With the warming of our winters and the constant talk of Global Warming, this northern girl is a little sad at the lack of snow we’ve had lately. I miss being able to really enjoy the chilly fun this season can bring in Germany. However, Baden-Württemberg does not disappoint with lots to do and explore in the region.
On the advice of my sweet friend Sigi, who was raised in Rottweil, we immediately began to search for day trips areas to discover this winter. Recently we discovered the Black Forest towns of Freudenstadt and Baiersbronn.
Freudenstadt (Joy City)
Even though it’s fairly easy to travel to Freudenstadt from Stuttgart, you will end up on some winding roads. If you are susceptible to car sickness, you may wish to be prepared. Throughout history this “joy” city has been a hotbed of tourism and industry with a very interesting past.
After having traveled through this town to get to Baiersbronn in the past, I knew I would return here to further investigate. I’m really glad we did. The town was bombed in 1945 and began reconstruction in the early 1950s. City Hall (Rathaus) and the steeple church are two beautiful landmarks that still stand tall and gorgeous today.
With a clock tower in the center, Freudenstadt’s main city square is about the size of two football fields. It reminds me of the town squares we have in the United States.
The Tourism Information Center is located right off the square, making it really easy to navigate the sites to see. Parking is also easy with four parking garages surrounding the city. Parking underneath the square makes it very easy to pop right up where all the action takes place.
Across the street from the tourism center is the Stadt Museum (City Museum). Although the entry is FREE, a small donation is appreciated.
Having a beautiful representation of Black Forest history, this interesting and interactive museum has three stories. Our crew had fun identifying when the industrial revolution hit and also the boom of the 1950s when people wanted to discover the open road. Friday mornings is their weekly Farmer’s Market on the square. So if you happen to be there and bring your tote, you’ll find some gems.
After touring the museum, we took a stroll around the lovely city which also has a “walkable water fountain.” I am sure this delightful attraction draws many out during the warmer summer months. With its small boutiques, gift shops and clothing stores that blanket the perimeter of the square, I felt like I was walking through a square in Pennsylvania.
Freundenstadt is also known for its health and wellness tourism. It has an amazing spa, the Panorama Bad, a huge swimming pool, saunas and massages that overlook a wooded valley. With activities for all ages, I think my family and I would love this little “stay-cation” fun and relaxing getaway during the winter schlump. Better still, it may be a romantic weekend for two.
Baiersbronn is considered to be the cross-country ski capital of the Black Forest region. However, we were not so lucky to enjoy much this season. Having met some locals, we found out there was a consensus of sadness in having “no snow” as this is considered a peak tourism season here too.
Luckily we visited during the annual Christmas Market, so we were able to experience good family fun in a delightful setting. This market is always located in the town square. Located near this event is the tourism office, but it is only open during the weekdays.
We discovered many hiking trails throughout the area as well as the many friendly hotels, restaurants and bakeries that are ready to serve. One of my new favorites is the tucked away Wanderhütte Sattelei. This gorgeously restored gem (hotel and restaurant) is in the midst of Baiersbronn. They serve some of the best food I’ve tasted yet.
Having been twice now, I’ve had the pleasure of sitting inside next to the fireplace and outside on the terrace surrounded by the green splendor of the Schwarzwald (Black Forest). And both times I had to get a slice of the deliciously famous Schwarzwald Kirsche Torte (Black Forest Cake).
If you are alcohol sensitive, you should know in the Black Forest this cake is made with Kirschewasser (or cherry liquor). Sometimes you may be able to order it without alcohol (kinder). This region is known worldwide for the cake and takes it very seriously as you can see.
With the closest Parkplatz about 16 minutes away, you cannot drive to the Satterlei as it can only be arrived by walking/hiking up a steep hill. The first time I went with my daughter Katy, we parked closer to town and took a leisurely hike about 45 minutes one way on a lower incline route. With the waitstaff genuinely helpful and dressed in traditional Black Forest Dirndl, a visit to Satterlei is absolutely worth it.
I have made day trips to both towns from Stuttgart. Hoping to go snow shoeing or cross-country skiing for my next trip, I am praying for snow (Schnee).
Every Thursday beginning December 3rd, there is scheduled Schneeschuhwanderweg (Snow shoeing) in Baiersbronn. You can order your equipment through several sites on their main page or pick them up when you arrive in town. I have checked with the Stuttgart Outdoor Recreation, and they don’t rent snow shoeing equipment; however, they were really helpful at telling me everything I would need.
Cross-country skiing (Langlaufen) is significant in the Black Forest and even much more so in Baiersbronn. Many trails are available at different lengths, which makes it hard to choose. You may need a guide. There is a fee for this service, but is probably worth it. Some trails cost between €10-20 per person and are between 3-6 km and 2-3 hours.
I have found cross-country skiing to be very similar to jogging/running, so being in shape is essential to my success of not falling too much. Don’t think of this as the “easy” way to ski; trust me, I grew up near Lake Placid, NY. I know how to downhill ski and I think cross-country skiing is probably harder. I’m imagining it is a lot more so in the Black Forest. I’ll keep you posted.
I advise to be prepared for wind. I’ve been told on these trails that once you are out there, it can be quite windy unless you are sheltered by some snow. Recently, we went winter hiking in the snow and found this to be true. Click here for information on trails and equipment.
In this article I have only touched on a few highlights of Freundenstadt and Baiersbronn, and I hope you will discover more. I have challenged myself this spring and summer to investigate this region further. I am particularly intrigued by the Forest Huts (Wanderhütten), so be on the look out for that upcoming blog.
How to Get There
Author’s Profile: Wendy Payne is a military spouse and lives with her family in Stuttgart, Germany. She is a freelance writer, blogger and photographer. She also enjoys gardening, hiking, yoga and sharing Europe with people.
Featured Image Photo Credit: © Wendy Payne