Freiburg – Basel – Zurich through the Black Forest to Switzerland

Recommended itinerary

Three cities, two countries – and so much to discover


Freiburg im Breisgau – Basel:

approx. 53 kilometres as the crow flies 
Travel time by train: approx. 30 minutes 
Travel time by bike: approx. 4 hours 

Basel – Zurich:

approx. 90 kilometres as the crow flies 
Travel time by train: approx. 1 hour 15 minutes 
Travel time by bike: approx. 6 hours 

Read more

A sustainable way from A to B

You can travel from Freiburg to Basel via the ‘Südschwarzwald-Radweg’ cycle trail. If you only want to travel as far as Basel, you can cycle this route as a seven-day circular trail. If you’d like to continue from Basel to Zurich, we recommend cycling straight there. On this route, you’ll cover 70 kilometres in one day, stopping in Badenweiler or Müllheim, and possibly taking a detour to visit the ‘Isteiner Klotz’ rock in the district of Lörrach. If you have a bit more time, you can also plan other stops or detours for your road trip between Freiburg and Basel.   

Stage 2 measures 110 kilometres and takes you from Basel on the Rhine through Rheinfelden to the largest city in Switzerland. The route doesn’t vary much terms of altitude and can be completed in one day, despite the distance. However, if you’d still rather spread the journey over two days, you can stop at the thermal baths in Zurzach. 

Here’s a money-saving tip: if you’d prefer to take the train, you can travel from Freiburg to Basel with the Baden-Württemberg ticket or the Deutschlandticket. These tickets are valid all the way to Basel SBB station.  

Read more

Starting point: Freiburg

Our Motel One Freiburg

Freiburg im Breisgau has been a popular cycling city since the 1970s. Here in Freiburg, this mode of transport isn’t just environmentally friendly – it’s also practical. This is because the city has lots of narrow alleyways that are best negotiated by bike or on foot.  

Things to do 
The university city of Freiburg offers everything you could possibly want from a relaxing summer break. Lots of nature, fantastic views, great places to eat and plenty of sights to discover along the way. A stroll through the old town will take you past Renaissance buildings, Baroque and Gothic façades (such as the Whale House and the Old Town Hall), Freiburg Minster and the Martinstor, a medieval city gate. 

Green and (almost) free  
Thanks to its large student population, the city is wonderfully diverse, full of ideas and packed with activities that are easy on the wallet.  

  • A chance to cool off: There are two ways to cool off in this city that are totally free of charge. You can relax in the water at the terraces and basins along the little river Dreisam, or dip your feet in the ‘Bächle’, the tiny brooks that run along the streets of Freiburg. But be warned: according to legend, if you accidentally step in the Bächle, you will marry a local and stay in the city forever.  

  • Great views: You can actually enjoy the city’s most beautiful views for free: make your way up the ‘Schlossberg’ hill during the day – or, even better, at sunset – and take in the view of the surrounding Black Forest and the vineyards. Why not complete your Schlossberg experience with a picnic?  

  • Free city tours: If you’d like to learn a bit more about the history of the city, you should get in touch with the Freiburg Greeters. This is a not-for-profit project in which local residents provide free guided tours of the city.  

Delicious food and drink
Freiburg’s restaurant scene offers everything a green foodie could ask for. We recommend the vegan supermarket Venoi, where you’re sure to find everything you need for your picnic on Schlossberg. If you’d rather eat in, you should try Blattwerk, Salädchen, Veggie-Liebe or Café Hinterzimmer.  

Outdoor adventures 
If you fancy getting out of the city for a few hours or days, you don’t need a car. In addition to the ‘Südschwarzwald-Radweg’ cycle trail, which leads to Basel, there’s also the beautiful Badische Wein-Radweg, a cycle trail leading through the Black Forest wine region. There’s also the municipality of Titisee-Neustadt and the Kaiserstuhl hill range, which are just a train or bike ride away.  
To make things extra convenient: if you fancy a bike ride out in the countryside, you can simply rent a bike from Motel One, or bring your own bike and leave it in our secure storage facility. 

Summer in the city 
In summer, Freiburg transforms into a hub of outdoor fun, including festivals and street parties. One of the city’s best and most eco-conscious festivals is Zelt-Musik-Festival. If you’re a musician yourself, don’t miss your chance to get involved in the participatory festival Freiburg stimmt ein (literally ‘Freiburg joins in’).   

Read more

Stop 1: Basel

Motel One Basel

Basel is aiming to become climate-neutral by 2037. One thing that will surely help the Swiss city achieve this goal is its excellent infrastructure, which eliminates the need to own a car. The city boasts three train stations, well-built cycle paths, a solar ferry operating in its ‘Rheinhafen’ harbour and another ferry on the Rhine that is powered only by the river’s current. 

Things to do 
In Basel, as in Freiburg, you can simply go with the flow. You’re sure to stumble on plenty of sightseeing spots along the way. The city is characterised by a harmonious tension between old and new, bringing together buildings from all periods of history. There’s Basel Münster, a cathedral dating back over 800 years, the ‘Pfalz’ viewing terrace behind the cathedral, the ‘Mittlere Brücke’ bridge and the ‘Spaltentor’ gate. Art-lovers will enjoy the numerous world-renowned museums and the fascinating sculptures dotted around the city. 

Tip: as you wander round the city, you’ll pass lots of fountains where you can cool off and even fill up your water bottle with top-quality Swiss drinking water.  

Green and (almost) free
Since Switzerland isn’t exactly known for being cheap, bargains are difficult to come by – but not impossible. Here’s a selection of activities that are good for your holiday budget and your conscience.  

