

The Southern Black Forest. Freiburg is one of the country’s most historic cities; just to the west is the sunny and temperate wine-growing region of Kaiserstuhl; to the east, one of the country’s most beautiful lakes, Titisee.



The Black Forest is one of the most visited mountain regions in Europe and despite its name, one of the sunniest places in Germany. Be sure to make reservations well in advance for spas and hotels, especially from June to August. The area around Titisee is particularly crowded then. In early fall and late spring, when the weather turns more temperate, the Black Forest is less crowded, but just as beautiful. Some hotels in small towns close for a month or so in winter so be sure to check ahead.


The closest international airport in Germany is Frankfurt. Strasbourg, in neighboring French Alsace, and the Swiss border city of Basel, the latter just 70 km (43 miles) from Freiburg, are also reasonably close. An up-and-coming airport is the Baden-Airpark, now known more commonly as Karlsruhe-Baden, near Baden-Baden. It is used by European budget carriers including Ryanair ( and Air Berlin (, serving short-haul international destinations such as London, Dublin, and Barcelona.

Airport Information
Aeroport International de Strasbourg. | Strasbourg | 00333/8864-6767 |
EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg. | Saint Louis Cedex | 0389/903-111 |
Flughafen Frankfurt Main. | Frankfurt | 01805/372-4636 |
Karlsruhe-Baden. | Halifax Ave. | 07229/662-000 |


A number of long-distance bus lines have opened up in recent years, including the Post Bus, Eurolines, and Flix Bus. Regionally, the bus system is partially owned by and coordinated with the German Railways, so it’s easy to reach every corner of the Black Forest by bus and train. Regional bus stations are usually at or near the train station. For more information, contact the Regionalbusverkehr Südwest (Regional Bus Lines) in Karlsruhe.

Bus Information
Regionalbusverkehr Südwest (Regional Bus Lines). | Karlsruhe | 0721/84060 |


The main autobahns are the A-5 (Frankfurt-Karlsruhe-Basel), which runs through the Rhine Valley along the western length of the Black Forest; A-81 (Stuttgart-Bodensee) in the east; and A-8 (Karlsruhe-Stuttgart) in the north. Good two-lane highways crisscross the entire region. B-3 runs parallel to A-5 and follows the Baden Wine Road. Traffic jams on weekends and holidays are not uncommon. Taking the side roads might not save time, but they are a lot prettier. The Schwarzwald-Hochstrasse is one of the area’s most scenic routes, running from Freudenstadt to Baden-Baden. The region’s tourist office has mapped out thematic driving routes: the Valley Road, the Spa Road, the Baden Wine Road, the Asparagus Road, and the Clock Road. Most points along these routes can also be reached by train or bus.

Freiburg, the region’s major city, is 275 km (170 miles) south of Frankfurt and 410 km (254 miles) west of Munich.


Karlsruhe, Baden-Baden, and Freiburg are served by fast ICE trains zipping between Frankfurt-am-Main and Basel in Switzerland. Regional express trains also link these hubs with many other places locally, including Freudenstadt, Titisee, and, in particular, the spectacular climb from Baden-Baden to Triberg, one of the highest railroads in Germany.

Local lines connect most of the smaller towns. Two east-west routes—the Schwarzwaldbahn (Black Forest Railway) and the Höllental Railway—are among the most spectacular in the country. Many small towns participate in the KONUS program that allows you to travel for free on many Black Forest train lines while staying in the region. Details are available from Deutsche Bahn.

Train Information
Deutsche Bahn. | 11861 |


Restaurants in the Black Forest range from award-winning dining rooms to simple country inns. Old Kachelöfen (tile stoves) are still in use in many area restaurants; try to sit near one if it’s cold outside.


Accommodations in the Black Forest are varied and plentiful, from simple rooms in farmhouses to five-star luxury. Some properties have been passed down in the same family for generations. Gasthöfe offer low prices and local color. Keep in mind that many hotels in the region do not offer air-conditioning.


The lively, student-driven city of Freiburg, Germany’s “greenest” town, is the largest, most obvious base from which to explore the Black Forest, but you may do well to stay in one of the smaller nearby villages in Kaiserstuhl or Titisee, where the accommodations are nicer and the scenery more breathtaking. Don’t miss “taking the waters” at a spa in Baden-Baden, a charming place with loads of cultural offerings and luxury to spare. Bear in mind that the winding, often steep Black Forest highways can make for slow driving, so you may want to consider adding overnight stays at other locations. Freudenstadt’s vast market square lends it a uniquely pleasant atmosphere, and Triberg’s mountain location is picturesque. Baiersbronn has gained a reputation as one of the country’s leading high-end resort towns, with good reason. If there is one place in the region to go out of your way to get a beer, head to Alpirsbach.


Bicycles can be rented in nearly all towns and many villages, as well as at the Deutsche Bahn train stations. Several regional tourist offices sponsor tours on which the biker’s luggage is transported separately from one overnight stop to the next and you may be able to secure an e-bike for a bit of help in getting up the hills. Six- to 10-day tours are available at reasonable rates, including bed-and-breakfast and bike rental. This region is also ideal for hikers. Similar to the bike tours, Wandern ohne Gepäck (hike without luggage) tours are available; get details from tourist offices.


Schwarzwald Tourismus GmbH. | Hapsburger Str. 132 | Freiburg | 0761/896-460 |


The restorative power of relaxation is something Germans take quite seriously, and nowhere is this better exemplified than in the country’s sauna culture. Whether soaking in a hot pool or sweating it out in a 190-degree sauna, after just a short time, you’ll find there really is something to this method of regeneration.

Seeking relief from the pains of battle, the Romans erected baths here almost 2,000 years ago, a pastime resurrected in the 19th century as spa towns across the country flourished and Europe’s upper classes began to appreciate the soothing effects of fresh air and mineral waters. These days there are hundreds of facilities throughout the country ranging from sophisticated resorts offering precious-stone massages and chocolate baths to smaller “wellness” hotels with not much more than a sauna and a relaxation room.


Bad Mergentheim and Baden-Baden are renowned for their drinking-water springs and the healing properties of the mineral waters that spill from them. Used for everything from the stimulation of the pancreas to curing a sore throat, they are drunk by thousands of visitors every year.



Every European culture has its own rules about how best to enjoy the sauna experience and in Germany, that includes embracing nudity. Though sitting naked in a dimly lit, scorching-hot room or floating au naturel in a thermal pool among a group of strangers may not be everyone’s idea of relaxation, the saunas, steam rooms, and hot pools in a spa are “textile-free” areas. They’re also mainly mixed sex, except on marked days, and the prevailing attitude is that one’s body is nothing to be ashamed of. The theory is that the body needs to be unencumbered to enjoy the full curative effects of the heat and water, and this becomes particularly understandable when the treatments include rubbing hot chocolate, honey, or salt on your skin while sweating it out. Bring a robe and a large towel to preserve your modesty in common areas, and if you’re unsure what to take off and what to leave on, don’t be afraid to ask.

Bathrobes, Towels, and Sandals

While the more upscale wellness locations will provide you with all three, most public spas will expect you to at least bring your own towel. Bathrobes and sandals should be worn in relaxation areas but left outside saunas and steam baths. Towels must be laid beneath you in the sauna to absorb excess sweat. Most facilities provide these items for purchase or will loan them to you for a small fee.

Cold Showers

A quick shower before entering the sauna area is expected. A refreshing rinse between each sauna session is also part of the procedure, not just for hygiene but also for its therapeutic effects. Taking a cold shower directly upon leaving the sweaty sauna is said to invigorate your circulation while also closing all your pores before you hit the icy waters of the plunge pool.

Quiet Time

Given that spas are designed to be oases of wellness and relaxation, loud conversation is forbidden and even whispers—particularly in saunas, steam rooms, and relaxation lounges or reading rooms—may be met with sighs of disapproval or even a telling-off.


Algae and mud therapy: Applied as packs or full-body bath treatments to nourish the skin and draw out toxins.

Aromatherapy baths: Oils such as bergamot, cypress, and sandalwood are added to hot baths in order to lift the spirits and reduce anxiety.

Ayurveda: Refers to Indian techniques including massage, oils, herbs, and diet to encourage perfect body balance.

Jet massage: Involves standing upright and being sprayed with high-pressure water jets that follow the direction of your blood flow, thereby stimulating circulation.

Liquid sound therapy: A relaxation technique that entails lying in body-temperature saltwater and listening to classical or electronic music being played through the water while a kaleidoscope of colors illuminates your surroundings.

Reflexology: Massage on the pressure points of feet, hands, and ears.

Thalassotherapy: A spa treatment employing sea air, water, and mud to heal the body.

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The Northern Black Forest

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Pforzheim | Calw | Freudenstadt | Baiersbronn | Baden-Baden | Karlsruhe

This region is densely wooded, and dotted with little lakes such as the Mummelsee and the Wildsee. The Black Forest Spa Route (270 km [168 miles]) links many of the spas in the region, from Baden-Baden (the best known) to Bad Wildbad. Other regional treasures are the lovely Nagold River; ancient towns such as Hirsau; and the magnificent abbey at Maulbronn, near Pforzheim.


35 km (22 miles) southeast of Karlsruhe, just off the A-8 autobahn, the main Munich-Karlsruhe route.

Although Pforzheim is not exactly the attractive place the Romans found at the junction of three rivers—the Nagold, the Enz, and the Würm—it is the “gateway to the Black Forest.” Pforzheim still owes its prosperity to its role in Europe’s jewelry trade and its wristwatch industry. To get a sense of the “Gold City,” explore the jewelry shops on streets around Leopoldplatz and the pedestrian area.

Getting Here and Around

Connected with a twice-hourly InterCity train as well as to the Karlsruhe Stadtbahn network, Pforzheim is easily accessible for those coming south from nearby Karlsruhe or north from Stuttgart. Once there, buses that stop at the ZOB southeast of the main train station can take you to major stops across the city.


Visitor Information
Tourist-Information Pforzheim. | Schlossberg 15-17 | 07231/393-700 |

The Northern Black Forest

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Gasometer Pforzheim.
A former gas storage tank has been converted into a work of art, inside which artist Yadegar Asisi has created a 360-degree panoramic view of Rome in the year 312 spanning 3,500 square meters. You can ascend a platform to view the artwork from above while a special sound-and-light show immerses you in the ancient times represented below. | Hohwiesenweg 6 | 07231/776-0997 | | €11.

