If you’re thinking about traveling in southern Germany, add a trip to the quaint, charming city of Freiburg im Breisgau (Freiburg) to the itinerary. There are so many things to do in Freiburg. Thanks to the local university’s students, Freiburg is a lively city filled with pubs, beer gardens and trendy restaurants. It is also the perfect home base for exploring the nearby Black Forest or taking a day trip to Baden-Baden. This travel guide shares the best of what to do in Freiburg – whether you are planning a trip around Europe, or simply popping into the city for the day.
Things to do in Freiburg
Start your trip with a free walking tour in Freiburg to ensure you see all of the major sights and historic landmarks. One of Freiburg’s top attractions is the Freiburger Münster cathedral. Be sure to walk inside to see the stained glass windows, which are absolutely spectacular. The first window on the left has a pretzel in it. That’s how much Germans love brezels (soft pretzels)!
The walking tour stays within the Old Town of Freiburg. In addition to the cathedral, the tour stops at other historic landmarks and buildings, such as Martinstor (the old city gates), Augstinerplatz (the main square) and City Hall.
There is a steep hill/park, Schlossberg, in the middle of the city center that offers amazing views of Freiburg and the Black Forest in the distance. There are several benches at the top, which makes it a nice place to relax, read a book, hang out with a friend, etc.
Following the short hike, grab a beer at Kastaniengarten, the beer garden that sits at the top. It feels like drinking in the clouds. It reminded me of drinking a beer in the Letna Beer Garden, which is my top recommendation for visiting Prague. An afternoon spent in a beer garden may be one of the best things to do in Freiburg – or any city!
What to do in Freiburg
Eat and drink
Like you would expect, there are tons of restaurants in Freiburg where you can eat traditional German cuisine. If you’re in the mood for a pub-style atmosphere, snag a booth at Schlappen, which is located in the heart of the Old Town. With a variety of beer, whiskey, wine and even absinthe (yes – absinthe!), Schlappen is the perfect place to spend the afternoon. Traditional German food, pizzas, pasta and salads are on the menu as well!
The international food scene is strong in Freiburg, as well. For an on-the-go lunch, grab a Döner Kebab from a food stand or truck. It’s a Turkish pita-style sandwich, and it is found all over Germany and throughout Europe (I ate my weight in these kebabs while traveling in Vienna). If the sun is shining, head to Augustinerplatz, where students, locals and tourists all casually hang out – enjoying lunch, a beer or both.
Within the Old Town, check out Freiburg’s indoor food market, Markthalle. It’s the place to go to sample different international cuisines. I always enjoy walking around a food market when exploring a new city. If you’re looking for other great markets in Europe, check out Barcelona’s food market, Amsterdam’s indoor food hall and Lisbon’s TimeOut Market.
Get your German food fix for lunch, so that you can eat dinner at the “all you care to eat” sushi restaurant, Oishii Sushi & Grill. It is unique in that your order is placed on iPads at your table, and you hardly have any interaction with your server. There are 10 separate rounds to order food/drinks, with a five-minute break in between rounds. It was a neat way to try different types of sushi. Come hungry and leave happy. Or in my case, leave sad that you might never experience that kind of greatness again. It’s seriously that amazing.
For dessert, order the popular Black Forest cake, essentially chocolate cake topped with cherries. You can’t visit the Black Forrest in Freiburg and not try it!
Beer gardens in Freiburg
Our German hosts told us that “drinking beer in Germany doesn’t count as drinking.” So, spend an afternoon with a beer (or two or three) outdoors in a Freiburg beer garden. In addition to Kastaniengarten (in Schlossberg), check out the city’s oldest beer garden – Hausbrauerei Feierling Biergarten. Pick any table, and turn strangers into new friends. Bonus points – they serve food! If you’re staying outside the city center, check out Ganter-Biergarten. It may be conveniently located to your accommodations. Prost!
Keeping us up-to-date with German drinking norms, our local friends warned that “it’s only acceptable to drink liquor after 6 p.m.” So if you’re eager for a cocktail in the evening, there are some fantastic cocktail bars in Freiburg. Check out Hemingway Bar, which is a super cool cocktail lounge in the city center. Monkey 47 gin is very trendy, and the “Gin Basil Smash” is absolutely delicious!
There are little canals that run throughout the city center. I read that these canals were used years ago to run waste out of the city. Another article said they were used to collect rainwater. And finally, a tour guide told us that the water in the canals were used to put out fires ages ago. And according to him, tradition says you will marry a man from Freiburg if you step in a canal. I much prefer the guide’s version. So ladies, if you are dreaming of a life with a German man, go ahead and dip those toes! And for everyone else, be careful as you walk around town. You could easily twist your ankle if you’re not paying attention.
Freiburg is also well-known for its dancing culture. Many men and women learn to dance (rumba, two-step, tango, waltz, etc.) at a young age. The dancing studios, which are located all over town, hold cocktail-style dance events on the weekends. It was such a neat experience, which you can read about in my travel journal.
Day Trip from Freiburg
Freiburg sits right on the edge of the Black Forest. Leave the city for a day to explore or hike in the Black Forest, or consider taking an organized tour. The Black Forest is home of the infamous cuckoo clocks. You may also consider a day trip to Baden-Baden, which is well-known as a bath and spa town.
If you are looking to check another country off your list, pop into nearby Colmar, France, or even Basel, Switzerland. Both are easy day trips from Freiburg.
Where to Stay in Freiburg
I think the best neighborhoods to stay in Freiburg are the Altstadt (Old Town) and the Neuberg. That way, you can walk pretty much anywhere you want to go. Check out all apartment, hotel and B&B’s on Booking.com.
For the budget traveler, there are a couple of hostels in Freiburg, such as the StayInn Hostel, Black Forest Hostel and Innenstadt Hostel. Check out these tips for choosing a hostel, especially if it’s your first time staying in one.
How to Get Around Freiburg
Cars are not permitted in the City Center. It makes exploring the area very enjoyable, as it isn’t very congested. If you explore outside the city center, take the easy-to-navigate tram and bus system. Like most cities in Germany, public transportation is affordable and efficient.
- What currency is used in Freiburg? The Euro.
- What type of outlet is used in Freiburg? Type F. If you do not have a universal power outlet adapter, I highly recommend purchasing one. And it’s perfect if you’re planning a trip to multiple countries.
- What should I pack for Freiburg? With any trip, always pack a reusable water bottle. Even better if it’s a collapsible water bottle. That way, you can roll it up and place it in your bag. You may also want to pack a power bank if your phone battery dies quickly. Check out my minimalist packing list for more packing tips.
- Do restaurants take credit cards? Most restaurants take credit cards. However, I highly recommend carrying cash on you, especially in Germany. You are bound to be in a shop, cafe, or restaurant at some point on your trip that only accepts cash.
- Where to travel next? Since you are so close to Switzerland, I recommend hopping on a high-speed train to explore Interlaken. The small Swiss town is an adrenaline junkie’s dream. Plus, the train ride (specifically the area from Bern to Interlaken) is the most beautiful ride I’ve taken. Sit on the left side of the train, and keep your eyes open. Or check out this three-month European itinerary for inspiration.
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Looking for more European travel guides and tips? Check out these posts.
- Dubrovnik Travel Guide
- A Week in Cinque Terre
- What to do in Ravello, Italy
- Three Days in Galway
- Five Easy Ways to Save Money, Spend Less and Travel More
- Budget Tips for Traveling Abroad
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