Freiburg

Freiburg im Breisgau is a major city in Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany, situated on the edge of the Black Forest (Schwarzwald). Picturesquely located on the river Dreisam, in between green mountainsides, it enjoys one of the sunniest and warmest climates among German cities.

Freiburg was founded in 1120 and has been a city of importance ever since, which is reflected in the rich medieval and renaissance architectural heritage of its Altstadt. That said, being a university town for centuries, it also has a very forward-looking outlook, and is a centre of sustainable development. There are many solar-energy-related businesses headquartered there, and much of the city, especially the newer quarters, is arranged using cutting-edge sustainable development ideas.

Freiburg is actually closer to France and Switzerland than most of Germany, being situated at a corner where the borders of the three countries meet. This is reflected by the city sharing its airport with Basel in Switzerland and Mulhouse in France - the unique EuroAirport whose grounds straddle national borders. Do note that while this is THE Freiburg most probably referred to when the name is invoked, it is actually one of many places sharing that name. When ordering train tickets and similar items online, be careful not to confuse Freiburg (im Breisgau) with Freiburg (an der Elbe) in Saxony or Fribourg in Switzerland.

Freiburg has a charming old town

Understand

Lying in a secluded wine-rich corner of Baden-Württemberg state in Germany, Freiburg is a laid-back, beautiful university city. Known throughout Germany for Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg, good weather, and vineyards, Freiburg is considered by Germans to be a desirable place to live.

Due to its secluded location in the "Dreiländereck" (Three-country corner) and being fairly removed from any other larger German cities, locals will frequently go shopping in France and Switzerland for their respective native products and go to museums and theaters in Basel or Zürich. One can find a strong local patriotism, which shows itself in the anthem of Baden (the former independent state), which can be heard more often than the national anthem.

For a taste of future-oriented contemporary Freiburg, visit the district of Vauban famous for its focus on sustainability

Although Freiburg is not itself a major tourist destination or a large city, it can serve as a relatively inexpensive base from which to explore much of central Europe. Thanks to its excellent connections via rail and road to the outside world, Freiburg can easily allow to travel to all of Switzerland, Germany, Austria, the Low Countries, and France with little trouble and at good prices. If you plan on an extended stay or travel to these destinations, it can be a welcoming base to return to after each segment of your journey, with more than enough to entertain you for a few days while you stay in Freiburg.

Get in

By plane

The EuroAirport officially serves Freiburg

The closest airport with a good selection of international destinations, though much less frequent than the major airports Frankfurt or Zürich, is the Euroairport Basel/Mulhouse/Freiburg. Buses run frequently from the airport to Freiburg; see the schedule here.

Baden Airpark, situated between Karlsruhe and Baden-Baden, is another airport close to Freiburg, and has some international flights to various cities operated mainly by Ryanair, Airberlin and Eurowings. It is a short 40 minute train ride to the north of the city, but you will have to connect by bus at the train station, which will add extra time to your journey. You will need to plan ahead to make the trip easier, and Deutsche Bahn's website can give you approximate connection times with bus services. Another possible airport is Stuttgart, which has less convenient train connections but is much closer than Frankfurt.

You can arrive on a high-speed ICE train directly from Frankfurt Airport

Many visitors to Freiburg will also arrive via Frankfurt Airport or Zurich Airport, both about a 2-hour train ride away with direct connections. InterCity Express or ICE trains leave in the direction of Freiburg almost every hour from the Fernbahnhof in Frankfurt Airport. Just follow the signs once you arrive and buy your ticket at the Deutsche Bahn Reisezentrum (DB Travel Center). Most trains travel directly through Freiburg, although a few require a train change in Mannheim. Booking ahead online can shave the train ticket from Frankfurt Airport to 29€ on the special-fare, which requires use of the selected train. If your plane is late, you will have to buy a new ticket. A standard ticket from the DB office at the Fernbahnhof to Freiburg is €62.

By train

Freiburg Hauptbahnhof

The Freiburg Hauptbahnhof is situated close to the inner city. Frequent connections run to the north towards Frankfurt and south to Basel, with fast ICE trains leaving in each direction each hour. Again, planning ahead can get cheap fares of 29€ each way. From the Hauptbahnhof, you have direct access to the Tram (Straßenbahn) which runs directly overhead the main station and offers an easy route into the city. The Hauptbahnhof is also within easy walking distance of the inner city and several good hotels. Main direct destinations include:

Local and regional trains can be good for day trips or for traveling to nearby cities. In the main station ask for the Ländertickets or the Regio-tickets. Such tickets can be used by a group of up to 5 persons in the RB, RE an S-Bahn trains as well as for local transport. They are a much cheaper alternative for a group of travelers going to cities nearby or going for a day trip.

