Freiburg, as it’s commonly called, is the fourth largest city in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, on the western edge of the Black Forest.
The city is recognised for its medieval cathedral and Renaissance university and its high standard of living and excellent sustainable urbanism, being one of the most sustainable cities on the planet.
Freiburg has a unique stream system (called Freiburg Bächle), with water coming from the Dreisam River and running along most of the old town’s streets and alleys.
These canals have been around since at least 1250, but it is believed that they may be older and existed in the twelfth-century record.
During the summer, the running water provides natural cooling of the air, and it is not uncommon to see a group of children playing in the water or some adults cooling their feet in the clean water.
Just be careful, because when we passed Freiburg, it was in the evening, we didn’t see one of these small canals and our car tire fell into it, scratching our wheel.
The sustainable urbanism has also meant more than 400 km of cycle routes outside the Altstadt (Old Town) and twice as many bicycles as cars – a real paradise for cyclists.
I visited Freiburg twice, but both times we were just passing through (going to Colmar and Stuttgart).
So, I confess that I’ve only stayed both times just for a couple of hours and strolled around the city centre, which is lovely with the colourful half-timbered houses and car-free cobblestone roads lining its Old Town.
Being a hub for regional tourism, Freiburg is much more than the city centre and has plenty of tourist attractions.
What to see in Freiburg?
Münsterplatz or Minster Square is Freiburg’s largest square. This square has a gothic cathedral, Freiburger Münsters, constructed of red sandstone, built between 1200 and 1530 and remarked for its towering spire.
Historisches Kaufhaus was once the economic centre of the region. Built between 1520 and 1530, its facade is embellished with sculptures and the coat of arms of four Habsburg emperors. It is also on the Münsterplatz.
Augustinerplatz is the central square in the old city with several coffee shops and restaurants. In addition, the numerous little streets and paths between the old houses are worth exploring.
Augustinermuseum is settled in the former Augustinian Monastery building and displays a municipal collection of arts such as altars, paintings, sculptures and statuettes of the Baroque period. More info here.
Hausbrauerei Feierling, founded in 1877, is one of the oldest breweries in the city. The place is very cool, good beer selection and tasty food. I highly recommended. Address: Gerberau 46, at the Augustinerplatz.
Zum roten Bären is the oldest hotel in Germany, from around the year 1120. Address: Oberlinden 12. If you would like to book this hotel, click here.
Altes Rathaus or Old Town Hall, is located at the Rathausplatz next to the New Town Hall. This building dates from the late 13th century.
Haus zum Walfisch is a gothic bourgeois house and nowadays is used by Sparkasse Freiburg-Nördlicher Breisgau bank. Address: Franziskanerstraße 5
Schlossberg Hill has 456 metres (1,496 ft) and provides great views over Freiburg and the surrounding region. Unfortunately, I didn’t visit this place, but it has lovely views from the pictures I’ve seen, especially at sunset. Address: Kuratorium Freiburger Schlossberg e.V c/o Museum für Stadtgeschichte, Münsterplatz 30
Arboretum Freiburg-Günterstal is a botanical collection composed exclusively of trees maintained by the University of Freiburg. Address: Günterstalstraße 71
Botanischer Garten Freiburg is a botanical garden founded in 1620 in the Herdern district and has more than 8,000 species. Address: Schänzlestraße 1
Siegesdenkmal is a memorial to the German victory in the Franco-Prussian War in 1871.
Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg was established in 1457, been the fifth-oldest university in Germany, with a long tradition of educating humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.
Martinstor (Martin’s Gate), built during 1202 and Schwabentor from the mid-13th century, are the 2 of the 5 remaining gates that granted access to Freiburg in the Middle Ages. Location: Martinsgässle & Oberlinden 25
Markthalle, the international food court, has over 20 stalls preparing specialities from all over the world, and I highly suggest a pit stop over there.
There is also the Universitätsbibliothek Freiburg, Seepark, Alte Synagoge, Basler Hof, the Stadtgarten, Erzbischöfliches Ordinariat, Stadttheater amongs other places to visit.
And if you have time, visit the open-air farmer’s market on weekdays from 7:30 am to 1:30 pm in the area near the Cathedral.
How to get there?
The nearest airport is Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg (75km), but another option is to fly to Strasbourg (90km), Zürich (156km), Stuttgart (205km) and Frankfurt (262km).
It has intercity connections to more than 20 cities in Germany like Hamburg, Berlin, Munich and international bus connections to France like Paris, Lyon, Montpellier and many more European countries.
Most of the Altstadt is a pedestrian zone, though the city operates 16 car parking with easy access to the city centre.
Day trips and nearby towns
Schauinsland: a peak in the Black Forest with an elevation of 4.213 ft (1.284 m) above sea level, ten kilometres of Freiburg’s city centre.
Visit Vauban, just 3km from the centre, the much-celebrated, designed eco-friendly suburb community. It has organic waste anaerobic digesters, rooftop gardens, co-op supermarkets, food-sharing pantries, all with low-energy buildings.
Colmar: the lovely town in France is 32 miles (51 kilometres) away. I’ve written an article about it here.
Triberg: is 37 miles – 60km away (read more here).
Strasbourg in France: is about 54 miles (86km) of distance.
As Freiburg is considered the sunniest city in Germany and a lovely place to visit in the Black Forest, there is no doubt that it deserves a visit while you are in the area.
But don’t forget that on Sunday all the shops are closed in Germany and Freiburg gets very quiet.