The Black Forest, or Schwarzwald as the Germans call it, is one of Germany’s leading tourist destinations and one of the most fascinating, colorful and diverse forests in the world. The main interest in this area, as its name implies, is nature and landscapes.
In your trip through the Black Forest, you’ll see picturesque cities and villages, folklore, lakes and a lot of cuckoo clocks – the Black Forest is famous for making cuckoo clocks and across the region you will encounter countless such workshops. This will undoubtedly be the best souvenir you can bring from the area.
The cities of Baden-Baden and Freiburg are the main and most beautiful cities in the region, while the most beautiful lakes here are Titisee and Lake Constance, not far away. In this itinerary, we chose one of each.
The Black Forest is wonderful for a trip of several days (in our opinion at least 5 full days) and it is definitely a great destination for a family vacation.
Arrival and transportation
the Black Forest is located in southwest Germany and borders Switzerland and France. The international airports adjacent to the region are located in Frankfurt (Germany), Strasbourg (France) and Basel (Switzerland). Another option is to fly to Munich further away, especially if you want to combine a trip to the Bavarian region.
In the Black Forest, the most convenient way to travel is in a rented car. This makes it possible to reach all the small villages and the charming corners that can’t be reached by public transportation.
You can also settle in Freiburg and take a bus to various sites in the area, but this you’ll miss a large part of the rural experience of the Black Forest.
When to arrive to the Black Forest?
In April, the forest is mostly green, and most of the snow has already melted, except perhaps in the high peaks.
May and June are good months for a traveling the Black Forest as nature is awakening and the crowds have not yet arrived.
The summer (July-August) is also a pleasant season to visit, although it is usually crowded with tourists. Of course with the proper organization (pre-booking flights, accommodation, and a car) it is possible to travel in the summertime too. If you come in the summer, preferably arrive in early July, since most local schools are still active therefore local tourism is not as high as in August.
At the beginning of October, temperatures fall to an average of 14 degrees, which is cool but pleasant to travel if you come with appropriate clothing.
In November until the end of March, it is less recommended to arrive. The forest is not really green, there is snow in many places and most of the outdoor attractions are closed.
Where to sleep?
The cheapest option, which also allows the best absorption of the atmosphere of the region, is accommodation in boarding houses, in guesthouses or farms in the villages. Another option is vacation apartments. The apartments are usually spacious, fully equipped, making them a perfect solution for families.
Families can choose the convenient option of holiday villages, which offer accommodation in spacious and designed villas.
The more expensive but luxurious lodging option, which is suitable for couples, is accommodation in the many spa hotels in the area.
It is very convenient to book one place to sleep in, and from there to go on a “star trip”, which means every day go out and explore a different area and at the end of the day go back to the same place.
Below there is a map showing all points of interest of this itinerary. You can use it to choose a place to stay at the area more or less in the middle of all the points.
Day 1 - Freiburg, Schauinsland and Park For The Senses
Freiburg is the capital of the Black Forest, a beautiful and vibrant university town with plenty of cafes, restaurants and entertainment venues. In the ancient center of the city, there are narrow streets full of charm. At the old city you will encounter the great Gothic cathedral that was built in the 12th century.
The city’s distinguishing features are the Bächle, which are narrow water channels that flow along the city streets, and the mosaics at the entrance of each shop on the pavement.
Parking: Auf der Zinnen 1, 79098 Freiburg im Breisgau
The old city center
With its vibrant market, historic towers, the Bächle (the waterways that flow through the streets) and the alleys, the old city of Freiburg has a unique atmosphere.
The stunning Munster
A Roman/Gothic cathedral that rises to a height of 116 meters. The monastery is considered one of the most beautiful in Christianity and its square tower is decorated at the bottom with magnificent sculptures depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments.
At its top, you can enjoy stunning views. When entering the monastery you cannot help admiring the stained-glass windows. You can check their opening hours in this link.
Address: Herrenstraße 36, Freiburg
Every day (except Sundays), the Cathedral Square offers a colorful local market, with a wide range of fruits and vegetables, cheeses, sausages, souvenirs, gifts and a variety of handmade items (open from 8:00 to 14:00).
