111km (69 miles) SW of Baden-Baden
The largest city unofficial capital of the Black Forest lives up to its role with an outrageously picturesque Altstadt (Old Town) full of gabled, half-timbered houses nestling in a plain below high mountain peaks. Although surrounded by alpine scenery, Freiburg enjoys the benefits of warm air currents that come up from the Mediterranean. Summer days can get very hot, but a mountain breeze called the Höllentaler flows down into the town like clockwork twice every night between 7 and 7:30 and 9 and 9:30pm to cool things down. The Altstadt’s splashing fountains and shallow, fast-flowing streams called Bächle (little brooks) that run alongside the streets in stone-lined channels are also time-honored cooling systems. In spring Freiburg bursts with springtime blooms while snow still covers the surrounding peaks, and in autumn, the smell of new wine fills the narrow streets even as snow is already falling on those nearby summits. On the subject of wine: 1,600 acres of vineyards surround the city, and winegrowing always requires celebrations. On the last weekend in June, a 4-day public wine-tasting festival takes place in the Münsterplatz, the square in front of Freiburg’s magnificent Gothic cathedral.