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With the allure of a chocolate festival, I made my way to the southern Germany town of Tübingen (also known as Tuebingen or Tubingen to English speakers). While this town was named one of Germany’s most photogenic towns, it holds a special place in my heart for an entirely different reason – it’s where I studied abroad 6 years ago! Tübingen was actually home to the first “Beer Time With Wagner” blog when I was still on the WordPress free platform. Even though the blog initially died out after a month, it made a reappearance in 2013 and the name stuck until I rebranded a year ago. It was wonderful to finally be back in Tübingen in wintertime – filled with lots of yummy cafes, snowy side streets, and a sense of coziness.
Table of Contents
- How to get to Tübingen
- History of Tübingen
- Chocolate Festival in Tübingen
- Snowy Weather in Tübingen
- Where to Eat & Drink in Tübingen
- Things To Do in Tübingen in Wintertime
- Final Thoughts on Tübingen in Wintertime
- Share the Love! Pin for Later
How to get to Tübingen
As a university town, Tübingen might be quaint but it is still easily accessible! The simplest way to reach the town is by car. However, there are still many other transportation options:
Most trains arriving and departing from Tübingen are regional trains. Thus, you’ll most likely be switching from a high speed train in Stuttgart (the closest big city) to a regional train from Stuttgart to Tübingen. However, these trains are quite efficient and run on a regular schedule.
The closet airport to Tübingen is the Stuttgart Airport. Thankfully, the airport is well-connected to many European destinations. They also have one long-haul flight from Atlanta. Once you land in Stuttgart, you can easily take a train, bus, or car directly to Tübingen.
The most direct way to Tübingen is via a bus. There are local buses and long-distance buses that will take you to the town center. The local buses run within the region of Stuttgart and can connect you directly from Stuttgart’s city center as well as the airport to Tübingen. The long-distance buses connect Tübingen with many cities and towns both within, and outside of, Germany.
History of Tübingen
As students make up one-third of Tübingen’s population, the history of the town is very much integrated into the university’s history. The university is one of the oldest in all of Europe – it was founded in 1477 and is considered one of the five classical universities of Germany (along with Heidelberg – where I did my master’s degree). The city is especially known for its Germanic studies program, theology program, law school, and science programs (including medicine). DNA was actually discovered at the University of Tübingen in 1868.
During the Third Reich, the University of Tübingen was unfortunately at the forefront of legitimizing Nazi beliefs and programs. The university employed very few Jews even before 1933 and any Jews still working at the university were forced into early retirement. Additionally, almost 1,200 sterilizations were performed at the University of Tübingen’s hospital.
On a lighter note, the university has an impressive alumni roster. Famous students and professors include Johannes Kepler, Horst Köhler (President of Germany), Friedrich Hölderlin, Pope Benedict XVI, Friedrich Shelling, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel as well as 12 Nobel Laureates.
Chocolate Festival in Tübingen
I never had the opportunity to see Tübingen in wintertime and had eagerly been waiting to attend the annual international chocolate festival! To be honest, the festival was a bit of a disappointment. However, how much of a disappointment could it actually be with so much chocolate everywhere?! I thought the festival would be a bit more interactive. Instead, it was mainly just stalls with different chocolate companies selling their goods. However, I’m never one to turn down chocolate ;)
Let’s be honest though, I took fullllll advantage of the mulled wine with chocolate in it. It was absolutely freezing and what’s better than chocolate warming you up? Mulled wine, that’s what’s better ;) Double winning with chocolate and mulled wine together ;) Also, I attended the festival with my friend Christina (she’s a fellow blogger over at Happy To Wander and her photos/blog are to die for…). We had never met in person prior to meeting at the festival so it was either going to be really awesome or really awkward. Thank goodness it was the former – I felt like we had been friends for years and it was great to swap blogging/traveling/Germany stories with her!
Snowy Weather in Tübingen
More exciting than the chocolate festival itself was waking up Sunday morning to the city blanketed in fresh, powdery snow. I can’t speak for southern Germany but Hamburg has had an unusually snowy winter! Maybe I’m a crazy person but I much prefer cold weather over hot weather any day of the week – bonus points if snow accompanies the cold weather. I felt like I was in a winter wonderland snow globe!
Where to Eat & Drink in Tübingen
Tübingen actually has an impressive food and cafe culture. Obviously, it’s nice to take advantage of all the cafes during summertime when they have outdoor seating but there are still plenty of opportunities for a good drink and a good meal in wintertime. Here are some of my favorites!
Gasthaus Bären | Schmiedtorstraße 3
This restaurant serves the most delicious Swabian food for an absolute steal. Christina and I happened upon this restaurant and it was full of locals. The tables are close together and the noise level is quite high, but you can’t help but absolutely love it! We went for lunch and thought it was perfect.
