Street in Freiburg, Germany
Photo by Ken Hawkins  –  Link

Freiburg

Germany

Tucked away in a wine-rich region of southern Germany, Freiburg (official name Freiburg im Breisgau) is a laid-back university town, sustainable hub, and one of the sunniest places in the country. Making the most of its nearly 2,000 hours of annual rays, the town generates nearly as much solar power as the whole of Britain put together, so if you're after some more sustainable travel this is a great place to check out.

The town also has a beautiful Old Town, or Altstadt, with cobbled squares, Medieval architecture, multi-coloured houses, and a winding canal, and is located at the foot of the Black Forest, so it also has an added element of rural charm.

The food scene here is also great, and goes way beyond bratwursts and beer. Local specialities include Spätzle (a type of egg noodle), Brägele (fried potatoes with bacon and parsley), and Flammkuchen (a German take on a pizza). Oh, and don't forget the wine, which is amazing thanks to the sunny, warm climate.

Things to see and do in Freiburg

  • Discover Freiburger Münster - This impressive 11th-century cathedral is hard to miss as it towers above the central market square, and it's a lovely way to pass an hour or two. With its tall spire outside, and enormous pillars, kaleidoscope stained-glass windows, and intricate detailing on the inside, the Münster is one of the Old Town's defining features and a great stop-off for a spot of history. Note: The cathedral is closed to visitors during church services, so be sure to check at the information desk when you can visit.
  • Relax in Rathausplatz - This chestnut-shaded square is one of the prettiest in Freiburg and the perfect place for a relaxing coffee and a photo-snapping session. Check out the central fountain and the beautiful facades of the surrounding buildings, each one slightly different from the next (the red-bricked Old Town Hall is particularly striking). The square is great any time of year, but is especially beautiful in the autumn when the leaves turn red and brown and blanket the cobblestones; highly Instagram-able.
  • Indulge in a slice of Black Forest Cake - So it wouldn't be a trip to the Black Forest without sampling the famous cake that takes its name - a delicious, chocolatey delicacy laced with cherries, cherry brandy, and whipped cream. The best place to try one is at 500-year-old Cafe Schmidt in the Old Town, where they're more than happy to chat to you about how they make them (if you can refrain from tucking in for a few minutes, that is).

The Freiburg Wine Festival

Freiburg's temperate climate gives it the perfect conditions for wine production, and once a year the town hosts the ultimate celebration of this fruity tipple: The Freiburg Wine Festival.

Usually taking place in the first week of July, there are over 400 wines and sparkling wines to sample from the Baden region, all set up in the cathedral square so it's easy not to miss anything. The festivities also extend to local restaurants, where many offer wine tastings paired with local dishes which perfectly complement the flavours.

Over the six days that it runs, the festival is open in the evenings from 5pm until late, and can get pretty busy, so make sure you reserve a hotel room well in advance to guarantee you'll get to sample all the amazing wine.