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Freiburg: a perfect day trip city

11 February, 2013

Our adopted hometown is Freiburg, Germany. And while it is small, Freiburg is in the middle a lot of great places and works quite well as a base. The city itself has plenty to see and is a nice place to relax after a long day underway. If you are interested in outdoors stuff, you can make plenty of daytrips just to go walking, skiing, hiking or biking in the area.

Here are some of my favorite city trips you can do from Freiburg in only one day.

Black Forest Wanderings

View of Titisee Lake in Black Forest Germany

Feldberg, Titisee and Schluchsee are up in the Black Forest near Freiburg. Feldburg is the highest mountain of the forest with skiing as well, while Titisee and Schluchsee are lakes with outdoor activities around them. It is hour or so train up to Schluchsee with Titisee being on the way. For Feldburg you need to take a bus from the Barental station.

Any one of a combination of these is a nice trip out of the city into nature. Hiking trails abound both there and along the way.

Baden-Baden is a Roman era spa town about an hour and a half north of Freiburg. The roman era spas have been supplanted by more modern spas, but the relaxing aspect of the town is still there. A long stretch of grass along the river Oos (great name huh?) is there to be walked along and enjoy being outside.

View over Baden-Baden

Further Afield in the Region

If you want a bigger city, Karlsruhe is the place. There is a zoo and a renaissance castle as well as several museums. There are even a few shopping malls and movie theaters in town. It is also a university city like Freiburg, but much bigger and not so centered around the students. About 2 hours on the regional trains or a single hour on the ICEs from Freiburg.

The area of the Kaiserstuhl lies between Freiburg and the border to France. It is an extinct volcano and the region’s wine growing area. You can get out there on the BSB trains from Freiburg. I have unfortunately never been through the area, but have heard so many things about it. There are a number of little towns that have wine fests in the summer and there are plenty of hiking and biking trails.

Breisach is the end stop of the BSB short trains and on the river Rhein. The town is snuggled up against the base of a hill crowned by a cathedral. The center and the cathedral is a short walk from the train station. When I took my parents there, we went to the history museum which explained that the area has been habitated by humans for thousands of years. Pretty neat although otherwise it is just a village, though a nice change of scenery.

To France

Strasbourg Riverside, Halftimber Houses

Colmar is a picturesque village in France nearly opposite Freiburg. Once a part of Austria like Freiburg, but on the French side of the Rhein, Colmar is a neat little touristy town. Half timbered houses abound as well as a large Cathedral, a “little Venice” area and several museums. It is also known for Christmas Markets in the season.

You get there by taking the train to Breisach and a bus from there. The bus leaves from outside the train station in Breisach. There is an Alsass pass which covers trains in Germany as well as this bus back and forth. The bus schedule is a little irregular, so check the times for coming back before you get lost in the town.

Strasbourg is another local French city to visit from Freiburg. It is much bigger than either Freiburg or Colmar. The is plenty to see for a day. Shopping and eating as well as wandering the interesting streets. The center of town is dominated by a cathedral, which has a very detailed clock inside. A river runs through town and boat tours are also on the menu to be seen. Check out “La Petite France” at Travel Canucks for a look at another little area of town.

As much as I love trains, Strasbourg is one place where a car can be helpful. It is definitely possible and fairly easy to get to Strasbourg on the train, but due to having to switch trains in Offenburg it takes a lot longer than by car.

Into Switzerland

Basel is at the corner of Germany and France inside Switzerland. This is not the stereotypical Alpine town of Switzerland. It does have its charms though. A fanciful fountain, several churches and a bright red townhall anchor the architecture side of things. Rhine side walkways and banks to lie on and a zoo offer more variety.

Basel is an hour or so on the regional trains. If you have a Baden-Wurtemburg ticket, ask about where you need to get off in Basel. There are several stations and the rules of where that ticket is valid to change. There is at the least a German station that you can get out and walk to and from, but I have hard rumblings of them changing it.

Wooden Bridge and Stone Lion in Luzern

If you are looking for a more alpine feel for your daytrip, take a look at Zurich, Luzern or Bern. Each is about 2 hours on the train from Freiburg, changing in Basel, so it is at the edge of what I consider a good daytrip range. They are also in Switzerland, so quite expensive, but if you want to see alps they are a good choice.