Kloster Maulbronn (Maulbronn Monastery).
The little town of Maulbronn, 18 km (11 miles) northeast of Pforzheim, is home to the best-preserved medieval monastery north of the Alps, with an entire complex of 30 buildings on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. The name Maulbronn (Mule Fountain) derives from a legend. Monks seeking a suitably watered site for their monastery considered it a sign from God when one of their mules discovered and drank at a spring. The Kloster is also known for inventing the Maultasche, a kind of large ravioli. The monks thought that by coloring the meat filling green by adding parsley and wrapping it inside a pasta pocket, they could hide it from God on fasting days. Today the maultasche is the cornerstone of Swabian cuisine. An audio guide in English is available. | Off B-35, Klosterhof 5 | Maulbronn | 07043/926-610 | | €7 | Mar.-Oct., daily 9-5:30; Nov.-Feb., Tues.-Sun. 9:30-5; guided tours daily at 11:15 and 3.

St. Michael’s Church.
The restored church of St. Michael, near the train station, is the final resting place of Baden royalty. The original mixture of 13th- and 15th-century styles has been faithfully reproduced; compare the airy Gothic choir with the church’s sturdy Romanesque entrance. A museum dedicated to the life of Johannes Reuchlin, one of Europe’s greatest humanists, is attached. | Schlossberg 10 | May-Sept., weekdays 9-6; Oct.-Apr., weekdays 3-6.

Schmuckmuseum (Jewelry Museum).
The Reuchlinhaus, the city’s cultural center, houses this collection of jewelry, which, with pieces from five millennia, is one of the finest in the world. The museum nearly doubled in size in 2006, adding pocket watches and ethnographic jewelry to its collection, plus a shop, a café, and a gem gallery where young designers exhibit and sell their work. Guided tours in English are available on request. | Jahnstr. 42 | 07231/392-126 | | €3 | Tues.-Sun. 10-5.

Technisches Museum (Technical Museum).
Pforzheim has long been known as a center of the German clock-making industry. In the Technisches Museum, one of the country’s leading museums devoted to the craft, you can see makers of watches and clocks at work; there’s also a reconstructed 18th-century clock factory. | Bleichstr. 81 | 07231/392-869 | | Free | Wed. 2-5, Sun. 10-5.


Chez Gilbert.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | The Alsatian owners of this cozy restaurant serve classic French-inspired cuisine, using the freshest local seasonal ingredients. The menu and wine lists are relatively small, but from the moment you’re greeted by Frau Nosser until the time you leave, you’ll be convinced that everything was planned just for you. The best bet is one of the seasonal four-course menus for €57. If you must dine à la carte, try the duck with raspberries or the foie gras with peaches. | Average main: €28 | Altstädter Kirchenweg 3 | 07231/441-159 | | Closed Mon. and 2 wks in Aug. No dinner Sun.


28 km (17 miles) south of Pforzheim on B-463.

Calw, one of the Black Forest’s prettiest towns, is the birthplace of Nobel Prize-winning novelist Hermann Hesse (1877-1962). The town’s market square, with its two sparkling fountains, is surrounded by 18th-century half-timber houses whose sharp gables pierce the sky. It’s an ideal spot for relaxing, picnicking, or people-watching, especially during market time.

Getting Here and Around

Calw is best reached by car as it’s no longer serviced by trains. Bus connections to nearby destinations, including Weil and Boebelingen, are available daily by several companies, including the Deutsche Bahn’s Südwest Bus.


Visitor Information
Stadtinformation Calw. | Sparkassenpl. 2 | 07051/167-399 |


Hermann Hesse Museum.
The museum recounts the life of the Nobel Prize-winning writer Hermann Hesse, author of Steppenwolf and Siddharta, who rebelled against his middle-class German upbringing to become a pacifist and the darling of the Beat Generation. The museum tells the story of his life in personal belongings, photographs, manuscripts, and other documents. | Marktpl. 30 | 07051/7522 | | €5 | Apr.-Oct., Tues.-Sun. 11-5; Nov.-Mar., Tues.-Thurs. and weekends 11-4. Guided tours Fri. by appointment.

3 km (2 miles) north of Calw, Hirsau has ruins of a 9th-century monastery, now the setting for the Klostersummer (open-air concerts) in July and August. Buy advance tickets at the Calw tourist office. | Calw |


Hotel Kloster Hirsau.
$$ | HOTEL | A model of comfort and gracious hospitality, this hotel is in Hirsau, 3 km (2 miles) from Calw. The Klosterschenke restaurant serves such regional specialties as Flädelsuppe (containing strips from a very thin pancake) and Schwäbischer Rostbraten (pan-fried beefsteak topped with sautéed onions). Pros: quiet location; homey atmosphere. Cons: a bit out of town. | Rooms from: €124 | Hirsau, Wildbaderstr. 2 | 07051/96740 | | 42 rooms | Breakfast.

$ | HOTEL | Most of the original features, including 16th-century beams and brickwork, are preserved at this historic house in the center of Calw, next to Hesse’s birthplace. Rooms are small but have timber touches that reflect the exterior. The restaurant serves a selection of sturdy German and Greek dishes. A salad buffet will take care of smaller appetites, and lunchtime always has several good-value dishes of the day. There’s also an asparagus (Spargel) menu in season. Pros: great location overlooking historic market square; beautiful old half-timber building. Cons: parking around the corner; some rooms quite small; historic building means no elevator. | Rooms from: €70 | Marktpl. 12 | 07051/92050 | | 13 rooms | Breakfast.


65 km (40 miles) south of Calw, 22 km (14 miles) southwest of Altensteig.

At an altitude of 2,400 feet, Freudenstadt claims to be the “better climate” in Germany and it has the sunny days to prove it. Founded in 1599 by Duke Frederick I of Württemberg, the “city of joy” has the country’s largest market square, more than 650 feet long and edged with arcaded shops. The square still awaits the palace that was supposed to be built here for the city’s founder, who died before its construction began, though it is difficult to admire its vastness, since a busy, four-lane street cuts it nearly in half. The city’s location along three scenic driving routes (the Valley Route, the Spa Route, and the Black Forest Mountain Route) makes it an ideal place for an overnight stay. TIP When the fountains all spout on this square, it can be quite a sight, and a refreshing one as well.

Getting Here and Around

Freudenstadt is served by regular trains from both Karlsruhe and Stuttgart. The huge main square makes the city feel larger than it actually is. The central zone can easily be covered on foot.


Visitor Information
Freudenstadt. | Marktpl. 64 | 07441/8640 |


Don’t miss Freudenstadt’s Protestant Stadtkirche, a Gothic-influenced Renaissance church just off the Market Square. Its lofty L-shaped nave is a rare architectural feature built in 1608, constructed this way so that male and female worshippers would be separated and unable to see each other during services. | Marktpl. 36 | Free | Daily 9-7.

This town lies 22 km (14 miles) southwest of Freudenstadt, in the enchanting Wolfach River valley. From here, head up into the hills to Glaswaldsee (Glasswald Lake). You will probably find yourself alone with the tree-fringed lake. Parts of the neighboring Poppel Valley are so wild that carnivorous flowers number among the rare plants carpeting the countryside. In July and August the bug-eating Sonnentau is in full bloom in the Hohlohsee (Hohloh Lake) nature reserve, near Enzklösterle. Farther north, just off B-500 near Hornisgrinde Mountain, a path to the remote Wildsee passes through a nature reserve where rare wildflowers bloom in spring.


Berghütte Lauterbad.
$ | GERMAN | A traditional mountain hut, set in the woods and run by the nearby Hotel Lauterbad, this restaurant has an outdoor seating area and a beautiful panoramic view that you can enjoy while munching regional delicacies after a hike. | Average main: €10 | Am Zollernblick 1 | 07441/950-990 | No credit cards.

Turmbräu Freudenstädter.
$ | GERMAN | Lots of wood paneling, exposed beams, and a sprinkling of old sleds and hay wagons give this place, right on the main square, its rustic atmosphere. So do the large brass kettle and the symphony of pipes that produce the establishment’s own beer. The restaurant serves hearty solid local fare, including the Alsatian flatbread Flammkuchen, and a kebab of various types of meat marinated in wheat beer. Fondue is offered on Wednesday. Part of the restaurant turns into a disco on weekends. | Average main: €11 | Brauhaus am Markt, Marktpl. 64 | 07441/905-121 |

$$$ | GERMAN | The leaded windows with stained glass, vases of flowers, and beautifully upholstered banquettes create a bright setting in the two dining rooms of this hotel. The chef uses only organic products and spotlights individual ingredients. The various seasonal menus (€40) are always a good choice. Top off the meal with one of the many types of schnapps on offer. | Average main: €25 | Stuttgarterstr. 14 | 07441/91920 | | Closed Tues. No lunch.


$ | HOTEL | The Montigels have owned this sturdy old hotel and restaurant, just two minutes from the marketplace, since 1878, and the family strives to maintain tradition with personal service. Rooms are comfortable and modern, and range from compact to larger rooms with seating areas. The lovely beamed restaurant focuses on local specialties, including an incredible roast goose with chestnuts. Wine is served in a Viertele glass with a handle and a grape pattern, and, if you order schnapps, it will come from the family’s own distillery. Pros: great central location; friendly atmosphere. Cons: some rooms on the small side; restaurant doesn’t serve lunch and is closed Sunday. | Rooms from: €80 | Langestr. 33 | 07441/2729 | | 33 rooms | Breakfast.

Hotel Adler.
$ | HOTEL | This simple hotel sits between the main square and the train station, and some of the very affordable rooms even have balconies, so you can enjoy a view of behind-the-scenes Freudenstadt. The restaurant (closed on Wednesday) provides a hearty meal with local dishes. House specialties include the Alsatian version of pizza, Flammkuchen, a thin flatbread topped with cream. Pros: friendly; informal; centrally located. Cons: some rooms are small; furnishings are from 1970s and quite modest. | Rooms from: €82 | Forststr. 15-17 | 07441/91520 | | 16 rooms | Breakfast.

Hotel Schwanen.
$ | HOTEL | This bright, white building just a few steps from the main square has one guest room with a waterbed for those with allergies and an extra-large suite for those traveling with kids. The rooms are comfortable and newly renovated to appeal to both tourists and business travelers. Many locals come to the restaurant to enjoy fine regional specialties, including pancakes, big as a platter and topped with everything from salmon and mushrooms to applesauce and plums. Come on Thursday evening, when they are half price. Pros: great location; excellent-value restaurant. Cons: no elevator in historic building. | Rooms from: €99 | Forststr. 6 | 07441/91550 | | 17 rooms, 1 family suite | Breakfast.


Germans prize Black Forest ham (Schwarzwaldschinken) as an aromatic souvenir, although visitors from North America will not be permitted to bring one back home. Be content, instead, with the vacation experience, especially when planning a picnic. You can buy the ham at any butcher shop in the region, but it’s more fun to visit a Schinkenräucherei (smokehouse), where it is actually cured in a stone chamber. By law, the ham must be smoked over pinecones.

