Go Green in the Black Forest

Freiburg is a characteristic university town situated in southwest Germany’s Black Forest, near the border with Switzerland and France.  As Germany’s warmest and sunniest city, it has harnessed its pleasant weather to power a blossoming ecotourism industry.  From natural supermarkets that generate more power than they use to eco-friendly hotels, and from organic restaurants to well-preserved natural hiking trails, Freiburg has something that will appeal to every green traveler.


Freiburg’s most eco-friendly hotel is Green City Hotel (Paula-Modersohn-Platz 5).  This three-star hotel is actually operated as a non-profit organization with a focus on environmental sustainability and community involvement.  The hotel’s furniture was handcrafted by local carpenters using sustainable ash tree, and the hotel avoids using individually-packaged amenities wherever possible.  The hotel serves a daily breakfast based on organic and locally-sourced foods and beverages.  To reach the city center, the hotel has a partnership with a nearby bicycle rental shop, or you can ride the #3 streetcar to Freiburg’s central train station.


To take in some greenery without leaving the city, head to Schlossberg, the tree-covered hill on the east edge of the historic city center.  You can hike to the top in about thirty minutes, following the path across from the Schwabentor city gate.  From there, you can simply enjoy the views, or head out on one of the longer hiking trails that begin from this hill.

To properly experience The Black Forest, use a local bus to travel to Schauinsland, twenty kilometers south of Freiburg’s city center.  There, you can take Germany’s longest cable car to the top of the 4200-foot Schauinsland peak.  The mountainous recreation area here is ideal for cross-country day hikes at easy and moderate difficulty levels.  The marked Herbal Discovery Trail teachers visitors about the historical medicinal uses of local plants, while the Schniederlihof Museum highlights the history of this part of The Black Forest.


Before you venture into the forest, make a stop at Alnatura Super Natur Market (Merzhauser 179) to pick up picnic essentials like organic breads, meats, cheeses and wines.  Alnatura is located inside the Sun Ship building, which was designed by Rolf Disch to be one of the world’s first buildings that produces more energy than it uses.  The Sun Ship building keeps energy usage down through ultra-efficient insulation and triple-paned windows, while generating power through a solar-panelled rooftop.

If you’re back in Freiburg in time for dinner, reserve a table at Das Kartoffelhaus (Basler 10).  This humble restaurant celebrates Germany’s favorite vegetable- the potato- in innovative ways.  The chefs work with local and seasonal potato varieties wherever possible, and enhance the rotating menu of potato dishes with other locally-grown vegetables curated from nearly twenty different independent farms.  Das Kartoffelhaus can accommodate vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and lactose-intolerant diners.


When you’re ready to sample some of Germany’s famous beer, head straight to Hausbrauerie Fierling (Gerberau 46) to sample the house-brewed light beer, which has been made exclusively from certified organic ingredients since 1999.  At times, organic seasonal beers are also available on tap.

If beer isn’t your thing, you may be interested in a visit to the Weingut Landmann shop for a natural wine tasting.  Weingut Landmann is a local organic vineyard that produces red, white and sparkling organic wines from small-harvest grape crops.  Their shop is in the nearby Waltershofen suburb (Umkircher 29).


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