Tour Guide: Freiburg, Germany

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Tour Guide: Freiburg, Germany

Germans call Freiburg the sunniest city in the country, a claim that is actually pretty close to being scientifically accurate. The southwestern German town—located about 18 miles from the French border and 45 miles from Basel Switzerland—sees around 1,740 hours of sun a year.

Naturally, one of the nation’s brightest and warmest destinations is a logical place to spend a few days during a summer tour of Europe. That being said, Freiburg isn’t just a summer escape. The welcoming, pleasant city is a university hub, a sustainability stalwart and 20 miles northwest of the Black Forest.

To better enjoy your time in this seemingly perfect, yet unheralded locale, here are nine things you shouldn’t leave Freiburg without experiencing.

Photo: der LichtKlicker, CC-BY

Dillon Thompson is a travel intern with Paste and a student at the University of Georgia.

1. The Freiburg Cathedral

Towering over the city's old town, The Cathedral of Our Lady can be seen from almost anywhere in Freiburg. The gorgeous, towering church, completed in 1330, is perhaps the town's most notorious landmark. At an impressive 116 meters, a hike to the top of the cathedral's spire provides a view not only of Freiburg, but also of the entire surrounding region, as few buildings are tall enough to obstruct the scenery at such a height. In addition to public tours and daily visiting hours, guests are also welcome come for weekly choir performances and chapels, providing a chance to witness the church's grandiose organ at work. Photo courtesy of Flickr user der LichtKlicker

2. Augustiner Square

Combining student life, history and scenic views, the Augustiner Square is somewhat of an eclectic junction of all things distinctly Freiburg. The area is home to the Augustiner Museum, one of the region's most important historical art galleries, with collections ranging from the Middle Ages through the Baroque period. It isn't just valuable art that draws visitors though, as the square is also a favorite hangout spot for university students—on any given summer evening, you can find hundreds of young people playing instruments, drinking and testing the famous Augustinerplatz noise gauge, a tiny tower meant to regulate volume in the area that has now turned into a more of a game for locals. Photo courtesy of Flickr user kai.bates

3. Feierling Biergarten

Founded in 1877 by local brewmaster Julius Feierling, the Feierling brew house claims to have created Freiburg's first ever light beer. Today, the brewery remains as the city's oldest biergarten, as well as one of its most accommodating and comfortable places to spend a warm summer evening. The restaurant's spacious patio offers room for as many as 700 guests, and its kitchen serves a number of typical German snacks as well as a dinner menu full of traditional regional dishes. Of course beer comes first though, and the brewery offers tours every Monday through Thursday, providing its visitors with a chance to see how it creates its signature "Inselhopf" brew. Photo courtesy of Flickr user LenDog64

4. The Blue Bridge

The Blaue-Brücke, or "blue bridge," may not seem like much at first sight. The small bridge, located directly to the west of the city's old town, is reserved solely for bike and pedestrian traffic and crosses over the somewhat unattractive scenery of Freiburg's main train lines. However, an adventurous climb to the top of one of the structure's light blue arches reveals attractive sightseeing and one of the city's most infamous hangout spots. A particularly quaint location during the evening hours, the bridge transforms into a romantic hotspot at night, welcoming couples looking to watch the sun set over the surrounding Black Forest hilltops. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Michael

5. Schlossberg Hill

While only a considered hill by Black Forest standards, the 1,500-foot Schlossberg certainly offers mountain-class views. A popular hiking destination, the mountain serves as an easy entry point for further exploration into the Black Forest, while its hilltop tower provides views that stretch all the way to France in clear weather. A climb to the top only takes about 40 minutes, but if you're in need of a pit stop look no further than the Kastanien biergarten and restaurant, which is located a little less than halfway up the main hiking route. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Jan Beck

6. Munsterplatz Farmers Market

Even though the Freiburg Cathedral is enough of an attraction on its own, the daily farmers market held beneath its towering facade may in fact draw more visitors. Throughout the cathedral square, vendors sell locally produced fruits, wines, cheeses, olives and much more, all for reasonably inexpensive prices. The market is also great place for souvenir shopping, as one can find hand-carved wooden clocks or homemade candles for a similarly affordable cost. The market is open every day except Sunday, but Saturdays offer the widest range of options. Photo courtesy of Flickr user LenDog64

7. Titisee-Neustadt

Located only a half-hour drive away, Titisee-Neustadt offers a truly authentic Black Forest experience. Due to its accessibility by the regional train system, the historic spa town makes for a popular day trip destination for those staying in Freiburg. The calm village turns into a winter sports hub during the colder months, while its lake offers prime real estate for swimming, sunbathing and paddleboat renting in the summer. If the weather turns ugly, head to the Badeparadies Schwarzwald, a luxurious indoor pool and spa complex. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Daniel J. Escalera

8. Vauban

Due to its predisposition toward solar and wind energy and its heavily Green Party-influenced government, Freiburg has been at the forefront of Germany's sustainability movement for decades. Initially planned in 1993 after French soldiers left behind a handful of barracks following Germany's reunification, Vauban has become the city's shining example of its commitment to sustainability. The small neighborhood is a must-see for any eco-tourists, as its highly customized homes and apartments have been praised worldwide for their energy neutral, and oftentimes energy-plus status. Interested visitors can find information about guided tours here. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Payton Chung

9. The Freiburg "Seepark"'

For those looking to get a taste of the outdoors without trekking into the Black Forest, the Freiburg Seepark is definitely the place to go. Located on the city's west side, the park has just about every outdoor activity you could hope for, ranging from completely active to fully recreational. There are sports fields and jogging trails for those looking to keep moving, while the more relaxed visitor may want to head to the lake's shore, which features convenient lake access and conveniently located biergartens, restaurants and ice cream stands. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Jan Beck