Living abroad on a budget means finding ways to occupy your time that aren't going to drain your wallet. Luckily hiking is one of my favourite things to do, no matter where I am in the world. The best part? It's typically free!
Let's be clear here, I'm using the term "hike" very loosely. I'm not a professional rock climber or mountaineer so most of the hikes I've taken on have been easy to moderate. If I have to work to get to my destination, whether it's a long walk through the woods or a moderate climb up a mountain, it's a hike in my books.
Here are just some of the hikes Jason and I have completed during our time so far in Freiburg. You can see all these spots on the map below.
Schönberg-Gipfel and Schneeburg
The lookout at Schönberg-Gipfel and the castle ruins at Schneeburg are actually two peaks of Schönberg, which translates to "beautiful mountain". These two peaks, just Southwest of Freiburg's core, are only about 20 minutes apart so I combined them into one trip. I cycled from the city of Freiburg to the small town of Au along the bike path and hiked the east side of the mountain through peaceful forest trails.
Once I reached the Schönberg-Gipfel lookout I was treated to a beautiful view over the city of Au and the outskirts of Freiburg. After a quick snack break I set off for the next peak.
Schneeburg, meaning "snow castle", could be seen in the distance as I walked first through forest trails and then through pastures. Although much of the castle has been destroyed over time, parts of the original structure first mentioned in the early 1300s remain standing today. Part of the tower and inner courtyard offer the perfect place for a picnic.
The ruins of this medieval fortification sit atop a limestone cliff overlooking the municipality of Teningen about an hours bike ride north of Freiburg. The upper and lower castle ruins date back to the late 1200s and are maintained by a local preservation society.
Ruin Zähringer Burg
The remains of the Zähringer castle built in the 1300s can be found in Zähringen, what is now a small suburb of Freiburg. The castle was home to the seat of the powerful Zähringer dynasty until 1091 when the Duke moved to a more strategic location with a better vantage point of the city of Freiburg. The Duke's new location sat atop Schlossberg - one of the sights mentioned in my earlier blog post How to spend a day in Freiburg, Germany.
Pro Tip: Before heading up to the tower stop by the Waldrestaurant Zähringer Burg and ask for the key. You'll be able to go inside the tower and see the view from the top - for free!
Although you won't find much left of the Kybfelsen castle today, this two hour hike to the peak is definitely worth it. The top offers a breathtaking panoramic view of Freiburg framed by Feldberg, Schönberg and Schauinsland mountains. Of all the hikes near Freiburg I have done, this one is by far my favourite. As with most hikes, photos simply don't do this place justice. I reached the top just as sun began to descend and enjoyed a nice break from the lookout, it was pure bliss.
Friedrichsturm is one of countless observation towers throughout the peaks of the Black Forest. From the top you can look over the Black Forest in one direction or marvel at the Vosges mountains in France in the other.
Eichbergturm is another lookout tower near Freiburg and is actually the tallest tower in the state. I took the long way through the small towns of Denzlingen and Sexau on my bicycle enjoying a mostly flat route until the base of the hill that the tower sits upon. This was one of the very first "big" trips I took by myself outside the city. The observation deck offers unobstructed views of the Black Forest ridge and nearby cities including Emmendingen and Freiburg, with views extending all the way into France. This place is on my list to return to now that all the trees are filled with leaves.
The ruins of Kastelburg sit atop a hill overlooking the town of Waldkirch. The original castle was built between 1260 and 1270 to defend the important trade route across the Elz River which cuts through the town below. After a visit to Kastelburg I highly recommend a trip to Waldkirch's brewery Hirschen-Brauerei. The brewery has been operating for 150 years and adheres to the German Beer Purity Law, known as Reinheitsgebot, which ensures beer is only brewed with water, malt and hops. They offer a variety of crisp, light-tasting beers perfectly suited for a post-hike hangout. I recommend the flavourful yet light-tasting Dunkel Bier, which literally translates to dark beer.
Ruine Hochburg is certainly one of the most impressive castle ruins I have seen during my time in Germany. It is located just beyond the small village of Sexau and I first noticed it on my way to Eichburgturm, the observation deck mentioned above. When it came into view I literally stopped in my tracks and immediately pinned it on my map so Jason and I could come back together. It is believed the castle was originally built to harvest the land surrounding the castle which today boasts impressive rows of grape vines. Before it was seized and eventually ruined by the French in 1688 it was the second largest fortification in the state.
Kandel mountain is found in the Black Forest with a height of 1,241 m. Like most scenic spots in Germany there are a number of ways to reach the viewpoint that overlooks the Village of Glottertal in the valley below. Jason and I cycled to Glottertal and hiked east along the south side of the mountain ridge. The hike to the peak took a few hours and it wasn't long before I wish I had worn shorts and packed more snacks to keep myself motivated. But wow, you can't beat that view!
The Kaiserstuhl is a range of hills with the highest peak reaching 556 m and is a volcanic formation, unlike the hills of the Black Forest. Its location in the Rhine valley and its unique soil composition make for ideal conditions for wine production. We started our hike from the town of Bötzingen, about a 50 minute bike ride from Freiburg. As we made our way to the top we could see how every inch of the hills around us were used to grow grapes. From the lookout tower, marked on the map below, we had a stunning view of the Rhine with Germany on one side and France on the other.
Thanks for following along! Which of these hikes would you love to do? Let me know in the comments below.
Interested in exploring these spots further?
Here's a map with pins to all the sights mentioned above. To save them to Google Maps simply tap the star button. I use Google My Maps to create custom maps for my blog and my travel plans, if you have questions about using the app simply let me know in the comments!