When I was little, I had a big picture book of fairy-tales from different countries. My favourite ones were about the Black Forest in Germany. Those were full of mystery, dwarves and some details, which seem like nothing special, when you read them, but later would stick in your mind and stay there for years. I would read and imagine waterfalls, pine trees, freshly cut wood and fogs over the valleys.
Later in life, long after I forgot about those fairy-tales, I found myself living right on the border with the Black Forest region. Of course, I could not resist the urge to travel there. When I first went there and saw it with my own eyes, I was surprised to discover, that it was almost exactly the way I imagined it is as a child. The forests, the waterfalls, the wood and the fog were all there.
I found that autumn is the time when this place is most fairy-tale like. Of course, summer and winter make it beautiful. But it is only in autumn, with the crowds gone, during the foggy mornings in the valley and evenings by the fireplace, you can experience the real soul of the Black Forest.
Table of Contents
- 1 1. Do a couple of day-long hikes
- 2 2. Visit a waterfall
- 3 3. Taste some local dishes
- 4 4. Smell and listen to the autumn forest
- 5 5. Have a Black Forest Cake in the middle of your hike
- 6 6. Stay in a hut or a family-run Bed & Breakfast
- 7 7. Taste local liquors
- 8 8. Have a stroll by the river or a brook
- 9 9. Visit a small town
- 10 10. Daydream and admire the autumn
- 11 Planning your trip to the Black Forest?
1. Do a couple of day-long hikes
If you look for the information on hikes in the Black Forest, Germany, you would find more details on long famous hikes, like Ostweg or Westweg. If you do not want to commit to a several day long hike just yet, but rather absorb and enjoy the region, a good idea is to take shorter hikes around the place you are staying.
You will see that there is not so much information about those in English on the internet. But Black Forest is all beautiful. Check a local tourist office to get a map, ask your host in the place where you are staying or simply walk to the nearest forest path and you will most likely see a sign post with several directions, marked in different colours. They will have distances on them as well, so just walk along and keep attention to the colour marks on the trees.
2. Visit a waterfall
Black Forest is famous for beautiful waterfalls. None of them will be as high as the waterfalls can be in the mountains, but they are still very scenic and worth visiting. A general tip to remember: the waterfalls are wet and splashy. If you are planning to take a walk next to it, do take some waterproof clothes with you.
Here are some you can consider for your visit:
Triberg Waterfalls are one of the highest in Germany with the descent of 163 meters. You can walk all the way up to the top of the waterfall and make a loop walk down again to the small town of Triberg. It is a very scenic place, and you can also have a nice meal and even buy some souvenirs there. For some more information on Triberg check out this detailed post.
Geroldsauer Wasserfalls is a much smaller, but still very scenic waterwall near Baden-Baden.
Some others worth visiting are Todtmoos Waterfalls, Sankenbach Waterfalls and Menzenschwand Waterfalls. The latter is also usually illuminated on the weekend from May to October.
3. Taste some local dishes
The typical thing on your menu will be game meat. It is a forest after all. For a side dish go for spätzle – a kind of noodles, made of eggs, flour and water. It is a kind of perfect dinner for an autumn evening after the hike. My friend and I had it next to a fire place in a small family-run restaurant in Oppenau with only locals being other customers.
Remember to order some local wine with your meal – they are really good as well! I heard that even from the French, and that means something.
Also get to try some Black Forest ham, known and liked across the Europe.
4. Smell and listen to the autumn forest
Summer in the Black Forest might be warmer and more popular with tourists. The waterfalls are fuller and more impressive in spring. Winter will attract many snow sports enthusiasts. But only in autumn you will feel this unique smell of the forest – wet fallen leaves, freshly cut wood and a bit of smoke.
Later autumn months are low season in the Black Forest, and to be honest this is my favourite time there. If you are not afraid of some rain and clouds, you will have a perfect experience of being on your own with the nature. We walked through the forest admiring the views and listening to the cow bells ring far away in the distance. And this rather un-exciting and un-eventful trip became one of the most memorable experiences I had when travelling.
5. Have a Black Forest Cake in the middle of your hike
Oh, this is a must! I’m sure you have heard of the Black Forest cake and probably even tasted it. And if it is something you like, you must absolutely come to the cake’s birthplace and try it the way it was intended to be. The cake is assembled of several layers and is a pure happiness of whipped cream, cherries and chocolate.
