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When the temperature drops, the Black Forest changes from an impenetrable pine forest into a winter wonderland. Snowflakes gently cover the many castles, lakes and forests of this area with a small layer of magic. No wonder this is a land where myths and legends come to life.
The inhabitants of the Schwarzwald in Germany are proud of their beliefs and traditions. The enchanting landscape combined with the famous German Gründlichkeit make this a prime spot for an active winter holiday.
Schnitzel and Wurst with Pommes frites are widely available, everything is clean and the Mädel dress in traditional costume. There is plenty to do, both indoors and outdoors. All in all, an ideal family winter destination.
Winter holiday in the Black Forest
Skiing in the Schwarzwald
The main ski resort of the Black Forest is in Feldberg. The slopes here peak at an altitude of 1,450 meters.
Although the Feldberg snowpark is relatively small, it does have something for everyone. The three black, seven red and five blue runs ensure that beginners, as well as experienced skiers, have plenty to choose from. The longest run is the three-kilometre blue slope Rothaus.
The twenty-five kilometres of slopes are served by five chairlifts and eleven T-bar lifts. The chairlifts are comfortable, with a soft lining and a bubble dome that protects skiers from wind and snow. Even in high season (Carnival, Christmas) when winter tourism is at its peak, the queues at the lifts are manageable.
The website Liftverbund Feldberg has webcams and useful information about snow conditions, lifts and slopes. The area has a wide choice of ski rental places. Our skis came from “Sports School on Snow” in Feldberg, August Euler Platz 5.
Skis, boots, poles and helmets are part of the standard equipment. For a small fee, you can rent a ski mask as well.
Feldberg has a large parking garage: it is free for skiers with a ski pass, users of the Hochschwarzwaldcard pay four euros for 24 hours. The parking garage also has a ski storage facility.
But there’s more, with one ski pass you can use 38 lifts and 63 kilometres of slopes spread over eight areas in the Black Forest. Altglashütten, Menzenschwand, Muggenbrunn, Todtnauberg, Notschrei, Belchen and Stollenbach are all included in the same ticket.
- The ski area in Menzenschwand has three lifts and 3.9 km of slopes. This area is particularly suitable for beginners and children. When only using the Rehbachlift, a day pass costs just eight euros.
- Belchenbahn has a gondola, which also runs outside the ski season.
- Todtnauberg is more suitable for advanced skiers. This area has 16 red runs and six lifts.
A day ticket for an adult costs 35 euros, but if you are using the Hochschwarzwald (see the bottom of the page) the use of ski lifts is free.
If you do not like skiing, no problem. There are plenty of other options, such as hiking in the mountains, a wellness treatment in one of the spas or cross-country skiing.
The 120-kilometre network of cross-country trails are well maintained and vary in grade from light to difficult. The trails run along forests, frozen lakes, quaint villages and enchanting winter scenery.
The Tourist Board of the Hochschwarzwald has published a handy booklet in which trails are extensively described with start and end points, difficulty, length and height profile.
With the Hochschwarzwaldcard you can borrow cross-country skis for free at participating stores (based on availability).
If you prefer to go in a group, tours led by a guide are frequently organised in several of the villages. Participation is free. However, you need to sign up in advance.
A hybrid between hiking and cross-country skiing is schneeschuhen, a sort of cross-country skiing but on short wide ‘Schuhen’.
Hiking trails are described in detail too, with a map, altitude profile, length and difficulty. At the tourist office, you can get a booklet with 15 trails in the Black Forest.
Also, guided hikes are regularly organized in winter, some of which (with a torchlight) take place in the evening. Time and date will be announced locally at a central location on a notice board. On the poster is a phone number to sign up.
If you had enough strenuous exercise, then a trip to one of the spas (and saunas) in the region is the ultimate way to loosen up those stiff muscles. Get one of those relaxing massages, which will leave you good to go for another couple of days.
The Hochschwarzcald gives free access to various spas and pools. Although in most cases you have to pay for the (nude) sauna.
- At Radon Revital Bad in Menzenschwand, dip in the heated outdoor pool whilst enjoying the snowy views.
- Badeparadies Schwarzwald is located at Titisee-Neustadt. According to one of the readers of this blog, this is “the most beautiful pool I know.” The complex has a palm oasis, thermal baths, sauna, marble and orchids.
