The only times I have driven through the Black Forest have been when I have been based in Strasbourg as well. There are some beautiful forest roads, actually quite similar to the forest roads in the Vosges on the French side.
I have driven both down to Freiburg and also up to Baden-Baden. Baden is really worth a visit if you like those over-the-top spa towns from the early 20th century (I enjoy them!). It's like Disneyland for old people. Instead of rides, they have the thermal center, the casino and countless cream cakes.
And speaking of Disneyland, the largest amusement park in Germany can be found in the Black Forest as well -- Europa Park in the town of Rust pulls in 4 million visitors a year (compared to 12 million for Disneyland Paris). I've never been there myself, but have heard good things about it. It doesn't have only rides but has also swallowed the château of Rust (dating from 1442), and has 'theme lands' such as Italy and Spain (no point in having Germany, France, or Switzerland because 90% of the visitors come from those 3 countries).
It's good to know that it exists even if you have no intention of going there, because it will explain the traffic jams between Freiburg and Offenburg.
We've actually kicked around the idea of both Baden-Baden and Freiburg. I have a feeling Frieburg might win out...I'm not sure we'll have enough time for Europa. Why can't I win the lottery so I can just cruise around the world at my own pace? Is that too much to ask?
There is a hotel we love in the Black Forest called Hotel Kannenkeller. A quaint hotel in a picturesque town, when you look out the dining room window, and snapped a picture of the town, you could make a postcard out of it. It's 30 minutes from Legoland. We prefer eating in the tiny bar room, more character, and the chef/owner brings out a variety of vegtables/potatoes.. wonderful place. You must ask for a tour of their "wine" cellar. Although there is not much wine down there, there cavernous rooms downstairs that have a lot of history where they would keep people during the war, fill the huge rooms with snow in the winter to keep for the summer months.
We also really enjoyed Neuschwanstein castle. It is the castle that Disney was inspired by. It's nice to take the horse drawn carriage up to the castle. You don't have to prebook, but rise early and get by 10 to beet the crowds.
Close to where you are staying is Colmar, also a cute town known for the best Christmas market in the area. There is also the porsche museum that my husband and brother in law have visited in Stuttgart, which they really loved. I stayed at Europa Park with the kids while they went. Even just driving on the autobahn is quite fun. Coming to Europe I didn't think I'd drive on the autobahn, but have done it a few times and enjoyed it. If you plan ahead there is a place called Nurburgring race track and you can rent time on the track.
Thanks for the tips everyone! We still haven't made a choice. I did find a driving tour (route) that we may follow. I'm still leaning towards Freiburg. A little worried about driving in Germany since neither of us speak/read German.
I do not think you will find any problems driving in Germany. The roadways are well maintained and well marked. My husband can speak a little of German but that did not affect how easily we found travelling in Germany.
If I may suggest, we looked up sights on the internet on International Driving and found out many interesting facts for our trip when we drove through Germany, France, Switzerland and Austria. There are examples of road signs and guidelines. We felt more comfortable after reading them.
Expect to enjoy your driving trip, it is hard to keep your eyes on the roadway though, so many beautiful things to see. Cheers, Mich
Thrill, there is one peculiar thing about driving in Germany. Actually there are several. First I'm sure you are aware that on some sections of the autobahns, the motorways, there is no speed limit. There is an advisory limit of 130km/h, but it's not the rule. So, if you are on them, and mostly they have just two lanes, if you want to overtake something bear in mind some sales rep may be doing 200km/h at least behind you. Don't misjudge the space or time you have. Also they are fond of speed cameras, especially in villages where the speed limit comes all the way down to 30km/h. Even my wife who lived there for many, many years still gets caught out by them (as she did last week, twice in the same day).
The speed limit coming in to a town/village will rarely be signposted at first. So, say you are tootling along a country road at 80km/h listening to Rammstein on the radio, you come to a village and as you pass the yellow sign with the village name on it - that is where the 50km/h speed limit starts. On exiting the village it ends where the sign is with the name of the village and a red line through it. In the village there might be a different limit, but you'll have a sign to tell you. Initially always slow to 50km/h on entering at the name sign unless told otherwise.
However, the thing that gets me is the 'Give way to the right' rule. If there are no road markings at a junction/roundabout, you must give way to the traffic on your right. Sounds obvious, but it isn’t and this is what gets me, especially in villages. You enter a village, you are on the main road through it and you would expect that any traffic at a junction joining your road would cede priority to you. That’s not always the case, it depends on the road markings and signs or lack of them. In the village I used to live, if there was a road to the right and something wanted to join my road, it had priority, not me. I had to stop or give way to it. This tends to happen just on minor roads in some villages, very rare in a town or bigger but it’s worth looking out for.
I agree with you Mark, it may sound stereotypical, but it is said with respect to their driving skills.
Having been a passenger on many trips driving through Germany and France, I have to say how pleasant it is to observe how orderly they are on the roadways, not just the autobahn.
Our first driving trip I was nervous of what to expect after hearing and reading how fast people drive. I enjoyed the experience so much. People pay attention to what lane they should be in. As a driver there, you pay attention with respect to your fellow drivers. When we got home and drove out of the Airport onto the 400, which is actually a bigger highway series than parts of the autobahn is, we thought we were going to get killed, people weaving in and out, slow cars travelling in the left lanes, transports in every lane, oh how we missed driving in Europe.
In the summer, there are reports on the news each Monday night that the Police release telling of the senseless experiences they encountered while policing the highway on weekends. There was actually a report last summer of a person being stopped because of speeding and when the Policeman looked into the car, there was a slow cooker plugged in sitting on the passenger seat cooking away! That is not a joke. Mich