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Black Forest from Baden Baden

We will have a day and half in Baden Baden in May. What is the best way to see the Black Forest and where should we go? We have a rental car but should we take a train tour? I appreciate any suggestions. Thank you

Posted by
19166 posts

You have a day and a half in Baden-Baden and you want to spend some of that time in the Black Forest, or after that you want to spend some of your time in the Black Forest? How much time do you have for the Black Forest? Contrary to popular opinion, Baden-Baden is NOT the Black Forest.

Posted by
6787 posts

Lee's quite right - Baden-Baden is fairly distant from the core Black Forest area and not representative of BF culture at all, really. If you want to experience the real Black Forest towns, I would book instead in or near the central Black Forest - maybe Gutach, or Haslach, or Schiltach, or Gengenbach, all very attractive places where you should have no trouble finding accommodations. Train travel is free if you stay in these towns with the KONUS card. The above towns lie between Offenburg and Donaueschingen on or near the scenic Black Forest Railway, which sports double-decker trains like this one, great for sightseeing.

Map of Black Forest Railway and towns

KONUS card information

Gutach, by the way, is home to the very interesting Vogtsbauernhof open-air museum with dozens of historical buildings from this area.

Posted by
19166 posts

The IRE from Offenburg to Donaueschingen does not stop at the Open Air Museum. It only stops at Hausach and Hornberg. It's a 1-5/8 mile walk from Hausach to the museum. There are also buses from either Hausach or Hornberg. Starting in 2015, there will be an hourly "shuttle" train just between Hausach and Hornberg with a stop between them at the Museum.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you Russ and Lee. Our trip consist of 8 nights. We fly into Frankfort and plan to spend 4 nights in Heidelberg. 2 nights in Baden Baden and 2 in Lucerne. We will have a rental car in Germany and taking train to Lucerne. This is in May. The only thing sit in stone is our air.( Into to Frankfort and out of Zurich) so we are open any suggestions . There are 8 women in group. Half of us lived in Heidelberg as kids and always wanted to go back. Should we see the BF from Heidelberg? If we do stay in Baden Baden and have limited time for BF. What are the must see places?
I really appreciate your advice. Thank you

Posted by
16894 posts

Whether driving out from Baden-Baden or another overnight spot, I would certainly use your car around the Black Forest, for maximum freedom and because the train service there is somewhat limited.

Posted by
19166 posts

Although the rail network in the Schwarzwald is somewhat limited, it is augmented by a pretty extensive system of buses, and everything is already paid for by the KONUS card that comes with your lodging tax, whether you use it or not. If you can use the public transportation in the area, a rental car is just an unnecessary, added expense.

I've spent 24 nights in 6 trips in the northern Black Forest and made side trips to neighboring towns of interest, and I've never had trouble getting around by public transportation.

Posted by
6787 posts

8 women... We fly into Frankfort... 4 nights in Heidelberg. 2 nights in Baden Baden and 2 in Lucerne. We will have a rental car in Germany and taking train to Lucerne. This is in May. The only thing sit in stone is our air... we are open any suggestions.

This part of Germany and your Swiss destinations are wonderful and do-able in the time you have.

Baden-Baden: I would only target this city if you are seriously interested in spas, casinos, and high-end shopping. The Black Forest villages are much more scenic and charming.

Transportation for FRA - Heidelberg - Black Forest - Lucerne: My suggestion is to do all of this by train.
By car: Autoeurope, a offers a Mercedes Vito 9 passenger van with room for 8 suitcases. One week in May with insurance costs over $1600 plus gas, parking, tolls, etc. Then you would need to buy train tickets to Lucerne as well from your car drop-off point. So you'll no doubt be around $2000 or more if you rent.

By train: I took a quick look at DB (German Railways) prices. 8 adults can travel FRA to Heidelberg for about €80, from Heidelberg to wherever you like in the Black Forest for about €70, and from the Black Forest to Luzern for around €200. That's €350 or about $430. Then you have a day trip or two within the Black Forest (for free, as explained above.)

So you get an 80% discount on your transportation costs by choosing the train.

(Either way, you'll also be purchasing train tickets between Lucerne and Switzerland, of course. There are normally heavy discounts for advance purchase tickets at the Swiss Railways website called "Super Saver" fares.)

Is train travel in the Black Forest "somewhat limited"?? Not IMO. Trains are always limited to train tracks. But take a look at this sketch of the 16 rail lines that access and criss-cross the BF region. What matters is whether the train goes where you want to go in the Black Forest region. In my very old RS guidebook, Rick says "The region is best by car..." But then (almost) all the places he mentions or notes on his map in the BF chapter are served by train! Baden-Baden, Staufen, Freiburg, Titisee, Triberg, Freudenstadt, Hausach, Hinterzarten, Schiltach, Wolfach, Hornberg - all have stations. Gengenbach (which I mentioned previously) and some other BF towns RS overlooks (Haslach and Villingen, for example) are also very handsome and interesting places that are served by train. Unlike Lee, I haven't counted my days in the BF, but like him, I've traveled extensively on the very generous rail system there on numerous occasions. Trust me when I say you will have no trouble filling your 48 hours in the Black Forest with interesting places if you use the train.

If you do Germany by train, you will probably want to select accommodations you can reach on foot or with a short bus trip from the station.

If you want more details on trains and tickets, feel free to re-post or pm me. I'm sure Lee would be willing to help as well.

Posted by
19166 posts

I find that many major towns in the BF (particularly in the north) are on rail lines, but the terrain is fairly rugged and the tracks follow the valleys, so towns might be only 20 km apart but to go between them by train could take 100 km. However, there is likely a bus between them. I've spent a lot of time in Bad Herrenalb. From there I have made side trips to Baden-Baden, Bad Wildbad, Hirsau, and Calw. All were connected by train, but the bus was more direct. Anyway, a lot of time to get between them, I would have had to leave the KONUS zone and pay for the train ticket; the buses were faster and covered.

Calw is an interesting town, the hometown of Hermann Hesse. It's filled with Fachwerk buildings. Just down the Nagold River, Bad Liebenzell has a traditional Therme.

Posted by
32263 posts

yvj,

One other point to note about having a car in Baden Baden, is that you won't be able to drive into the town. Only Taxis and service vehicles are allowed. As I recall, there's a car park just outside the gates to the town, but I'm not sure of the costs (I took a Taxi from the station).