Offenburg: Sunny wine town on the edge of the Black Forest

Nestled in the mountains of the Black Forest lies the city of Offenburg. Surrounded by hills and vineyards, you can study in an easy-going atmosphere which Baden is well-known for. Everything is close-by, the weather is almost always nice, and the proximity to Strasbourg lends Offenburg an international flair.

by Florian Schubert

Many restaurants are located on the Marktplatz (marketplace) © Florian Schubert
Many restaurants are located on the Marktplatz (marketplace) . © Florian Schubert

Facts & Figures

Monthly rent:
327 €
A trip to Gifiz Lake

Welcome to Offenburg

Offenburg is situated in the southwest corner of Germany near the Rhine River and the French border. You will find less tourists here than in other better known cities in Germany. Offenburg is located in the region of Baden. This area is famous throughout Germany for its hearty cuisine, good weather and fine wine. You’ll find it all in Offenburg, surrounded by ancient, half-timbered houses and narrow alleyways which are so distinctive of old German cities.

The City Church © Florian Schubert
The City Church . © Florian Schubert

When you arrive at the train station, the city welcomes you with a beautiful collection of half-timbered houses. The large tower of the City Church points the way to the pedestrian zone downtown, which you can easily reach on foot within ten minutes. Around the marketplace you’ll find many cafés and restaurants, and a few metres further you’ll come to the magnificent old city hall.

If you want, you can wander down one of the smaller side streets where you’ll likely discover some interesting shops! It’s a lot of fun to go window shopping, or “bummeln” as they say in Germany. You always find something small you’ve never seen before because most of the shops are not chain stores. They sell things you can’t find anywhere else in Germany.

The city of Offenburg, which is known for its media industry, is comprised of several small communities which you can reach by train or bus. One of these is Gengenbach where the second campus of the Offenburg University of Applied Sciences is located.

Living in Offenburg

You can reach most destinations in Offenburg conveniently on foot or by bike. The campus in the Gengenbach district is about ten minutes away by train. On your way there you can enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Ortenau region where Offenburg is located.

My advice

Take a trip to Gifiz Lake with friends on a hot summer day. You can cool off with a swim in the afternoon, and then in the evening maybe have a small party.

Winemaking is very important in Offenburg, which you’ll quickly notice by the countless rows of vines growing up the hillsides. The city stages a wine festival at the last weekend of September every year. The vintners of Offenburg present their wines on the marketplace during the four-day festival. There’s also music, food and many different wine-tastings. Enjoying the festive atmosphere together with friends is the most fun.

If you want to get some physical activity in your free time, you can participate in the Weinwandertag (vineyard hiking tour) on the first Sunday of September. It’s a good opportunity to hike through the vineyards and try out wine and authentic Baden cuisine.

The square in front of the city hall © Florian Schubert
The square in front of the city hall . © Florian Schubert

But there’s much more to Offenburg than just wine. Around the historic city centre with its many old buildings, you’ll quickly find a nice restaurant where you can try out southern German food or simply meet up with friends for a beer. Because the city isn’t very large, it’s no problem to spontaneously get together in the evening. And when the weather gets warm in the summer, you can take a ride to Gifiz Lake. It’s a good place to cool off in the crystal clear water and have a party on the beach at night.

If at some point you want to visit a bigger city, Strasbourg on the French side of the border is not far away. A train will take you there in 20 minutes.

Interview with Vivienne from Hong Kong

Vivienne Yi is 20 years old and studies Business Administration at the Offenburg University of Applied Sciences

Vivienne Cheng Ho Yi from Hong Kong © Florian Schubert
Vivienne Cheng Ho Yi from Hong Kong . © Florian Schubert

Why did you decide to study in Offenburg?

First of all, Offenburg is very beautiful. It is located in the Black Forest near France and Switzerland.

Was that the reason for your decision?

That too, but my university in Hong Kong has an exchange programme with Offenburg University. It also has partnerships with other universities in Germany. That’s why my friends from Hong Kong are now in different German cities.

How did you prepare for your stay in Germany?

First I learned German and then I chose my university. That’s when things really took off... I had to get my documents together and apply to the university. Then I had to send my applications and choose my courses.

Did it take long?

Yes, it took quite a long time. About a half a year.

How long have you been learning German?

I took German at my university in Hong Kong for two years and the courses were very intensive. I studied German twelve hours a week, and that for four semesters.

What should students coming to Germany do before leaving?

Learn the language! Although most people in Germany can speak English, you obviously feel better if you can talk to people in German.

What was the hardest thing for you when you first arrived in Germany?

I think it was the language. Even though I had learned a lot of German, it was hard to understand people in the beginning. When you talk with someone in Germany, they usually speak pretty fast. All my lectures are in German, and during my first semester I didn’t understand a word. But in the meantime it’s gotten much better.

How do you finance your studies in Germany?

Part of the money comes from my parents, another part from a scholarship, and another part I pay by myself.

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