Pretty city at the gateway to the Black Forest

Teams, tales and tips – a guide to the local game

Eco-friendly Freiburg im Breisgau, in Germany’s sunny south-west corner close to the French and Swiss borders, is not an obvious candidate for a lively football city. But a fifth-place Bundesliga finish by flagship club SC Freiburg in 2013 meant European football again for this attractive little club who dipped their toes in international waters in 1995 and 2001.

Sadly, an inconsistent campaign in 2014-15, compounded by the late-season failure to win two six-pointers against fellow relegation candidates, led to second-flight status in 2015-16. 

During this time, club and City had been working on a plan for a new stadium at Wolfswinkel north-west of town, near the airfield and exhibition grounds. A local referendum in 2015  had rejected rebuilding the revered but cramped Dreisamstadion, aka Schwarzwald-Stadion by the Black Forest, and opted for a contemporary arena.

While the Europa Park Stadion, aka SC-Stadion, was being constructed, the Breisgau Brazilians had not only gained promotion at the first attempt but again qualified for Europe, in 2017.

The Schwarzwald-Stadion, until 2014 known as the Mage Solar, had been a working example of sustainable energy, standing by the clear, rushing waters of the Dreisam at the very foot of the Black Forest. This was where current German national team manager Joachim Löw scored a record number of goals for SC Freiburg in three spells there, and where an attacking brand of football has surprised many a big club since SCF broke through to the Bundesliga in 1993.

Nearly a century earlier, the club had been formed from a confusing array of lesser local clubs and associations, adopting their current name and griffin-head logo in 1912. Dominating the city’s football scene back then were Freiburger FC, a founding member of the German Football Association in 1900. German champions (and South German champions) in 1907, the Reds today occupy the Verbandsliga Südbaden, once the fifth and now the sixth tier in the German game.

Still ahead of their upstart rivals SCF when the Bundesliga was formed in 1963, FFC were placed in the second-flight Regionalliga Süd, along with Bayern Munich. Gerd Müller scored his first goal against them during that inaugural season.

FFC fell on hard times in the 1970s and early 1980s, and haven’t moved from the league’s lower reaches since 1994. While SCF shone in the top flight, FFC were forced to sell their Möslestadion, a short walk from the Schwarzwald in the verdant eastern end of town – to SCF for their youth team to use. Built in 1922, the 18,000-capacity Mösle was the main football arena in town until the Dreisamstadion was built in 1953.

Forced to groundshare with age-old Blau-Weiss Wiehre Freiburg, recently promoted out of the tenth-level Kreisliga Freiburg B, FFC currently play at the Dietenbach-Sportpark, Robert-Ruh-Weg, north-west of town. It’s a pleasant stroll from the Rohrgraben stop on tram 3 or Betzenhauser Torplatz on tram 1.

Getting Around

Arriving in town, local transport and timings

EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg near Basel is 70km (43 miles) south-west of Freiburg im Bresgau, served by a Freiburger Reisedienst bus. Hourly buses (€25, €40 return) take 55mins to reach stop 2 at Freiburg central bus station in the concourse outside the train station. Basel Airport is actually in France, and you can exit into France or Switzerland. A taxi to Freiburg from the French sector should cost €110, and SF320 (€260) from the Swiss sector.

Once in Freiburg, public transport consists of trams, buses, S-Bahn and regional trains. A single ticket is €2.20, a REGIO24 24hr ticket is €5.50, also allowing one adult to take up to four children. For a taxi call +49 761 55 55 55.

Where to Drink

The best pubs and bars for football fans

Lively Freiburg is at its liveliest in a little hub where main street Kaiser-Joseph-Straße meets Löwenstraße and Humboldtstraße, close to the university, where local Gantner beer flows with abandon on Friday nights.

The wonderful Schlappen, where 20 types of beer are offered amid ancient walls covered in faded theatre posters, is easily the best choice but it’s three-deep at the bar at weekends. Nearby Cheers is no less popular but is typified by live football and support for the local ice-hockey team. Draught Fürstenberg beer from Donaueschingen makes a tasty change from the ubiquitous Gantner.

DJs and cocktails make Maria another mainstay of the bar zone. The Freiburg branch of the south-west German chain Shooter Stars refers to the shots downed here with abandon, rather than the football action on the big screen.

Also on Niemensstraße, Der außergewöhnliche Bruder Wolf involves three brothers rather than just the extraordinary lupine one in the name – it’s a lively little bar/bistro showing sport in any case. Also open daytime, the nearby Schwarzer Kater attracts regulars around its cosy bar counter, match action usually shown.

After nightfall, clubby, evening-only Cohibar (Milchstraße 9) comes into its own, with affordable cocktails, DJs and live Sky games when the occasion demands. 

Of the pubs, O’Kelly’s dedicates a whole room to sport-gawping, adjacent to the permanently busy main bar, while Oscar Wilde’s puts the focus on its impressive whiskey selection.

Nearer the station, on Belfortstraße, the corner Come Inn Sports Bar fills a somewhat functional space with TV screens and darts machines. At the next corner nearer to Cohiba, Borso at Moltkestraße 30 feels more lived-in, various burgers on the menu along with lashings of Gantner with the regulars.

Where to stay

The best hotels for the stadium and city centre

The Freiburg Tourist Office has a hotel-booking service.

The proximity of the exhibition grounds to the new stadium means there is plenty of decent accommodation within walking distance. The closest, where Breisacher Straße meets Berliner Allee, the four-star Stadt Freiburg Hotel comprises 178 rooms and suites in pretty grounds, owned by the same team behind the equally smart Colombi (see below) in town. 

Clustered near Komturplatz tram stop, also within easy reach of the Europa Park Stadion, are the studio-filled Adagio access, the design- and wallet-friendly FourSide, the more upscale Super8 by Wyndham Freiburg and behind it, the Hampton by Hilton Freiburg geared to business visitors.

Of the scores of hotels in the city centre, the Colombi means five-star luxury while just across Colombipark, Minerva and the Barbara offer old-school, mid-range lodging. Alongside, the four-star Park Hotel Post suits business travellers and those here on weekend breaks. 

Just across Eisenbahnstraße from there, the Best Western Premier Hotel Victoria combines history with modern convenience. As the address suggests, it’s close to the train station, where the convenient chain InterCity is built into the rail terminal itself.

Also close, the Novotel Freiburg am Konzerthaus provides a heated indoor pool and four-star rooms a short stroll from the city centre.