Prior to moving to Germany, I was never excited to see castles, it just wasn't something that was on the top of my list when thinking about traveling in Germany. All I was focused on doing was traveling outside of the country and taking advantage of cheap flights. Once I arrived to this awesome country, I realized my thoughts about living in Germany were super ignorant. I learned that Germany had and still has so much to offer that checking out castles turned out to be one of my favorite things to do when traveling around the country.
Going to the Black Forest seemed to be buzzing and for years I would make the presumption that going to the Black Forest would be a waste of time and that I could see other places in Germany instead. Boy, was I wrong! I finally decided to make a trip to Triberg for a short weekend trip and I'm so glad I did!
Planning the Trip
The Black Forest (Der Schwarzwald) is not just one city or town but instead a region containing several villages and towns located in southwest Germany. This region is Germany's largest nature park with its open mountain peaks and vast forests - it's no wonder this region is called the Black Forest. The name came from the numerous pine trees that tower over this region making it seem "dark" or "black".
Some other popular towns to visit in the Black Forest could be Baden-Baden and Freiburg. We decided to check out Triberg as this town offered more things to see and do that we were interested in but also because we could make two stops on the way to check out some castles!
My husband and I did this trip on a regular 2 day weekend which I personally think was a good amount of time to see just Triberg and to explore the castles. If you're looking to do more than 2 days, I would recommend adding another town in the Black Forest to explore such as Titisee-Neustadt for outdoor exploring or Baden-Baden for spa treatments and relaxation.
For our accommodation, I was lucky enough to have a free night from Hotels.com so I ending up using my free night at the Best Western in Triberg and I was not disappointed! Our room had amazing views of the small town of Triberg as the room was situated on the corner of the hotel. Parking was free and secured but limited - very limited. The restaurant for breakfast and dinner were delicious so I think this free night in Triberg was very well worth it!
On our way to Triberg, we decided to include castles in our weekend itinerary, one of them being Schloss Lichtenstein which translates to "shining stone". This location offers splendid views overlooking the village of Honau but maybe you'll be more interested in the the small details of this neo-gothic "castle" that was actually once a hunting lodge.
Once you enter the courtyard grounds, you'll notice the picture perfect backdrop but once you pass the castle, you'll find a crowd of tourists with their cameras out facing towards the castle on the other side. This is where everyone gets the perfect shot of Lichtenstein castle with its outer wall built on the edge of a cliff!
Aside from great photo-ops, you might be interested in hiking nearby or taking a tour inside of the castle which can be done daily from April to October and on weekends in February, March, and November. The tour runs for about 30 minutes and if you'd want to have the tour in English, please arrange the tour in advance. If you'd only like to see the castle courtyard, you can do so for a fee of 2 Euro per adult, 1 Euro per child and dogs are at no charge.
Some other interesting facts about this castle:
If someone had asked me what's my favorite castle in Germany, I would most likely say Burg Hohenzollern! I always thought that Schloss Neuschwanstein was outstanding, especially when you're driving up to it, but Hohenzollern now takes the lead. This castle rises dramatically from a steep ridge making it hard to miss, even from a distance.
You can arrive to the castle by foot (it's definitely a steep hike) or you can take a bus that leaves from the parking lot P1 and P2 if necessary. You can purchase tickets to the castle from the gift shop by the parking lot and pay your shuttle ticket to the driver. After you are dropped off at Eagle's Gate, you'll have to walk up a steep and spiraling cobblestoned path to the entrance of the castle.
Just walking the courtyards seems amazing - just absolutely gorgeous on clear sunny days. You'll find a cafe with a terrace (open seasonly) and some of the best views in the Swabian Alps.
You'll most certainly want to join the tour of this neo-gothic castle with its beautiful stained glass and frescos. I joined a German tour since I hadn't coordinated one in English but the tour was enjoyable and the guide gave us an English script and some oversized slippers as to not damage the flooring with our shoes. This tour lasted about 35-40 minutes and occurred every 20 minutes or so. If you'd like a tour in English, you can do so on Saturdays, Sundays and German holidays at 1130, 1430, and in the summer season at 1630. In the summer, there are also tours during the week at 1400 which you can reserve by phone.
The Black Forest is known for a few things such as Black Forest cake, Black forest ham, one of the highest waterfalls in Germany, but also for its cuckoo clocks. Specifically, Triberg is known to have the largest cuckoo clock in the world! I knew I wouldn't leave this area without purchasing a cuckoo clock and I did so through Oli's Schnitzstube. I had checked out a few stores, even the one that was giving me 10% off from staying at the Best Western (House of 1,000 clocks), but nothing drew my attention until I went to Oli's. This wood carving shop had unique and personalized cuckoo clocks that stood out immediately. The workers at the shop are friendly and will explain the difference between mass produced clocks and hand carved clocks. You will start to see how important the details are compared to the mass produced clocks which to me helped me made my decision much sooner. At this shop, you can use a Value Added Tax (VAT) Form which helped immensely as the clock I purchased was originally over 500 Euro!
Purchasing a cuckoo clock was my main goal for visiting Triberg but if you're not trying to splurge on a clock, there are some other things to do in Triberg as well such as: