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Freiburg, Germany is a fabulous destination – either as a day trip or a home base to discover more of the region. In fact, we were a bit surprised to find so many fun things to do in Freiburg, Germany – and now we are sharing our list to help fellow travelers discover all the sights, too.
We were lured to Freiburg by the beautiful Black Forest but were equally excited about the historic places to see in Freiburg Old Town. Of course, a trip to Freiburg would not be complete without local fare, so we made room in our Freiburg itinerary to eat classic German food as well.
Best Things To Do in Freiburg, Germany
The first time we heard of Freiburg, Germany was when we were housesitting in Basel, Switzerland. We were looking for an easy and entertaining day trip from Basel – one where we could enjoy the beautiful spring weather, see a few historic sights and have an affordable and delicious meal in a restaurant (Basel is so expensive!). Freiburg emerged as a suggested destination. On a sunny day, we traveled from Basel to Freiburg – and discovered 6 of the most fabulous Things To Do in Freiburg im Breisgau!
Freiburg: What To Do
Freiburg – locally called Freiburg im Breisgau – is a fantastic destination! Our list of things to do includes top Freiburg activities and sights that can be enjoyed in one day. At the end of the post, we include a helpful link to a Freiburg, Germany Map of Sights.
Save, Pin or Bookmark this Freiburg Visitors Guide so that you can access it as you plan your trip to Europe!
#1 Visit the Freiburg Munster
The Freiburg Munster – also Freiburg Minster or simply the Freiburg Cathedral – is officially called the Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady and it sits at the center of the Freiburg Old Town. The incredibly detailed Gothic cathedral was built from 1200 to 1330 – and visiting the Cathedral should be at the top of your Freiburg to-do list.
The spire reaches 380 feet into the sky and hanging inside are 19 bells (the oldest date to the year 1285). Although Freiburg was heavily bombed in 1944, the church suffered little damage. The church is open (and free); taking a look inside is one of the top things to do in Freiburg, Germany.
Freiburg Cathedral Market
The Munstermarkt – or Freiburg Market – takes place in the square surrounding the church, Munsterplatz. One of the free things to do in Freiburg is to peruse the market goods.
Flowers, produce and hand-crafted toys are sold from stalls on both sides of the Cathedral.
On the north side of the church there a long row of vendors selling tasty German sausages.
While shopping – and eating – don’t miss the blazing red Historical Merchant’s Hall – one of the most beautiful buildings in Freiburg – on the south side of the square.
The market in Freiburg is open every morning except on Sundays.
#2 Explore the Freiburg Old Town
The city of Freiburg was established as a ‘Fortified Town of Free Citizens’ (a loose translation of the name Freiburg) in the year 1120. Although various rulers and wars have left their mark on the city, a preserved (and in some cases re-created) Old Town occupies the Freiburg center today. Exploring the ancient cobblestone lanes is one of the top Freiburg things to do.
Old Town Freiburg Sights
The historic Old Town is small and walkable, making Freiburg sightseeing simply enjoyable. During our visit we literally stumbled onto many of the Freiburg attractions, but we are listing the ones you really shouldn’t miss.
The Schwabentor Tower – or the Swabian Gate – has stood in Freiburg since the year 1250 as part of the city’s fortifications. The gate features a striking clock and two interesting paintings.
On the side of the tower that faces in towards town, there is a picture of a traveling merchant – and the image comes complete with a legend. According to the tale, a man came to Freiburg to buy the town with two barrels of gold. However, when he arrived, he found out his wife had taken the gold and filled the barrels with sand, leaving him to be ridiculed.
On the outside of the tower facing away from the city is a painting of St. George, the Patron Saint of Freiburg.
Inside the Schwabentor Tower is a small museum, Zinnfigurenklause, that features small figurines. It is open in the afternoons, but is closed on Mondays.
The Martinstor Tower – or Martin’s Gate – is another one of the remaining Freiburg city gates. It officially dates to the year 1238, but research proves that the beams are even older, possibly from the year 1202.
The tower no longer features a painting (it was removed in 1951), but there is a clock, a plaque commemorating the burning of three witches in 1599…and (the unfortunately unmissable) McDonald’s sign.
In Freiburg, the Old Town Hall and New Town Hall sit next to each other on a pleasant square, Rathausplatz (Town Hall Square). The New Town Hall was built in the mid-1500s as a duplex house. It was used by the university for 300 years and in 1901 became the New Town Hall.
The bright red Old Town Hall has been owned by the city since the 14th century and features several coats of arms. Part of the famous Freiburg Christmas Market is held on Rathausplatz. (In fact, there are several fantastic European Christmas Markets that take place around the region!)
Visitors looking for things to do in Freiburg on a rainy day can add the Augustiner Museum to their trip itinerary. The small museum is housed in an old monastery and features art works from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. There is a small fee to enter the museum.
One of the unusual things to do in Freiburg, Germany is to look for the Freiburg Bachle – which are man-made water channels.
