The Black Forest was really high on my to-do list when we were planning our trip to Germany. My head full of Grimm’s fairy tales, I spent many hours scouring blogs, TripAdvisor forums and LP’s Thorntree to figure out the best places to base myself to explore this legendary place. I messaged experts and posted questions all across the internet.

To save you from the same hassle, here’s everything I found out about the Black Forest’s best bases:

Freiburg

Freiburg Germany

A cheery square in Freiburg.

The city of Freiburg was recommended by many bloggers. It’s a beautiful green city with one of the best climates in Germany, but I’d advise against using it as your base if your goal is to see the forest. As I explained last week, booking accommodation in a town inside the forest will give you a KONUS card. This gives you free train and bus travel across the entire region, a perk you won’t receive if you stay in Freiburg. The card includes travel in and around the city, though, so you can visit! Just don’t stay here if you’d like to save money.

Freiburg Germany

Pretty buildings in Freiburg.

Kirchzarten

Kirchzarten Germany

A maypole in central Kirchzarten.

Sitting on the southern edge of the forest, Kirchzarten is practically a suburb of Freiburg. It’s only ten minutes away by train, so you’re close to the city if you want to visit, but you’re also inside the forest itself. On the “Hell Valley” railway line, it’s just a few stops from beautiful walks and boating around the lovely Lake Titisee. You can also jump off at Hinterzarten or any of the other stops along this line for some good hiking – check with the tourist office in Kirchzarten for recommendations. The town itself is small and modern but has a few good restaurants, a grocery store and plenty of accommodation.

Lake Titisee

Cyclists and hikers on a path around Lake Titisee.

Gengenbach

Gengenbach Germany

Gengenbach’s town square.

Gengenbech is in the Northern part of the forest on the famous Black Forest Railway. A beautiful old town full of history, its original city walls are still partially intact. The main square is decorated with buildings right out of a picture book and the surrounding hills are covered in vineyards. The 18th century town hall is famous for turning into an enormous advent calendar every December, but I was happy to see it in summer when flowers pour out of every window. Here you’ll find plenty of restaurants, ice cream cafes and accommodation, as well as great hikes and views from the surrounding hills.

Only a 40 minute train ride from the famous waterfall at Triberg and 30 minutes from Baden-Baden, Gengenbech makes a great base. The only downside is the trains come less frequently on this line than on the line in Kirchzarten so you’ll need to check the schedules to save yourself a long wait on the platform. As with Kirchzarten, you’ll travel everywhere for free with the KONUS card you get from your accommodation.

Gengenbach Germany

View over Gengenbach from a vineyard on a hill.

Other Bases

I was also recommended other towns like Löffingen, a non-touristy town on the same train line as Titisee, and Haslach on the Black Forest Railway line. In the end I picked Kirchzarten and Gengenbach for their convenient locations and relatively large sizes. We had a great time in both and got around really easily via train. Though a car would be nice for off-the-beaten-path driving, it’s super cheap and easy to see the Black Forest using only public transit. And you definitely can’t beat the mountain views from the train window!

Gengenbach Germany

The train tracks run along this river next to Gengenbach.

If you have any additional recommendations for visiting Schwarzwald please leave them in the comments to help other people plan their trips!

  • http://thinkgreendegrees.com Joel

    You said it, these pictures and the Black Forest totally remind me of Grimm’s Fairy tales. The tip about getting a KONUS card by staying at a town in the forest was golden. I’m not sure why more haven’t went this route. I always like to save money and see more! Thanks for the insights and absolutely beautiful pictures.

  • http://www.zubitravel.com/ Zubi Travel

    Great pics. I really like Gengenbach, seems to be a nice quiet town.

    • Kit

      Gengenbach is great! Especially the views from the vineyards high on the hill :)

  • Ann

    Hi Kit,

    Thanks for the great info. Just wondering if you stay in an aibnb place, can you get the Konus card or does it have to be a hotel?

    Thanks!

    • Kit Whelan

      You’re very welcome! If the Airbnb place is registered with the tourist board as an accommodation (which means they/you pay a “tourist tax”) then yes, you would get the KONUS. For instance, this Airbnb place mentions it in the description: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/445911

      There aren’t very many Airbnbs in the Black Forest right now, but you could certainly contact a few hosts to ask about the KONUS card. There are also many types of B&Bs and guesthouses to choose from if you do a bit of Googling or ask the local tourist board for help.

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  • Edi0209

    Very useful info. Planning to visit d black forest. No sure if we stay in Freiburg area or Baden Baden. What r your views? Can you get the konus card when staying in baden baden?

    • http://www.seeknewtravel.com/ Kit Whelan

      I would recommend contacting the hotel or B&B where you plan on staying and asking them about the KONUS card, That way you can be sure they info is up to date :)

  • Heema

    Hi. We are travelling from Cologne to black forest and were wondering which area to stay as base. We have to travel back to Munich. traveling time should be lesser as we are with kids. Freiburg is turning out to be far in terms of distance. Any other place you recommend which will be convenient in our plan?

  • Karen Callus

    Hi! Thanks for the very useful information. We are planning to visit the Black Forest this summer? May I ask what is the best way to travel from Kirchzarten to Zurich? We will be using public transport.
    Many thanks!