Western Europe can intimidate people because it’s perceived to be an expensive place to visit. While it’s really easy to spend a ton of money in any place you travel, if you do your research before hand you can save a lot. One example is the Bundesland train tickets that Germany offers. If you travel within one state you can buy a single day ticket that is good on all trains, light rails and buses and allows up to 5 people to travel on it for a small additional fee. A single rider ticket is 24€ and with each additional rider the price raises a few euros. It’s a great deal and if you are traveling with a friend or two – it’s a perfect way to have fun day trips from your main sleeping hub without breaking the bank.
Tübingen is a small town with a big university, a few hours south of Stuttgart by train. It’s along the Neckar, which is the same river that runs through Stuttgart. It’s easily walk-able and there is plenty of beautiful German architecture to look at. It’s a perfect thrifty travel choice.
Hohentübingen Castle is owned by the University now, hosting a museum of ancient culture as well as housing ice age art that has been studied by scholars at the university since their discovery in caves in the Alps. Fun fact: Germans invented the study of ancient civilizations. They basically went to Italy and said, we like your culture and history. We are going to study it. Italy was like, “uhh, not sure why you are so interested but, do what you want.” If you’re not into ancient civilizations, or 16th century castles, the museum is also home to the largest wine keg ever filled. It’s big enough to hold 85,000 liters of the good stuff.
One place to always find the most traditionally German buildings in a city is to go to the Altstadt, or old town. This is just as it sounds, the original city before it was expanded with more modern buildings. The houses where you can see the wooden beams on the facade are referred to as half-timbered houses and common in towns all across Germany as well as parts of France, Switzerland, and Austria.
Just below the castle you’ll find the Rathaus, or city hall. Painted with frescos of Roman goddesses and fleur de lis, lined with wrought iron windows and featuring a double clock tower, it’s truly a magnificent example of medieval architecture. The plaza in front of it is known as Am Markt, or the market at city hall. You’ll find a sausage house (Wursthaus Lichtenstein) and Silberburg am Markt, a Schwäbisch (a word referring to people from the state of Baden-Württemburg) whiskey house which sells local wines, whiskeys and honey. A really cute shop with unique souvenirs!
Follow Kirchgasse or Kronenstrasse streets past the Markt and you’ll quickly come into another plaza and the Stiftskirche. This Gothic church has a bell tower you can climb to get the best view of the city. It’s always a work out walking up all those stairs, but definitely worth it. This climb is particularly cool because you’ll walk by the mechanisms for ringing the bells. Be careful and courteous, there is really only room for one person headed one direction on the steps. There are landings where you can wait for someone ahead of you to descend. Across from the church is the Cafe Tangente Jour, a really cute cafe that also has outdoor seating in front of the church steps. Grab a coffee or sandwich and refuel after your workout.
Tübingen has a lot to offer, with it’s traditional German architecture, many museums, and beautiful parks and outdoor spaces. It might be hard to squeeze everything into one day. But even if you can’t, it’s still a great adventure just strolling through the Altstadt, checking everything out.
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