Germany has a long-standing history of having a fairy-tale appeal, partly due to the Brothers Grimm. It’s home to some fantastic architecture and great preserved traditional towns and villages. The Black Forest itself is a forested mountain range in the state of Baden-Württemberg in the south-west of Germany. The Danube River originates here, as the Brigach and Breg converge. Not many of its original trees have been retained, since it faced massive deforestation in the 19th century which led to widescale replanting. That doesn’t detract from its appeal though… so book your car hire in Germany today and explore the Black Forest.
The Schluchsee Lake in the Black Forest region of Germany. Photo by: Zack Frank/Stock
When is the best time to visit the Black Forest?
The climate will vary from the surrounding countryside, with lower temperatures in the area and higher rainfall. The higher ground in the region will have regular year-round rainfall. You’ll see car hire in Germany peak around the summer holidays so if you’re looking to grab a bargain, make sure you book your car hire in advance, or travel in shoulder season (late spring or early autumn).
Activities in the Black Forest
The area is a tourism hotspot, providing a great deal of activities to satisfy a wide range of interests. If you enjoy being active, then tackle a climb of the highest peak, Feldberg, which stands at 1493 metres. There’s also the Herzogenhorn (1415m) and Belchen (1414m). Should you want to skip the hike to the peak of Feldberg, a cable car runs to the top so you don’t have to miss out on the views.
In the winter time, the ski resort attracts those keen to hit the slopes. Downhill and Nordic skiing are particularly popular.
There are numerous hiking trails through the forest, which can also be used for mountain biking. The total length of trails equates to 14,000 miles; that’s a lot of walking to be done! When hiking through the area, you’re in the chance of spotting the remains of 17th and 18th century military fortifications.
Lake Titisee. Photo by: amnach/Stock
Lake Titisee offers picturesque views year-round. Windsurfing, swimming and sailing are possible here. Swap the hire car for a boat and stay dry with a boat cruise around the lake. Alternatively, hire a boat to do the driving yourself. In winter, the lake completely freezes over so these options won’t be available. However, the addition of snow makes it look truly magical.
Schluchsee Lake is the largest in the Black Forest, having been manually deepened in 1930 following the creation of its dam. The water remains cool in summer due to its height above sea level; it’s the highest reservoir in Germany. The trails around here are more family-friendly as prams can be pushed along the shoreline. If you’re undecided on which lake to visit, Schluchsee is considered less commercial than Titisee.
Head to Gutach for a real sense of traditional life in the Black Forest. The Open Air Museum Vogtsbaurenhof contains some real farm houses, having deconstructed them in their original locations and re-built them here, according to the original layout. Guides will explain features of everyday life in the 16th and 17th centuries and explain how structures were built. There are also live demonstrations carried out so time your visit well to benefit from these. Pop in to the on-site workshop where you can see crafts being made and have them personalised for your loved ones back home.
Other stops that are worth putting on your itinerary include the remains of Saint Blasien Abbey, which now stands as the third-largest domed church in Europe north of the Alps. There’s also what’s left of Hirsau Abbey, once important during Benedictine times. It was not rebuilt following its destruction in the 1692 War of the Palatine Succession.
Hirsau Abbey. Photo by: Jurgen Wackenhut/Stock
If you’re partial to wine, take your hire car along the Badische Weinstraße (Baden Wine Street); a 99 mile stretch between Baden-Baden and Weil am Rhein. The route consists of high roads which offer incredible views, winding through pretty villages and connecting local wineries.
Germany’s highest waterfalls, the Triberg Waterfalls, are also worth noting, plunging 163 metres. Park your hire car in the town and head along the clear trails. They’re particularly breath-taking in the winter, bordered by pristine snow.
Top tip: If you’re planning to tick off several attractions during your time in the Black Forest, you may find it beneficial to purchase a SchwarzwaldCard which will entitle you to free or reduced admission to over 140 sites in the Black Forest. You can check on their website which attractions are covered by the card.
What is the Black Forest known for?
We know what you’re thinking…
Is the Black Forest home of the Black Forest gâteau?
Yep! But it’s not named after the region. Instead, it’s named for a liquor that originates here, a type of Morello cherry brandy (Schwarzwälder Kirsch).
The Black Forest was also a big producer of forest glass; a style of late medieval glass which was produced in glasshouses located in forests. Traditionally, these have a distinctive green-yellowish appearance in colour because of the iron levels in the materials used. Pay a visit to the Gersbach Forest and Glass Centre for more about its history, production and a chance to view original finds.
The region was big for mining and so many of the mines have been re-opened for the public to tour and gain an insight into this past industry. Only one mine remains operational in the Black Forest today.
Triberg Waterfalls. Photo by: Robert Schneider/Stock
The cuckoo clock is also believed to have originated in the Black Forest, although not proven, as wood carving was a common skill. They became very popular there during the 18th century. Today, you can take home your own, or purchase as a gift.
Although there’s a total of 17 Michelin star restaurants, only one has received the award every year since 1966. It’s the only restaurant in Germany that has retained the honour for this length of time. Indulge your taste buds at Schwarzwald Hotel Adler in Häusern.
It’s also the setting of and inspiration behind Hansel and Gretel’s abandonment from the classic Brothers Grimm fairy-tale.
Fairy-tale Germany: The German Fairy Tale Route
The Brothers Grimm were born in Hanau, a town in Hesse. They published the original collection of tales in 1812 and have become household names. From their hometown, you can take the signposted road trip with your hire car through Steinau, Marburg, and Kassel, stopping to visit the significant attractions that play a role in Germany’s fairy-tale background. In Kassel, you can view the original 1812 manuscript, listed on the UNESCO World Document Heritage List since 2005.
In Alsfeld, pop into the half-timbered house from 1628 known as the Fairy Tale House. Each room is decorated with a theme from a different fairy-tale. The second floor is filled with dolls and in a separate room, you can pay to experience storytelling of a traditional tale.
Further along the trail, you’ll enter Bad Wildungen. It’s said that the daughter of the Count was inspiration for Snow White. Margaretha von Waldeck was poisoned at the age of 21 during the 16th century. Nearby village Bergfreiheit has the Snow White House where you can discover the origins of the story and the inspiration behind it.
Travel during mid-May to mid-September and you may be able to catch the open-air performance of the Pied Piper that’s put on every Sunday at midday in Hameln.
Brothers Grimm statue outside the town hall in Hanau. Photo by: Robert Schneider/Stock
Discover your own fairy-tale Germany
Have you travelled to the Black Forest before or visited some of the Brothers Grimm destinations? Are you putting an itinerary together for a trip this year? Let us know in the comments below.
Grab a quote for your Germany car hire today.
Written by Jessica Juby.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Want our blogs emailed direct to you? Sign up below to get updates featuring our blogs and car hire top tips. Receive the best deals on car hire straight to your inbox.