At the heart of land renowned for exquisite hand carved cuckoo clocks, Black Forest Cherry Cake and the mysterious setting of many a Grimm Brother’s fairy tales lies the town of Triberg. Located in the Kinzig and Gutach Valleys, the surrounding landscape is some of the most quintessential of the region as roads wind hither and tither through thick forests and rolling hills. It’s here that you’ll find Germany’s highest waterfall and two of the world’s largest cuckoo clocks.
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When the temperature drops and most of the tourists avoid visiting in the winter, the Black Forest changes into a winter wonderland. Fluffy white snow covers the rolling hills and the pine forest, castles and lakes. There is no question in my mind as to why so many of the Grimm Brothers‘ fairy tales take place here, for example Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel & Gretel, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty.
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History of the Black Forest & Triberg
The history of the Black Forest reaches as far back as the time of the Romans who found the weather and conditions harsh and unbearable, therefore, the growth of this region took centuries to develop. The region earned its name from the alpine trees which lock out the light, giving the area a mysterious feeling. Today, hefty half-timbered farmhouses scatter the hillsides and the region is predominately known for its beautiful woodwork which entertained the farmers during the long winters. By the end of the 17th century, woodworkers began producing clocks made entirely out of wood, therefore, making clocks more affordable. Triberg is today one of the most touristy places in the Black Forest, but it once rose to prominence for having the purest air quality.
**If you plan to stay overnight in the Black Forest, most hotels offer a complimentary Guest Card which offers reductions on various local attractions. If you plan to stay for three days or longer, the SchwarzwaldCard includes free admission to over 150 attractions, museums, cable cars and more!
The Cuckoo Clock
Although the origins of the cuckoo clock are unknown, it is thought that they were probably first produced in Bohemia and by the 1730s, clocks were being produced in the Black Forest. The earliest workshops could be found in Schönwald near Triberg and have captured the hearts of visitors to the region ever since. There are three designs which are commonly found everywhere throughout the region: the chalet, the hunting theme and a simple carved cuckoo. Some clocks require daily winding while others can last a week. Some are simply made and others are quite exquisite, with the most expensive costing you a whopping 22,000 €!! Prices vary but if you’re looking to take a nice one home, one can easily set you back 100-200 €. (No mom, I am NOT buying you the diamond encrusted cuckoo clock!)
What to do in Triberg
Visit the Triberg Waterfall
The Triberger Wasserfälle is Germany’s highest waterfall, dropping a distance of 163 m over seven small falls. Paths crisscross up the entire length of the waterfall which compromises the beauty of the fall. During warmer months, the trail is completely open so consider doing a little hike along any of the three paths: “Naturweg”, the “Kulturweg”, or “Kaskadenweg”. However, during the winter months, the viewing platforms from below and to the side are open.
During the winter, the path to the waterfall is decorated for the Triberg Christmas Magic only made more magical by the blanket of fresh white fluffy snow! My little buddy Rudi decided to join us on our trip to the waterfall where he felt quite at home! But for me, I needed to be pinched to make sure I wasn’t dreaming!
Winter Prices: Between December 25 – 30th, the waterfall is only accessible as part of the “Triberger Weihnachtszauber“ special which was voted the #1 BEST Christmas Market in 2016! During this time, you can enjoy the Christmas light experience with over 1 million lights! However, you can chose to purchase tickets for just entry to the falls for 3,50 € per adult or 8,50 € for a family ticket.
The House of 1000 Clocks
Opened in 1984 in the heart of Triberg by a family who has generations of clock making in their blood stretching back to 1881, you can now peruse a variety of Cuckoo clocks at the House of 1000 Clocks. You can’t help but drool over each and every clock and wishing to take them home, unless you’ve had nightmares of endless clocks ticking and cuckooing all day long. I spent countless minutes admiring the goods, deliberating if I wanted to buy a new one since mine was broken by a roommate in college.
Directly next to the entrance of the waterfalls is a quaint little store where you can find all locally produced goods like the famous and delicious Schwarzwaldschinken (ham), sausages, Kirschwasser (which goes in the Black Forest Cherry Cake) and even beer jelly!
The Schwarzwald Museum
Directly across the street, is the Triberg Schwarzwaldmuseum dedicated entirely to the history of the Black Forest. A family ticket will set you back 13 € and once inside you can explore and learn about the history of cuckoo clocks, the traditional Tracht from the region, costumes, woodcarving and even minerals. The museum is a winding maze leading up and down and around making for getting lost in history quite easy.
