Mystique envelops the Black Forest, a region of surreal villages, sublime landscapes, and the soft charms of rural Germany. Surprise inhabits all of the corners, from Michelin-starred restaurants in tiny towns to medieval cities that gaze out onto the misty green forest. With this unique 8-day luxury tour, traverse the High Route, heading through the forest to indulge in historical spa towns, idyllic village life, and the cobblestone treasures of yesteryear.
Frankfurt – The Compelling Contrasts of Frankfurt
Frankfurt doesn't quite resemble what you might be picturing for the Black Forest. The skyline is all glistening skyscrapers and futuristic design, resembling the city's role as Germany's financial capital. But from the upper echelons of the towers, you can see the rural landscape start to spill out and far beneath the clean lines, you wil find a history that contrasts the cityscape. Frankfurt has been around since before the Romans, the home of dozens of monarchs and a place of Renaissance revival. Unfortunately, not that much survived World War II, so you'll need an expert local guide to unravel the compelling contrasts.
You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to a five-star hotel that's been built into one of Frankfurt's finest old buildings. Settle in, rest, relax, and head out on a Frankfurt tour whenever you are ready. A local guide connects the different sides to the city, enabling you to explore the unique design of the financial district and then head into the streets that showcase Frankfurt's past. Travel at a relaxed pace and the tour can be extended in a variety of directions dependent on your energy levels; choose to return to the hotel for an early dinner or find the artistic treasures in the city's galleries.
Frankfurt – Cruising Along the Rhine River
The Rhine flows slowly, big broad corners that sweep alongside vineyards and forested valleys. It imbues you not to rush, the gentle current encouraging everyone to slow the pace and absorb the gentle charms. Casting shadows on the hillside, see the remains of ancient castles, turrets decaying yet redolent with power. The strange rock of Lorelei rises from one bank, a steep slab of granite appearing like a phantom in the river. It's a rock of legend, one that's given rise to tales about cave-dwelling dwarfs and mermaids that appeared on Mondays throughout history. Somehow it feels believable here, the scenic stretch of river etching charm into every angle.
Take a private boat cruise along the Rhine, stopping first at a vineyard that hangs over the river. Open your senses to the region's culinary surprises, wines that are light on the palate but bold in flavor. Further along is the famous city of winegrowers, Rüdesheim, with its medieval collection of cobblestone streets. Many of the half-timbered townhouses are wine taverns, the six-century-old havens where growers would come and sell their produce. You'll have a few hours in this cute town, a chance to explore at leisure and dine on a terrace that elegantly overlooks the river. Return towards Frankfurt by the river, cruising back through the backcountry and continuing the clear impressions of this luxury tour.
Heidelberg to Baden-Baden – Castles Remains and Royal Spa Hangouts
Heidelberg seems to grow out of the Black Forest, the trees rising above its symmetrical rows of red slate roofs. The old town tumbles along the slopes, descending to the River Neckar and its bridges of broad stone arches. Travel here from Frankfurt and wander along the historic streets, rising towards Heidelberg Castle, an icon that dominates the town from afar. This fabulous Renaissance structure is one of Germany's most known attractions, a castle left in a redolent state of ruin. Parts of it date to the 13th century, others to the 17th, and the romantic turrets from the 18th. It's never been that successful as a fortress, and the historical tale includes regular attack and occupation, but it's a fabulous showcase of excess, more a royal palace than a place to defend.
From Heidelberg, the road winds to Baden-Baden, the revered spa escape for Europe's nobility. Alongside royalty, the richest in European society would travel here in the summer, savoring the atmosphere of thermal baths and beautiful spas. Walking trails weave through the forests that surround the town, taking you onto low peaks and across the valley of the lower Alps. Like most of the overnight stops on this luxury tour, the walking routes start from just outside the hotel. A salubrious spa is the centerpiece of your accommodation, a place for rejuvenating in the thermals and swimming amidst the undulating landscape. Upon arriving in Baden-Baden, the day is at your leisure.
Vogtsbauernhöfe to Freiburg – The Spectacular High Route Through the Black Forest
The Black Forest roads contradict any images of a German autobahn. They meander slowly, ascending and descending as they connect the spine of peaks that dominates the landscape. Spectacular views come at regular intervals, with the Rhine Valley opening below and the Vosges Mountains glistening in the background. Follow the trail past Mummelsee Lake, where there is the opportunity to walk at leisure in this quaint rural setting. Then, move on to the thatched roof buildings and geranium windows of Vogtsbauernhöfe, a preserved reminder of traditional life in the Black Forest.
The destination is Freiburg, a pretty little town with a classic combination of winding streets and a towering central cathedral. Head beneath the old city gates and spend a couple of hours exploring at leisure, then retire to your spa hotel on the edge of the town, beneath the glowing tones of the forest. The capital city of the Black Forest region, Freiburg does much to imbue a sense of tranquility. Rivers gush through the evergreens; traditional taverns entice you with menus of roasted pork, and church bells mingle with the tweets of endemic birds.
Britnau – Immersed in the Charms of the Forest
Wake to a quiet morning, the forest bathed in a layer of mist that rolls, then disappears like a magic carpet. Take one of the walking trails, winding beneath the pine to easy lookout points, or take a dip in the spa or another stroll into Freiburg's center, where the cathedral tower offers supreme panoramas. Freiburg is Germany's sunniest town, and there is always a glow across the landscape. In the afternoon, drive into the heartbeat of the Black Forest as tiny villages are hidden, delighting in their old-world authenticity.
