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Black Forest (3 nights)

Hi Everyone! We will be in the Black Forest (4 adults, age 30 - 35) from 30 April - 3 May 2019. We will base ourselves in Gengenbach for the 3 nights. We want to explore beautiful black forest towns and so a scenic short hike, eat black forest cake, see some cuckoo clocks, take a scenic train / bus ride. Perhaps hop over the border to Colmar or Strasbourg. Any tips or recommendations for our short stay in BF? Not really interested in the museums.

KONUS CARD: I mailed our accommodation with regards to the KONUS card and he responded as follow: "You have to pay for the Konus Card when you arrive . Its Euro 36,80. the Konus Card is like a Tourismus Tax . Its only to pay for adults. For 4 adults you have to pay Euro 36,80 . With the Konus Card can you drive by train or bus for low"

Is this the case, I though the card was completely free?

Posted by
4568 posts

Here's how I understand it... In Germany, if there is a "bed tax" (German wording) in a given community, ALL innkeepers are charged this tax for every guest. (This is similar to the ADDITIONAL tax you pay in the USA when you stay somewhere - sales tax might be 8% in the first place, but you are charged, say 10% or 11% because your innkeeper has to pay an additional hotel tax. In Germany you pay the MwSt tax, included in the price, + the bed tax, normally included in the price.) It's the same in the Black Forest... whether you use the KONUS card or not, all innkeepers pay this tax, and they recover it from guests. What's different in the Black Forest is that you get a free KONUS rail ticket and discount card for the duration of your stay. If you were staying the city of Freiburg (no KONUS card there) or elsewhere in Germany, you'd still pay the local tourist there tax and get no KONUS card. So that's how the KONUS card is free.

I assume the innkeeper obeys tax law and is saying you have to pay the €36.80 tax no matter what (and that it's either included in the price or not...) no matter your interest in the KONUS card. (Or perhaps he/she is toiling in the shadows and not actually reporting income or paying the local tax - unless someone wants a KONUS card, ???)

You can contact the tourism offices to clarify:
Black Forest Tourism:
Gengenbach Office:

bigtyke and I and several others have made many BF travel suggestions - have a look through the old posts here.

Posted by
21625 posts

I think that Russ has, as always, given a good definition of the situation.

I also think that perhaps there may be a touch of German/English mistranslation or misunderstanding.

Around €4 pp pn is about right for a tourist tax anywhere, so the amount sounds right - but the host explanation doesn't.

I'm guessing that you are dealing with an owner who is not a normal hotel front desk? Is that right - maybe an apartment or similar?

I have never seen the KONUS broken out as a separate charge - it is always part of the bill. And you have to pay in advance? I wonder if the person just provides a KONUS card when tackled about it and pockets the unreported money otherwise - easier for a so called "friends helping friends" or "sharing economy" arrangement than for a brick and mortar hotel.

I wonder what other surprises this person has in store for you?

The other statement by them that is puzzling is, "With the Konus Card can you drive by train or bus for low". Again, something lost in translation? Within the KONUS area in the state of B-W buses are free and regional trains are free with a KONUS card. As far as I know there is no discount on higher grade IC or ICE trains. There are very small discounts on swimming pools, and several attractions. That what I interpret "for low" to mean.

Either they have translation difficulties, don't know what they are talking about (possible if a non-hotelier (a friends, say) is translating for a hotelier who has no English), or are imaginative with their tax reporting. I don't know which....

Posted by
4568 posts

"I have never seen the KONUS broken out as a separate charge..."

Once, upon arrival at a private B&B in Bad Liebenzell... the bed tax was wasn't notated or mentioned by the innkeeper as included or not included, so I paid my overnight fee and assumed the tax was included as always... then I said I wanted a KONUS card... only then was I told to pay my tax, and NOT to the innkeeper but separately at the TI office and to get my KONUS card there! The TI office staff person just shook her head as she helped me... Occasionally they have elderly innkeepers who just don't understand stuff or insist on doing it the way they did it 40 or 50 years ago... that was her explanation. (Or maybe my innkeeper resents the taxation, or resents the KONUS paperwork, and just refuses to participate, maybe never reporting overnight stays at all - and either pockets a tax she includes in her fee, or doesn't collect the tax at all.) So who knows? Maybe I paid my tax twice, or maybe just once.

This was the one and only oddball KONUS experience I've ever had. Everything else was by the book.

Posted by
45 posts

I stayed at a Pension in Gengenbach (and highly recommend it) and they did not charge me a separate fee for the Konus Card. The lodging can be found at this website: I traveled alone and this lodging is just for 1 or 2 people (only 1 bed). I don't know if there might be some other Pension close by to use as well. I was there this past October and it was great to use the Konus Card to explore the area and Gengenbach is a wonderful little town that I enjoyed spending time in as well. I ate Black Forest Cake at Cafe Schafer in Triberg which says they have the original recipe. It was very good - but I felt a bit tipsy after eating it!! I did walk up the waterfalls in Triberg and there is a nice roundtrip hike I recommend for views of the falls and town. I also went to the open air museum in Gutach (Vogtsbauernhof Museum) and felt it was well worth it to see the old buildings and old way of life.