Calling to mind countless Hollywood "forbidden forests," Germany's Black Forest is bounded by myth and legend. It is the country's largest forested mountain range close to France and Switzerland. The Black Forest - also known as the "Schwarzwald" in German is the source of Europe's mighty Danube as well as the Neckar river.

If one gets the chance while in Europe, go for a cruise on the beautiful blue Danube and cruise through famous European cities like Budapest and Vienna. The Black Forest is in the historical region of Swabia of Germany, like Bavaria today, they boast their own identity and numerous iconic traditions. Bavaria is the region famous for its Oktoberfest - which everyone should attend at least once.


What To Know About The Black Forest

The highest peak of the Black Forest is Feldberg which rises to an elevation of 1,493 meters (4,898 ft) and the whole range runs in a roughly oblong shape.

  • Largest: One Of the Largest Forested Mountain Ranges In Germany
  • Length: 160 Km or 100 miles
  • Breadth: 50 km or 30 miles
  • Size: 6,009 km2 (2,320 sq mi).

The times of walking into a wicked witch, huntsman, or enchantress seem to be over. While the forest is steeped in history, today they are a top tourist destination for Germans. They are a mountain where one can find ruined military fortifications from different areas (like the Baroque fortifications from the 17th century).

  • German Name: Schwarzwald

The name "Schwarzwald" or "Black Forest" in English stems from its dark canopy of evergreens. Historically the Black Forest was actually a mixed forest with both deciduous trees and firs. But much of the forest was cut down in the 19th century and has since been replanted in spruce monocultures. The region is characterized by deeply carved valleys, thick woodlands, meadows, and timber farmhouses.

Related: Germany’s Small Towns Will Have You Skipping Out Any Big-City Vacation

Things To Do In The Black Forest

As one might expect, the Black Forest is packed with historic towns and popular tourist destinations like Baden-Baden, Freiburg, Calw, Gengenbach, Staufen, and others. Other places include mountains like Feldberg and Kandel as well as the Titisee and Schluchsee lakes. There are also waterfalls and historic cottages to explore in the forest.

  • Tip: Check Out The Many Historic Towns In The Black Forest

Historically the region was an important mining location (since medieval times) and many of these mines have opened to the public - there are mines to be visited in the Kinzig valley, the Suggental, the Muenster valley, and around Todtmoos.

There are many miles of forested trails throughout the forest with some of the more notable trails being the West Way (Westweg), and the Dornstetten Barefoot Park (Barfußpark Dornstetten). There are far too many hiking, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing trails to list out here. In total the network of tracks is around 14,000 miles long. It is impossible to list them all out here so consult a Black Forest brochure before going.

  • Trails: A Network Of Around 14,000 Miles Of Trails

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The Black Forest House

Called the "Schwarzwaldhaus" in German, the Black Forest House is a distinctive type of house found in the black forest region. It is a byre-dwelling (a house with living quarters and space for the animals under one roof). They are found mostly in the central and southern parts of the Black Forest and are well suited to the conditions of the Black Forest.

  • Farmhouse: The Black Forest Has Its Known Kind Of Style of Farmhouse

They are characterized by a long hipped or half-hipped roof descending all the way down to the height of the ground floor. Some of these farmhouses (like Hierahof near Kappel) are over 400 years old.

Perhaps the best place to see the historic farming architecture of the Black Forest is at the Black Forest Open Air Museum. At the heart of the museum is the Vogtsbauernhof farmhouse dating from 1612 (it was also built on this site).

The museum has a number of other buildings as well that have been dismantled and transported to the site and then reassembled. Today it has six fully furnished farmhouses to explore. The museum collects and preserves heritage from all around the Black Forest for future generations and offers a great window into the Black Forest's past.

  • Season: 27th of March to 6th of November
  • Opening Hours: Daily from 9 am to 6 pm
  • Adults: 10 Euros ($11.00)