Hermann Wein.
In the village of Musbach, near Freudenstadt, this is one of the leading smokehouses in the area. If you have a group of people, call ahead to find out if the staff can show you around. If you are looking for Black Forest ham, this is the place to go. | Dornstetterstr. 29 | 07443/2450 | | Weekdays 7:30-6, Sat. 7:30-1.


6 km (4 miles) northwest of Freudenstadt.

The mountain resort of Baiersbronn—actually comprised of nine separate villages, all named after the valleys they inhabit—has become a high-end destination thanks to an incredible collection of hotels and bed-and-breakfasts providing not only rest and relaxation in beautiful surroundings, but also a gourmet experience. With eight Michelin stars among three of the restaurants and spa resorts, the village has become a favorite location to unwind and indulge in culinary delights—head to the Bareiss Restaurant, the Restaurant Schlossberg, or the Schwarzwaldstube, all in area hotels. The natural surroundings in the midst of the national park make this an ideal place to walk, ski, golf, and ride horseback.

Getting Here and Around

On one of the most scenic roads in all of Germany, the Hochschwarzwaldstrasse (High Black Forest Highway), Baiersbronn is best accessed by car. There is also regular weekday regional train service every two hours from nearby Karlsruhe.


Visitor Information
Baiersbronn Touristik. | Rosenpl. 3 | 07442/84140 |


Hauffs Märchenmuseum (Fairy-Tale Museum).
Near the town hall and church in the upper part of town is the little Hauffs Märchenmuseum, devoted to the crafts and life around Baiersbronn and the fairy-tale author Wilhelm Hauff (1802-27). | Alte Reichenbacherstr. 1 | 07442/84140 | €1.50 | Mid-Dec.-mid-Nov., Wed. and weekends 2-5.


Fodor’s Choice | Bareiss.
$$$$ | RESORT | This luxury hotel has won numerous awards since its founding by Hermione Bareiss in 1951 and continues to impress, recently being noted as one of the top 10 hotels in Europe and number two in Germany. With its own sauna area and nine pools, some heated, some with seawater, jet streams, or effervescent water, the spa is a remarkable part of a resort intended to cater to every whim. The fitness program includes group classes, controlled ultraviolet radiation, massages, and beauty treatments. Each overnight stay includes meals referred to as a “culinary vacation,” with a breakfast buffet, mid-afternoon cake, and a superb dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. Rooms are the size of suites; families are especially well catered to, with a teepee and tree house on the grounds, activity programs, and childcare. The restaurants include the elegant Bareiss Restaurant, with Michelin three-star chef Claus-Peter Lumpp’s French cuisine, the Kaminstube with European food, and the Jakob-Försterstube serving regional specialties. Pros: beautiful, secluded location; relaxing facilities; friendly, competent staff; excellent restaurants. Cons: expensive; credit cards only accepted in the restaurants and shops; hotel must be paid by check, debit card, or cash. | Rooms from: €470 | Gärtenbühlweg 14 | Mitteltal | 07442/470 | | No credit cards | 99 rooms | Some meals.

Hotel-Café Sackmann.
$$ | HOTEL | This imposing cluster of white houses, set in the narrow Murg Valley north of Baiersbronn, has broad appeal—families can nest here thanks to children’s programs, wellness-seekers can take advantage of the spa facilities on the roof, and sightseers can use this as a base for exploring much of the Black Forest. Comfortable guest rooms are in high-end country style, all with generously sized bathrooms. But best of all are the two restaurants under the leadership of one of Germany’s finest chefs, Jörg Sackmann. The Anita-Stube serves regional specialties, and the Restaurant Schlossberg holds two Michelin stars, delighting diners with stunning creations such as John Dory with grapefruit, marinated bacon, and fresh coriander. Pros: good for families; beautiful location; gourmet restaurant on-site. Cons: payment for accommodations only by cash or certain debit cards (credit cards are accepted in the restaurant only). | Rooms from: €170 | Murgtalstr. 602 | Schwarzenberg | 07447/2980 | | 65 rooms | Breakfast.

Hotel Lamm.
$$ | HOTEL | The steep-roof exterior of this 200-year-old typical Black Forest building offers an unmistakable clue to the heavy oak fittings and fine antiques inside. In winter, the lounge’s fireplace is a welcome sight when you are returning from the nearby ski area. In its beamed restaurant you can dine on fresh fish, which you may choose to catch yourself from one of the hotel’s trout pools. Pros: beautiful traditional building; friendly staff. Cons: can feel remote in winter. | Rooms from: €120 | Ellbacherstr. 4 | Mitteltal | 07442/4980 | | 33 rooms, 13 apartments | Breakfast.

Fodor’s Choice | Traube Tonbach.
$$$$ | HOTEL | Dating from 1778, this luxurious hotel is true to the original, yet the rooms, each of which presents a sweeping view of the Black Forest, meet contemporary standards, and the spa and swimming pool area, along with on-site child care, creates an air of relaxation. The small army of extremely helpful and friendly staff, who nearly outnumber the guests, also adds to the extravagance. Try the classic French cuisine of the Schwarzwaldstube, headed by three-star Michelin chef Harold Wohlfahrt, or any of the four fine restaurants on-site, including the international fare of the Köhlerstube or the Swabian dishes of the Bauernstube. The Silberberg serves gourmet classics and is open only to hotel guests. Pros: beautiful countryside setting; friendly and efficient staff; good choice of dining. Cons: expensive; credit cards only accepted in the restaurants, not in the hotel. | Rooms from: €249 | Tonbachstr. 237 | 07442/4920 | | No credit cards | 135 rooms, 12 suites, 23 apartments | Breakfast.

EN ROUTE: Allerheiligen (All Saints).
The back road from Baiersbronn, via Mitteltal and Obertal, enables you to join the Schwarzwald Hochstrasse at the little village of Ruhestein. From this little village, there’s a well-marked back road to the west that leads to the Allerheiligen ruins. This 12th-century monastery was secularized in 1803, when plans were drawn up to turn it into a prison. Two days later lightning started a fire that burned the monastery to the ground. The locals claim it was divine intervention.


51 km (32 miles) north of Freudenstadt, 24 km (15 miles) north of Mummelsee.

Perhaps best known as Europe’s most fashionable spa town, Baden-Baden is more than its name implies. With a storied history, original 19th-century French-influenced architecture, world-class cultural offerings, and a sunny location in a valley at the edge of the Black Forest, the city has more to offer than just a relaxing soak. It sits atop extensive underground hot springs and can trace its spa heritage back to the time of the Roman emperor Caracalla, whose legions discovered the springs and named the area Aquae Aureliae. The ruins of these Roman baths can still be seen in the city center, next to the more modern Friedrichsbad and Caracalla Therme, two spas that continue to attract visitors to the area.

In the 19th century, Baden-Baden began to attract the upper classes from around Europe, thanks to its comfortable climate. Seeking leisurely pursuits, cultural heavyweights, including Richard Wagner and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, joined many European royal families in their unofficial summer residence. Palatial homes and stately villas from that time survived unscathed by the war, gracing the tree-lined avenues; the spa tradition continues at many of the city’s resorts, making it a nice last stop on the way home, as Baden-Baden is just 1½ hours from Frankfurt Airport by train.

Though some may come here for the spas, the city has also made a name for itself as a cultural power player. As home to Europe’s second-largest festival hall, the Festpielhaus—a concert hall originally planned by Richard Wagner before King Ludwig convinced him to construct in Bayreuth—Baden-Baden hosts some of the world’s best symphonies, opera singers, and ballet troupes each year, from St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Ballet to the Berlin Philharmonie to violin soloist Anne-Sophie Mutter. Four museums add to the city’s unique cultural repertoire.

Getting Here and Around

High-speed ICE trains stop at Baden-Baden en route between Frankfurt and Basel. The station is some 4 km (2½ miles) northwest of the center. To get downtown, take one of the many buses that leave from outside the station. Once in the center, Baden-Baden is manageable on foot, but there is a range of alternatives available if you get tired, including a hop-on, hop-off tourist train and horse-drawn carriages.


Visitor Information
Baden-Baden Tourism. | Schwarzwaldstr. 52 | Trinkhalle | 07221/275-200 |


Top Attractions

Germany’s oldest casino, this testament to 19th-century decadence was the brainchild of Parisian Jacques Bénazet, who persuaded the sleepy little Black Forest spa town to build gambling rooms to enliven its evenings after gambling was banned in France (just 10 km [6 miles] away). Opened in 1855, the sumptuous interior was modeled on Versailles, right down to the Pompadour Room, home to a “practice” roulette table, and the luminous Winter Garden, with white marble and antique Chinese vases. The richly decorated gaming rooms could make even an emperor feel at home—Kaiser Wilhelm I was a regular patron, as was his chancellor, Bismarck. Russian novelist Dostoyevsky related his experiences here in his novella, The Gambler, and Marlene Dietrich reputedly called it the best casino in the world. Passports are necessary as proof of identity. Come in the morning before the doors open to players for a guided tour (40 minutes), available in English on request. To play, see Nightlife for further information. | Kaiserallee 1 | 07221/30240 | | Tour €6 | Sun.-Thurs. 2 pm-2 am, Fri. and Sat. 2 pm-3:30 am. Tours Apr.-Oct., daily 9:30, 10:15, 11, 11:45 am; Nov.-Mar., daily 10, 10:45, 11:30 am.

Russian church.
The sandstone church is on the corner of Robert Kochstrasse and Lichtentalerstrasse. The Russian diaspora community in Baden-Baden consecrated it in 1882; it’s identifiable by its golden onion dome. | Lichtentaler Str. 76 | €1 | Feb.-Nov., daily 10-6.

Worth Noting

Abtei Lichtenthal.
The Lichtentaler Allee ends at this medieval Cistercian abbey surrounded by stout defensive walls. The small royal chapel next to the church was built in 1288 and was used from the late 14th century onward as a final resting place for the Baden dynasty princes. Call ahead if your group wants a tour in English. | Hauptstr. 40 | 07221/504-910 | | Tours €5 | Tours Wed. and weekends at 3.

Baden-Baden Stadt Museum.
The city museum traces the unique history of this town back over 2,000 years. | Lichtentaler Allee 10 | 07221/932-272 | €5 | Tues.-Sun. 11-6.

