Munich is famous for Bavaria and beer, Berlin for just about everything culturally cool and Cologne for being gateway to the world-famous Rhine Valley. Freiburg, in the southwestern Baden-Württemberg state, is one of Germany’s most underrated cities but is, for those in the know, famous for freedom.
This medieval city, which translates as ‘free town’ is gateway to the Black Forest, a mountainous national park which gives you all the feelings of freedom in nature you could hope for. For example, the park has over 24,000km of hiking, cross country skiing and cycling trails, making it an all- season nature and adventure lovers’ haven in the heart of south-west Germany.
What to do in Freiburg
Outdoor life in Freiburg is also helped by the fact that Freiburg is on record as German’s warmest city, with over 2,000 hours of sunshine throughout the year. And given that Freiburgers aren’t going to say no to ‘free’ things, most of the city is powered by solar energy, meaning that it is also one of the country’s most eco-friendly cities.
For cultural tradition, the 11th century Freiburger Münster overlooks an ancient, medieval centre, which boasts food or flower markets in summer, the traditional Christmas market in winter and café life all year round. Everything is within easy access in this city too, so you can take in calming cultural spots such as the Augustiner Museum, with art and sculptures dating back to the Middle Ages.
Traditions in Freiburg
Traditional crafts abound in Freiburg, with a wide variety of artisans and artists sustaining the Black Forest traditions of wooden toys, cuckoo clocks and hand-carved beer steins. Another ancient feature of Freiburg is its Bächle, or streams, which run through the streets in small gullies, designed to provide a water supply to all citizens in times gone by. A rather delightful tradition is for children to play with small wooden boats in these streams, available to buy in local craft shops.
Much bigger toys can be found at nearby Europapark, which is Germany’s largest theme park, just over half an hour away by train at Ringsheim. Not only is it the second most popular theme park after Disneyland Paris, it has been run by the same (Mack) family since 1975.
There is no shortage of spots to imbibe the most popular cultural activity in Freiburg – beer drinking. Hausbrauerei Feierling, a family-run brewery, is a famous hangout with a huge outdoor beer garden in summer, and one that has been hosting Freiburgers for over a hundred years.
How to get to Freiburg by train
Use a German Rail Pass to enjoy travel not only to Freiburg but throughout the country. Freiburg is just over 2h from Frankfurt, about 1h from Karlsruhe. It is also worth noting that Freiburg is just over an hour from Strasbourg in France, the capital of another traditional region of Alsace-Lorraine.