Running along the Old Town lanes, the narrow ditches of steaming water, known as Freiburg Bachle, date to the 13th century. The stream was diverted from the Dreisam River as a source of water to battle fires and provide drink for livestock (but thankfully never for sewage).
When the use for the bachle became obsolete, residents fought to keep the unique system of irrigation. Today, the water is said to keep the town cool in the summer. Kids play with boats in the bachle and, according to legend, anyone who steps in the water is destined to marry a local from Freiburg.
#3 Hike in the Freiburg Black Forest
Freiburg is nestled at the base of Schlossberg (or Castle Hill), a hill on the western edge of the German Black Forest – which means Freiburg hiking is only steps away from the historic Old Town.
The main Black Forest attractions include paved and dirt trails that crisscross through Schlossberg, leading to scenic viewpoints and castle remains. However, one of the best things to do in the Black Forest is hike to (and up) the Schlossbergturm, a 114-foot-tall observation tower that provides 360-degree views of the region.
Freiburg Old Town Hike to Scholossbergturm
We took a break from sightseeing Freiburg and started our Freiburg Black Forest Hike from the southwest corner of Schlossberg (near the Schwabentor Tower). Most of the trails were not marked, but there were picture plaques of the Schlossbergturm with arrows to guide our way.
From Old Town Freiburg, the one-way trek is about 1km and takes about a half hour (longer if you allow time for taking in the views from the two observation decks along the trail).
I completed the hike in flip flops, which isn’t advised. If I had been wearing better shoes, we would have hiked more trails, as the Black Forest was one of our favorite places to visit in Freiburg!
More Things To Do in Freiburg Black Forest
Visitors who prefer not to hike, but still want to walk in the Black Forest, can take the Schlossbergbahn, a funicular railway that links the Old Town to the forest.
On the other hand, visitors who want a higher Black Forest experience can take the nearby cable car to the top of Schauinsland mountain. From the gondola, there are expansive views across the Rhine Valley.
Freiburg Attractions for Nature
Other Freiburg places to visit for a dose of nature – without hiking the Black Forest from Freiburg – are Colombipark, Stadtgarten, Seepark and the Freiburg Botanical Garden.
#4 Stroll the Old Freiburg Cemetery
Although some may think visiting a cemetery is spooky, visiting the Alter Friedhof (Old Cemetery) is definitely one of the top Freiburg, Germany things to do. The cemetery was used for local burials from 1683 until 1872.
The gravestones range from simple and modest to detailed sculptures. Both the history and the art are what makes the cemetery one of the Freiburg tourist attractions.
We took our time strolling through the cemetery and looking for dates on the longstanding headstones. We noted how some were crumbling and covered in moss and other graves were in pristine condition.
While we were at Alter Friedhof, we noticed many locals enjoying the cemetery as a park by walking their dogs and having picnic lunches.
#5 Drink Beer at a Freiburg Brewery
When in Germany, drink beer. When is Freiburg, drink Freiburg beer! It’s even better if you can drink it outdoors in a classic German beer garden. On our quick trip to Freiburg, we managed to sample Freiburg beers from three Freiburg breweries. Someone has to do it, right?
Feierling Brewery first opened in 1877 near the current location on Augustinerplatz – and the brewmaster is a 4th generation Feierling. The beer is brewed in-house (tours are available), but the main feature of Hausbrauerei Feierling is the spacious and lively Biergarten.
The Ganter Brewery is a family-run business that was founded in Freiburg in 1865. The brewery, where they offer tours, is on the outskirts of town (which can be easily seen from the top of the Schlossbergturm) – or there is the Ganter Brewery Bar located on Munsterplatz where guests can get a taste of the classic Freiburg Beer in a wonderful setting.
Martin’s Brew opened in 1989 in the Freiburg Markthalle. In addition to the standard beers produced at Martin’s Brau, they also make small-batch, seasonal specialties.
#6 Eat German Food
What goes best with German beer? German food, of course! And there are many Freiburg, Germany restaurants serving delicious, hearty German meals. Some of the menu items we were searching for while in Freiburg were Brezels (soft pretzels), Spatzle (noodle dish), Flammkuchen (thin pizza) and Sausages with Kraut.
What To Eat in Freiburg
We coordinated our sightseeing in Freiburg, Germany to be at the city center cathedral at lunchtime. We joined both tourists and locals for one of the locally famous ‘Lange Rote’ – a foot-long sausage served in a baguette with sautéed onions – from the food stalls on the north side of the church.
In the early evening, we snacked on brezels while sipping our beers, but were ready for dinner when we sat down at Martin’s Brau. Disappointed to see that Flammkuchen was not on the menu, we opted for the local Spatzle Freiburg-style (with bacon, onions and beer sauerkraut) and farmhouse sausages (because there is no such thing as too many sausages when in Germany) and it was delicious!
