This is part of our 2017 TalesOnRail Artist in Residence series, where we took two writers — one American and one Australian — through Germany and Switzerland by train. Follow along with our web series on Facebook or YouTube — new episodes air every week.
Did you know that there are about 20,000 castles in Germany? This is probably why the country has served as the inspiration and setting for so many beloved fairy tales. And that’s why we thought it would be the perfect setting for our 2nd annual TalesOnRail Artist in Residence train trip! One of the most magical places in Germany is of course the Black Forest region, which has directly inspired certain fairy tales, fables, and that famous Black Forest cake. And so here it is: our guide to the ultimate Black Forest itinerary!
Freiburg: Capital of the Black Forest Region
We based ourselves in Freiburg, a tiny, picturesque city that is perfect as a main base for exploring the rest of the Black Forest. Freiburg is small but lively: there is a university in town, so much of the population is young and the nightlife is good. DB trains connect Freiburg to many of the larger nearby cities in Germany if you’re coming or going from somewhere else: about 2 hours from Frankfurt or Stuttgart and about 4.5 hours from Munich.
There is also a scenic train route that travelers can pick up in Freiburg: the Höllentalbahn, which takes travelers between all of the smaller Black Forest towns that the larger trains do not service. This scenic train is covered by a German Rail Pass!
Black Forest Cake: Just Trust Us, This Stuff is Good
We were excited about the Black Forest scenery, the history, the culture, the food — but let’s be honest, a true highlight for us was the Black Forest cake. We indulged ourselves at the end of a long day that began with a 550am train ride and ended with a cruise around Lake Titisee, and we were not disappointed. The cake’s most important ingredient is kirsch — a cherry flavored liqueur. We had some extra kirsch to drink on the side — don’t judge us.
Cable Car Ride Up To Feldburg
Feldburg is a short hop away on the train from Freiburg. Your German Rail Pass will cover that trip. Feldburg is a popular stop in the wintertime for skiiers, and it’s a popular stop in the summertime for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. We took the cable car up the hill and were rewarded with a stunning view over the whole area — you truly get a sense of the “forest” part of Black Forest from up there. It was cold, so if you head up there in the winter or fall, bring gloves!
This would be a great activity for kids & families, and there is a whole family-friendly activity area at the base of the cable car as well.
Lunchtime at St Wilhelmer Hutte
One of our favorite meals of the whole TalesOnRail trip took place at St Wilhelmer Hutte, which is literally in the middle of the forest. It’s a family owned restaurant that has been in operation for over 100 years, and the decor is cozy and the food is incredible. We had traditional schnitzel, typical fare for the region. The family’s adorable dog also kept us company while we ate!
For more Black Forest Itinerary tips, check out Episode 3 of our TalesOnRail Artist in Residence series. New episodes air weekly on our Facebook page.