Fabergé Museum.
The first museum dedicated to the work of Russian jeweler Carl Peter Fabergé holds up to 700 masterpieces from the private collection of Muscovite businessman A. Ivanov. Priceless pieces from the late 19th century include several of the 52 unique eggs gifted to members of Russian royalty, including the first of its kind, a modest egg made of white enamel inside of which a gold yolk, tiny chick, and diamond-emblazoned crown are nested. A Buddha made of nephrite—a green stone unique to Russia—with ruby eyes was originally a gift to the King of Siam. Multilingual staff are on hand to explain the collection in detail. | Sophienstr 30 | 07221/970-890 | | €18 | Daily 10-6.

Lichtentaler Allee.
A well-groomed park bordering the slender Oos River, this green, tree-lined pedestrian boulevard is a perfect place to stroll, take in the atmosphere, and forget you’re in a city. Lined with 19th-century villas, it’s home to four museums and an extensive rose garden, the Gönneranlage, which contains more than 400 types of roses. | Baden-Baden.

Museum Frieder Burda.
Built as an exhibition hall for the private collection of businessman Frieder Burda, this modern structure was created by acclaimed New York architect Richard Meier. Continually rotating, the private collection focuses on classic modern and contemporary art. Highlights include a number of pieces by Gerhard Richter as well as works by Picasso, German expressionists, the New York School, and American abstract expressionists. | Lichtentaler Allee 8b | 07221/398-980 | | €12 | Tues.-Sun. 11-6.

Rebland Vineyard Region.
The soft slopes between the Rhine plains and the Black Forest on the outskirts of Baden-Baden enjoy a mild climate that’s perfect for the vineyards growing Riesling here. A part of the Baden Wine Route, the Rebland area is home to a number of small, family-run vineyards that offer tours and tastings. | Mauerburgstr. 32 | 07223/96870 to arrange group tours at any member of the wine growers association |

Römische Badruinen.
The remains of the original Roman settlement and a brief history of spa culture from the 1st century AD can be seen at the Römische Badruinen, next to the present-day thermal baths. | Römerpl. 1, 76530 | €2.50 | Mar.-Nov., daily 11-1 and 2-5.


Cafe König.
$ | EUROPEAN | A small chocolate and macaroon shop is attached to this ornate café specializing in light meals, a centrally located place that’s perfect for people-watching and indulging in the German coffee and cake tradition. | Average main: €12 | Lichtentalerstr. 12 | 07221/23573 | | No dinner | No credit cards.

Le Jardin de France.
$$$$ | FRENCH | This clean, crisp little French restaurant, whose owners are actually French, emphasizes elegant, imaginative dining in a modern setting. The restaurant sits in a quiet courtyard away from the main street, offering the possibility of alfresco dining in summer. The milk-fed suckling pig and Russian dishes are well worth the visit. It also runs a school for budding chefs. | Average main: €40 | Lichtentalerstr. 13 | 07221/300-7860 | | Closed Sun. and Mon. Mar.-Dec.; closed Sun.-Tues. Jan. and Feb. (except public holidays).

$$ | FUSION | This trendy lounge with an eclectic menu featuring everything from Italian ravioli dishes to tuna steak has quickly become a beloved institution. The food is noteworthy, the modern interior complements the 19th-century palace housing it, and an enclosed patio gets crowded quickly on sunny days. Although the service could use a course in proper table etiquette, this is a see-and-be-seen kind of place. | Average main: €17 | Augustapl. 1 | 07221/25838 | | No credit cards.

Weinstube im Baldreit.
$ | WINE BAR | This lively little wine bar enchants you with its lovely terraces and courtyard. It’s nestled in the middle of the Old Town, making the garden and terrace the perfect place to meet friends over a dry Riesling. Enjoy some of the best Maultaschen (ravioli) and solid Black Forest cuisine near the fireplace in the huge barrel-vaulted cellar. | Average main: €11 | Küferstr. 3 | 07221/23136 | Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch.


Am Markt.
$ | HOTEL | More than 250 years old, this building houses a modest inn that’s been run for more than 50 of those years by the Bogner family. In the oldest part of town—a traffic-free zone, reached via an uphill climb—it’s close enough to the Roman Baths to stumble home. The contemporary rooms feature some rich splashes of color, modern bathrooms, and free Wi-Fi; most have satellite TV. Ask for a room overlooking the city. Pros: quiet location; some rooms have great views. Cons: a stiff climb up from the main sights. | Rooms from: €86 | Marktpl. 17-18 | 07221/27040 | | 23 rooms, 1 apartment | Breakfast.

Brenner’s Park Hotel & Spa.
$$$$ | HOTEL | This stately and exclusive hotel on the Lichtentaller Allee is one of Germany’s most celebrated and storied retreats—a favorite of royalty, from Queen Victoria to Czar Alexander II, and their contemporaries. Individually decorated rooms and suites have modern and antique furnishings, and grand marble bathrooms. From a romantic escape (book a private spa suite) to a golf getaway, the hotel goes above and beyond to cater to the interests of its well-heeled guests. A new addition in 2014, the Villa Stephanie, next door, comprises a five-story spa with saunas, plunge pool, gym, hamam, and treatment rooms overlooking the gardens; it offers various healthcare programs and medical treatments, including a detox retreat for those so inclined, plus rooms and suites for a complete wellness retreat. Pros: elegant rooms; good location; quiet. Cons: fellow guests can be aloof. | Rooms from: €375 | Schillerstr. 6 | 07221/9000 | | 68 rooms, 32 suites | No meals.

Fodor’s Choice | Der Kleine Prinz.
$$$ | HOTEL | Owner Norbert Rademacher, a veteran of New York’s Waldorf-Astoria, and his interior-designer wife, Edeltraud, have skillfully combined two elegant city mansions into a unique, antiques-filled lodging. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s illustrations for his 1943 French children’s classic Le Petit Prince charmingly adorn the rooms. The hotel’s restaurant is worthy of your attention whether you are staying as a guest or not. Pros: friendly and welcoming staff; some rooms have wood-burning fireplaces; most bathrooms have whirlpool tubs. Cons: stairs; some rooms may get noisy. | Rooms from: €199 | Lichtentalerstr. 36 | 07221/346-600 | | 24 rooms, 16 suites | Breakfast.

Deutscher Kaiser.
$ | HOTEL | This centrally located hotel provides homey and individually styled rooms at prices that are easy on the wallet. Some of the double rooms have balconies on a quiet street. The hotel is just a short walk from the casino. Pros: some rooms have balconies; central location. Cons: some rooms quite small; unexceptional views. | Rooms from: €89 | Merkurstr. 9 | 07221/2700 | | 28 rooms | Breakfast.

Fodor’s Choice | Hotel Belle Epoque.
$$$$ | HOTEL | Started by Norbert Rademacher after his lengthy stint in New York at hotels like the Waldorf-Astoria, this hotel reflects the beautiful era of its name, with large rooms, soaring ceilings, spacious beds, genuine antiques from Louis XV to art deco, luxurious baths, and a beautiful enclosed garden. A touch classier than its sister hotel, Der Kleine Prinz, the hotel serves both breakfast and high tea in a beautiful salon just off the lobby. Contemporary furnishings distinguish the rooms in the new wing. Pros: beautiful gardens; room price includes breakfast and afternoon tea; personal and friendly service. Cons: only the newer wing has an elevator. | Rooms from: €230 | Maria-Viktoriastr. 2c | 07221/300-660 | | 20 rooms | Breakfast.

$ | HOTEL | The large, comfortable rooms here typify the high standards of German lodgings, and though it’s in the middle of Baden-Baden, the setting is quiet. A hearty breakfast is served in the pleasant breakfast room. If you stay for at least three days, ask for a special package that includes admission to the casino and the thermal baths. Pros: good deals for stays of three days or more; central location; quiet street. Cons: views not great. | Rooms from: €98 | Merkurstr. 8 | 07221/3030 | | 34 rooms, 2 suites | Breakfast.


Nightlife revolves around Baden-Baden’s elegant casino.


The opulent rooms of the casino’s lower floors overflow with the decadent atmosphere where many of the European elite have come to play. Try your hand at either French or American roulette, blackjack or Texas hold’em or plan your visit to coincide with one of the regular club nights appealing to younger crowds (21 and over only). Passports are required for entry and the dress code (jacket for men, no sneakers) must be strictly observed. | Kaiserallee 1 | 07221/30240 | | €5.

Baden-Baden attracts a rather mature crowd, but the deep leather seats of the Trinkhalle make a hip lounge for those under age 40. At night this daytime bistro also takes over the portion of the hall where the tourist office has a counter, transforming it into a dance floor. | Kaiserallee 3.

Performing Arts

Fodor’s Choice | Festspielhaus.
The entryway to Europe’s second-largest performing arts center is the renovated former train station, whose grand foyer down to the ticketing window was retained. A modern, state-of-the-art theater with 2,500 seats and a 900-square-meter stage was attached where the former train tracks had once lain. More than 120 events annually draw culture lovers and performers from the world over, including violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, John Neumeier’s Hamburg Ballet, and the Berliner Philharmonie. | Beim Alten Bahnhof 2 | 07221/301-3101 |

The Kurhaus adjoining the casino is an intimate concert hall in an inspired venue that hosts classical music concerts year-round. | Kaiserallee 1 | 07221/353-202 |

Theater Baden-Baden.
Baden-Baden has one of Germany’s most beautiful performance halls in the Theater Baden-Baden, a late-baroque jewel built in 1860-62 in the style of the Paris Opéra. It opened with the world premiere of Berlioz’s opera Beatrice et Benedict. Today the theater presents a regular series of dramas. | Goethepl. 1 | 07221/932-700 |



Baden-Baden Golf Club.
The 18-hole Baden-Baden course is considered one of Europe’s finest. Built in 1901, it’s also the third-oldest course in Germany and though relatively flat, is surrounded by forested hills. Hole 11 offers a stunning view of the Old Castle. | Fremersbergstr. 127 | 07221/23579 | | €80 | 18 holes, 4260 yards, par 64 | Closed Jan. and Feb. and during tournaments.

Horse Racing

The racetrack at nearby Iffezheim harks back to the days when Baden-Baden was a magnet for royalty and aristocrats. Its tradition originated in 1858; now annual international meets take place in late May, late August/early September, and October, and the occasions call for attire similar to that worn at the Kentucky Derby, with a special hat shop on-site for those who arrive bare-headed. | Rennbahnstr. 16 | Iffezheim | 07229/1870.

Horseback Riding

Reitzentrum Balg.
Those wishing to ride can rent horses and get instruction at the Reitzentrum Balg. | Buchenweg 42 | 07221/55920.



The history of “taking the waters” in Baden-Baden dates back to AD 75, when the Roman army established the city of Aquæ Aureliæ. The legions under Emperor Caracalla soon discovered that the region’s salty underground hot springs were just the thing for aching joints.

