Black Forest was sitting on my "must see" list for a while by now. I have started my acquaintance with it many years ago, but never made it further than the Hermanns Hesse birth place Calw.
Black Forest isn't to be explored in a rush - it offers plenty of outdoor activities in winter and in summer and is best explored while hiking or by bike.
So this time, with a whole week time in my pocket I packed the car and some snacks for the road and drove all the way from Dortmund to Gengenbach - first stop on this trip.
This trips plan was to combine picturesque villages, traditional farms and nature trails - to see local life and to enjoy solitude and recharge on fresh air within the black pines and rolling hills. Basically to combine a little bit of everything. So I decided to start with Kinzigtal - an area which lays in the middle of the Black Forest and goes along the river Kinzig (Kinzigtal in german means nothing else than Kinzig valley) which offers exactly what I was looking for.
Gengenbach is one of those beautiful little German towns with cobble stone roads, an obligatory well in the middle, flower-covered balconies and story-book timber houses. Surrounded by green hills and vineyards it attracts tourists from all over the world (think buses) turning it into quite busy place over the weekends and during the holiday season.
It's a nice place to walk around and enjoy the beauty. Engelgasse is especially suitable for this.
For those of you searching for more acivities take a walk to Jakobuskapelle based atop of a hill above the town surrounded by vineyards. It's a nice walk and a good place to see the town and the area from above.
For those searching for a bit more peace and quite take a 15 min ride to a neighbor town of Zell am Hammersbach. As the whole Black Forest it attracts people but it still feels less packed.
A lovely little village of Zell-Unterentersbach is located only 3 km away from Zell and has some nice food/sleep options. As well as a very pleasant opportunity for a walk. From the Dorfstraße look for the signs that says Friedenskapelle - a tiny chapel with great views of the area - from here you will also see Zell am Hammersbach.
Every town or village in the area have restaurants and guesthouses which offer food and beverages, but usually the ones off the beaten track are the best ones. Ask locals, sometimes it's worth to take a ride out of town.
Pay attention, many places serving local food have fixed hours for lunch a dinner - usually between 12:00 and 14:00 for lunch and 18:00-21:00 for dinner. It could be difficult to find warm food off those times, but you can always grab a fresh brezel with butter at one of the bakeries (usually closing after 18:00).
Many places have Mondays and Tuesdays (or one of the days) off, so check ahead while planning your visit.
We had good experience at the following places:
Landgasthaus zum Pflug (Zellerstrasse 11, Zell-Unterentersbach) - a lovely guesthouse which is modern and traditional at the same time. Great sleeping options and delicious food.
Winzerstüble (Hauptstraße 20, Gengenbach) - located in a nice courtyard it is still touristy but friendly and with good food. IT also serves great wine selection
Schatull (Victor-Kretz-Straße 3A, Geigenbach) - next door to the Winzerstueble it is a more simple version with traditional food and drink.
In most of the cases, unless you want to stay in a town center you will need a car to move around. If you are looking for a town experience Gengenbach and Zell have some nice guesthouses and appartments for rent.
We have chosen to stay in Zell-Unterentersbach which was a perfect mixture of comfort and rural experience.
We stayed at Landgasthaus zum Pflug (Zellerstrasse 11, Zell-Unterentersbach) and loved our stay - friendly hosts, modern rooms with traditional touch. Breakfast included.
- If you want to avoid crowds get up early. I had Gengenbach almost to myself during an early morning photowalk.
- For the best light aim for early-late (sunrise-sunset) hours.
- If you spot little chapels in most of the cases it's worth getting to them - usually they are placed at the best view spots
- All roads and paths (even the tiniest one) are marked with signs - just follow them.
- Bakeries open starting from 06:30-07:00 a.m. In case you want to grab a quick breakfast.
I thought I'd dedicate an extra part for this. Be very careful about ticks. Southern Germany has quite some of them with the ones carrying diseases. Locals in most of the cases have taken vaccinations, so they don't pay too much attention to them.
It is advisable to take a remedy agains ticks.