When you walk around the old city, do not forget to look down on the pavements (and often in the front of the shops), you will see the many mosaics, as mentioned. A diamond mosaic symbolizes a jewelry shop, a mosaic of a cow the butcher and so on. Be careful not to stumble on the Bächle .
The longest cable car in the world in Schauinsland
Mount Shunsland is 1248 meters high and is reached by the longest cable car in the world! The length of the ride is about 20 minutes in each direction. The views from the cabins are very impressive.
At the top cable car station, there is a coffee shop/restaurant for those who want to sit and watch the scenery, hiking trails and a small playground.
park for the senses (Park mit Allen Sinnen)
Park mit Allen Sinnen is such a different and enjoyable attraction. This park has a number of trails, based on the idea of walking barefoot on different natural materials. You’ll walk in mud puddles, on grass, sand, gravel and more. Throughout this 2 km route you will come across sensory stations for smell and touch.
If you or your kids don’t want to go barefoot that is fine, there is a regular parallel trail so they can still enjoy the hiking and stay close to the each other.
This is an amazing experience for children and families who want to be excited by the simplicity of nature. At the entrance, you should put your shoes in the locker and at the end, there is a place to wash your feet of course. Check out their opening hours here.
Address: Hauptstrasse 95 Gutach-Schwarzwaldbahn
Day 2 - Lake Titisee and Badeparadies water Park
Located south of Freiburg, lake Titisee is one of the most spectacular lakes in the Black Forest, and also the most touristy of all. Surrounded by forests, the lake is a wonderful area for recreation, with the possibility of bathing, sailing, and hiking.
Although the lake is not too big, you will find plenty of attractions. A popular option is to embark on a boat ride of about half an hour. Other options are to rent paddle boats or an independent sailing boat.
If you want to explore the surroundings of the lake, you can walk on the beautiful promenade or even choose the route that surrounds the entire lake. In both cases, it is likely to encounter quite a few ducks and swans. On one side of the promenade, there are many restaurants and shops.
Not far from the lake there is a nice climbing park for families with kids. You can visit there website here for more information.
Parking: parksrasse 79822
Badeparadies Schwarzwald (Water Park)
The Badeparadies Schwarzwald is a large and exciting indoor water park. This place is so much fun! It has plenty of water attractions for the whole family.
In the park you will find three different entertainment areas:
1. The tropical area – Palm Oasis – includes a large pool surrounded by palm trees, in the center of the pool there is a bar and around it many relaxation areas and a bar/restaurant. From the pool, you can go to the outside of Bud Paradise, which has a number of hot tub areas. Entry from age 16 and up.
2. Galaxy – This is a special area for families, which includes more than 25 facilities, including 20 very water slides, a children’s pool, a wave pool and more.
3. Wellness Oasis – The entrance is from the age of 16 only. The reason is that the entrance is completely nude with a towel. There are several saunas here in a wide temperature range, an outdoor recreation area, free cold drinks, relaxing beds, and a small drink bar. Everything is hidden from the rest of the compounds.
Payment is based on the time of stay, everything is done with the electronic bracelet and at the end, you get the bill.
Day 3 - Strasbourg
Strasbourg, the capital of the Alsace region (France), is a prosperous, beautiful and modern city that has in it one of the most beautiful cathedrals in France. It also has one of the oldest universities in the country and one of the most important centers of government in Europe. So if you are in the eastern part of France (or in the western part of Germany) – it is definitely worth planning a visit to Strasbourg.
Parking: Guttemberg parking lot, Place Gutenberg, 67000 Strasbourg.
or: Place d’Austerlitz parking, Rue des Bœufs, 67000 Strasbourg.
If you would like to explore the city in a different way (with less walking) you can take the mini tram. The train departs from the south side of the cathedral at the place du chateau every half hour.
An impressive Gothic cathedral, with an impressive 142-meter turret, astronomical clock and many other decorations, some say it can be seen from any point in the city.
Around the cathedral there are other impressive buildings such as the Palais Rohan, the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of the Arts and more.