In a modern sense, bathing became popular within the upper-class elite when Friedrich I banned gambling in 1872. Everyone from Queen Victoria to Karl Marx dangled their feet in the pool and sang the curative praises of the salty warm water bubbling from the ground.

Caracalla Therme.
Less of a relaxing “forget-the-outside-world” experience than the neighboring Friedrichsbad, the Caracalla Therme maintains a series of indoor-outdoor swimming pools with temperatures between 18°C and 38°C (64°F-100°F) that are ideal for the more modest traveler and those with families, since bathing suits are required here. Though children under seven are not allowed in the spa upstairs and those under 14 must be accompanied by an adult, the swimming area offers whirlpools, Jacuzzis, and waterfalls to complement the warm waters. A series of saunas on the upper level are clothing-free and provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of the pool area below. Be sure to bring your own robe and bath towel, as they are not a part of the package here. | Römerpl. 1 | 07221/275-940 | | €18 for 3 hrs | Daily 8 am-10 pm | Childcare also available on-site.

Fodor’s Choice | Friedrichsbad.
Also known as the Roman-Irish Baths, Friedrichsbad offers a one-of-a-kind spa experience. With 17 stations that take you through warm and hot dry saunas, ice baths, and thermal pools, there is a method to the ultimate relaxation on offer. Housed in a building dating back to 1877, this “temple of well-being” was considered the most modern bathing establishment in Europe and its ornate copper and terra-cotta temple only adds to the unique ambience. As with all spas in Germany, this one is textile-free; the 3½-hour spa treatment package includes a honey peeling or soap-and-brush massage. Note that no cameras or children under 14 are allowed. | Römerpl. 1 | 07221/275-920 | | €59 for 4 hrs all-inclusive, €25 with no massage. | Daily 9 am-10 pm | Mixed bathing: Tues., Wed., Fri., and Sun; gender-separate bathing: Mon., Thurs., and Sat.

EN ROUTE: Mount Merkur.
The road to Gernsbach, a couple of miles east of Baden-Baden, skirts this 2,000-foot-high mountain peak, named after a monument to the god Mercury that dates from Roman times and still stands just below the mountain summit. You can take the Berg Bahn cable car to the summit, but it’s not a trip for the fainthearted—the incline (54 degrees) is one of Europe’s steepest. | 2 Merkuriusberg | Cable car €5 round-trip | Cable car daily 10-10.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH: Schloss Rastatt.
A pink-sandstone, three-wing Schloss forms the centerpiece of the small town of Rastatt. Built at the end of the 17th century by Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm of Baden (known as Ludwig the Turk for his exploits in the Turkish wars), its highlights include the chapel, gardens, and a pagoda. It played a pivotal role in history at the turn of the 18th century, when a meeting called to end the fighting between France and the Holy Roman Empire and declare the existence of the state of Germany ended in the death of the French envoy. Inside the palace itself are museums of German defense history. Guided tours are possible if you call ahead. | Herrenstr. 18 | 07222/34244 | | €7 | Apr.-Oct., Tues.-Sun. 10-5:30; Nov.-Mar., Tues.-Sun. 10-4:30.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH: Schloss Favorite.
Five kilometers (3 miles) south of Rastatt, in Förch, Ludwig the Turk’s Bohemian-born wife, Sibylle Augusta, constructed her own charming little summer palace after his death. Inside, in an exotic, imaginative baroque interior of mirrors, tiles, and marble, her collection of miniatures, mosaics, and porcelain is strikingly displayed. One of the only original palaces left unscathed by the war, the opulent interior includes a one-of-a-kind, 18th-century Florentine cabinet with 758 colorful panels. | Am Schloss Favorite 5 | 07222/41207 | | €8 | Mid-Mar.-Sept., Tues.-Sun. 10-6; Oct.-mid-Nov., Tues.-Sun. 10-5.


10 km (6 miles) north of Ettlingen.

Karlsruhe, founded at the beginning of the 18th century, is a young upstart, but what it lacks in years it makes up for in industrial and administrative importance, sitting as it does astride a vital autobahn and rail crossroads. It’s best known as the seat of Germany’s Supreme Court, and has a high concentration of legal practitioners.

Getting Here and Around

The autobahn A-5 connects Freiburg, Baden-Baden, and Karlsruhe. Karlsruhe’s train station is an easy 15-minute walk from the city center and trains run frequently throughout the region; south to Baden-Baden (15 minutes) and Freiburg (1 hour), and east to Pforzheim (25 minutes) and Frankfurt (1 hour).


Visitor Information
Tourist-Information Karlsruhe. | Bahnhofpl. 6 | 0721/3720-5383 |


Badisches Landesmuseum (Baden State Museum).
Housed in the Schloss Karlsruhe, this museum has a large number of Greek and Roman antiquities and trophies that Ludwig the Turk brought back from campaigns in Turkey in the 17th century. Most of the other exhibits are devoted to local history. | Schloss, Schlossbezirk 10 | 0721/926-6514 | | €4; free after 2 pm Fri. | Tues.-Thurs. 10-5, Fri.-Sun. 10-6.

Schloss Karlsruhe.
The town quite literally grew up around the former Schloss of the Margrave Karl Wilhelm, which was begun in 1715 and was in use for more than 200 years. Thirty-two avenues radiate from the palace, 23 leading into the extensive grounds, and the remaining nine forming the grid of the Old Town. Today, the palace is home to the Badisches Landmuseum. | Schlossbezirk 10.

Staatliche Kunsthalle (State Art Gallery).
One of the most important collections of paintings in the Black Forest region hangs in this gallery. Look for masterpieces by Grünewald, Holbein, Rembrandt, and Monet, and also for work by the Black Forest painter Hans Thoma. The Kunsthalle Orangerie next door houses work by such modern artists as Braque and Beckmann. | Hans-Thoma-Str. 2-6 | 0721/926-3359 | | €12, includes both galleries | Tues.-Sun. 10-6.

Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (Center for Art and Media Technology).
In a former munitions factory, the vast Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, or simply ZKM, is an all-day adventure consisting of two separate museums. At the Medienmuseum (Media Museum) you can watch movies, listen to music, try out video games, flirt with a virtual partner, or sit on a real bicycle and pedal through a virtual New York City. The Museum für Neue Kunst houses a top-notch collection of media art, in all genres, from the end of the 20th century.

| Lorenzstr. 19 | 0721/81000 | | €6 for one museum or €10 for both | Wed.-Fri. 10-6, weekends 11-6.


$$ | HOTEL | A few steps from the main station, the hotel exterior looks like a palace, and inside you’ll find marble bathrooms and a mirrored elevator dating from 1914, but the guest rooms are pretty much in standard modern hotel style. The restaurant Zum Grossherzog (closed Sunday) serves international haute cuisine, and the cozy Schwarzwaldstube has Baden specialties. Pros: friendly service; advance online booking can save up to €50. Cons: on a noisy street; modern rooms don’t live up to the historic feel. | Rooms from: €140 | Bahnhofpl. 2 | 0721/38320 | | 93 rooms, 3 suites | Breakfast; Some meals.


Badisches Staatstheater.
One of the best opera houses in the region is Karlsruhe’s Badisches Staatstheater, which also serves as a venue for the local theater troupe and ballet. | Baumeisterstr. 11 | 0721/35570 |

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The Central Black Forest

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Alpirsbach | Gutach | Triberg

The Central Black Forest is hilly, a rural forest that includes the Simonswald, Elz, and Glotter valleys as well as Triberg and Furtwangen. It’s where the clichés all come together—pom-pom hats, thatch-roof farmhouses, and cuckoo clocks abound. The area around the Triberg Falls—the highest falls in Germany—is especially scenic. The Schwarzwaldbahn (Black Forest Railway; Offenburg-Villingen line), which passes through Triberg, is one of the most scenic in all of Europe.

The Central and Southern Black Forest

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16 km (10 miles) south of Freudenstadt.

The hamlet of Alpirsbach was founded in 1035 and developed around the Benedictine monastery Kloster Alpirsbach. Although the Reformation forced the abbey to close its doors in 1535, the tradition of brewing is still going strong. Locals claim that it’s the pristine artesian water that makes the beer from the Alpirsbacher Klosterbräu (brewery) so incredible. The village maintains a preserved historic core with a fine collection of half-timber houses that only add to the charm.

Getting Here and Around

Alpirsbach is on the direct train line between Freudenstadt and Offenburg, and is a great day trip by train from Freiburg (two hours with a change in Offenburg).


Visitor Information
Alpirsbach Tourist-Information. | Hauptstr. 20 | 07444/951-6281 |


Brauerei Museum (brewery).
The Brauerei was once part of the monastery, and has brewed beer since the Middle Ages. The unusually soft water gives the beer a flavor that is widely acclaimed. There are guided tours of the brewery museum daily at 2:30. If there is one place in Germany to go out of your way for a beer, Alpirsbach is it! | Marktpl. 1 | 07444/67149 | | Tour €7 | Mar.-Oct., weekdays 9:30-4:30, weekends 11-3; Nov.-Feb., daily 11-3.


Zwickel & Kaps.
$ | GERMAN | The name is a highly sophisticated brewing term, describing the means by which the brewmaster samples the fermenting product. Sit down at one of the simple beech-wood tables and order a satisfying Swabian lentil stew with dumplings and sausages, or something more Mediterranean, such as salmon with pesto. All the pasta, bread, and sauces are house-made. | Average main: €11 | Marktstr. 3 | 07444/51727 | No lunch. Closed Mon. and end Dec.-mid-Jan.


17 km (11 miles) north of Triberg.

Gutach lies in Gutachtal, a valley famous for the traditional costumes, complete with pom-pom hats, worn by women on feast days and holidays. Married women wear black pom-poms, unmarried women red ones. The village is one of the few places in the Black Forest where you can still see thatch roofs. However, escalating costs caused by a decline in skilled thatchers, and soaring fire-insurance premiums, have made them rare.

Getting Here and Around

Gutach is a 20-minute train ride from Freiburg. Trains leave once per hour.


Schwarzwälder Freilichtmuseum Vogtsbauernhof (Black Forest Open-Air Museum).
Near Gutach, this is one of the most appealing museums in the Black Forest. Farmhouses and other rural buildings from all parts of the region have been transported here and reassembled, complete with traditional furniture, to create a living-history museum of Black Forest architecture through the centuries. Demonstrations ranging from traditional dances to woodworking capture life as it was in centuries past; be sure to check the website for daily shows. | B-33 Vogtsbauernhof | 07831/93560 | | €8 | Apr.-July, Sept., and Oct., daily 9-5; Aug., daily 9-6.

