Located in southwestern Germany just 55 minutes by train from Stuttgart and a three-hour bus ride from Munich is Tubingen. It’s a town with medieval half-timbered buildings, narrow cobblestone alleys, street cafes, and a castle built in the Middle Ages. Often touted as the ‘Oxford of Germany,’ this university town has over 23,000 students and is home to the Eberhard Karls University (founded 1477), one of Germany’s oldest universities.
First-time visitors to Germany usually have Berlin, Munich or Frankfurt on their list of places to go. We recommend you add Tubingen to your list if you’re heading to Germany soon. Here are five ways to experience Tubingen:
1. The historical sites
Start your tour at the Market Square (Marktplatz), a square located at the heart of town. At the square, you can admire the colorful medieval half-timbered buildings and the towering City Hall. Built in 1435, City Hall boasts of a historic Astronomic clock made in 1511. Wander in the square, sample the local cafes and stroll along the narrow streets of Tubingen.
Then go up to Hohentubingen Castle for the magnificent views of Tubingen, Neckar Valley, and the surrounding areas. Built in the 11th century and expanded in the 16th century, Hohentubingen Castle is a four-winged building with a courtyard. Half of the building houses the Castle Museum. The other half houses the university. It was in the university lab that Friedrich Miescher discovered DNA in 1879.
Admire the Roman triumphal arch at Hohentubingen Castle’s lower castle gate. It has the fourfold coat of arms of the Duchy of Wurttemberg.
2. Neckar riverfront
Photograph and enjoy the views of Neckar River and the half-timbered buildings on the riverfront. Look out for Holderlin Tower, the yellow building which was home to Friedrich Holderlin from 1807 to 1843, and the colorful half-timber style row houses along the river. Some of these buildings were built in the 1400s.
3. Punting on Neckar river
The punting boat is a flat bottomed wooden boat about 52 feet long. In Tubingen, punting is available from May to September, and tickets are available at the Tourist Office. You can board at Holderlin. Punting is one of the unique ways to experience Tubingen. You get to listen to the punter telling stories about Tubingen as you admire the views along the river.
Wine lovers may want to book a wine tasting experience on the punting boat. Sample four local wines accompanied with bread and cheese as you glide on the Neckar River. Or take punting lessons from an expert and receive a punting diploma in Tubingen.
4. Beer and Swabian food
If you like to drink beer and eat at a restaurant with views of the Neckar river go to Gasthausbrauerei Neckarmuller. The restaurant serves beer brewed in-house and Swabian food. Favorite Swabian foods you can try are spaetzle (noodles), lentils and sausage, maultaschen (dumplings filled with meat, spinach, and herbs), asparagus dishes, and sausages.
Choose indoor or outdoor seating, and the tasting dishes, refreshing beer and amazing views of Tubingen.
Don’t forget dessert and coffee when visiting Tubingen.
5. Day trip to Lichtenstein Castle and Hohenzollern Castle
Take a short drive to the Swabian Alb to the privately owned Lichtenstein Castle and Hohenzollern Castle.
The current Lichtenstein Castle was built between 1840 and 1842, but you can still see the original walls (built in 1388) on the first floor. This hunting castle (built for hunting) houses one of the oldest armor in Germany, a scythe from the sixth century in the armory. It is one of the smallest castles in Germany and not one that is overrun by tourists. You’ll marvel at the panoramic views of the Swabian Alb and Echaz Valley from the castle.
Situated at the peak of Swabian Alb is Hohenzollern Castle, a place that attracts thousands of visitors from around the world. Guests can tour the castle’s many furnished rooms, exhibitions, art gallery, and churches. Also, enjoy a sumptuous Swabian meal at the restaurant and take in the views of the country’s picturesque landscape from the bastion.
Where to stay
For a unique stay, we suggest camping at Tubingen Neckar Camping Site, located by the Neckar river. There’s a swimming pool, playground, bathrooms and more.
An affordable option is at Jugendherberge hostel. There are 141 rooms – single, double or up to four-person rooms.