Whilst it is possible to travel by public transport, so many of the beautiful scenic routes aren’t going to be easy to navigate without your own transport, so it’s recommended you hire a car. We chose to hire from Basel Airport and did a full loop for the week, arriving back to the Swiss side of the airport. Parking is fairly easy around most of these sites, and generally free parking could be found.
Baden Wine Route
At around 500km long, the Baden wine route is considered to be the oldest wine trail in Germany. As well as a delightful drive for nature lovers through the pretty hills, it’s a place where people know how to live and enjoy food and of course drink to it’s fullest.
We started our drive with a visit to the Weber Winery located between the Rhine Plain and the Black Forest. It’s a cool looking building, quite “Grand Designs’, with a glass front and modern interpretations of Black Forest traditional wear on photographs around the main room. Started almost 70 years ago, the winery also produces some special brandies and other specialities including a walnut liquor, and stores the bottles in racks that sink down to 50 meters deep into the hill. The staff here are fresh and fun and they host regular parties at the winery; ranging from simple tastings to huge parties of over 1000 people with top DJ’s.
Amusingly before we arrived we’d seen that you can do a ‘wine tasting with traditional vesper’. I had images in my head of zooming around the vineyards on a scooter, but it turns out that a ‘vesper’ is in fact a snack plate. We were given a lovely selection of Black Forest treats including meats and cheeses, homemade bread and candied walnuts that taste like caramel.
As much as we didn’t get to ride scooters, Weber do offer tours of the vineyards by Segway, which is possibly even more fun! After a brief introduction and lesson on how to power it and more importantly, stop, we had a lovely hour zipping up and down the hills past the vines. It’s fairly easy to get the hang of, and certainly quite an unusual offering. The Weber Winery also offers a range of gifts including decorations and their popular t-shirts as well as of course their fantastic selection of beverages.
Our second stop was Alde Gott, the name comes from a legend during the Thirty Years’ War. Apparently a lonely young man was travelling through the area which is now known as Sasbachwalden. He was on his own but then came across a young woman and in his relief shouted out ‘Der alde Gott lebt noch!’ which translates as ‘The old God still exists!” There are murals and mosaics to this legend around the winery as well as a marker in the hills as to where it supposedly happened.
It’s located on the edge of the Black Forest and the Badische Weinstraße, and the surrounding hills are stunningly beautiful. We took a drive up to the vineyards and stood for a while taking in the views (as far as Strasbourg on a clear day), while watching the mist roll over the hills. There are some lovely buildings in the town that feel like something from a Disney movie, with their half timber frames with white & black colourings.
We had a fantastic wine tasting here, including a wonderful Riesling, but Alde Gott doesn’t just offer wine. They are one of the only places in the region that make their own whiskey, and it’s a limited run each year making it extremely popular. In addition to this they also make a rich Black Forest Cherry cream liquor, a bit like a cherry eggnog, which is sure to go down a treat around Christmas time.
Hiking trails in Baiersbronn
Ask at the tourist information centre next to the station in Baiersbronn and you can find out about the many hiking trails in the region. It’s a popular area for walking and the routes vary in difficulty, from the fairly easy which we did (bare in mind I walked this with a fractured ankle) to the more advanced for those used to much longer distances. Walks are tailored to the groups’ interests, and as well as the nature and scenic walks there are even foodie walks, including foraging and learning about the vegetation inside the forest.
We took the hiking tour along gourmand trail “Satteleisteig” to the cozy cabin
“Sattelei”. It’s a pleasant walk of around 4km that runs along the outside of the Black Forest with views over the valley. The region is famous for it’s incredibly clean area, and tourists often come from big cities all over the world to spend time in the country and detox/revitalise.
The Cosy Cabin Sattelei is clearly a popular lunch spot amongst hikers as well as locals. It is indeed a cosy spot, with fires, attentive staff, and at the time of writing, some lovely Christmas decorations.
The menu, whilst not having much for vegetarians as a big range of traditional food from the area including meat platters and a famous cottage cheese. All the portions were very generous and despite it being quite busy, we were served drinks within minutes of ordering.
Solemar Bad Dürrheim
Bad Dürrheim is situated on the east of the Black Forest, it’s known as a spa and health area with a therapeutic climate. It’s a top destination for wellness due to it’s pleasant mountain climate, fresh air and the jewel in it’s crown, the Solemar spa and wellness centre.
It’s a 13,500 m² area, including Black Forest saunas, warm salt water pools both inside and out, and a Dead Sea Salt Grotto. People travel from all over Germany for the treatment rooms here and for the physiotherapy rooms and fitness centre for rehabilitation after injuries. For those just interested in a relaxing day it’s a lovely environment with 13 indoor pools, many with hourly activities as well as a waterfall, loungers and in-pool massage nozzles.
Menzenschwander Wasserfalle / Waterfall and The Black Forest itself
The drive was one of the most scenic routes we took all week, the trees on either side of the road and looking like something from a movie, it’s easy to see how many fairytales originated in this area.
Luckily there were a lot of spots to stop and take in the views along the way and we took full advantage. There are a large number of well marked hiking trails to choose from as well, but it does get dark fairly easily in the forest so make sure to start out early and stick to marked paths.