The Black Forest is a picturesque region of south western Germany which borders the Rhine Valley. The rolling hills of the area are covered in pine and fir forest and there are many attractive and historic towns and villages to explore. The region is easily reached by air from Basel/Mulhouse and Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden airports or by car from the A5 autobahn, a main artery through Germany. There is much to do and enjoy in the region which is popular with tourists from across Europe.
The Black Forest features several areas of outstanding natural beauty. Probably the best known natural wonder is the Treiberg Falls which is the most celebrated waterfall in the country. The waters of the Gutach River pour over 7 steps in the granite hillside from a height of 163 metres. There are three entrances to the site of the waterfall with great views afforded from the paths and footbridges especially at the lower end of the cascades. It is worth travelling to the south east of the region to visit the Wutach Gorge a spectacular 200 metre deep cut in the terrain which is surrounded by lush forest. There is a pleasant 13 km trail running through the gorge which is renowned for its rare plant life. Also worthy of a visit are lakes Titisee and Schluchsee where there are stunning panoramic views and the opportunity to try out some water sports.
For the thrill seekers for whom a visit to the Wutach Gorge is not enough there is the opportunity to visit Europa Park, Europe’s second most visited theme park, which is situated close the A5 autobahn next to the village of Rust. This park is themed for various European countries and offers a fine combination of thrill rides, roller coasters and family attractions in beautifully landscaped grounds. There is something for everyone here including woodland walks, an attractive lake and many rides for children. Coaster fans will love this place as it features the superlative rides, Blue Fire, Silver Star and Wodan amongst many others. The park has 5 excellent themed hotels and so provides an excellent base for exploring the entire region.
In the north of the Black Forest region you will find the historic spa town of Baden-Baden renowned for its natural springs. The town has been visited since Roman times because of the thermal springs but became really popular in the 19th century when it became a playground of the rich and famous. Both the springs and the famous Spielbank casino were big draws with Tolstoy and Queen Victoria both being visitors to the town. The modern day tourist can still relax at the spas and visit the casino and there are also the delights of the Lichtentaler Allee gardens to enjoy. Nearby it is possible to take a funicular railway to the top of the Merkur Mountain to take in some stunning views of the surrounding area.
Culture and Industry
The principle industry of the Black Forest is tourism but the region has a rich history of precision clock making which has now been combined with the local tradition of woodcarving to produce cuckoo clocks which are a popular tourist purchase. Mack Rides, owners of Europa Park are based in Waldkirch and are one of the world’s principle manufacturers of thrill rides and coasters. The region was also home to Rieker Shoes, makers of fine footwear, but they have now relocated to Switzerland.
The Black Forest certainly has plenty to offer the visitor and makes an excellent destination for a short break or longer stay. Beautiful countryside, pretty towns and a world class theme park make for a unique destination of great variety and then there is always the delicious cake named for the region!
Article by Sally Stacey who is a regular visitor to Europa Park