Freiburg is a city attached to nature. The Black Forest isn’t just nearby, an arm of it comes right down into the center of town as Castle Hill. It is also a city of relaxation and enjoyment of outdoors.
There are a few sites to see, but the best aspect of the city is really just to be able to wander through the old town and university for a while and then sit with a beer and some friends.
Start the Day with Bread
Despite Germany being known as the land of sausage and beer, it is really the land of bread. Ask any German who has lived away from Germany for a number of years what they miss of their homeland and the likely answer is the bread. There are bakeries on every street in Freiburg. Start your day in one.
Point at something in the case that looks good and if you are so inclined a coffee as well. I like to sit on the benches in Rathaus plaza with my pastry and drink in the early morning. Savor the flavors of bread and coffee, the REAL mainstays of the German diet.
The center of the old town is the Cathedral and its square. Head here in the morning on any day but Sunday and experience the bustling farmer’s market. If you are so inclined, you can climb the tower and get a good view of Freiburg from above.
Much of the produce is local and shifts with the seasons. October sees New Wine and summer sees its progression of fresh fruits and veggies each in turn. Walking through the market gives an initial view at how close the city is to nature and its region with so much stuff coming from the locality.
Top Down – Climb the Tower
While in the square, tear yourself from the numerous goodies on offer and take a look at the gothic cathedral that centers the square.
The single tower can be climbed and I would totally recommend it if you are there on a nice day. The entrance to the tower is just to the right of the main entrance to the building on the outside. You pay halfway up. Do realize that you will be standing amongst bells at the top, so check your times before you climb. From the top, you get a grand view of the old town its two remaining city wall towers and the imposing bulk of Castle Hill.
Once you come down, head to the north side of the Cathedral to admire the gargoyles. See if you can spot the one sicking his butt out.
From the architectural heights of town, head up to the natural heights. Walk from the cathedral toward Schwabentor, one of the city’s remaining gates. Head up the stairs and over the road onto castle hill. This is a last gasp of the hills that form the Black Forest as it extends into town.
The first stop going up is the beer garden of Kastanien Garten, a great place for a pint and to get a view over Freiburg. You can also see up the Höllental (Hell Valley) on the opposite side of the hill from town.
Head up further to Canonenplatz for a wider view of the area. Even further up is a viewing tower that can be climbed to see everything at once. At each of these venues, just look at how much green space is a part of the city.
Castle hill extends into the forest and there are marked hiking trails at each of these levels. If you are so inclined, feel free to go hiking and explore the hills.
Oh and if there happens to be a festival in town, ignore the entire rest of this post and just go hang out there.
Head back down to Schwabentor and head back along the tram lines toward the center of town. At Augustinerplatz head left into the sloped bricked plaza. In the evenings and warm summer days, many people sit on the steps here with beers and enjoy being outside with friends.
Take notice the Bächle running along the side of the plaza. These are unique to Freiburg. People splash with bare feet in them in the summer and children play with little boats in them as well.
At the base of the square, turn left to get to Feierling. A house brewery with its own beer garden across the street. Come in the summer and sit under the trees and enjoy a few pints. Before you head into the biergarten, check out the Bach (stream) across the way and the stone crocodile in the middle.
On to People Watching
When you are ready for a change of scenery, head out of the biergarten to the right and continue along until you hit the tramlines again. This should put you just below Martinstor, the other remaining city gate.
Head through the gate and turn right into the university quarter. Find a table at an outside cafe and enjoy the people watching until your bed calls again.
Top down or Bottoms Up
So a perfect day involves really just doing what makes you happy in Freiburg. Whether it is exploring the heights of the Cathedral tower and Castle hill or the depths of a beer mug, Freiburg is a place to relax and enjoy.
There are a few museums and sights, but it isn’t a tourist town in that sense. Freiburg as a city is a base to explore the Black Forest as well as the home of a University and several other institutes of higher learning.
If you are burning for a few more sights, check out these.
- 48 North Latitude. The 48th parallel runs just north of the center. There is a row of bricks in the sidewalk to mark it.
- For quirkiness, seek out what I call the “Creepy monkey fountain” on the back side of the Sparkassebuilding.
- There is a city museum in the back corner of Cathedral Square about the history of town.
Check out these other posts on Freiburg for more info:
- Places to Eat in Freiburg
- My Favorite Places in Freiburg
- Things to See in Freiburg
- Daytrips in the Area
- Scenes from Freiburg
If you want to see more of Germany, check out Ali’s Germany Itinerary and put together a few weeks in this great country.