Of course, you are not really obliged to have it in the middle of your hike, you can also have it before or after. Or both. But for me it tasted the best after having already walked some 10 km and just before climbing up to the waterfalls. This way you are hungry enough to have this very generous portion they serve here. AND you can have it totally guilt-free, because you still know you will walk at least a part of it out.
6. Stay in a hut or a family-run Bed & Breakfast
There are just so many small cute huts and bed&breakfasts, so chose your location and pick the one you like best. During our stay in Oppenau we went for hikes around the area, and then would come back in the evening and enjoy a book downstairs. When it is a dark and rainy evening outside, it feels just perfect.
I would suggest also choosing an option with breakfast including. It is usually very tasty and generous and you will need it before a long hike.
7. Taste local liquors
The region is known not only for its wines, but also stronger drinks. Strong schnapps or sweet fruit and honey liqours – there are many options to chose from. This one is actually too sweet and not strong enough to keep me warm after getting almost soaked in the rain and walking next to the waterfalls (remember the tip on waterproof clothes – it actually comes from experience).
8. Have a stroll by the river or a brook
There are so many paths next to those rivers. Take a friend or your partner with you and take a walk together, admiring the local houses, small villages and beautiful views on the way. This will be the best bonding time for you – far from all the distractions and with a relaxing background sound of the water.
9. Visit a small town
There are many bigger or smaller ones to see in the Black Forest. Here are some ideas for you:
Baden-Baden is one of the bigger ones. It is best known for its spas, but also has a beautiful old town, some restaurants and luxury shops.
Freiburg or Gengenbach would be other options, if you are looking for slightly bigger towns. Triberg and Schiltach are smaller and look exactly like from a postcard or a fairy-tale book.
Whichever you chose, I’m sure you’ll find what to do there. Check some local activities, for example, a flea-market. They are amazing in Germany, and even more so in those small towns.
10. Daydream and admire the autumn
Hiking, eating, socialising and visiting the sights is of course very great. But sometimes it is also very important to do absolutely nothing, and Black Forest in autumn is absolutely perfect for this. Find a nice spot, a bench or just lie on the grass, look up or close your eyes and let your thoughts just flow. We are overstimulated in our daily life, and even if we go on holidays, there are usually so many exciting things to see and do.
But in this calm nature you can unwind for a moment and listen to yourself just a bit. Before the routines and the new adventures of daily life begin.
Planning your trip to the Black Forest?
You can reach the location from the nearby cities like Heidelberg, Baden-Baden, Frankfurt or Munich. It is on the opposite side of Germany from Berlin, but you might consider taking a low-cost flight from there to Karlsruhe.
If you are looking for a place to stay in the Black Forest, here are some tips on securing the best deals on Booking.com. And some deals for you to check out:
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54 thoughts on “10 Autumn Things To Do in the Black Forest”
Oh my goodness – all of this sounds so amazing, but I know it’ll be years before I get to do any of it. And red cabbage is quite possibly one of my favourite things to eat. Thank you for sharing your ideas xx
Red cabbage, really? 🙂 I hope you can visit the Black Forest soon then.
As for me these things are difficult. But they are so amazing
I’ve always wanted to visit here! your photos are stunning!!
Thank you so much!
You had me at waterfalls! The cake is just a bonus;)
The waterfalls are worth seeing! But the bonus is also good to have, right?
Hiking, waterfall, rivers, with cake on top too….this place sounds good. Even better that they have short hikes. Great read, thank you. I’ll pin this for future reference.
Yeah, the cake on top makes everything so much better, right? 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
This just sounds so amazing! Do you know why they call it the black forest? It sounds like such a magical yet daunting name don’t you think?
Good question! You actually made me look deeper into that myself. I always assumed it is because of the pine trees, which block most of the light, so it appears dark. Or because of the trees themselves – they look blue-ish black-ish. But I read now that the area was actually named that way already by the Romans because it was largely uninhabited. And the forest itself at that time was not black at all, but mostly mixed.
You make the Black Forest sound so enchanting! I love all these suggestions, especially the cake. YUM! The fact that you described waterfalls as wet and splashy I think is awesome haha
But they are! 😀 Thanks for the comment!
the Black Forest is legendary! I have never visited but would love to, especially after seeing your pictures 🙂
Thanks! It is really an amazing place. I hope you have a chance to go and see it for yourself.
Love the part about stopping for cake mid-hike! Haha great idea.
Yeah, it was our invention during the trips there. Otherwise it’s impossible to justify all those cake amount eaten on each trip. 🙂
I didn’t know the Black Forest was a real place. I have just added this place to my destinations in the near future! Wonderful photos!
