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Village in the Black Forest

How to get to the Black Forest

Where is the Black Forest?

The Black Forest is a region of wooded mountains and valleys near the Swiss and French borders in southern Germany.

Exactly where it is depends on what you might be talking about when you refer to the Black Forest (the national park, the nature reserves and hiking trails or the general Black Forest area).

What most Germans would understand to be the Black Forest is the part of Baden-Württemberg in southwestern Germany that is bounded by the Rhine river to the south and west and has the cities and towns of Freiburg, Offenburg and Baden-Baden on the western border.

To the north the Black Forest pushes up towards Karlsruhe and Pforzheim, while to the east the towns of Donaueschingen and Villingen-Schwenningen are just outside the main region.

Map of the Black Forest
Map of the Black Forest

Where are the nearest airports?

The Black Forest definitely does not suffer from a lack of options for visitors needing to fly to an airport close at hand. There are three airports located right on the edge of the Black Forest region and two larger options located within easy reach.

EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg (perhaps better known as Basel Airport!) is located just about on the southwestern corner of the Black Forest in France but close to the three-way border between France, Switzerland and Germany.

It is three kilometres northwest of Basel, 20 kilometres away from Mulhouse and just under 50 kilometres from the German city of Freiburg am Breisgau. The easiest access into the Black Forest from the airport is via Lörrach in Germany.

The airport has a number of business services (for example, from London Heathrow, Amsterdam and Frankfurt) and also serves as a European air hub for Easyjet.

Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden Airport is another smaller airport on the western edge of the Black Forest. The airport is 12 kilometres west of Baden-Baden and 40 kilometres south of Karlsruhe.

The airport offers a limited range of destinations, including a programme from Ryanair which includes London Stansted.

Stuttgart Airport, the sixth-busiest in Germany, is probably the largest of the airports close to the Black Forest. It offers an extensive programme of European business services and destinations served by low-cost carriers, which inclues both London Heathrow and London Stansted.

It is located just off the A8 motorway between Karlsruhe and Ulm and is just under 50 kilometres from the northeastern edge of the Black Forest.

Although it serves a major French city, Strasbourg Airport has a relatively limited selection of business flights and is located to the west of the city, which is not ideal for travellers aiming to get to the Black Forest.

The closest town on the edge of the Black Forest would be Offenburg, which is located just under 40 kilometres from the airport, and offers good access into the Kinzig valley and tourist destinations such as Gengenbach and Haslach.

Zurich Airport is the largest airport option for the southern Black Forest area. It is the busiest airport in Switzerland, offering a wide range of services including some to destination in North America, and is located to the north of the city.

Visitors to the Black Forest have the option of following the Rhine river and crossing into Germany at an appropriate point for the southern edge of the region or heading north towards Blumberg and Donaueschingen for the western edge of the forest.

Train routes to the Black Forest

An Intercity rail route links towns in central and northern Germany to the western side of the Black Forest. Intercity Express trains run from places like Berlin, Cologne and Frankfurt on their way down to Basel in Switzerland. All of these services stop at Mannheim, Heidelberg, Karlsruhe and Freiburg am Breisgau.

The train station at Karlsruhe also offers links along the northern edge of the Black Forest with services from places like Strasbourg through to Stuttgart, Ulm and Munich. The Schwarzwaldbahn, which traverses the Black Forest, also starts in Karlsruhe on its way to Singen and Konstanz.

Pforzheim train station is another major rail link on the northern edge of the Forest, with links into Bad Wildbad and Calw.

The eastern side of the Black Forest is a little more complicated to access by train. The major rail centres are Villingen-Schwenningen and Donaueschingen, which are also connected by the Ringzug service and are stops on the Black Forest Railway. Donaueschingen is also linked to Ulm on the Danube Valley Railway.

The southern border of the Black Forest is served by the High Rhine Railway, which starts in Basel and crosses backwards and forwards into Germany on its way to Konstanz. This provides access to the Rhine towns in the southern Black Forest such as Bad Säckingen and Waldshut-Tiengen, as well as a link to Zurich.

More information about getting around the Black Forest area by rail can be found on our Black Forest Train Routes page.

Driving to the Black Forest

Again, the Rhine valley provides the best access for those approaching the Black Forest from the west, with the A5 motorway linking Basel with Frankfurt.

To the north, the A8 motorway connects Karlsruhe to Munich, the capital of Bavaria running past Stuttgart and also linking in with the A81 which heads south to Singen somewhat to the east of the Black Forest border.

The southern side of the Black Forest, at least in Germany, can only be reached by B roads which run along the Upper Rhine valley.