Amorino ice cream
A very tasty and popular ice cream near the cathedral:
Amorino, 11 Rue Merciere, 67000 Strasbourg
The Petite France quarter (little France)
A world heritage site and one of the most beautiful quarters in Strasbourg if not the most beautiful of them. The quarter is a picturesque quarter characterized by houses with wooden beams located on the banks of the river. By the way, the name of Little France was given to a place named after a hospice that operated there in the 15th century.
The main square of Strasbourg named after General Kalber. This is a large square where you can find many shops, Christmas markets (in season), impressive buildings, cafes and more.
A square named after the famous revolutionary father Johan Gutenberg. The square is usually the end point for travelers in the area, in the square you can admire the buildings, eat a light meal, drink coffee or just rest a little and enjoy the atmosphere.
Place de la République Garden
The square located at the beginning of the new area of Strasbourg, the square is a large public park around which you can find major buildings such as the National University Library, the National Theater, the Palace of the Rhine and other impressive buildings.
Sailing and canals
This was one of the highlights in our day at Strasburg. We took the Batorama boat, in which you’re sailing in a glass boat and passing through major points of interest in the city.
Le Vaisseau science museum
A science museum located in Strasbourg, offers interactive and interesting exhibits. The children will be able to move and explore things with great pleasure.
More suitable for those who are visiting for a few days in the area or need to insert a children’s activity to that day.
Address: 1 Bis Rue Philippe Dollinger, 67100 Strasbourg
Day 4 - Mulhouse’s Automobile Museum, colmar and Riquewihr
Automobile Museum in Mulhouse
The world’s largest car museum, the Cite De L’Automobile Mulhouse, has a former private collection of the Swiss brothers Schlumpf with over 400 models of classic, luxury and racing cars that reflect the history of cars. The collection is divided into 3 different time periods, from 1878 to 1920, from 1920 to 1950, and from 1950 to the modern period.
The interactive museum includes animations, simulators (for example a car overturn), demos (for example a Peugeot production line) and videos. Among others you will find the Bugatti Royal, Rolls Royce and Ferrari models.
The museum has a free iPhone / Android application that provides a guided tour of the museum, a map of orientation and general information. It is also possible to download from the museum an audio guide in MP3 format and listen to the explanation on the phone or take a free voice guide device.
For children aged 7-12, the museum offers a free activity booklet. There is a souvenir shop, a restaurant, a cafeteria (very good and cheap), a coffee shop and children’s play area, and free Wi-Fi. Enjoyment is guaranteed to everyone, whether you like cars or not. An hour and a half to two hours.
If you’re interested, there is also a railway museum, the Cite du Train, which is also considered the largest of its kind in the world. Here you will find, not surprisingly, trains from different periods – an equally great experience for the children.
The city, which thrived in the distant past, is considered a popular tourist destination due to its ancient buildings, some of which tell its own historical story. A visit to the ancient part of the city is a must visit, due in part to the combination of Gothic-style buildings and those typical of Alsatian style, such as light colors and colorful flower boxes.
A unique attraction the city offers is its river cruise, which passes through its various sites and introduces travelers to the city from a different angle.
Another way to travel in the city is by the tourist train, which passes through its important centers of interest with explanations in various languages (headphones).
There is the white train, which runs 7 km, including the exit to the vineyards outside the town (45 minutes) and the green train that circulates in the Old City.
You will also find the Toy Museum in the city, where a collection of dolls, toy cars, mechanical toys and a particularly impressive collection of toy trains.
Riquewihr is a lively town filled with ancient houses from the 16th century. In its center is the town hall, and you can stroll through the main street called De Gaulle where you’ll pass beautiful alleys, and lovely coffee shops.
Riquewihr is a 1-hour drive from Strasbourg. It has great bakeries, the smells of fresh pastries that reach every corner of it, and its enchanting atmosphere makes it a worthwhile destination, even if you are traveling with children. You can take the opportunity for a light lunch or picnic around. Wine lovers will find many wine shops in the village, which is actually part of the Alsace wine route.
Day 5 - open museum, triberg and the clocks museum
The Open Museum (Schwarzwälder Freilichtmuseum Vogtsbauernhof)
The open museum is one of the most famous attractions in the Black Forest. It belongs to the open museum genre, which presents the ancient village life in a true setting, most of which is exhibited in nature.