German Cuckoo Clocks

“In Switzerland they had brotherly love—they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

So says Harry Lime, played by Orson Welles in the classic 1949 film The Third Man. He misspoke in two ways. First, the Swiss are an industrious, technologically advanced people. And second, they didn’t invent the cuckoo clock. That was the work of the Germans living in the adjacent Black Forest.

Cuckoo History

The first Kuckucksuhr was designed and built in 1750 by Franz Anton Ketterer in Schönwald near Triberg. He cleverly produced the cuckoo sound with a pair of wooden whistles, each attached to a bellows activated by the clock’s mechanism.

The making of carved wooden clocks developed rapidly in the Black Forest. The people on the farms needed ways to profitably occupy their time during the long snowbound winters, and the carving of clocks was the answer. Wood was abundant, and the early clocks were entirely of wood, even the works.

Come spring one of the sons would don a traditional smock and hat, mount the family’s winter output on a big rack, hoist it onto his back, and set off into the world to sell the clocks. In 1808 there were 688 clock makers and 582 clock peddlers in the districts of Triberg and Neustadt. The Uhrenträger (clock carrier) is an important part of the Black Forest tradition. Guides often wear the traditional costume.

Clock Styles

The traditional cuckoo clock is made with brown stained wood with a gabled roof and some sort of woodland motif carved into it, such as a deer’s head or a cluster of leaves. The works are usually activated by cast-iron weights, in the form of pinecones, on chains.

Today’s clocks can be much more elaborate. Dancing couples in traditional dress automatically move to the sound of a music box, a mill wheel turns on the hour, a farmer chops wood on the hour, the Uhrenträger even makes his rounds. The cuckoo itself moves its wings and beak and rocks back and forth when calling.

The day is long past when the clocks were made entirely of wood. The works are of metal and therefore more reliable and accurate. Other parts of the clock, such as the whistles, the face, and the hands, are usually of plastic now, but hand-carved wood is still the rule for the case. The industry is still centered in Triberg. There are two museums in the area with sections dedicated to it, and clocks are sold everywhere, even in kiosks.


16 km (10 miles) south of Gutach.

The cuckoo clock, that symbol of the Black Forest, is at home in the Triberg area. It was invented here, it’s made and sold here, it’s featured in two museums, and the world’s largest cuckoo clock is here.

Getting Here and Around

Triberg is accessible via one of the prettiest train rides in Germany, with direct services to Lake Constance and Karlsruhe. The train station is at the lower end of the long main street, and the waterfalls are a stiff uphill walk away. You can take a bus up the hill from the train station to the entrance to the waterfalls, relieving most of the uphill struggle.


Visitor Information
Triberg Tourist-Information. | Wahlfahrtstr. 4 | 07722/866-490 |


Top Attractions

Schwarzwaldbahn (Black Forest Railway).
The Hornberg-Triberg-St. Georgen segment of the Schwarzwaldbahn is one of Germany’s most scenic train rides. The 149-km (93-mile) Schwarzwaldbahn, built from 1866 to 1873, runs from Offenburg to Lake Constance via Triberg. It has no fewer than 39 tunnels, and at one point climbs almost 2,000 feet in just 11 km (6½ miles). It’s now part of the German Railway, and you can make inquiries at any station. | Triberg | 11861 |

Triberg Waterfalls.
At the head of the Gutach Valley, the Gutach River plunges more than 500 feet over seven huge granite cascades at Triberg’s waterfall, Germany’s highest. The pleasant 45-minute walk from the center of town is well signposted. A longer walk goes by a small pilgrimage church and the old Mesnerhäuschen, the sacristan’s house. You can do much of the hike free of charge but to climb to the top, you’ll need to pay a fee. | Friedrichstr. | €4; €9 combined ticket with Schwarzwaldmuseum | Dawn-10 pm.

Worth Noting

Eble Uhren-Park.
Stop by on the hour to see the world’s largest cuckoo clock, the size of a house, in action. It is also possible, for a small fee, to step inside and examine the works. In the gift shop at this huge store, you can buy a cuckoo clock, or just about any other timepiece or souvenir. | Schonachbach 27 | On Hwy. B-33 between Triberg and Hornberg, about 3 km (2 miles) from Triburg in the district of Shonachbach | 07722/96220 | | €2 to go inside the clock | Apr.-Oct., Mon.-Sat. 9-6, Sun. 10-6; Nov.-Mar., Mon.-Sat. 9-5:30, Sun. 10:30-5.

Haus der 1000 Uhren (House of 1,000 Clocks).
With a shop right at the waterfall and the main store just off B-33 toward Offenburg in the suburb of Gremmelsbach, the Haus der 1000 Uhren has another of the town’s giant cuckoo clocks. Both stores offer a rich variety of clocks, some costing as much as €3,000. | Hauptstr. 79-81 | 07722/96300 | | Mon.-Sat. 11-5, Sun. 11-4.

Hubert Herr.
This is the only factory that continues to make nearly all of its own components for its cuckoo clocks. The present proprietors are the fifth generation from Andreas and Christian Herr, who began making the clocks more than 150 years ago. The company produces a great variety of clocks, including one that, at 5¼ inches high, is claimed to be “the world’s smallest.”|Hauptstr. 8 | 07722/4268 | | Weekdays 9-noon and 1:30-4.

Schwarzwaldmuseum (Black Forest Museum).
Triberg’s famous Schwarzwaldmuseum is a treasure trove of the region’s traditional arts: wood carving, costumes, and handicrafts. The Schwarzwaldbahn is described, with historical displays and a working model. The Black Forest was also a center of mechanical music, and, among many other things, the museum has an “Orchestrion”—a cabinet full of mechanical instruments playing like an orchestra. | Wallfahrtstr. 4 | 07722/4434 | | €6 | Apr.-Sept., daily 10-6; Oct.-Mar., Tues.-Sun. 10-5.

Rottweil, 26 km (16 miles) east of Triberg, has the best of the Black Forest’s Fasnet celebrations, which here are pagan, fierce, and steeped in tradition. In the days just before Ash Wednesday, usually in February, “witches” and “devils” roam the streets wearing ugly wooden masks and making fantastic gyrations as they crack whips and ring bells. If you can’t make it to Rottweil during the Carnival season, you can still catch the spirit of Fasnet. There’s an exhibit on it at the Stadtmuseum, and tours are organized to the shops where they carve the masks and make the costumes and bells. The name Rottweil may be more familiar as the name for a breed of dog. The area used to be a center of meat production, and locals bred the Rottweiler to herd the cattle. | Hauptstr. 20 | Rottweil | 0741/494-330 | €2 | Tues.-Sun. noon-4.

EN ROUTE: Uhren Museum (Clock Museum).
In the center of Furtwangen, 16 km (10 miles) south of Triberg, drop in on the Uhren Museum, the largest such museum in Germany. It charts the development of Black Forest clocks and exhibits all types of timepieces, from cuckoo clocks, church clock mechanisms, kinetic wristwatches, and old decorative desktop clocks to punch clocks and digital blinking objects. | Robert-Gerwig-Pl. 1 | 07723/920-2800 | | €6 | Apr.-Oct., daily 9-6 (guided tours at 11); Nov.-Mar., daily 10-5 (guided tours at 2).


$ | HOTEL | Rooms at this hotel-restaurant are very comfortable, and some have balconies overlooking the famous waterfall. The old post-and-beam restaurant, with its blue-tile Kachelöfen, attracts people of all types with its affordable regional specialties. Try the fresh Forelle (trout), either steamed or Gasthof-style (in the pan), garnished with mushrooms. Pros: friendly service; close to waterfall. Cons: some rooms quite small; no elevator. | Rooms from: €80 | Hauptstr. 85 | 07722/4479 | | 10 rooms | Breakfast.

Parkhotel Wehrle.
$$ | HOTEL | This large mansion, which dominates the town center, has a wisteria-covered facade, steep eaves, and individually furnished, wood-accented rooms. The hotel offers some pleasant touches such as fresh flowers, and there is a fitness facility. The Ochsenstube serves dishes such as duck breast with three types of noodles and a sauce of oranges, pears, and truffles; the Alte Schmiede tends toward specialties from Baden, such as trout done a dozen different ways, all delicious. Pros: elegant rooms; friendly service; small swimming pool and spa area. Cons: main street outside can be noisy. | Rooms from: €155 | Gartenstr. 24 | 07722/86020 | | 50 rooms, 1 suite | Breakfast.

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The Southern Black Forest

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Titisee | Freiburg | Staufen | Kaiserstuhl | Rust

In the south you’ll find the most spectacular mountain scenery in the area, culminating in the Feldberg—at 4,899 feet the highest mountain in the Black Forest. The region also has two large lakes, the Titisee and the Schluchsee. Freiburg is a romantic university city with a superb Gothic cathedral.


37 km (23 miles) south of Furtwangen; 40 km (25 miles) south of Triburg.

Beautiful Titisee, carved by a glacier in the last Ice Age, is the most scenic lake in the Black Forest. The heavily wooded landscape is ideal for long bike tours, which can be organized through the Titisee tourist office. The lake measures 2½ km (1½ miles) long and is invariably crowded in summer, but it’s a refreshing place to swim as it is closed to motorboats. A public beach with outdoor pool ensures everyone has lake access. On rainy days, head to the indoor water park on the outskirts of town to stay refreshed. Stop by one of the many lakeside cafés to enjoy some of the region’s best Black Forest cherry cake with an unparalleled waterside view. TIP Paddleboats and stand-up paddleboards can be rented at several points along the shore.

East of Freiburg, just beyond the Höllental (Hell Valley), Titisee is best reached via the picturesque twice-hourly regional train, which stops in the center of the resort area, just a short walking distance from the lake. By car it’s a winding 30-km (19-mile) drive along the B-31, which can be treacherous in fresh snowfall.

Getting Here and Around

East of Freiburg, just beyond the Höllental (Hell Valley), Titisee is best reached via the picturesque twice-hourly regional train, which stops in the center of the resort area, just a short walking distance from the lake. By car it’s a winding 30-km (19-mile) drive along the B-31, which can be treacherous in fresh snowfall.


Visitor Information
Titisee-Neustadt Tourist-Information. | Strandbadstr. 4 | Titisee-Neustadt | 07652/1206-8100 |


Gasthaus Sonnenmatte.
$ | HOTEL | There are countless hotels and restaurants clustered around the lakeshore, but for a quieter time and to escape the crowds in summer, it’s worth heading farther from the lake. This guesthouse is about 2 km (1 mile) inland, in the middle of a meadow. There’s a swimming pool, a barbecue grill, and an outdoor chess set in the garden. Weekly dances are a feature year-round, and in summer the restaurant stages regular grill parties. Pros: quiet rural location; friendly service; away from the Titisee crowds. Cons: some rooms are small. | Rooms from: €49 | Spriegelsbach 5 | Titisee-Neustadt | 07651/8277 | | 30 rooms | Breakfast.