  • Free artwork: On some evenings, you can visit the world-famous Kunstmuseum Basel for free. The art museum is free to enter on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 6 pm and on Wednesdays from 5 to 8 pm. If you can’t make any of those times, you can simply explore the many works of art on display in public spaces, such as the statues in Theaterplatz – the Tinguely fountain, the Intersection installation and the ‘Grosse Mondleiter’ sculpture.  

  • Swimming fun: The Rhine not only divides the city into its two parts, Grossbasel and Kleinbasel – it also provides one of the city’s best leisure activities: swimming in the river. Whatever you do, don’t forget your ‘Wickelfisch’ – a waterproof bag where you can store your clothes and keep them dry as you float downstream. 

  • Flying high: Basel has lots of fantastic views. There’s the Pfalz, a viewing terrace behind the cathedral, but that’s not all. The glittering Roche Towers also offer free guided tours on Saturdays, during which you can enjoy the views from the tallest point in the city. 

Delicious food and drink 
If you’re vegetarian, vegan or just a fan of sustainable food, there’s plenty for you to enjoy in Basel. The Indigo Elephant bistro serves healthy, vegetarian dishes, while the Lauch restaurant – the clue is in the name, ‘leek’ – offers locally sourced veggies, creatively presented in tasty dishes. Enjoy some tasty Lebanese mezze at Za Zaa or some vegan street food at Vegitat. Got a sweet tooth? Head over to Mystifry in the historic old town, where you can grab some delicious doughnuts.  

Outdoor adventures  
Basel is located in a tri-border area. In just 10 minutes, you can walk from Germany through Switzerland to France. Thanks to its central location, the Swiss city also benefits from the many natural gems of its neighbours. In Switzerland itself, you can enjoy bike rides and extended walks along the Rhine. The North-South Route and the Jura Route make for especially beautiful bike rides. Why not combine nature and culture with a 30-minute bike ride to the Fondation Beyeler art museum in Riehen? 

Summer in the city
During the summer, Basel’s riverbanks and old town come to life. For example, you’ll find little pop-up bars, called ‘Buvettes’, opening up around the city, offering drinks for sale. Temporary pedestrian zones are set up in the centre to reduce city traffic. You can also enjoy free live music at the Floss Festival.  

Read more

Destination: Zurich

Motel One Zurich

In Zurich, you’re never too far from nature. The lake is perfect for a swim in the heart of the city, and the mountains are also easy to reach. The city’s love for the environment is also reflected in the targets it has set for itself. Zurich is working to become climate-neutral as soon as possible – by 2040 at the latest.  

Things to do
As with the previous stops, Zurich is another city where you can simply stroll around and explore the historical highlights on foot. These include the Grossmünster church, the Fraumünster church (with windows designed by Mark Chagall), the old town with its cobblestones and the oldest part of the city, Lindenhof. From there, you can enjoy a great view of Limmat and the Grossmünster. And be sure to check out the ‘Zurich-West’ district, which is regarded as the young, creative hub of the city.  

By the way, if you get a little thirsty on your travels, there’s no need to buy water – simply fill up your own water bottle at one of the city’s 1,200 fountains.  

Green and (almost) free  

  • Exploring by bike: The best way to explore the city is via public transport, on foot or by bike. You can even rent a bike free of charge via the Züri rollt service. 

  • Swimming fun: River swimming has long been a traditional leisure activity in Zurich – and it’s wonderfully refreshing on hot summer days. You can still visit some of Zurich’s river swimming spots free of charge today, such as the Oberer Letten and Unterer Letten swimming areas. 

  • Free city tours: Explore the city with the locals on a free walking tour. On these tours, you’ll not only learn new facts about specific buildings – you can also pick up a few insider tips about the city.  

Delicious food and drink 
Did you know that Zurich is home to the world’s first fully vegetarian restaurant? Hiltl first opened in 1898. Nowadays, of course, the city has many more vegetarian, vegan and sustainable restaurants for you to choose from. In addition to the many weekly markets, where you’ll find everything you need for a lakeside picnic, we also recommend checking out The Artisan, which boasts its own organic garden, the inclusive bakery enzian vegan food and Loi Bistro. Maison Manesse has one green Michelin star to its name and is perfect for a special evening. Frau Gerolds Garten is an urban garden that grows organic produce, but also an eatery that prepares and serves its home-grown food.  

Outdoor adventures  
In Zurich, nature is part of the city. But if you still fancy venturing out of the centre, you can take the S4 to the ‘Sihlwald’ nature reserve for a hike, cycle along the river Limmat to Fahr Monastery or climb the Uetliberg, the city’s local mountain, in less than half an hour.  

Summer in the city 
Summer in Zurich is all about water. Take a dip in one of the many ‘Badis’ (public swimming areas along the riverbanks), traverse the lake or float down the Limmat. You can also hop on a ‘Böötli’, a floating rubber ring or dinghy, which will carry you down the Limmat from Platzspitz to Dietikon, a journey lasting around two hours. These Böötlis are available to hire from various providers. Lööböötli is considered to be a particularly sustainable service. An alternative – though equally enjoyable – way to explore Zurich from the water is to take a pedalo out on the lake or buy a ticket for the e-ferry. 

All a bit too laid-back for you? Well, Zurich also hosts two great festivals that you’ll definitely love. Enjoy some great food and music at the Caliente street party, the largest Latin festival in Europe. And you’ll find even more of that party atmosphere at the Street Parade. The world’s largest techno festival is held in Zurich’s Seefeld neighbourhood every year – and it’s completely free.  

Read more