Looking for travel tips on what to do in Freiburg?
As part of our city guides series, we interviewed Andrew Couch who has lived in Freiburg since 2007.
Andrew shares with us his insider tips on things to do in Freiburg for those looking for the best places to see, eat, stay, drink, and explore.
Take it away Andrew.
Why visit Freiburg?
Freiburg is a German university city out of the main English speaking tourist flow that runs Munich to Berlin and yet central in Europe.
It is a beautiful, walkable city on the edge of the Black Forest known for being in the sunniest corner of the country.
The university and its students keep it vibrant and cultural. It is a good base to explore this region with day trips to the nearby spa towns and the numerous hiking opportunities of the forest nearby.
What to do in Freiburg
Start with walking around the old town with its historic buildings and relaxing squares.
Go to the Cathedral square in the morning to see the farmer’s market and eat a sausage from the stands there.
Explore the side streets and step over the Bächle, the tiny water rills along many streets which are unique to Freiburg.
See the iconic Martin’s Tor (one of the former city gates) with the McDonalds in it.
Then head up the Schlossberg (Castle hill). There are stairs and an elevator at Schwabentor (another former city gate) that head up. The mountain is an extension of the black forest and is terraced.
At one level there is a beer garden with views of the whole city. The next level up is Cannonenplatz with seats and views as well. Further up is a lookout tower to climb.
The city itself is pretty relaxing, so to “do stuff” you need to leave town for a bit.
If you like a good walk, head down to the river and start walking. My favorite direction is east toward the forest. You can walk for miles along the river. In the summer the banks are a popular hangout.
Best neighborhoods in Freiburg
Certainly, the Altstadt (old town) is the best place to walk around. The Cathedral and Town Hall have their own squares and the pedestrian shopping streets are there too.
On a Saturday this is where the action is. If you want to get out of the center there are a few neighboring districts to look at.
Weihre is south of the center and over the river. It is one of the older neighborhoods with older buildings. While mainly residential, there are some nice places to shop and eat.
Stühlinger is the other side of the train tracks and mainly a student area. More little neighborhood cafes here.
Gunterstal is the end stop on the green line going south. It is almost a self-enclosed village of its own with expected charm.
Where to Eat in Freiburg
I’ve got a whole post at Grounded Traveler of places to eat in the Freiburg old town for more detail.
The best food for a quick lunch is at the Markthalle, a food court of many ethnic food stands right near the center.
If you want something more upscale try the Schloß Cafe. An old hunting lodge on a hill with great views, although a bit of a walk from the center.
You Can’t Visit Freiburg Without Eating…
Flammkuchen. It is a thin crispy dough with cream sauce and toppings. So a bit like a pizza, but not. The classic toppings of onion and bacon are from just over the river in Alsace France. A lot of places in town serve it and most will put just about anything you want on it.
Where to Drink in Freiburg
Feierling. This is a tiny brewery in Freiburg with both a pub and a beer garden. The beer is unfiltered and a little sweet, but very fresh.
Best Place for a Night on the Town in Freiburg
Hit up Niemannstrasse near the University. There are a number of bars and cafes that are open late. In summer sitting out side is an easy and enjoyable prospect.
Where to Stay in Freiburg
I have always come to Freiburg to live so always had apartments to move into.
Although when I move here from the US permanently I did stay for several weeks in the City Hotel. It isn’t pretty from the outside, but it is right in the old town and the staff was friendly.
Markets and Shopping in Freiburg
The old town and the pedestrian streets there are the main shopping district. It is mostly big name stores, not too much unique. The best market is the one around the Cathedral.
Events and Festivals in Freiburg
Christmas Markets for the four weeks of Advent in November and December. Summer brings wine fests both in Freiburg and surrounding towns.
Summer also brings music and local fests in specific sections of town and on the castle hill.
Fasching is the German version of Mardi Gras celebrated 6 weeks ahead of Easter on a Monday. Not an official festival, but October brings New Wine Season. Check out the sweet new wine in the market.
Getting Around Freiburg
The center of the city is very walkable. Even from the center to one edge of the city is about an hour walk. There is also a tram system that keeps all parts of the city well connected.
Finding WiFi in Freiburg
Unfortunately no. Starbucks is your best bet for wifi even if you might have to pay for it.
Best time to visit Freiburg
Late spring to early fall. The town lives up to its reputation as the sunniest part of Germany. This is also the time for many festivals both in Freiburg itself and surrounding towns.
Sit in the sun and enjoy a cold beer or wine in a square.
Favorite side trip from Freiburg
Freiburg is a great town, but it can feel small. However it is at the center of a good regional transport network so day tripping is a really excellent idea.
Titisee or Feldberg in the forest, the spa resort town of Baden Baden, the Kaiserstuhl wine growing area or even Switzerland are all within a few hours on the train and make easy daytrips.
Afterward come back to town and enjoy a beer.
Getting there and away
Frankfurt International airport has a train station in it that has links to Freiburg. The ICE train connections take 2 hours and either run straight or have a very easy connection (same platform) in Mannheim.
Basel Euroairport has an Easyjet hub and it connected by bus to Freiburg.
The train is probably your best bet if you are already in Europe with Milan and Paris about 5 hours away.
Best insiders Tip for travel to Freiburg
My quirky favorite is the marking on the ground just north of the old town where the 48 latitude line goes through. It is an inlay in the sidewalk.
I Love Freiburg because…
It feels like home. Not just that I have lived here, but it has a lot of elements that make it feel like my favorite teenager haunt of Chapel Hill back in North Carolina as well as Blacksburg, VA where I went to college.
Check out these other posts about Germany:
Plan Your Trip to Freiburg, Germany
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BIO: Andrew is a American who now lives in Freiburg, Germany. He writes about the expat experience of putting down roots in Germany and travels around the world at his blog Grounded Traveler. He is also active on Twitter and has Facebook. He is married to Ali of Ali’s Adventures.