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5 reasons to go to… Tuebingen

Written by 20 February 2012 23 Comments

I’ve lost my heart years ago. It was on a cold day in late October 1998, as the sun was sprinkling through the yellow, orange, red and brown leaves in the trees while I rode my bike back home. But this home was new. I had just moved there several days ago and so it was bound to happen – I got lost. I walked through the narrow streets, passed colorful medieval houses, watched hot guys riding a gondola-like boat on a river and ate a Nutella crêpe while sitting on a wall in front of an old castle enjoying a breathtaking view over the city. And that was it – that was the moment I fell in love with Tübingen. As I’m writing this my heart skips a beat and I can’t help but feeling homesick. Although I like to tell everybody that Berlin is the only city I want to live in, Tübingen will be forever in my heart. If romance was a city, Tübingen would be its name.

Like many others I moved to Tübingen to study. After all, 20.000 of the of the university town’s 110.000 inhabitants are students. It lies in the South of Germany, tucked in between Stuttgart and Lake Constance. Some might say that the medieval downtown centre of the town is the only reason to visit… but proving them wrong, here are five more…

1. Nightlife

As cozy as Tuebingen is it’s also a party place deluxe.Well at least you’ll always get a beer. My favourite place to hang out during summer is the market place next to the town hall. As soon as it’s warm enough to sit outside everyone comes here for the last hours of the day, buys a beer in one of the bars and just sits around the fountain, on the sidewalks and sometimes, when it’s really crowded, even on the street.

The market place and the town hall in 1936 – picture credit: akpool.de

photo: gndev.de

There aren’t that many clubs but if you want to dance the night away you’ll find a place. I liked to party at “Blauer Turm”. There are a lot of student parties happening as Tübingen is also the home of many fraternities who all have their own house and at least once a year every single fraternity opens their doors for a big night of party and mayhem.

2. Stocherkahnrennen (punt race)

Every year on one day in June (mostly the Thursday of the second week) everyone is out on the street and IN the water. It’s all about the Stocherkahnrennen. You have to know that the punt boat (Stocherkahn) has an old tradition in Tuebingen. It looks a little bit like a gondola and during the year you will see on the river Neckar a lot of punts with people sitting in there, enjoying the sun and the river, some may have a BBQ on the boat and there is even a guy you can rent and he will sail you up and down the river in the punt and sing for you. Romantic, isn’t it?

But this all changes on this said day in June. Because then it’s all about honor and winning. At the Stocherkahnrennen (punt race) you don’t have friends anymore, every punt manning has just one goal: to reach the finish as soon as possible, fighting their heart out. The most interesting (and funniest for the spectators) part is when they have to turn an eight at the Nadelöhr (bottleneck) under the bridge.

photo: badische-zeitung.de

The winner takes it all? Kind of, the winner gets a beer barrel. And the loser punt? They have to swallow the bitter taste of losing. Literally. Every single person in the loser punt has to drink half a litre of cod-liver oil. Yikes. Yes.

3. The Romance

Besides the obvious picturesque (and romantic) side of Tübingen with its narrow streets and medieval buildings there’s one place to top this all. Between the river Neckar and the old town there’s a small lane closed on one side with a wall. And here you’ll find one of the most romantic places for a first date. Imagine moonlight, flickering candle light, the soft sound of the river and a picnic on the wall for you and your honey.

And why should you lock your love in Paris with thousands of others when you can lock your love in Tübingen where it’s still something special…

4. Famous people

The Eberhard Karls University, founded in 1477, is one of the oldest universities in Central Europe. Hardly surprising that a lot of famous people lived, studied and worked here. Pope Benedict XVI held a chair in dogmatic theology here from 1966 until 1969. Former president of Germany Hans Köhler and former German chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger studied and lived here and so did many famous German poets and thinkers like Eduard Mörike, Friedrich Hölderlin, Johannes Kepler and my favourite German author Herman Hesse. I even lived several years in the birth-house of German poet Ludwig Uhland. History is all around in Tübingen. Even Johann Wolfgang von Goethe must have had some fun nights out during his visit in 1797. According to the sign in the picture below this was the window he puked from.

“Goethe puked here”

Also neurologist Alois Alzheimer, from whom Alzheimer’s disease takes its name, studied here and nowadays students commemorate him in a special way.

“Alois, we will never forget you!”

5. The Swabians

The who? Tübingen is located in the South of Germany in Baden-Württemberg, the home of the Swabians. I am also Swabian and I can tell you one thing: we are the cool gang in Germany. We invented the car, the newspaper, bras, we have Mercedes, Porsche and Spätzle, Albert Einstein was Swabian and we do speak Swabian, a German dialect, which even most other Germans don’t understand. Last time I went to Tübingen I walked into a shop, bought something and the lovely Swabian lady at the cash desk asked me if I do need a bag. But she didn’t say: “Brauchen Sie eine Tüte” which would be standard German, she said “Brouchet se a Tütle” which immediately made me feel at home. So don’t worry if you’re failing with practicing your German in Tübingen, they just don’t speak German. At least if they don’t have to. But they are lovely and heartfelt and if you spend some time here it’s likely people will soon recognize and greet you and that waitress at your favourite bar will always know what drink you’re getting.