Zum Alten Fritz | Gartenstraße 13
We were both craving Italian food and stumbled across this restaurant as one of the top Italian recommendations. The interior makes you feel like you’re underground in a cave and the food is equally delicious. Also, not a bad selection of wine at all ;)
Cafe Tangente Jour | Münzgasse 17
While studying abroad in Tübingen, I must have come to this cafe at least once a week for their delicious tomato soup. The cafe is in a great location and the food was always so light and fresh!
Collegium | Lange G. 8
Another really great cafe in the middle of town that serves reasonably priced food, beer, coffee, and everything in between!
Piccolo Sole d’Oro | Metzgergasse 39
Definitely one of the best places in Tübingen for beer, wine, cocktails, coffee, and small snacks. The interior is cozy and authentic, and it is definitely one of the most popular spots to hang out for a drink (whether a mid-afternoon coffee, evening glass of wine, or weekend beer).
Tübinger Wurstküche | Am Lustnauer Tor 8
This is the “it” place to go in Tübingen for traditional German/Swabian food! The menu is long and authentic, and the interior is just what you would imagine a German restaurant looking like inside.
Liquid Bar / Die Kelter | Schmiedtorstraße 17
I found this restaurant/bar/lounge right at the end of my study abroad in Tübingen and I was kicking myself for not finding it sooner! While you can eat here, I came for the cocktails which are top-notch and highly recommended.
Things To Do in Tübingen in Wintertime
Market Square and City Hall (Marktplatz and Rathaus)
The majestic Tübingen City Hall was built in the mid-15th century as a three-level building (the fourth level was added about 75 years later). The astronomical clock at the top of the building was installed in 1511 and still functions – showing the various locations of stars and the phases of the moon.
While the Tübingen Market Square is taken full advantage of during the summer months (outdoor cafes and restaurants dot the entire Market Square), the winter months still add a level of charm, especially when snowing. Not only can you enjoy the Tübingen Chocolate Festival but weekly events and markets occur here year-round.
Hohentübingen Castle (Schloss Hohentübingen)
The most defining feature in Tübingen, Hohentübingen Castle rises high above the old town area of the city. The castle was first mentioned almost 1,000 years ago. While it has undergone multiple renovations and reconstructions, most of the modern-day castle is from the 1600s, reflecting the Renaissance style of the time period. Besides being a local tourist attraction, the castle is also home to numerous University of Tübingen institutions and collections as well as a museum. Regardless of the weather, Hohentübingen Castle provides great views of the entire city of Tübingen.
Stiftskirche (Collegiate Church)
The Collegiate Church is not just one of the main features in Tübingen but also has an important place in Reformation history. Built in 1470, it was one of the first churches to convert to Protestantism after Martin Luther’s Reformation. Interestingly enough, the church still has several Catholic features including patron saints and a shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Regardless of the weather, this church is open year-round and a nice place to hide away on a cold, snowy day!
Hölderlin’s Tower and Ederhard’s Bridge (Hölderlinturm and Ederhardsbrücke)
The postcard photo of Tübingen, Eberhard’s Bridge provides the iconic view of Tübingen. Regardless of the time of year, this view is absolutely stunning – between the falling snow in winter and the Stockerkahn (similar to punting) races in the summertime. As this bridge is directly between the main train/bus station and the old town of Tübingen, it’s impossible to miss it!
Located at one end of these beautiful, colorful houses is Hölderlin’s Tower. He lived there from 1807 to his death in 1843. Diagnosed with schizophrenia and having had a mental breakdown, he was taken in by Ernst Zimmer, a carpenter that owned the tower and was enamoured with Hölderlin’s writing. Hölderlin spent the rest of his life living and working on the first floor of this tower.
Neckar Island (Neckarinsel)
A beautiful spot for a short walk along the river, Neckar Island is a small piece of tranquility located right in Tübingen. While I was visiting, the entire island was covered in snow, making my walk feel like a winter wonderland. It also gives a wonderful view of all the colorful houses lining the bank of the Neckar. In the summertime, people gather on the island to sunbathe or watch the local Stockerkahn boat races.
Old Town Tübingen (Altstadt Tübingen)
While quite small and doable in a day (or even an afternoon), the old town area of Tübingen is not to be missed! Some of my favorite streets include Burgsteige (leading up to the castle), Judengasse (the former Jewish quarter during the Middle Ages), Lange Gasse, and Münzgasse. Make sure to also explore and visit the university’s original buildings interspersed throughout the old town area.
Final Thoughts on Tübingen in Wintertime
I can’t believe it took me so long to visit Tübingen in wintertime – why didn’t I do this sooner?! While I have so many wonderful and fond memories of Tübingen in the summer months, there really is something magical and fairy tale-like about the snowy, wintery months of southern Germany. I feel like there are many more (snowy) adventures like this to come! :)