Zurich is around a lake and one of the most expensive cities in Switzerland. One sight I remember is a very large clockface. There is also a chocolate factory and a city to explore, so it isn’t all boring. Read more about Zurich at Traveling Canucks.

Bern is the capital of Switzerland. I have really only ever passed through, but it looks pretty cool. There are bears to see and giants that eat children.

Luzern though is where it is at for a real alpine feel. There is plenty to do in this lakeside town. A sleeping lion is carved in a rock wall near the center of town. A hike up gives you views of the lake and you can walk along an old towered defensive wall. A wooden bridge with paintings spans the narrow part of the lake and a group of brightly painted houses can be found in town. If you are looking for a “swiss experience”, this is my choice of towns. Just be aware that swiss experiences come with swiss prices.

Check out the article at Traveling Canucks about Luzern.

Transport

The trains are your best bet for transport for these. There certainly are other sights around if you have a car, but we don’t so I don’t have much experience with them.

For the daytrips within Germany, you can buy a Baden-Wurtemburg Ticket which covers transport on regional(red) trains and public transport in the entire state for 21 Euros for the first person +4 Euros per person up to 5 people total. This is a great deal for daytrippers. It just doesn’t work over the border.

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23 Responses to Freiburg: a perfect day trip city

  1. Surabhi says:

    Hello! If have 2 days in Freiburg, out of which 1 day I want to go on a Black Forest day walk for the views, how do you suggest I do so?|
    Are there any guided treks in the area? Or is the walking trail good enough that I do it on my own?

    Thank you in advance :)

    • Andrew says:

      I don’t know of any guided tours. The paths are pretty well marked.
      At the train stations there are usually signs with the local tracks with directions and distances. This is techincally true of Freiburg main station, but Kirchzarten or Titisee (both stops on the train up in the forest) would have better access. There are a number of mountains around to hike to. Schauinsland is a pretty popular one south of town. It has a cable car and a viewing tower. Ali has a post about it. http://www.aliadventures.com/2014/06/schauinsland-in-photos/
      There may be maps or other help at the Tourism office.

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  5. Cheryl says:

    Lovely post! I had no idea that France and Switzerland were so close to you. :)

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  7. Neat! A very well timed post… I might be hitting Freiburg in the very near future.

    • Andrew says:

      Cool. When? For how long? Tweet at me if you are in the area. There are beers to be tried.

      • Steven says:

        My plans, tentative as they are, are to use the four day Easter weekend (29 March to 1 April) to see Freiburg, Basel, and Strasbourg in one fairly rushed go of things. I have a poll up in my blog about where I should go for that holiday weekend, and that plan is neck and neck with “Just go to Dublin.”

        When my plans firm up, I’ll contact you to see if you’re about.

        • Andrew says:

          We aren’t sure what is going on for Easter. We may go traveling too. But definitely let me know if you are going to be about.

  8. You are so lucky to have these wonderful places to go on day trips. I’ve really enjoyed the places that I’ve visited in Germany, but haven’t yet been to Freiburg or the Black Forest. Would love to explore the area on some of the hiking trails.

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks. It has taken me years of living here to visit all of these places and there are plenty more that are easily seen with a car (which we don’t have). I do want to get into hiking more though. Haven’t done nearly enough.

  9. I had not idea there were so many places close to Freiburg. I need to explore more of Germany but I’ve never been to that part of France either. Switzerland is a very expensive country overall but I just posted a budget travel guide to Zurich to help save money.

    Of course, I want to see Freiburg too and check out a football match :)

    • Andrew says:

      Yes, you definitely do need to explore more of Germany. The nice thing about doing a day trip to Switzerland is that you can control costs, especially accommodation, easier.

  10. Radka says:

    Your post came just in right time for us. While looking for a next place to settle on our journey through Europe, your town looks like a great location with many possibilites. Now, we just need to find a cozy rental appartment for a few weeks. Is April a good month for Freiburg? Thanks for a great inspirations.

    • Andrew says:

      April is a fine month to be here. It can be a bit rainy, but the green stuff will have begun up in the forest which is good. If you think you want to come, start looking for housing early. April is also the beginning of the school semester here and there is usually a rush for student housing as well.

  11. Andrea says:

    Really wish we’d had more time to spend in the Black Forest region – we got foiled by the rain when we were there. At least we got to meet you and enjoy some great beer and food! =) Thanks for the linky love

  12. Thanks for sharing our posts Andrew!

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