Your romantic hotel is set in the forest scenery, the wooden balconies opening out onto generous vistas. Take a walk down to Ravenna Gorge and then discover the Black Forest's oldest chapel, two attractions situated within a few minutes of your luxury hotel. In the evening, head out to a traditional wooden hut – a pudelstein – in the forest. Far from any roads, back out into a wonderful sunset view. Dinner is served here, a special meal to be cherished amongst bucolic surroundings.
Titisee to Baiersbronn – Cuckoo Clocks and Culinary Treasures
There's something about a cuckoo clock that has people envisaging Switzerland or a remote alpine hut, but they originate from the Black Forest, although the historical tales are unclear about who invented them first. Titisee has the cuckoo clock visitor's center and a fabulous array of design, all handcrafted from wood and filling the air with their distinctive chimes. They're symbolic of the region, a bizarre tradition that's just as important now as it was in the 18th century. Cheese is another authentic slice of local life, and you'll find it made on farms across the region. In Titisee, stop at a small farm to explore the flavors, the majority of them on the rich and creamy end of the scale.
Germany is all about surprise, even when it comes to the food. Forget frankfurters and bratwurst as the culinary menu is far more sophisticated, especially in the Black Forest town of Baiersbronn. Aromatic brilliance spills from the town's kitchens; surreal menus blend mosaics of fresh produce, and the pursuit of perfectionism is found in the town's restaurants. Tiny Baiersbronn, population 15,000, is home to eight Michelin stars. It's worth the overnight stop just for the food, but there are also the captivating farmhouses, luxuriant hotel spa, and rolling hiking trails. For tonight, you've got a table where the menu blends sublime innovation with a love for the aesthetics. The dining room has just eight tables, and the attention to detail is exquisite, complimented by a wonderful selection of wine.
Stuttgart – Enchanting Stuttgart and a Fabulous Farewell Dinner
Travel east to Stuttgart, a city that's home to Mercedes and Porsche yet holds fast to its 10th-century history and traditions. Meander through the streets to find chic art galleries, boutique stores, castle relics, and the enthralling atmosphere of the city square. A guided tour of the city helps unveil the diversity, from the odes to history to the clean lines of the car factories, where the inspiring scale of production is matched by attention to detail.
A final culinary treat completes your itinerary with a signature tasting menu showcasing class and style; each dish served beneath decadent interiors that every diner wants to photograph. Taste your way through five courses, each an ode to local organic produce and an example of how nuanced German cuisine can be. Stuttgart has a royal history,and this famous restaurant does much to befit the regal past.
Stuttgart – Departure
Stuttgart's international airport offers a convenient departure point for Germany, and you will be transferred to the airport for your flight.
- Discover the compelling beauty of Frankfurt, a city that mixes cutting-edge modern design with many hidden historical secrets
- Spend a day cruising along the sublime Rhine River, rolling past castle remains and mystical valleys of vineyards and flowers
- Salubriously relax into the atmosphere of Baden-Baden, a spa town that was the renowned hangout of Europe's nobility
- Travel along the stunning rural roads through the Black Forest, taking the High Route and connecting untouched and idyllic villages
- Stop at some of Germany's finest medieval towns, like the red roofs of Heidelberg and the delightful authenticity found in Freiburg
- Explore the culinary treasures of the Black Forest and discover the world's most unexpected gastronomic centre; tiny Baiersbronn is home to a remarkable 12 Michelin stars
- Complete the luxury tour in Stuttgart, a city filled with charms and more gourmet treasures
The Black Forest dances with a sophisticated mystique. It pulls on your heartstrings, enticing you in with landscapes from an oil painting, all swirls and blurring colors. From a distance, you see the full canvas. Get closer, and the intimate details jump from their hiding places amidst the trees; the medieval towns, crumbling castles, vineyards, the spas used by nobility for centuries. Roads loop beneath the canopy, winding their way to villages from the past and the escapist bliss of rural Germany. This unique itinerary immerses you in the oil painting, surrounding you with the colors and charms of one of Europe's most sublime destinations. Spend a week exploring the intricate details, connecting all the realms of the Black Forest and uncovering all its secrets.
Frankfurt provides the compelling vantage point, its skyscrapers gazing south to where the forest starts to cascade. Spend a day in the city, and then a day on a private cruise along the River Rhine; stop at a vineyard and explore with the senses, discover a medieval fortress, and slowly roam along the iconic waterway. Then head beneath the forest awning, first to Heidelberg, a spectacular ancient town that tumbles across the green slopes and then onwards to Baden-Baden, a spa town that's been revered by nobility for centuries. It goes without question that your luxury hotel offers salubrious facilities that capture the essence of Baden-Baden's past.
Continue through the High Route, traverse the valleys of the Black Forest and wind through the panoramas of the Alps. Freiburg is framed by peaks, and often the mist rises amongst the trees, adding more mystique added to the itinerary. Like all the stops in the Black Forest, there are countless walking trails, most of them starting from right outside your hotel. Move on with travel to Britnau, fully enveloped in the contrasting vistas of alpine escapism and alluring forest. Nearby is the land of cuckoo clocks and you spend a morning discovering the how, what, and the why.
Culinary treasures guide the last days of this luxury tour. Tiny Baiersbronn is home to a remarkable 12 Michelin stars, an unexpected gastronomic center that offers a menu that challenges the stereotypes of German cuisine. Amongst a thick awning of evergreens, dine at one of the town's celebrated restaurants, a menu of indulgence enhanced by the bucolic landscapes. Cultural Stuttgart is the final stop, one elevated by a farewell dinner with a five-course menu as a complement to the hotel's spa. Throughout the itinerary, expect exceptional hotels, mostly with luxurious spa facilities and a boutique sense of the Black Forest's serenity. Transfers are in luxury saloon vehicles with a driver guide who narrate all the tales from this stunning landscape.
$2,395 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
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- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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