An interesting collection of traditional Tracht from the Black Forest caught my eye the most. The Bollehut (left) from the region of the Kinzig and Gutach Valley is a black hat with red pompoms worn as a traditional folk costume by women. The red hat is for unmarried women, while married women have to make do with a black hat.
Another interesting headdress worn by women I found intriguing was the Evangelic Wedding Tracht. The bridal hat (right) called a “Schäppel” demonstrates just how unique traditional German Tracht is in every region, not just traditional Bavarian lederhosen. The bridal hat is incredibly massive, loaded with colorful beads and looks heavy and as if it would take skill to wear it!
Where to eat in Triberg
Landgasthof Lilie – way way too touristy for me, but on this day we were starving and in desperate need of fuel. Located directly next to the waterfalls, this restaurant came highly recommended by another blogger, yet we had a terrible experience. The restaurant offers traditional German food, but the quality was quite low. Me personally, I wouldn’t recommend eating here.
Wirsthaus Alt-Tryberg – Having driven around the region, when it came to dinner, we struck out multiple times even after asking a local for a recommendation after the misery of our lunch. Having given up, we headed back to Triberg in hopes of finding food and we managed to get a table at Wirsthaus Alt-Tryberg where we enjoyed a delicious meal! The schnitzel was cooked properly, the maultauschen was yummy and we left in good spirits! Directly next door was Bäkerei Krachenfels where I managed to snatch a slice of Schwarzwälder Kirchtorte (Black Forest Cherry Cake) before we hit the road!
The World’s Largest Cuckoo Clocks
Beloved by Germans and tourists world wide, it comes as no surprise that the largest cuckoo clock can be found in the Black Forest, but not just one, but two! Plus a bonus cuckoo clock! Where can you find these beauties? Each one is like a fairy tale house and you don’t want to miss them!
- In Schonach – just a 7 min drive from Triberg (3,2 km), you can find the World’s FIRST Largest Cuckoo clock built in 1981. Josef Dold built the world’s first largest cuckoo clock by replicating the dimensions of a clock by enlarging it 30 times. It took 3 years to build the clock and the house. The clock measures 12 feet wide, 10 feet high and 3 feet deep. Once inside, a family member will show you and explain how the clock works.
Closed on Mondays – open daily from 10am-12pm and 1pm-5pm
Entrance is 2€ per person
- In Schonachbach – just a 6 minute drive from Triberg (2,5 km) is the world’s LARGEST cuckoo clock at the Eble Uhren-Park. Local clock makers Ewald and Ralf Eble built this cuckoo clock 60 times the original size of a clock measuring 15 feet tall and weights 6 tons. The cuckoo itself weighs 330 lbs, and the swinging pendulum is 26 feet long. The clock chimes every half hour. Once inside, you can climb up stairs to see the pendulum or even to the view deck to look down. Pop in a euro for an explanation about the clock! At the backside of the clock store, you can find another large clock with figurines which dance to Edelweiss if you put 1 € in to play.
Easter to October from Monday to Saturday 9am to 6pm and Sundays from 10am to 6pm
November to Easter from Monday to Saturday 9am to 5:30pm and Sundays 11am to 5pm
Entrance fee is 2 €, children under 10 years are free
- In Triberg-Gremmelsbach – located along route B 33 between Triberg and Hornberg as part of another House of 1000 Clocks store.
Visiting the Black Forest in winter was a magical experience. I visited once before as a kid and hardly remembered it but I always said if I went again, I would either go in the winter or in the fall. This particular trip had only a day’s notice and was quite sporadic! Our niece and nephew said they wanted to come to us for an “English Day” and we usually entertain them by taking them somewhere.
However, visiting in the winter requires dressing as warm as possible and wearing appropriate winter shoes. During snowy conditions, roads are obviously pretty slick and the snow plows work diligently throughout the day to plow the roads.
Also keep in mind that many restaurants are closed for the winter season with the exception of Triberg. You’ll find that everything in the Black Forest caters to tourists from the quality of the food to the plethora of tourist shops and cuckoo clock stores. I’m sad to say, I didn’t feel that there was anything authentic anymore about visiting the Black Forest and I could hardly imagine the gridlock traffic on those winding roads during warmer months, especially through the towns. But, I’m sure I will return again and explore more thoroughly next time!
Where would I be without my trusty DK Travel Guides? Lost probably! With quick details, easy to follow suggested sightseeing routes, I can find my way through any city! I also enjoyed Rough Guide’s Travel Guide to Germany with more thorough information and history on the country, which I have recently fallen in love with!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I might make a little extra spending money, at no extra cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own and these products/services have been found useful during our travels and come highly recommended to you from yours truly!
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