This is the best feedback possible! 🙂 Hope you enjoy your trip! It’s a magical place.
I am currently loving posts that are an ode to autumn! I also loved those dark bewitching fairy tales as a child- I had a version of the more original, more sinister versions, unlike the disney-ified clean up ones. Probably gave me nightmares…
I love the photos from your hike, and your suggestion to go in border season! Adding this to the list of places I didn’t know I wanted to go… 🙂
That’s funny about the nightmares and fairy-tales. Now when I re-read or remember some of mine, they sound absolutely unsuitable for children. Like parents abandoning the children in the forest, and giants wanting to eat them, and all that. 🙂
I hope you make it there one day! For a dark fairy-tale lover it’s a must-visit!
I love the Black Forest and love this list of things to do. I will certainly consider them next time I go there!
I hope you make it there soon!
It sounds like you know how to plan a great trip! My husband and I take turns on our bucket list travel destinations, and last time we went to Peru (mine) so he’s up. Germany is at the top, so I’ll have to show him this!
Great system, I will tell my husband about it!
I LOVE forests and being outside around nature in general but this one looks special. Your list is incredibly thorough, well done on doing such a fantastic job in helping people really make the most of their time there! ?
Thanks a lot for this! I hoped I can share what I experienced there. I was lucky to live right on the boarder with the region and now I realise what a privileged position it was.
I love myself a long hike in the autumn air! There’s nothing better than hearing the leaves rustle and feeling the wind blow through your hair.
Right! And the cake by the fire-place after that 😉
The Black Forest looks stunning – truly is the perfect place for a fall getaway! I would definitely want to go there for the hikes, the views, and some of that delicious Black Forest Cake.
Yeah! There are not many places, which look as good in autumn as this one.
That looks picture-perfect and like a great way to unwind, relax and reflect.
It is, really!
Aw, I absolutely love this post! I’ve been to both Freiburg and Heidelberg but never spent any time in the Black Forest proper. I obviously need to get back and do some exploring!
Absolutely! I’m sure you’ll love it.
Ohh the Black Forest looks great in the autumn colors! I went there once in winter, it was all covered in snow and felt very special. I can imagine that it’s very special too when it’s low season and it’s possible to do day long hikes. I think I visited some of the small villages you mention but it was long back and I don’t remember… I should go back haha
Yeah, I sat down to write about it as well before I forget it! 🙂 And winter is lovely there as well!
Ive always fantasizes about the Black Forest and now I really want to go!!
I hope you make it there soon!
Great post! I’m planning a trip to Germany in autumn so this is very handy. The Black Forest looks like a great place to enjoy nature and the gorgeous fall colours. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Lucky you! I would love to go this year again, but have to wait.
I remember the first pic I saw of the Black Forest and how I thought it looked incredible. Not seen many posts on it so enjoyed this read 🙂
Thanks, Helena. I’m glad you liked it! When we planned our trip, we couldn’t find too much information about it in English either. But this place is sooo worth visiting!
Oh my gosh! That cake looked amazing. We missed this area on our last trip to Germany but I so want to go. Thanks for the advice about visiting in autumn!
Thanks Michelle! I hope you get to go there and also try the cake 😉
The Black Forest seems so picturesque and awe-inspiring, Merry! I would love to take a stroll there and enjoy the scenery. When’s the best time of the year to go there?
I went several times, and liked autumn the best. It is beautiful, not too cold and not too hot and much less crowded. But my friends really enjoyed summer and winter. And if you are a fan of waterfalls, spring is the best time to see them – they are the fullest at that time of the year.
Ah the waterfall idea is so great- it would be stunning!
Is it easy to visit the Black Forest without renting a car?
I would say it is definitely possible. I myself have only visited it without a car, but using public transport and hiking around. For sure you would have more flexibility with the car, but it is not a must-have there.
We are planning to visit Black forest to witness the fall colors. Which week in October would be ideal for fall colors?
Oh, it’s rather hard to say with those weather changes. So far it’s been rather warm, so I would say you might be able to see some nice colours even in the beginning of November. I myself am planning to go there first week of November, so keep my fingers crossed it will not get too cold by then.
Which month of the fall did you visit Blackforest?I am planning visit for the first time in October last week. I am not able to decide if the fall colour stays till that time.
Are there restaurants and hotels in the Black Forest or just around it? I thought it was all woods with no buildings or dwellings. Also, we had Black Forest cake near the Black Forest in Germany years ago, and it was inedible because it had so much alcohol. Does it ever have little to no alcohol? Thanks