Tübingen: Young, colourful and delightfully picturesque

Tübingen is one of the most beautiful university towns in southern Germany. The pretty Altstadt, the river Neckar and opportunities for trips and excursions in the surrounding area make it an attractive place to live and study. The town is defined by the many students and institutions of the renowned university clinic.

by Sinah Vonderweiden

Half-timbered houses © Vonderweiden/DAAD
Half-timbered houses . © Vonderweiden/DAAD

Facts & Figures

Monthly rent:
323 €
Familiarize yourself with the local cuisine and try some Swabian Maultaschen!

Welcome to Tübingen

A picturesque old town with colourful half-timbered houses and narrow streets define the welcoming character of the compact and cosy town of Tübingen. Perched high above the town is Schloss Hohentübingen, while the river Neckar meanders through the valley.

Tübingen is a young town. The Eberhard Karls University's 29,000 students ensure that the town has a very youthful, vibrant feel. The university faculties are spread all over Tübingen. Numerous clinic institutions are situated on Schnarrenberg and in the valley. Almost 3,000 medics and scientists study at the medical faculties.

University hospital © Vonderweiden/DAAD
University hospital . © Vonderweiden/DAAD

The "Graduate Training Centre of Neuroscience" was set up to promote the younger generation of neuroscientists. This is where the medical, psychological and biological functions of the human nervous system are studied. German and international students can do their Master's or doctoral degree here.

People from over 140 nations live in Tübingen. For the people of Tübingen, tolerance is a matter of great importance. The town also has an environment-friendly image and most people here are nature lovers. You'll notice this as soon as you arrive at the station: there are bicycles everywhere. The town wants to avoid too much traffic and polluted air.

Centre of Tübingen © Vonderweiden/DAAD
Centre of Tübingen . © Vonderweiden/DAAD

Living in Tübingen

Tübingen is located not far from the low mountain range known as the Schwäbische Alb, or Swabian Jura. The river Neckar and nearby mountains make the area the perfect place for trips and excursions. Hiking, boat trips or bike tours are popular activities. At the weekends, you can go punting on the Neckar in a Stocherkahn, a type of flat-bottomed boat. The fairytale castle Burg Hohenzollern near Tübingen fascinates visitors from all over the world.

Hohentübingen Castle © Benjamin Nagel/wikicommons
Hohentübingen Castle . © Benjamin Nagel/wikicommons

Tübingen's Christmas market is also rather special. In the winter, there's an open-air cinema where local residents and students traditionally watch the cult German film "Feuerzangenbowle" together. It's also traditional to drink a mug of "Feuerzangenbowle", rum punch, which the film is named after. Winter wouldn't be winter in Germany without a "Feuerzangenbowle"!

Cafés, restaurants, shops and student bars abound in Tübingen. At the university café Schöne Aussichten near the university library, you can have breakfast but also meet up there with friends in the evenings. In the summer, everyone likes to sit outside on the terrace. Kaffeehaus Ranitzky is a popular meeting place both during the day and in the evenings: on the big square in front of the town hall, you can admire some of Tübingen's splendid buildings and the old fountain. The modern Kaffeehaus serves local apple juice as well as affordable cocktails.

My tip

One Swabian speciality is "Maultaschen". These square pasta cases are traditionally filled with minced meat, spinach, onions and soft white bread. There are vegetarian alternatives and many families have their own special recipes.

You can party at lots of bars in Tübingen, especially on a Saturday night. A pub crawl, or "Kneipentour", is a typical way of spending an evening at the weekend. You can go from bar to bar and enjoy a beer or long drink. "Bartista", "Schloßcafé" and "Tangente Night" are particularly worth trying out. A pub crawl usually ends in one of the bars or small dance clubs. Favourably priced venues include Jazzkeller in the heart of Tübingen or Spätvorlesung in the Blauer Turm where you can listen to hip hop, electro or chart music.

Tübingen is famous for its "Apfelmost". This is a lightly sparkling, slightly sour wine. The juice is obtained from apples from the region. For fruit and vegetables, "Vegi" on Kornhausstrasse is the place to go. The combination of snack-bar and drinks bar serves home-made falafel and soups. Everything here is vegetarian. On Sundays, students like to gather here to watch the cult German TV series "Tatort". In Vegi, you can watch the murder mystery with friends and enjoy a refreshing drink at the same time.

Interview with Harini from India

Harini Subbaraman is 24, comes from India and is studying for her Master's degree in molecular medicine in Tübingen.

Picture of Harini from India © Vonderweiden/DAAD
Harini from India . © Vonderweiden/DAAD

Why did you come to Tübingen to study?

I decided to come to Germany to study because the country is known for its good education system. Also, it doesn't cost as much to study here as it does, say, in the US. I chose Tübingen because of the well-structured study programme. I'm doing a one-year Master's degree in molecular medicine, which is very compactly structured. I am focussing on immunology and microbiology. Tübingen is a great town.

How did you prepare for your stay in Tübingen?

I did a few language courses at the Goethe-Institute in New Delhi. It wasn't difficult finding somewhere to live, I just applied to the Studentenwerk and was offered a room. In my experience, this is the best way to find accommodation quickly if you're coming from somewhere else and can't actually look at the room beforehand.

Punting © Vonderweiden/DAAD
Punting . © Vonderweiden/DAAD

Was it difficult for you deciding to leave your home country?

Not at all. Nowadays, a lot of people want to travel and discover new things while they're still young. Studying abroad is one way of doing this.

What helped you get used to everyday life in Tübingen?

The orientation programme helped me understand how the library works, for example, or how to get my student ID.

But there's also a funny story: In the beginning, I didn't know you had to press a button when you want to get off a bus in Germany. At home, buses always stop at every bus stop. So when there weren't many people around one night, the bus just drove past my bus-stop and I didn't know how to tell the driver that I'd missed my stop. When I finally made myself understood, the driver took me to the last stop and said he'd drop me off on the way back. But he forgot, so I drove too far yet again and had to find my home in the dark!

Neckar island © Vonderweiden/DAAD
Neckar island . © Vonderweiden/DAAD

What is there to do here for students outside the university?

Tübingen has lots of nice hiking trails, it's a good place for walking. In the summer, a lot of students like to hang out near the Stiftskirche, next to the town hall. You can buy a few beers and sit on the steps. The Neckar island is also very beautiful. There's a bar there, the Neckarmühle, right next to the river. It's a nice setting and you can enjoy a drink with friends.

Describe Tübingen in three words

  1. beautiful
  2. international
  3. vibrant
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