- The villages Breitnau, Dittishausen, Schluchsee and Grafenhausen all boast a swimming pool. In Grafenhausen with the Hochschwarzwaldcard access to the sauna is free.
Activities with children
Fun in the snow does not stop at skiing:
- Build a Snowman, completely for free and always fun, for adults and children alike.
- Sledge effortless the 1.2-kilometre descent at Titisee with the Sleebus, which takes you to the start of the slope.
- Snow tubing is descending a slope on a tire, this is possible next to the Kuhberg lift in Saig, on a 200-meter run.
If the weather doesn’t cooperate there are plenty of activities to enjoy indoors.
- Archery, in Eisenbach, is one of the options.
Trampoline, climbing and ice skating is once again free with the “red” card at Feldberg Fundorena. Note that the ” ice rink” is not real ice. Experienced ice skaters probably won’t enjoy this.
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The Black Forest Tourist Board
The Black Forest Tourist Board has offices in most towns in the area: Breitnau, Eisenbach, Feldberg, Altglashütten, Friedenweiler, Grafenhausen, Hinnterzarten, Häusern, Lenzkirch Löffingen, Muggenbrunn, Notschrei, Schluchsee, St. Blasien, St. Märgen St. Peter & Neustadt Titisee, Todtnau, Todtnauberg and Ühlingen-Birkendorf.
Download their handy tourism app through the website, which also works offline. In case you prefer paper over electronics, get one of those leaflets at the office.
The Tourist Board’s website details the current snow situation. Prior to a trip, the situation can be evaluated by your own eyes through webcams.
Wifi is a scarce commodity in the Black Forest and in some areas data roaming hardly functions. Many bars and restaurants do not have Wifi and if they do, they are not exactly eager to share the network with their clients.
At the tourist offices listed above Wifi is available, use the code on the Hochschwarzwald to get access. This works, depending on the location, very well (Altglashütten) or hardly at all (Liftverbund Feldberg).
An apartment is ideal for families, especially with small children. It allows flexibility in eating and sleeping times.
We stayed in a Kukucksnester in rural Menzenschwand. The apartment has a bedroom, a sitting room with sofa bed, an open kitchen and children’s amenities. If you suffer from social media dependency, this is the ideal place to beat your addiction, because there is no Wifi.
Many accommodations in the Black Forest cooperate with the Tourist Board. By booking a minimum three-night stay at a participating partner, you get free access to the Hochschwarzwaldcard with all the associated benefits. If you do not want the card, you might find suitable accommodation here.
- Public transport, the area has an extensive network of trains and buses. The Konus Guest Card gives free access to regional public transport. This will be provided along with the Hochschwarzwaldcard.
- Airports nearby the Black Forest are Basel, Strasbourg, Zurich, Baden Baden, Stuttgart and Friedrichshafen. Ryanair and EasyJet offer cheap flights to this region.
The Hochschwarzwaldcard has been mentioned many times already, with the corresponding advantages: transport, ski lifts, cross-country skis, free WIFI, children’s activities, use of spas, etc. The card is free if you book at least three nights at one of the participating partners. It is not possible to buy the card separately.
In general, the restaurants in this region have the same dishes on the menu. It helps if you like Schnitzel and/or Wurst. Kids probably won’t object to the crispy Pommes Frites that are served nearly everywhere. Salmon, ham and cheese are often on the menu and of course, the famous Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte is a must to try at least once.
Servings are generous. Generous amounts of food call for copious amounts of liquids, flush your food down with a local beer from Rothaus.
When you crave something different, most of the larger towns have a Pizzeria or Chinese restaurant.
Restaurant Zum Kuckuck combines tradition with a hip vibe. The food is delicious. The address is Hinterdorf Straße 58, Menzenschwand. Which is also an excellent starting point for a hike along the ten kilometres long Geißenpfad and the short but scenic “Wasserfall” walk.
The right clothing will make all the difference.
- Especially for hiking through snow comfortable waterproof shoes are important. Nothing is more annoying than cold wet feet during a long hike.
- A walking GPS is useful in the mountains.
- Remember fleeces, windproof jackets, gloves, long ski socks, hats and sunglasses.
- Do not forget your swim clothes, for that relaxing visit to a spa.
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