$ | B&B/INN | This small guesthouse on the road between Titisee and Neustadt offers a unique charm just a few kilometers away from the crowded lakeshore. Pros: large rooms, some of which can be adjoined; friendly service; views of the Black Forest. Cons: a short bus ride or drive to the lake. | Rooms from: €74 | Neustadter Str. 79 | Titisee-Neustadt | 07651/8230 | | 24 rooms | Breakfast | No credit cards.

Fodor’s Choice | Treschers Schwarzwald Romantikhotel.
$$ | RESORT | Right on the lake, this hotel has the best location in town, and most rooms have a balcony with an astounding view. Pros: large rooms, many with lake view; all-in-one hotel so you don’t need to leave. Cons: several rooms face the pedestrian zone, which can get loud in summer. | Rooms from: €117 | Seestr. 10 | Titisee-Neustadt | 07651/8116 | | 74 rooms, 7 suites, 2 apartments | Breakfast.

EN ROUTE: To get to Freiburg, the largest city in the southern Black Forest, you have to brave the curves of the winding road through the Höllental (Hell Valley). In 1770 Empress Maria Theresa’s 15-year-old daughter—the future queen Marie Antoinette—made her way along what was then a coach road on her way from Vienna to Paris. She traveled with an entourage of 250 officials and servants in some 50 horse-drawn carriages. The first stop at the end of the valley is a little village called Himmelreich, or Kingdom of Heaven. Railroad engineers are said to have given the village its name in the 19th century, grateful as they were to finally have laid a line through Hell Valley. At the entrance to Höllental is a deep gorge, the Ravennaschlucht. It’s worth scrambling through to reach the tiny 12th-century chapel of St. Oswald, the oldest parish church in the Black Forest (there are parking spots off the road). Look for a bronze statue of a deer high on a roadside cliff, 5 km (3 miles) farther on. It commemorates the legend of a deer that amazed hunters by leaping the deep gorge at this point. Another 16 km (10 miles) will bring you to Freiburg.


34 km (21 miles) west of Titisee.

Duke Berthold III founded Freiburg im Breisgau in the 12th century as a free trading city. World War II left extensive damage, but skillful restoration helped re-create the original and compelling medieval atmosphere of one of the loveliest historic towns in Germany. The 16th-century geographer Martin Waldseemüller was born here; in 1507 he was the first to put the name “America” on a map.

For an intimate view of Freiburg, wander through the car-free streets around the Münster or follow the main shopping artery of Kaiser-Joseph-Strasse. After you pass the city gate (Martinstor), follow Gerberau off to the left. You’ll come to quaint shops along the banks of one of the city’s larger canals, which continues past the former Augustinian cloister to the equally picturesque area around the Insel (island). This canal is a larger version of the Bächle (brooklets) running through many streets in Freiburg’s Old Town. The Bächle, so narrow you can step across them, were created in the 13th century to bring fresh water into the town. Legend has it that if you accidentally step into one of them—and it does happen to travelers looking at the sights—you will marry a person from Freiburg. The tourist office sponsors English walking tours daily at 10:30, with additional tours on Friday and Saturday at 10. The two-hour tour costs €8.

Getting Here and Around

Freiburg is on the main railroad line between Frankfurt and Basel, and regular ICE (InterCity Express) trains stop here. The train station is a short walk from the city center. Although Freiburg is a bustling metropolis, the city center is compact. In fact, the bulk of the Old Town is closed to traffic, so walking is by far the most practical and pleasurable option. The Old Town is ringed with parking garages for those who arrive by car.


Visitor Information
Kaiserstuhl Tourist-Information. | Rhine Tourist Information Office, Marktpl. 16 | Breisach | 07667/940-155 |


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A visit to Freiburg’s cathedral is not really complete without also exploring the Augustinermuseum, in the former Augustinian cloister. Original sculpture from the cathedral is on display, as well as gold and silver reliquaries. The collection of stained-glass windows, dating from the Middle Ages to today, is one of the most important in Germany. | Augustinerpl. | 0761/201-2531 | | €7 | Tues.-Sun. 10-5.

The square around Freiburg’s cathedral, which once served as a cemetery, holds a market Monday to Saturday. You can stock up on local specialties, from wood-oven-baked bread to hams, wines, vinegars, fruits, and Kirschwasser (cherry brandy). The south side, in front of the Renaissance Kaufhaus (Market House), is traditionally used by merchants. On the north side of the square are farmers with their produce. This is where you can sample some local sausages served with a white roll and heaps of onions. The square is also lined with traditional taverns. | Münsterpl.

Fodor’s Choice | Münster Unserer Lieben Frau (Cathedral of Our Dear Lady).
The Münster Unserer Lieben Frau, Freiburg’s most famous landmark, towers over the medieval streets. The cathedral took three centuries to build, from around 1200 to 1515. You can easily trace the progress of generations of builders through the changing architectural styles, from the fat columns and solid, rounded arches of the Romanesque period to the lofty Gothic windows and airy interior of the choir. A daily hour-long tour at 2 pm points out the architectural details. The delicately perforated 380-foot spire, the finest in Europe, can be climbed. In addition to a magnificent view, you’ll get a closer look at the 16 bells, including the 1258 “Hosanna,” one of Germany’s oldest functioning bells. | Münsterpl. 1 | 0761/388-101 | Bell tower €2; tour €4 donation suggested | Mon.-Sat. 9:30-5, Sun. 1-7:30; Tower: Mon.-Sat. 9:30-4:45, Sun. 1-5.

Museum für Stadtgeschichte (Museum of City History).
The former home of painter, sculptor, and architect Johann Christian Wentzinger (1710-97) houses the City History Museum, which contains fascinating exhibits, including the poignant remains of a typewriter recovered from a bombed-out bank. The ceiling fresco in the stairway, painted by Wentzinger himself, is the museum’s pride and joy. | Münsterpl. 30 | 0761/201-2515 | | €3 | Tues.-Sun. 10-5.

Freiburg’s famous Rathaus (Town Hall) is actually two 16th-century patrician houses joined together. Destroyed in the war, it was faithfully reconstructed in the 1950s. Among its attractive Renaissance features is an oriel, or bay window, clinging to a corner and bearing a bas-relief of the romantic medieval legend of the Maiden and the Unicorn. | Rathauspl. 2-4 | Mon.-Thurs. 8-5:30, Fri. 8-4.


Der Goldene Engel.
$ | GERMAN | Oak beams festooned with plaster casts of cherubs, and angelic paintings on the walls, combine to create a charmingly kitschy atmosphere in “the golden angel.” Local dishes are the specialty here, and the Flammkuchen in particular are a good choice. Try the Schwarzwälder Kirschsteak, a wonderful pork chop with cherries. | Average main: €14 | Münsterpl. 14 | 0761/37933 |

Kühler Krug.
$$ | GERMAN | Fresh fish and wild game are the specialties at this elegant yet homey restaurant around 2 km (1½ miles) south of the Old Town in Günterstal. Interesting dishes include rabbit in hazelnut sauce with baby vegetables, as well as salmon in saffron foam with a Riesling risotto. | Average main: €16 | Torpl. 1 | 0761/29103 | Closed Wed. No lunch.

Markgräfler Hof.
$$ | MEDITERRANEAN | The creative cuisine in this restaurant and Weinstube ranges from braised tomatoes and artichokes with lukewarm vegetables to fried butterfish with ginger, spring onions, and fried rice balls. Even desserts are imaginative, with elderberry ice cream a favorite. A small but fine wine list complements the menu. | Average main: €16 | Gerberau 22 | 0761/32540 | Closed Mon.


Best Western Premier Hotel Victoria.
$$ | HOTEL | Despite its traditional appearance and comfort, this is a very eco-friendly hotel. Black Forest sawdust has replaced oil for heating, solar panels provide some of the electricity and hot water, windows have thermal panes, bathtubs are ergonomically designed to use less hot water, and everything from the stationery to the toilet tissue is made from recycled paper. None of this detracts from the fact that the hotel, built in 1875 and carefully restored, is totally in line with Black Forest hospitality. Pros: strong on environmental ethics; free city bus tickets available to guests. Cons: outside the medieval center. | Rooms from: €137 | Eisenbahnstr. 54 | 0761/207-340 | | 63 rooms | Breakfast.

Fodor’s Choice | Colombi.
$$$$ | HOTEL | Freiburg’s most luxurious hotel is one of the few where the owners are there to make sure your stay is perfect. Its tastefully furnished rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the romantic old city. Despite its central location, the hotel basks in near-countryside quiet. The Hans Thoma Stube (reservations essential) has been outfitted with venerable tables, chairs, tile stoves, and wood paneling from some older establishments. It has its own bakery, which even makes fancy chocolate creams, and the black-tied waiters will also serve you small dishes at merciful prices. Pros: friendly service; quiet location; comfortable rooms. Cons: business hotel; often fully booked by conference delegates. | Rooms from: €264 | Rotteckring 16 | 0761/21060 | | 111 rooms, 5 suites | Breakfast; Some meals.

Hotel Schwarzwälder Hof.
$ | HOTEL | In a downtown pedestrian zone, part of this family-run hotel occupies a former mint, complete with graceful cast-iron railings on the spiral staircase. The rooms are in contemporary style, with dark-wood floors and cool white walls and bed linens, and there’s a two-room family suite in the attic with a balcony overlooking the Münster and old town. Despite its thin walls, it’s a charming choice close to both a parking garage and public transportation. The Badische Winzerstube provides all you could want in local atmosphere, wine, and food. Pros: central location; clean rooms. Cons: can be noisy. | Rooms from: €99 | Herrenstr. 43 | 0761/38030 | | 42 rooms, 3 suites | Breakfast.

Oberkirchs Weinstube.
$$ | HOTEL | Across from the cathedral, this hotel, restaurant, and wine cellar is a bastion of tradition and Gemütlichkeit (comfort and conviviality). The charming guest rooms are in the main building and in a neighboring centuries-old house. The proprietor personally bags some of the game that ends up on the menu. Simple but filling dishes include the fresh trout and the lentils with a sausage called Saitenwurst. In summer the dark-oak dining tables spill onto a garden terrace. Approximately 20 Baden wines are served by the glass, many supplied from the restaurant’s own vineyards. Pros: great central location; personal charm. Cons: no a/c; there are two buildings but only one overlooks the square. | Rooms from: €139 | Münsterpl. 22 | 0761/202-6868 | | 26 rooms | Breakfast.

