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The Black Forest – Europe’s best kept secret

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Germany’s Black Forest region ticks all the boxes as a family holiday destination. What’s more, it’s only an hour away from the UK by plane. I headed to the Baden-Baden region to check out what it has to offer for families.

The Black Forest - Europe's best kept secret


In the heart of the Black Forest lies a picturesque little city called Baden-Baden. It is serviced by Baden Airpark, a small but well-equipped airport. Ryanair fly there direct from London Stansted. I made the most of an escape lounge at Stansted to relax and grab some food before the flight. Once we’d boarded and taken off, it seemed like no time at all before the plane started to descend and I could see the Black Forest below.

Caracalla Spa

Baden-Baden itself is just a short drive from the airport. It is a friendly place where everyone has time to stop and chat. Baden-Baden is famed for its thermal baths, the historic Friedrichsbad and the modern Caracalla Spa. We headed straight for Caracalla after getting off our flight and felt instantly relaxed and refreshed.

The Black Forest - Europe's best kept secret
© Baden-Baden Kur & Tourismus GmbH

History and culture in Baden-Baden

Baden-Baden has many places of historical interest including the Town Hall, Bismarck monument and a Monastery. It is also the gateway to both the Black Forest National Park and the Black Forest Scenic Route. I was delighted to discover that from my hotel, I was able to run for just a few minutes before finding myself immersed in the breathtakingly scenic forest landscape.

Evenings can be spent watching a play at the majestic theatre or just sitting outside a café, bar or restaurant, people watching and sampling the excellent local wine and cuisine.

The Black Forest - Europe's best kept secret
The Black Forest - Europe's best kept secret

Rastatt District

This is the part of the region that really intrigues me. The Rastatt District is made up of landscape incorporating the Black Forest, the Rhine and vineyards. It boasts over 500 kilometres of walking, hiking and cycling routes and is also the perfect place to ski in winter.

During our time there, we visited Mehliskopf, a popular ski area that also offers some amazing summer sports. We could choose between archery, canoeing, geocaching, bungee trampolining, downhill carts, an alpine coaster and a high ropes course. There was also a little park for younger children and a café.

We took a ride on the alpine coaster before heading up into the trees to try out the high ropes course. This was a lovely morning that felt like a true adventure in the most beautiful of settings. When I go back with my family, I’ll happily spend a whole week exploring the countryside. Hiking, walking, cycling, wild swimming and generally being in touch with nature.

The Black Forest - Europe's best kept secret

Black Forest views from Karlsruhe

From Mehliskopf, we moved on to visit Karlsruhe. This is a much larger city than Baden-Baden, with loads going on and great public transport links. The city seems to centre around Karlsruhe Palace, an incredibly grand building that boasts beautiful views of the Black Forest from the top of its tower.

The Black Forest - Europe's best kept secret

The town is full of interesting, quirky and historical buildings as well as a zoo, botanical gardens, funicular railway and several museums and art galleries. There is a vibrant student scene and Karlsruhe is a leading force in the development of technology, due to both the University and the Centre for Art and Media, the ZKM.

The Black Forest - Europe's best kept secret


Europa-Park is one of Germany’s best kept secrets. It is similar in size to the Disney parks, but the whole thing is done on a much grander scale. It is made up of themed areas, with each based on a different European country. Every day sees thousands of visitors flocking to the park, but it is large enough to absorb the numbers without feeling packed and without excessive waiting times on the rides.

In terms of adrenaline rides, Europa-Park has got it all. Water rides, insanely fast roller coasters, loop the loops, a wooden roller coaster and even a roller coaster restaurant. But Europa-Park has more to offer than just the thrill rides. The attention to detail is incredible, everywhere you turn, fairy-tales are brought to life.

The Black Forest - Europe's best kept secret
The Black Forest - Europe's best kept secret

From children’s rides with fairies, trolls and giant insects to play areas, soft-play and splash pads that would keep a child entertained all day. Not to mention the incredible virtual reality (VR) technology that is now in use on some of the rides. Whilst riding on a relatively tame roller coaster, your experience is dramatically enhanced through the use of a VR headset. The story on screen is perfectly synced to the roller coaster, so every twist and turn becomes part of the unfolding drama.

Relaxing at Europa-Park

If this all sounds like a bit too much excitement, there are plenty of opportunities to relax. In an Irish pub, beside a man-made beach or on the banks of a boating lake. There are numerous restaurants and cafés with reasonably priced food and picnic areas if you’d rather bring your own. There are also shows throughout the day and evening. Everything from 4D cinema to dance to parades to light shows to high diving is available to watch.

