As tourists flock to Spain, Italy, France and Greece each summer, there’s a major European country that remains unusually under-explored by foreigners: Germany. This becomes even more surprising when you consider the fact that among German tourists, the most popular holiday destination just so happens to be Germany, with estimates suggesting that around a third of the population prefer to travel to within their own borders. When you take a closer look, it isn’t hard to understand why – with spa breaks in Baden Baden, hiking in Bavaria and fantastic nightlife in Berlin, the variety combined with the convenience makes domestic holidays a safe bet among German nationals.
Even if you have to travel a little further to get there, the unique attractions of Germany are well worth the journey – particularly the Black Forest city of Freiburg. With its mediaeval university and cathedral, this is a charming and friendly city, populated mainly by students and young families. As a result, you’ll find excellent nightlife here, complemented by the fine pinot wines that come straight from the vineyards surrounding the city. In summer, many of these Strausse open to the public, serving homemade wine and local delicacies on rough-hewn wooden tables and benches in the same grassy fields that the grapes grow in. The trees make a great playground for children, as their parents indulge in a glass or two while taking in the region’s plentiful sunshine.
Although you may not expect to get a tan while on holiday in Germany, Freiburg might just surprise you. Averaging more than 2,000 hours of sunshine a year, this is a popular location for both domestic tourists and foreigners studying German. Its reputation as an ‘eco-city’ doesn’t hurt either: the local government has restricted building on municipal land to environmentally-friendly designs, while the city centre is a designated car-free zone, creating clean, congestion-free streets. In turn, this has helped to attract a highly educated workforce and several innovative young tech companies.
The city’s relaxed atmosphere creates a lovely environment for sightseeing, so spend a day exploring on foot, wandering along Bächle, small mediaeval canals built to help fight fires. Visit the Augustinermuseum, home to an extensive art collection ranging from the Middle Ages to the Baroque period, before stopping to sample some regional delicacies – but be warned that original Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, or Black Forest Gâteau, tends to be very liberally soaked in cherry liqueur, giving it an tangy alcoholic kick that’s often lacking from the overseas versions.
Just outside Freiburg, you’ll find the cake’s namesake: the Black Forest itself, a land of fir trees and trickling streams that could’ve come straight out of one of the Brothers Grimm’s fairytale illustrations. Dramatically beautiful scenery aside, the mountains provide skiing and snowboarding in the colder months, while the summer hosts hiking, water sports and paragliding. Families will love Europa-park: one of Europe’s most popular theme parks, it’s divided into ‘villages’ representing the countries of the continent. An enchanted forest caters to younger children, with exhilarating rollercoasters keeping teenagers equally happy.
Whether you’d like to become a regular visitor to Freiburg or are thinking of relocating there permanently, Engel & Völkers Freiburg can ensure you find the perfect base for your stay. Find out more by visiting the E&V website.