Park Hotel Post.
$$ | HOTEL | This century-old building near the train station has seen a lot of writers come through its historic doors, and editions signed by visiting authors—including Teju Cole, children’s illustrator Janusch, and Alice Schwarzer—line the halls. During recent renovations, the management took advantage of this history and dedicated a room to each of the authors, with copies of their books inside and a poem hung on the wall. A copper dome and stone balconies overlooking a park contribute to the comfortable feel. Pros: friendly; some rooms have park views; within walking distance of main train station yet quiet. Cons: outside the medieval center. | Rooms from: €149 | Eisenbahnstr. 35-37 | 0761/385-480 | | 43 rooms, 2 apartments | Breakfast.

$$ | HOTEL | This hotel’s brightly painted rooms are on the sunny side of the cobblestone cathedral square and marketplace and some rooms have beautiful views of the cathedral’s flying buttresses. New management renovated the restaurant in a sustainable manner using traditional Black Forest style (big on massive oak) and is pepping up the regional specialties in the kitchen. The kitchen serves typical Badische cuisine, including fresh game and fish and a few vegetarian options; tables are set out in the square in summer. Pros: ideal central location; friendly service; clean rooms. Cons: hard to find your way in—go through restaurant to find lobby. | Rooms from: €129 | Münsterpl. 13 | 0761/31353 | | 24 rooms | Breakfast.

Zum Roten Bären.
$$ | HOTEL | The “Red Bear” claims to be the “oldest in Germany,” with its history traced back 50 generations and documented in a book. Dating from 1311, the inn retains its individual character, along with a cellar displaying its 700-year-old foundation open to the public interested in seeing part of the original inn. Like most of Freiburg, the original building was destroyed in World War II; the new building maintains a historical facade that betrays the comfortable lodgings and excellent dining choices inside. Pros: dripping with history; great location. Cons: some rooms are quite small. | Rooms from: €158 | Oberlinden 12 | 0761/387-870 | | 22 rooms, 3 suites | Breakfast.


Nightlife in Freiburg takes place in the city’s Kneipen (pubs), wine bars, and wine cellars, which are plentiful on the streets around the cathedral. For student pubs, wander around Stühlinger, the neighborhood immediately south of the train station.

Cocktailbar Hemingway.
Plenty of people take their nightcap in the Victoria Hotel’s Cocktailbar Hemingway, which stays open until 2 am on weekends. | Best Western Premier Hotel Victoria, Eisenbahnstr. 54 | 0761/207-340.

This brick cellar sometimes has live music and draws big acts and serious up-and-coming artists. | Schnewlinstr. 1 | 0761/34973 |

A very mixed crowd meets nightly at Kagan on the 18th floor of the skyscraper over the train station, with an incomparable view of the Old Town. The club brings in a range of international music acts, mostly pop, and is open from 10 pm until the wee hours. There’s also a café. | Bismarckallee 9 | 0761/767-2766 | Club closed Sun.-Tues.; café closed Mon.


20 km (12 miles) south of Freiburg via B-31.

Once you’ve braved Hell Valley to get to Freiburg, visit the nearby town of Staufen, where Dr. Faustus is reputed to have made his pact with the devil. The Faustus legend is remembered today chiefly because of Goethe’s Faust (published in two parts, 1808-32). In this account, Faust sells his soul to the devil in return for eternal youth and knowledge. The historical Faustus was actually an alchemist whose pact was not with the devil but with a local baron who convinced him that he could make his fortune by converting base metal into gold. The explosion leading to his death at Gasthaus zum Löwen produced so much noise and sulfurous stink that the townspeople were convinced the devil had carried him off.

Getting Here and Around

To reach Staufen, take the twice-hourly train from Freiburg and change at Bad Krozingen. The train station is a 15-minute walk northwest of the town center. The B-31 highway connects Staufen with Freiburg and the A-5 motorway.


Gasthaus zum Löwen.
You can visit the ancient Gasthaus zum Löwen, where Faust lived—allegedly in room No. 5—and died. Guests can stay overnight in the room, which has been decked out in period furniture with all modern conveniences removed (including the telephone) to enhance the effect. The inn is right on the central square of Staufen, a town with a visible inclination toward modern art in ancient settings. | Rathausg. 8 | 07633/908-9390 |


Landgasthaus zur Linde.
$ | HOTEL | Guests have been welcomed here for more than 350 years, but the comforts inside the inn’s old walls are contemporary. The kitchen creates splendid trout specialties and plays up seasonal dishes, such as asparagus in May and June and mushrooms from the valley in autumn. The terrace is a favorite for hikers passing through, as are the various snacks. Pros: friendly; quiet; good restaurant. Cons: remote; no elevator. | Rooms from: €95 | Krumlinden 13, 14 km (9 miles) southeast of Staufen | Münstertal | 07636/447 | | 11 rooms, 3 suites | Breakfast.


20 km (12 miles) northwest of Freiburg on B-31.

The southwesternmost corner of Germany, nestled on the borders of France and Switzerland is the Kaiserstuhl (Emperor’s Chair) region, a volcanic outcrop clothed in vineyards that produce some of Baden’s best wines—reds from the Spätburgunder grape and whites that have an uncanny depth. A third of Baden’s wines are produced in this single area, which has the warmest climate in Germany and some of the country’s most beautiful countryside. The especially dry and warm microclimate has given rise to a diversity of wildlife and vegetation, including sequoias and a wide variety of orchids, and dragonflies found nowhere else in the world.

Visitor Information
Kaiserstuhl Tourist-Information. | Rhine Tourist Information Office, Marktpl. 16 | Breisach | 07667/940-155 |


Breisach am Rhine.
The largest of several towns comprising the Kaiserstuhl region, Breisach am Rhine is a typical German village, with a cathedral atop a hill and an impressive city hall. The exceptional thing here is the views from the square beside the cathedral, which show the Black Forest to the east and France to the west (just beyond the River Rhine). It’s a sister city to the UNESCO-recognized Neuf-Breisach across the border and a beautiful stopover for many Rhine river cruises. | Breisach |

Geldermann Sektkellerei.
A wine cellar specializing in turning white wine into the sparkling white wine known as Sekt in German, this 600-year-old building with an arched eave basement was used as a bomb shelter during the war and adapted for the years-long in-bottle fermentation process. Tours are held every day at 2 pm. Arrive 30 minutes early to watch the DVD introduction in English. | Breisach | 07667/834-258 | | €4 | Nov.-Feb., weekdays 8-5:30, Sat. 9-1; Mar.-Oct., weekdays 8-5:30, also Sun. 1-5.

Officially founded in 1285, this small town in the center of the wine-growing Kaiserstuhl changed hands several times, most notably when it became a tributary to the Hapsburg Empire. This history is documented in the free Museum of Ancient Austria in the town’s tourist information center. Largely spared from the ravages of war, the town center still maintains timber-frame houses dating back to the 15th century that give it a quaint, traditional look, complemented by a series of churches within the city walls. | 07642/689-990 |

Weinbaumuseum (Wine Museum).
The fine little Weinbaumuseum is in a renovated barn in the center of the village of Vogtsburg. A small vineyard out front displays the various types of grapes used to make wine in the Kaiserstuhl region. | Schlossbergstr., Achkarren | Vogtsburg | 07662/81263 | €2 | Apr.-Oct., Wed.-Sat. 11-6.


Hotel Zur Krone.
$$ | B&B/INN | The building dates to 1561, and the Höfflin-Schüssler family, now in its fourth generation as hoteliers, knows how to make visitors feel welcome. You could spend an entire afternoon and evening here even if you don’t stay overnight in the comfortable guest rooms. Choose between the terrace or the dining room, trying the wines and enjoying, say, a fillet of wild salmon in a horseradish crust, a boar’s roast, or some lighter asparagus creation (in season). The restaurant is closed Wednesday and Thursday in winter. Pros: friendly; quiet. Cons: can feel remote. | Rooms from: €120 | Schlossbergstr. 15, Achkarren | Vogtsburg | 07662/93130 | | 23 rooms | Breakfast.

Posthotel Kreuz-Post.
$ | B&B/INN | Set right in the middle of the Kaiserstuhl vineyards, this somewhat plain but contemporarily furnished establishment has been in the hands of the Gehr family since its construction in 1809. The restaurant serves regional and French cuisines with the famous local wines, and the family-owned schnapps distillery can be visited. Pros: quiet. Cons: rural. | Rooms from: €95 | Landstr. 1, Burkheim | Vogtsburg | 07662/90910 | | 35 rooms | Breakfast.

Fodor’s Choice | Zollhaus.
$$ | HOTEL | A converted customs house, this design hotel only has four rooms but luxury to spare, and the interaction of modernity with old beams and exposed brickwork is very striking. Pros: quiet despite central location; friendly service; designer feel. Cons: only four rooms. | Rooms from: €109 | Hauptstr. 3 | 07642/920-2343 | | Closed 2 wks early Aug. | 4 rooms | Breakfast.


35 km (22 miles) north of Freiburg.

The town of Rust, on the Rhine almost halfway from Freiburg to Strasbourg, has a castle dating from 1577 and painstakingly restored half-timber houses. But its big claim to fame is Germany’s biggest amusement park, with its own autobahn exit.


Fodor’s Choice | Europa Park.
Covering 160 acres, Europa Park is the continent’s largest and busiest amusement park and one of Germany’s best-loved attractions. It has a wide array of shows and rides, among them the “Eurosat” to take you on a virtual journey past clusters of meteors and falling stars; the “Silver Star,” Europe’s highest roller coaster; a Spanish jousting tournament; and even a “4-D” movie in which you might get damp in the rain or be rocked by an earthquake. | Europa-Park-Str. 2 | 01805/776-688 | | €42.50 | Mid-July-mid. Sept., daily 9-8; Apr.-mid-July and mid-Sept.-Oct., daily 9-6; Dec.-mid-Jan., daily 11-7.


Hotel am Park.
$$ | HOTEL | This handy hotel, with a waterfall and a statue of a “friendly dragon” in the lobby, is just across the road from the entrance to Europa Park. It’s also only 300 yards from a nature preserve and swimming area, and guests can park there free. Knowing that a lot of park visitors will have their kids with them, the restaurant has set up its Casa Nova restaurant with pizza, pasta, and a play area. Its other restaurant, the Am Park, serves German cuisine. Pros: child-friendly; convenient for Europa Park. Cons: it can get noisy. | Rooms from: €110 | Austr. 1 | 07822/444-900 | | 47 rooms | Breakfast.