In the museum you can see and experience the life that took place in the Black Forest region 400 years ago. You can wander among country farms and agricultural tools, flour mills and ancient buildings. You will be impressed by the internal structure of the houses and a number of business houses that operated in the past, such as: a glassblowing house, an iron casting house and more.
The museum is built in the agricultural village of Vogtbauernhof, which dates back to 1570. There are also some lovely workshops for children.
The Triberg Falls
The Triberg falls are one of the most beautiful natural sites in the Black Forest. The Triberg Falls have three entrances. The recommended entrance is the lower one, through the town itself. It makes it possible to combine a visit to the town (which is known as the capital of the Black Forest cuckoo clocks) and a fairly easy route up to the falls. The other two entrances are through the forest (middle entrance and upper entrance) and will require payment.
In the falls you can choose one of three hiking trails:
The yellow route – a simple and short route that lasts less than an hour.It takes you from the lower entrance to the falls and back.
The Red Route – At the observation point that reaches the Yellow Route, you can continue to another track to Lake Berg. On the way you will find a rope park (described below).
The green route – a ring path and a little longer one (about an hour and a half) that passes from the falls to the depth of the forest.
The park offers challenging facilities with different climbing tracks in various levels. This activity is suitable for children age 8 and up. You should arrive there with sturdy shoes and comfortable clothing.
The Clock Museum
The Black Forest is characterized by the symbol of the cuckoo clock, which decorates every house and hotel. In the museum building in the town of Furtwangen, there are more than 8,000 items, including 2,500 clocks from around the world. You can see there cuckoo clocks, musical clocks, old giant clocks, which are operated by special handles, antique music boxes and more. (Www.deutsches-uhrenmuseum.de/start.html).
Day 6 - Park Europe
Park Europa is the most famous amusement park in the Black Forest area, with plenty of facilities for all ages. It is recommended to visit the park for a whole day, from morning to evening, in order to take advantage of all its activities and attractions. The uniqueness of the park is its division into European countries, so that each part is built and characterized by the specific country influence. Don’t miss it!
Day 7 - Todtnau and The Witch's Hole Mill
Hasenhorn Mountain Coaster in Todtnau
One of the most popular attractions in the Black Forest – this is a mountain coaster, which stretches for about three kilometers and ensures a winding and adventurous journey into the green valley. You arrive at the starting point with a cable car and the way down is done by sliding in high speed through the beautiful green nature.
The area also has walking trails suitable for the whole family.
The facility operates throughout the year, but depends on the weather. In thunderstorms or frosts it’s inactive. In the winter it is recommended to check their site if the slides are active before arriving.
Children can slide alone from the age of eight and up and at least 1.40 meters high. Otherwise, they will need to ride with an adult.
Tip: Before you start sliding, make sure that the visitor before you is far enough away that you do not have to stop in the middle.
Very close to the town of Todtnau and the mountain coaster is this natural pearl of Todtnau Falls, an impressive and high waterfall that is really worth the visit. There is free parking, a small cafe and a souvenir shop. A short walk of 700 meters leads up to the foot of the waterfall where there are benches where you can sit or lie and enjoy the scenery and the sound of the water. Here you can come with a cart, for those who want to hike a little more, walk up the path with stairs up to the top of the waterfall (not suitable for a cart), where there is another hidden waterfall that is not visible from below. At its feet there is a natural pool and a spectacular view. You can go back either the same way or in the longer route.
the witch’s hole mill (Hexenlochmuehle )
One of the most famous and beautiful trails in the Black Forest is the Hexenlochmuehle (the witch’s hole mill). To reach it, drive on Route 500 to the north (towards Treiberg) and a little after the village of Glashutte you can see signs for the place. This is a walking trail in a beautiful fairy forest, at the end of which lies an old wooden house with a water mill. Here you will find a restaurant and a souvenir shop with cuckoo clocks and wooden dolls.
The Black Forest is one of the most beautiful travel destinations if you want to explore the rural and least urban side of Europe. The Black Forest is especially suited for families, mainly because of the high level of tourist services, the ease of traveling by a rental car on the good roads, the variety of vacation apartments and the many attractions. We hope you liked our suggestions for this itinerary. If you have comments or other points of interest to suggest, please write them in the comments.