Have you been to Tübingen? We would love to hear your favorite places there.


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  • Sabrina said:

    Love Tuebingen! I studied in Reutlingen for a while and Tuebingen was always a fun trip. The Biergarten by the river was my favorite spot in the summer. And it’s so true: other Germans really don’t understand Swabian. I had the hardest time when I first moved there ;)

  • Claire said:

    I’ve never heard of Tuebingen but now I want to go!

  • Laurence said:

    At first I thought this was a post about tubing. Turns out it wasn’t, but the punting will do ;) Looks like a great place for a wander :)

  • Vera Marie Badertscher said:

    Not only never been there—did not know it existed. The pictures look a lot like Brugge, Belgium–a city I did love, and is also VERY romantic.

  • The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) said:

    Beautiful photos. Oh, how I love and miss Germany …

  • Christy @ Technosyncratic said:

    That boat race sounds awesome! I bet it’s a blast to watch, but I’d be scared to participate. Other than that madness it looks like a lovely quaint little place. :)

  • Alexa Meisler said:

    This place had me at Stocherkahnrennen. This looks so much fun and such a unique tradition that makes Tübingen a must-see place. It kind of sucks that the losers have to drink liver oil but I guess if they’re enjoying it right? The photos had me falling in love with this place as well. Thank you for sharing!

  • Laurel said:

    I love Tuebingen and was there a couple of weeks ago for their Carnival Parade. Would love to see the punt races, they look wild!

  • Jade - OurOyster.com said:

    Looks like a beautiful town! I bet it was a peaceful place to study!

  • Nomadic Samuel said:

    Wow! What photos! That action shot on the boat is the best photo I’ve seen all week.

  • Mathilde said:

    It was in my plans going to Berlin this summer, I’ll try to visit Tuebingen too!!! Thanks :)!

  • Emily said:

    Who are you? That Alzheimer graffiti was only there for a short time around Christmas… *suspicious look*…

  • Andrew said:

    Nope, never been despite so many years in Germany. It was one of the choices to study when I came as a student years ago and I picked Freiburg. This place looks pretty awesome. I love Uni towns (hence Freiburg home) so this definitely should get on our list.

    My only problem is that although it isn’t very far by distance direct, you have to go all around the forest so it takes a while.

  • Cindy said:

    Reading this post just finalised my decision to visit Tübingen! But I must ask… does anyone know where exactly is that little lane that was mentioned in #3? It looks absolutely beautiful!

  • krips89 said:

    Stayed there for 2 months for a short-term study. I will never forget Tuebingen!

  • Schwabe7 said:

    The lane mentioned in #3 is called Neckarmauer. You can’t miss it.
    @Andrew by now there is a Bus between Freiburg and Tübingen (www.deinbus.de)

  • Ilaria said:

    i lived there one year for studying.. i loved it.. NeckarBrucke is a great window of the town as well because u have both views, from a side you see all these typical german houses and at the other side you see these Stocherkhan boats.. i liked to walk at the insel.. it was magical.
    and yea swabian was a hard to understand at the beginning but after 10 months in germany ich koennte auch das sprechen :D

  • Saskia said:

    I feel absolutely the same! I lived in Hamburg for a while and I loved it. There is so much to discover and do etc, but if I had the choice I’d always move to Tübingen. I hope, I can arrange it someday.

  • Rachel said:

    I studied in Tübingen in 2007 and it remains my favourite place on earth. It helped that the summer was long and balmy, and all I studied was creative writing and cinematography. I spent much of my time in the Neckarmüller beer garden, walking to nearby Bebenhausen, reading books in the garden of my Wohnheim (Pfrondorferstr.) and hanging out in the Irish pub. I remember everything there – the people, the places, the experiences – so, so fondly.

  • Rut Moreno said:

    Tübigen es espectacular y la echo de menos, estuve 10 meses el año pasado viviendo allí como Erasmus y fué perfecto. Tübingen!!! Ich vermisse dich

  • Tom said:

    I studied in Tübingen and had the time of my life there. I went back recently and it’s still just as beautiful. A truly wonderful place!

  • Gabriel said:

    i’ve lived one year there, reading this i felt good and remembered many forgotten memmories!!

    GEIGERLE ist mein wohnheim!! my favorite place.

    clubhaus was always nice. trinkest du kabamilch? hahahaha

    take a walk or a ride in schönbuch.

    freibad is special for me, because that was the first time i’ve jumped from a sprungbrett!

    i’ve competed in Stocherkahnrennen, luckly we’ve not finished last hahaha.

    the botanic garden was also a good place to hang out with friends.

    ich liebe tuebingen!!

  • Melissa said:

    I live in Tuebingen, and I love it! I highly recommend going to the top of the Stiftskirche tower if you visit. Great view over the town, and it is SO cool to go up by the huge bells and through the old rafters of the church. Also Eberhard the Bearded, founder of the university it buried in the crypt that you go through to get to the tower stairs. Also, how can you forget the castle? Love it. My husband is in the Castle Archers archery club, and they practice in the castle’s dry moat! How cool is that? Our friends and family back in the US can’t believe he can do that. We leave in July and we’re going to miss this place!

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