The Black Forest
[ Related page: Germany's Best Travel Destinations ]
The Black Forest is one of Germany’s most popular vacation areas. It is the largest forested area in the country and the pleasant weather makes it a popular year round destination. The area is mountainous with lovely valleys and areas of outstanding beauty. It also has wonderful hot springs and spas. Despite claims by the Swiss, the area actually had both downhill skiing and cuckoo clocks first.
Tourism is a major industry and the region continuously develops new activities to lure in travelers with diverse interests. It has culture in the form of numerous museums, ruins of monasteries, Baroque palaces, and frequent musical festivals. Much is done to keep the traditional Black Forest experience alive. Trachten (national dress) is often worn at numerous festivals. Hotels and vacation homes are in traditional style, using lots of wood and covering balconies with blooming geraniums. Many small towns are simply picture-perfect. It is almost impossible to pick a road here that is not scenic.
The beautiful hills and forests, combined with generally fine weather and good infrastructure, despite the relatively sparse population, makes for excellent adventures here. Hiking and cycling are particularly favored during all seasons. In winter, cross-country skiing is the main draw but downhill skiing and snow hiking are also options.The area is popular with hikers and cyclists, the numerous rivers and small lakes offer water sports, and the reliable snow makes it a popular winter sports destination.
The Black Forest is famous for its cuisine and the extraordinary range of award-winning restaurants. France is just a river crossing away and its influence shows, especially in the higher-end restaurants. In the more rustic deeper valleys, the food is heartier. Black Forest ham, cured by cold smoke over a series of months, is always popular. It is carved very thin so as to bring out the full flavor.
The wines from Baden are famous and the vineyards facing the Rhine are an integral part of the landscape. Local beers also appeal and some, such as the Alpinsbacher Klosterbräu, are beloved throughout Germany. Stronger liquors, liqueurs, or Schnapps, are also local specialties.
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