By car

Freiburg is connected to the German highway system via the A5, running along the Rhine Valley from south to north, starting at the Swiss border. It also is accessible through the Black Forest via the B31 (Ost). To France it takes about 30 minutes by car. To Switzerland it is about 40 minutes. Heidelberg is a 1.5 hour car ride to the north, using the A5. Lake Constance is reachable in two hours via the B31.

By bus

Get around

A Combino tram of the VAG running across Freiburg greenery

The best way to get around Freiburg is by use of public transit and walking. Freiburg has an excellent, but slightly expensive, bus and tram (Strassenbahn) system.

Public transport map of Freiburg - tram lines in blue

The public transportation network is operated by several companies, but ticketing is unified among the local RVF transportation association. Tickets can be used on all buses, trams & local trains in the area. The RVF area is divided into three zones on which the ticket price depends. A single ride is 2.20 € for Zone A (Freiburg city area), 3.80 € for Zone A/B and 5.40 € for Zones A, B, and C. You can buy a pack of 8 tickets for 15.40 € valid within Zone A from the VAG Pluspunkt shop, located near the Martinstor downtown. In the shop you can also pick up tickets using a point system; 20 points costs 13.70 € and in each direction you will use 3 points in Zone A, 5 points if you cross into Zone B, and 7 points if you cross into Zone C. You will most likely only use the tram and bus systems in Zone A for the majority of your stay. If you come for a short stay or a weekend, buy a Regio 24 which will give you 24-hour unlimited travel within Zone A for one person for 5.50 € and up to five people for 9.90 €. The Regio 24 is also available for 2 or 3 zones. These cards will allow you to use all of the public transport within Freiburg, and also take the DB Regio trains that service the greater region free charge. Timetables and tickets can be found on the VAG Freiburg website.

Biking is the mode of transportation of choice in Freiburg

Biking is another convenient way of getting around, and Freiburg's sidewalks and streets have dedicated bike lanes. Many of Freiburg's citizens use their bikes and you can easily get a real feel for the city this way. Bikes can be rented at various shops, the most convenient for tourists being the Mobile at the main railway station (Hauptbahnhof).

Most of Freiburg's important sights are situated close to each other in the inner city. You can cross the inner city by walking in about 10–15 minutes or by riding the tram. Although passengers are rarely controlled, riding without a valid ticket (Schwarzfahren or "Black riding") incurs a 60€ fine! Passengers without tickets have been witnessed being forcibly restrained and removed from the train. The same applies for regional trains, which are controlled about 25% of the time. Those repeatedly caught without a valid ticket can face court orders, as it is considered a criminal offence.

If you have rented a car or drive to Freiburg, you will be able to quickly access most areas with your car. Be aware that parking is relatively expensive but there are many garages available where you can park and then walk to nearby destinations. Like most European cities, use of automobiles is limited in some parts of the inner city, and bike riders must walk their bikes.

Detail of the Muenster

See

One of the Baechle at sunset
The Martinstor, with a small McDonald's sign

Museum

Do

Learn

The University of Freiburg is one of the most famous German universities. Founded in 1457, it attracts 22,000 students to Freiburg, giving it the flair of a student town. This is a good destination to study in Germany as an exchange student or for language classes. Additionally there are several other schools which contribute to the student image of the city. The biggest of these is the Pädagogische Hochschule Freiburg, located in Littenweiler to the east of the city. There is also a Goethe-Institut in Freiburg, where foreigners can learn German.

Work

Farmer's market in Münsterplatz

Buy

With both Kaufhof, Karstadt and a number of other stores, the Kaiser-Josef-Strasse (KaJo) is the place to go shopping in Freiburg

Eat

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Other expensive restaurants include the Greifenegg Schlössle, situated next to the Kastaniengarten and offering an excellent view over the city to accompany dinner, as well as Hotel Zum Bären on Salzstrasse and Enoteca near Schwabentor.

Drink

Sleep

Budget

Ecologically-oriented tourists may want to check out the Green City Hotel in Vauban

Mid-range

Inside the opulent Colombi Hotel you will find a Michelin-starred restaurant

Splurge

Cope

Religious services

Holy Mass takes place in various Catholic churches in the city center:

Tourist Information

Freiburg has its very own Tourist Information Office. They can provide maps and hotel booking information. Opening hours for the Tourist Information office are:

Stay safe

There is not much to worry about in Freiburg. However, always take the same precautions as you do traveling anywhere else. No need to provoke a pickpocket. However, one should avoid the banks of the Dreisam at night. One should also avoid at night the area near the tram stop Runzmattenweg which is between the main street train station and the Bissierstrasse tram stop. It is locally known to be a common spot for muggings of international students.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, March 31, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.