The Black Forest - Europe's best kept secret

Alongside the theme park, Europa-Park has both a selection of 4* hotels and a camping resort. I stayed in the stunning Bell Rock hotel, with a New England theme. It has everything from a 2* Michelin restaurant (Ammonite) to a lighthouse, to a swimming pool with a boat in it. And the family rooms have bunk beds in them – in the shape of boats. I would take my children to Germany just to allow them to sleep in these beds, they’re that good.

The Black Forest - Europe's best kept secret

The Camp Resort is equally stunning, offering both glamping and camping options. It has its own restaurants and barbecue areas and is located right next to a swimming lake. I can’t think of anything better than a morning dip in here before heading to the park.

The Black Forest - Europe's best kept secret

Black Forest Cuisine

I know what you’re thinking – Black Forest gateau. So was I to be honest, but there is much more to the Black Forest cuisine than just cake. I was pleasantly surprised to find that all the restaurants and the supermarkets I visited catered for vegans. The menus were extensive, with numerous options for both vegetarians and vegans. Despite my love of cheese, I ended up going for the vegan option in most of the restaurants. Every meal I had was filling, full of flavour and refreshingly tasty like this quinoa salad. And in case you were wondering, the wine and cocktails were pretty amazing too, I checked.

The Black Forest - Europe's best kept secret
Black Forest Germany | The Black Forest in Germany is one of the last hidden gems of Europe. With chocolate-box villages, incredible German cuisine and even one of the best theme parks in Europe, the Black Forest is the perfect destination for tourists. You can visit the Baden-Baden region and experience its traditional cuckoo clocks, scenes from the Grimm fairytales and of course the famous Black Forest Gateau. It is the perfect destination for a family holiday where children and adults can bond and enjoy exciting activities and tech-free time.
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  1. August 24, 2016 / 3:42 pm

    This place looks SO amazing. I can understand why you want to go back with the family. *Puts it on the list for the family moon after the wedding*
    That food looks amazing, as a meat eater I always know a good restaurant because the veggie food draws me more than a steak 😉 haha! x

    • August 25, 2016 / 11:18 am

      Thank you Nat, I don’t blame you at all for adding it to your list, it’s straight on my list despite having already been!x

  2. August 24, 2016 / 3:43 pm

    I would never have considered going on holiday to Germany, but this looks right up my street! A short flight is a major requirement for a holiday for me. I’m going to share this with my family, to see what they think!

    • August 25, 2016 / 11:19 am

      Oh your family would love it there Sarah, it’s perfect for walking and hiking and Europa Park would be amazing for your children – definitely a holiday you’d all love!x

  3. August 24, 2016 / 3:52 pm

    Wow this place looks amazing! I now want to go to Europa asap! x

    • August 25, 2016 / 11:20 am

      Oh you absolutely should, your two would love it there – and so would you 😉

  4. August 24, 2016 / 10:03 pm

    Wow!! This looks so beautiful, what an amazing place to visit. The theme park looks brilliant and definitely a little gem. I’m pleased you had a lovely time and I hope you didn’t miss your girls too much x

    • August 25, 2016 / 11:21 am

      Thank you Laura, I definitely missed them but it was worth it to discover such an amazing destination and I can’t wait to take them there with me too!

  5. August 24, 2016 / 10:34 pm

    OK you have me sold! My son really wants to go to Germany as it is but this sounds like it does tick all the boxes – and me too about taking the kids just for those bunk beds!

    • August 25, 2016 / 11:22 am

      Oh it definitely ticks all the boxes and if I was to visit anywhere in Germany I’d definitely pick this area!

      • May 21, 2018 / 10:22 am

        Whoop and we are finally going 🙂

        • May 22, 2018 / 7:45 pm

          Woo hoo, that’s so exciting Joy! You’re going to love it!

  6. August 25, 2016 / 7:33 am

    Wow, the resort looks amazing. I love all your pictures, it looks like you had an absolutely fab time. I like the look of the boat beds! The views look stunning. xx

    • August 25, 2016 / 11:22 am

      Thank you Tanita, it was such an amazing trip and just the perfect destination.

  7. August 25, 2016 / 5:29 pm

    I love the Black Forest! My husband and I visited pre-kids and spent a couple of weeks travelling around camping. The towns are so lovely for visiting and the scenery is stunning. He especially loved the trees, being a forester. I loved Europa Park, the rides were amazing! It sounds like you had a brilliant time too. 🙂 x

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