With an abundance of hiking trails and other opportunities for adventure sports in Freiburg and the Black Forest, it is easy to get carried away – but with Freiburg’s Old Town, you will find yourself actively blocking out a rest day to explore the city.
Combining Old World charm with stunning scenery, Freiburg offers the perfect setting for lazy meanderings, sampling delicious delicacies and unexpected finds on every street corner.
The first stop for any visitor to Freiburg is its market square. With a mishmash of pastel-coloured historic terraces lining the square, stalls filled with plants, sizzling sausages and vintage children’s toys fill the spaces as tourists jostle with locals to sample all the wares. In some cases, the locals are as entertaining to watch as the stalls:
The epicentre of the square is Freiburg Minster, sometimes nicknamed the ‘Witch’s Hat’. Built entirely using funds from the local guilds, you will see a mixture of Christian iconography and ‘Ye Olde’ merchant measurements and advertising.
The constructors of the minster slotted pews into every corner of the church, and I mean every corner:
At least you have your own space to admire the audacity of the guild members, who showcased which guild paid for what through the stained glass windows around the minster.
For best views of the market square, head to Skajo on Kaiser-Joseph Strabe. This sleek rooftop restaurant and bar above H&M is a perfect spot to sip a cocktail and admire the intricate carvings on Freiburg Minster.
For the best views of Freiburg however, there’s only one place to go: the Schlossberg. This hilltop offers panoramic views of the town and surrounding forest, and once upon a time contained a fort. The views are only half the fun of the fort, as its various trails lead to vineyards, forests and random stone remains waiting to be explored.
At the bottom of the Schlossberg lies the River Dreisam, and after a hard slog up the Schlossberg our feet wanted nothing more than to be dunked in its icy waters – so we did just that:
What sets Freiburg’s Old Town apart from others in Europe is the unexpected features you come across along the way. Whether it is the small open rivulets the local children play in, or the narrow streets with bridges crossing over to people’s houses….
Or my personal favourite, the crocodile statue in the river:
To fully enjoy Freiburg’s Old Town you need a sharp eye!
Of course no trip to Freiburg, or Germany for that matter, is complete without sampling the local beer. In Freiburg, the best place to go Frierling; the beer is brewed on-site, and its beer garden is located opposite offers a shaded area to sit back and enjoy a litre.
Freiburg’s close proximity to France and Switzerland also makes it one of the few places in Germany to produce its own wine. If beer isn’t your tipple, then a short train journey from the city can take you to one of the region’s wine festivals, which are held on an almost weekly basis in the summer.
Located only 1 km from the Rhine, which acts as a natural border with France, the German town of Breisach is a 45-minute train journey from Freiburg and features a distinctive French and German combination. Despite approximately 85% of the town being destroyed in WWII, its imposing St Stephan’s church is worth a visit in its own right, and the remnants of its old town and more recent additions have been thoughtfully rebuilt and conserved.
I particularly loved some of the houses in the old town that still kept some of their original historic features, which seem out of place with today’s houses!
Opposite the regal-looking Breisach history museum is the wine festival – each year local vineyards gather to offer samples of local wines, and traditional german entertainment is held for spectators. When I say samples though, I mean large glasses of wine, and at 2 euros a pour you will have to seriously contend with the dilemma of which will last longer, your wallet or your body?