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Freiburg: Germany's sunshine capital

Freiburg has more sun hours than anywhere else in Germany. In this small university town, everything is close by and within easy walking distance. Freiburg nestles on the edge of the Black Forest low mountain range and is surrounded by hills and vineyards. The universities are an important economic factor in the city. In the old part of town, you can admire the many half-timbered houses.

by Florian Schubert

Martin's Gate © Luidger/wikicommons
Martin's Gate . © Luidger/wikicommons

Facts & Figures

Inhabitants:
214,000
Students:
32,500
Universities:
6
Monthly rent:
307 €
Tip:
Call the Freiburg “Bierdealer” and get a beer delivered by bike!
Website:
www.freiburg.de

Welcome to Freiburg

Freiburg im Breisgau is situated in the south of Germany and is an old, typically German town with lots of half-timbered houses and narrow streets. Freiburg is surrounded by two low mountain ranges, the Black Forest and the Vosges. But the city lies in the Rheingraben, a wide valley which separates the two mountain ranges. But you don't have to climb many hills here because the town itself is flat. Freiburg is a small city. You can walk or get around by bike and you'll find you're never far from the centre of the city. The neighbouring countries of France and Switzerland are just a few kilometres away.

Old Town © Schubert/DAAD
Old Town . © Schubert/DAAD

In Freiburg, everything revolves around the university and university clinic because it plays an important role in research and teaching. Alongside the various universities, the town boasts numerous research institutes which have strong links to the universities. There are five Fraunhofer Institutes, two Max Planck Institutes and one institute of the Leibniz-Gemeinschaft. The universities are an important economic factor in the city. Solar energy also plays an important role in research and business in Freiburg as lots of solar energy is generated here in Freiburg.

Bertholdsbrunnen © Schubert/DAAD
Bertholdsbrunnen . © Schubert/DAAD

The "Bertholdsbrunnen" is an important town square. All major tram lines pass through this station, and here you'll find yourself in the very heart of town. The old university building is also located here. Founded in 1457, it is one of the oldest universities in Germany. The "Uniseum" is the university's own museum.

From there, it's just a short walk to the Münster, Freiburg's most important tourist attraction. Markets regularly take place on the square that surrounds the large church. Here you can buy regional specialities, sausage, fresh fruit and vegetables.

Bächle © Schubert/DAAD
Bächle . © Schubert/DAAD

In Freiburg, it's also worth looking downwards, to the ground. The old town is full of little streams, or "Bächle", as they're known here, one of the city's landmarks. But be careful not to fall in! If you do, it's said you have to marry someone from Freiburg.

You might also spot mosaics on the ground in front of some shops. These mosaics indicate what the shop sells. But sometimes, they represent a traditional symbol, especially if the shop has been there for a long time.

Living in Freiburg

Freiburg is a typical small university city. This means you'll find plenty of recreational activities without having to spend too much money. Freiburg is particularly lively in the evenings. As soon as the weather gets warmer, you can meet up with friends and fellow students on Augustinerplatz. In "Feierling", you can enjoy real Freiburg beer. But of course, you can also sit on the steps of the square and bring your own food and drinks.

Mosaic of a hairdresser © Schubert/DAAD
Mosaic of a hairdresser . © Schubert/DAAD

If you're hungry, you should definitely stop off at "Brennnessel", where you can get spaghetti bolognese for just 1,80 euros in the evenings. But everyone in Freiburg knows this, so if you want a table, you need to make a reservation.

For a night of partying, "Schlappen" on Martins's Gate is a great place to go. It's good for meeting new people and is not too expensive. If you're feeling generous, or your money's burning a hole in your pocket, try out "Kagan" at the main station. This cocktail bar is located in one of the towers so offers a fantastic view of Freiburg. But you have to be properly dressed to get in; a shirt is a must for men!

My tip

One special thing in Freiburg is the "Bierdealer". He tours around the city on a bike and sells beer for one euro. So if you want a drink at the weekend, just give him a call! You won't find the number on the internet though, you have to ask other students!

If you've had enough partying and it gets too hot for you in town in the summer, venture into the surrounding countryside. In the Black Forest it always stays pleasantly cool in the summer months. A trip to lakes Titisee or Schluchsee is worthwhile. And the best thing is you can travel there for free using your Semesterticket.

Freiburg is often referred to as Germany's "eco-friendly capital". And indeed, few other cities attach so much importance to environmental protection as Freiburg. Waste is separated into many different components such as paper, non-recyclable and metal waste. When you know what type of waste belongs in which bin you've become a real "Freiburger"!

Interview with Ulises from Mexico

Ulises Flores from Mexico is 28 years old and doing a PhD in Forest Science in Freiburg.

Picture of Ulises from Mexiko ©
Ulises from Mexiko . ©

Why did you decide to study in Freiburg?

I did my Master's degree in Cologne in 2010. This was a really great time and I believe Germany has a lot of expertise in renewable energies. I then decided to focus on bioenergy, and Forest Resource Management. The University of Freiburg has a very good reputation in this field. So I applied, and that's how I ended up here.

What do you like best about Freiburg?

The Black Forest. You can just walk or cycle there in twenty minutes. Yes, I think that's what I like best.

Why is Freiburg a good place to study?

Because it's international. You can walk through the old part of town and hear so many different languages being spoken. The faculties and university are also very good at what they do. And the weather is also good here.

Augustinerplatz © Schubert/DAAD
Augustinerplatz . © Schubert/DAAD

What surprised you most about Freiburg?

I think the weather, it really is very good here. I think that because the weather's so good, the people are friendly.

Do you have any advice for students that might help them settle in more easily?

They should generally be open to new things. And they must want to study here. It's really worthwhile studying or spending time abroad, especially in Germany. You meet so many people and other exchange students.

Black Forest © DAAD
Black Forest . © DAAD

What expectations did you have of Freiburg and have they been fulfilled?

I initially thought that people here would be more reserved. But they're really nice and helpful, especially when you have problems. And then there's the university, the courses and my colleagues, who are all really helpful.

What do you think is the best way to get to know Germans?

Well, it's a bit different to Mexico, but you just have to be yourself, be friendly and of course try to speak German, then it's no problem.

Describe Germany in three words!

Organised, expertise, knowledge