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Train passing the Schluchsee in the Black Forest

Black Forest Train Routes

Using the German rail network to get to the Black Forest is a convenient - and ecologically-friendly - way to arrive.

And the options are just as good once you are there.

Not only is there a good network of rail infrastructure to get you around different parts of the region, many towns and villages are participating members of the Konus Guest Card scheme. This allows people staying in most types of accommodation free travel on rail (and bus) routes within the Black Forest.

Getting to the Black Forest by Train

The Black Forest region in the German state of Baden-Württemberg can be thought of as an upright rectangle - and there are major rail routes running along all sides of that rectangle.

To the west, the major Rhine Valley rail route from Basel in Switzerland runs up to Karlsrühe, passing the important Black Forest entry points at Freiburg, Offenburg and Baden-Baden.

To the north, the major rail routes running through Karlsrühe serve the cities of Pforzheim and Stuttgart before heading off in the direction of Ulm and Munich.

To the east, the main train route between Stuttgart and Singen near Lake Constance is a little bit further away from the Black Forest. But it does offer good connections to two important towns on the eastern edge of the southern part of the Black Forest in Donaueschingen and Villingen-Schwenningen. The line actually connects with the Black Forest Railway further south at Immendingen.

To the south, the Upper Rhine Railway runs from Basel in Switzerland along the river, swapping between German and Swiss territory, through to Singen and, eventually, Konstanz.

Getting Around the Black Forest by Train

There are quite a number of rail routes in and around the Black Forest, some of them small local branch lines and others which are quite useful to the visitor.

Black Forest Railway

The Black Forest Railway (or 'Schwarzwaldbahn' in German) runs from Offenburg in the midwest through to Singen in the southeast of the region. This Black Forest line is one of the popular rail routes for visitors as it traverses the Kinzig valley with its attractive villages, the town of Triberg with its famous waterfalls, and Donaueschingen with the source of the Danube. There is actually another 'Black Forest Railway' - the one referred to here is the Baden one. (The Württemberg Schwarzwaldbahn runs from Stuttgart to Weil der Stadt.)

The Höllentalbahn in the Black Forest The Höllentalbahn
Photo: Wikimedia | Florian Jesse

The Höllentalbahn

This rail connection links east and west in the southern part of the Black Forest. It links three of the main tourist attractions in the region as its route takes it from Freiburg im Breisgau in the east through Titisee to Donaueschingen.

The name translated into English means 'Hell's Valley Railway', although these days the winding route is somewhat tamer. The entire section between Freiburg and Donaueschingen has now been electrified, following extensive building work on the eastern half of the route.

The Three Lakes Railway

This operates as a scenic branch line off the Höllentalbahn above and links Titisee via the Windgfällweiher reservoir to the Schluchsee (thus the Three Lakes). The 'Dreiseenbahn', as it is known in German, is pictured at the top of the page. An occasional steam train service organised by enthusiasts runs on this railway line.

The Kinzig Valley Railway

This is an unelectrified route from Hausach on the Black Forest Railway route up the Kinzig valley past the timbered old town centre of Schiltach to Freudenstadt.

The Murg Valley Railway

The Murg Valley Railway runs from Rastatt on the main Rhine Valley line up the narrow Murg valley through Baiersbronn to Freudenstadt, where there are links to the Kinzig Valley line above and to the Gäu Railway in the direction of Stuttgart.

Special Rail Tickets

KONUS Guest Card

Of course, the main ticket that most visitors who are staying in the Black Forest will be concerned with is the KONUS Guest Card. This allows anyone who is staying in around 11,000 establishments in 150 Black Forest communities to travel free on local buses and in second class on regional train services.

This means that express services, such as the InterCity routes, are not included even if they travel through the Black Forest.

It should also be noted that the KONUS card is financed through the tourist tax and thus anyone staying in an establishment where tourist tax is not collected (youth hostels, for example) is not eligible. There are also certain communities which are not included and certain routes included to communities which are not in the scheme (for example, travelling by train out of the Black Forest to Pforzheim).

The KONUS card starts on the day of arrival, is issued by the accommodation (not the train station), and finishes on the day of departure. Thus it cannot be used for arrival journeys but can be used as part of a departure journey.

Visitors are advised to contact their accommodation if they have any questions about whether they will be eligible for a KONUS card.

More information: KONUS Flyer (PDF)

Other Rail Tickets

Other rail tickets of interest to visitors to the Black Forest include the Baden-Württemberg Ticket, a rail pass which allows 24 hours of unlimited travel in the state in second class on regional trains. It costs 24 Euros for one person and increases in 6 Euro increments to a maximum of five people (thus 48 Euros for five people on one ticket).

A similar concept is operated by the Quer-durchs-Land Ticket, which covers the whole of Germany for 44 Euros for one person up to 76 Euros for five people. (This replaces the weekend ticket which had previously been offered by the German railways.)

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