For visitors who are less enthusiastic about traditional German fare, the Freiburg Markthalle is the place to go to eat international cuisine. With a food court atmosphere, guests can choose from dishes around the world.
Summertime Freiburg visitors can cool down with a sweet treat of ice cream. The best ice cream shop in Freiburg is Eiscafe Portofino, which has been dishing out fresh made scoops of ice cream since 1998.
Top Tip: Looking for the best restaurants in Freiburg? Check out the reviews for Freiburg restaurants on TripAdvisor.
Freiburg, Germany Map of Sights
Use this link to Google Map to find all of our Top Things To Do In Freiburg, Germany on an online, interactive Freiburg map.
Top Travel Tips for your Trip to Freiburg, Germany
We have shared our top tips for what to see in Freiburg – but we have a few more important details for visiting Freiburg.
Planning a Trip to Freiburg, Germany
Using our tips of Things To Do Freiburg, it is fairly easy to plan what to see and do in the city. That said, we offer more travel tips – like how to get there and where to stay – below.
As you make your travel plans, you will need to keep track of all the trip details. We recommend using a travel planner – like our Trip Planning Printables – to get (and stay) organized for your vacation to Germany.
Tourist Information Freiburg
If you want more ideas of what to do in Freiburg for a day, make the Freiburg Tourist Information Office your first stop in the city. They offer a free Freiburg Tourist Map – or one that costs 1 euro and includes an outlined walking route along with Freiburg facts.
The Freiburg Tourist Office is located in the Old Town Hall on Rathausplatz. For more Freiburg tourist info, visit the official visitor website.
Freiburg, Germany Shopping
In addition to the things to see in Freiburg, there are also many places to shop. Coming from Switzerland, where prices are exorbitant, we spent some time at the shops in Freiburg where we could pick up a few items at a lower cost. However, since we were taking the Freiburg to Basel train rather than driving, we had to be sure we could carry it all home!
Best Time to Visit Freiburg
There are reasons to visit Freiburg in every season, but we have a few tips about what kind of weather you can expect throughout the year.
Summer in Freiburg, Germany
Summertime is warm and wonderful! Visitors will be able to enjoy all of the outdoor activities – like strolling the old town, hiking the hill and drinking in outdoor beer gardens. But there is a chance of rain throughout the summer months – so be sure to bring a raincoat and travel umbrella.
Freiburg in Spring and Autumn
The Freiburg shoulder seasons are spring and autumn – but we think it’s a great time to travel to Freiburg! The weather is cooler, but not cold – which we think is ideal for exploring (especially hiking).
Wintertime in Freiburg
While it does get cold during the winter months, it can still be a fantastic time to visit Freiburg. In fact, one of the top things to do in Freiburg in winter is go to the fun Christmas markets.
Top Tip: Use our tips for more of the Best Places for Christmas in Europe.
How to Get to Freiburg, Germany
Freiburg can be reached by plane, train, bus or car. We took the Basel to Freiburg train (regional) and saved money by purchasing a Regional Day Ticket. The train from Basel to Freiburg, Germany took one hour (there is a faster Freiburg ICE train, but it is not included with the Regional Day Ticket). A visit to Freiburg can also be added on to a trip to Colmar or a Strasbourg, France itinerary!
Looking for an airport near Freiburg, Germany? The EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg (BSL) is the closest airport to Freiburg, Germany…and is located 29 miles away in Saint-Louis, France. Read our hints for finding the best fares on airline tickets and then hop on SkyScanner.
Freiburg Train Station
The Freiburg Train Station is located west of the Old Town (but within easy walking distance). Well-connected to other cities, day trips from Freiburg are easy to organize. Search schedules for Freiburg day trips to nearby cities:
Where to Stay in Freiburg, Germany
Visitors staying for longer than one day will find that there are many accommodation options of where to stay in Freiburg in – or close to – the city center. Use our tips for finding the best hotels and great Airbnb apartments at the best price before you book your trip!
What You Will Need for Your Trip to Freiburg, Germany
Whether spending one day in Freiburg or staying for an entire week, there are a few items you will want to have for your trip! We share more packing tips on our Travel Packing blog page. Need a Packing Checklist? Get a FREE checklist here!
The Right Shoes
Good Travel Camera
Travel Day Pack
Whether you travel with a backpack or suitcase, a good day pack is always a good idea. We like to use small backpacks to stow all our everyday travel items– see this post where we share our top advice for the Best Travel Day Bags.
Visiting other top cities in Germany? We’re here to help! Read our detailed guides to Germany to easily plan your trip.
- Get our complete Guide to Berlin
- See the absolute Best of Munich
- Find all about What To Do in Frankfurt
- Use our top tips for Things To Do in Dusseldorf
- Don’t miss the historic sights of Dresden
We want to know: What are your tips for what to do in Freiburg, Germany? What sights and activities would you add to our list of things to do in Freiburg? Tell us in the comments!
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