Freiburg is a German city in the Baden-Württemberg region, home to about 250,000 inhabitants. Considered the gateway to the Black Forest – a mountainous massif in southwestern Germany – Freiburg boasts a beautiful cobbled old town, crisscrossed by small water channels, called Bächle, and a colorful Gothic cathedral.
Always sunny and with a warmer climate than in the rest of the country, the city is surrounded by parks and mountains, with a lively nightlife that responds to the large number of students taking their courses at the University of Freiburg.
Microbreweries from the 19th century, where the famous light beer is drunk, accompany a gastronomy that has as its star dish the Kartofflesuppe, a traditional potato soup, and the endless Lange Rote sausage (35 centimeters long).
Other attractions to see in Freiburg are: the Münsterplatz, the two medieval gates, the Whale House, the funicular railway and the Stadtgarten gardens.
Freiburg’s Old Town, or Alstadt, is relatively small and invites a leisurely stroll. You can start your journey by flanking one of the medieval gates, the Martinstor (Martin’s Tower), and take Kaiser-Joseph Straße, the main shopping street through the old town.
It is also recommended to walk along Gerberau Street, which runs parallel to the canal and is full of breweries and traditional food houses, where you can try some of the typical dishes of Freiburg: the Flammkuchen, a pizza with thin dough to which cheese, bacon and onions are added. In the old town you will find the beautiful Freiburg Cathedral -at Münsterplatz- and the Town Hall Square (Rathausplatz).
One of the must-see places in Freiburg is the Münsterplatz, also called Cathedral Square. A colorful cobblestone square where different historical buildings are concentrated, which were rebuilt in detail after being razed during World War II. Here you will find the Historical Warehouse, the Whale House and the City History Museum, which is housed in the Wentzinger Haus.
In addition to the Cathedral, which governs Münsterplatz, it is worth paying attention to the bächle: small streams that run along the sides of the square. Legend has it that those who set foot in a bächle will marry someone who lives in Freiburg.
Every day from 7.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m., the Münstermarkt takes place on Münsterplatz, an open-air market where almost 70 stalls offer local produce, but also sausages and wines from the region. It is a very good place to take a break and try Freiburg’s street food, whose highest expressions are the cheese cakes (Käsekuchen) and the currywurst (Currywurst), which costs 2 euros. To accompany the intake, we recommend a typical wine of the region, called Neuer Süsser, also known as Federroter.
Another must-see in Freiburg is the Town Hall Square or Rathausplatz. It houses two important buildings in the history of Freiburg: the Old Town Hall and the New Town Hall, connected by a footbridge. The oldest of them dates from the 13th century, with elements of the Renaissance, but it burned to the ground in a bombing during the Second World War and had to be rebuilt.
In fact, its reconstruction was very faithful and preserved the typical red sandstone facade. On the first floor of the Old Town Hall, entering through an elegant hall with cobblestones, is the Tourist Information Office. Also on the Rathausplatz is a very beautiful church, which is worth a visit: St. Martin’s Church, built in the 14th century.
One of the religious temples to see in Freiburg is its Cathedral, is the great symbol of the city and is distinguished in the old town by its bell tower – 116 meters high – which is accessed by climbing 400 steps (you have to be in good physical shape to not give up in the middle of the ascent). The tower was once called the most beautiful tower on Earth. Entrance is free but the enclosure cannot be visited when mass is being celebrated (from 10 to 17).
The cathedral has a sober Gothic style of the 14th century and, miraculously, is one of the few buildings in Freiburg that remained standing after the bombings of the Second World War. It took 300 years to build and its three-ton bell is one of the oldest in Germany (750 years old). Climbing up to the lookout point is quite an experience, as the views are fantastic.
The old town has two emblematic medieval gates to see in Freiburg: the Martinstor (Martin’s Tower), on Kaiser-Joseph Straße, built in 1202, which in addition to being a defensive tower also served as a prison for debtors and thieves. Inside is a plaque commemorating the victims of the witch hunts during the Middle Ages.
On the other hand, the Swabian Gate (Schwabentor) also dates from the 13th century and houses the Zinnfigurenklause Museum. This museum exhibits tin figures that tell the history of this southwestern German region. In total there are more than 10,000 tin figures in 21 realistic, entirely handmade models (or dioramas) depicting castles, emblematic characters, battles and historical events in the Baden region.
The Whale House is another of the historical places to see in Freiburg. It is a large building with a reddish facade and late Gothic style (with its famous golden portal-viewpoint), in the heart of the historic center of the city. It is one of the most photographed places in Freiburg and here lived Erasmus of Rotterdam, one of the fundamental scholars of the Nordic Renaissance, between 1529 and 1531.
To enjoy Freiburg from the heights and delight in the green surroundings that precede the Black Forest, it is a good plan to take the funicular that starts from the center (in the Municipal Park) and climbs in three minutes to the Palace Hill, more than 450 meters. Each funicular carries up to 25 people. The ascent and descent costs 5.5 euros.
Schlossberg Palace Hill, where the funicular arrives, is a beautiful place to watch the sunset and here was located, in the twelfth century, the Burghaldenschloss Castle, or Freiburg Castle, built on an ancient Roman settlement. It was destroyed in the early 14th century and was known as the most beautiful castle in the German lands.
One of the most striking buildings in Freiburg is the so-called Historical Warehouse. Built between 1520 and 1532, recognizable by its dark red façade and its showy lookout towers, this was the place where merchants came during the Middle Ages to store their goods and clear customs. Today, open-air events, such as the famous Freiburg Wine Tasting, are held here.
Another fascinating place to see in Freiburg is the charming Stadtgarten gardens. They are ideal for relaxing in the sun or picnicking in a green space of more than three hectares located just steps from the Cathedral. This site, designed during the 19th century, stands out for its lush rose gardens, which during the summer are the perfect setting for music concerts and outdoor theater.
It should be noted that Freiburg is one of the most ecological cities in Germany and prioritizes its green spaces. Therefore, in addition to the Stadtgarten gardens, you can visit the following parks: the Lake Park (Seepark), with its beautiful Japanese garden; the Colombi Park, the Eschholzpark, the Möslepark and the Waldsee Forest Lake, in addition to the Schlossberg recreation area on Palace Mountain.
The Freiburg Theater has acoustics that make it one of the most valued in southern Germany. It opened its doors in 1866 and is home to the Freiburg Philharmonic Orchestra. Operas and plays are performed in this hall throughout the year. We recommend a visit inside the place (it is not necessary to attend a show) to contemplate its imposing hall.
Museum of the Augustinians
The Augustinian Museum, or Augustinermuseum, is the most important museum to see in Freiburg and one of the most outstanding in southern Germany. It is a former monastery that during the 19th century was transformed into the first municipal theater in Germany and, in 1923, opened its doors as a museum. This place houses a very important collection of art history covering a time span between the Middle Ages and the Baroque period.
The Snail Quarter, or Schneckenvorstadt, is the most bohemian area of Freiburg, located between the Swabian Gate and the Martin Gate. It has small canals that gave it the name of Little Venice and its narrow streets are charming. It is called the Snail Quarter because many of the old houses have spiral staircases. This area has beautiful terraces, bars, art galleries and artisan stores to stroll for hours.