Day trips from Stuttgart, Germany: Tübingen

A view of the coloured houses along the river in Tubingen Germany
Image: Freesurf69/ Dreamstime.com

By Emma Marshall and Nick Warburton

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Stuttgart, the capital of Baden-Württemberg, may be one of Germany’s less heralded cities. But this doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of things to do over a long weekend.

What’s more, if you wanted to extend your stay, there are some great day trips from Stuttgart to be had.

It is ideally located for visiting some of Germany’s more famous, as well as lesser known, attractions. This includes the Black Forest, about an hour’s drive south.

And for those in search of culture and history, hop on a train to Heidelberg, Germany’s oldest and most celebrated university town. The journey only takes 1.5 hours from Stuttgart’s main train station. 

Day trips from Stuttgart: Tübingen

For those looking for something a little special that is relatively close to Stuttgart, you should visit Tübingen. This is an architectural gem and home also to one of Germany’s oldest universities.  

It’s definitely a place worth exploring. From the moment you stumble across the beautiful half-timbered houses that line up in a row overlooking the Neckar River, you will no doubt be in thrall to this captivating slice of southern Germany.

A view of Tubingen from the river that can be seen when you arrive on one of your day trips from Stuttgart.  The timbered coloured houses line the river and the cathedral is behind in the background

Things to do in Tübingen

Tübingen offers a few must-see attractions. But a major reason for coming here is to wander around its rustic old town and soak in the sights.

Below are the top things I think you should focus on on a day trip to Tübingen.

Tübingen’s castle

Schloss Hohentübingen, the town’s castle, is one of the main landmarks. Part of the town’s university, I read that Friedrich Miescher discovered DNA in a laboratory in the castle building in the 1860s.

It’s a must-see on your itinerary.

A side view of the castle, one of the main sites on your day trip from Stuttgart

Perched on high ground that overlooks the town, the castle walls afford sweeping views over the rooftops, the river and the surrounding countryside.

As you walk up to the castle from the town, you pass through two gates. The second of these leads you into an expansive courtyard. Here you’ll find a large replica of a Roman statue in the centre.

The roman statue in the courtyard of the castle

Today you’ll find an archaeological museum in the castle grounds. This houses tiny ivory carvings that date back nearly 40,000 years as well as many other historic artefacts.

I unfortunately didn’t have time to visit but you can find more information here.

Stiftskirche St Georg

Tübingen’s other major landmark, rising up above the rooftops in the old town’s main square (Am Markt), is the 15th century St George’s Collegiate Church.

A view of one of the streets in Tubingen with the on the left

The Stiftskirche (as it’s called in Germany) was apparently one of the first churches to convert to the Protestant movement.

Make sure you pop inside and marvel at the interior, including the impressive stained-glass windows.

Wander around the town

Tübingen’s historic centre isn’t big. But don’t let that put you off visiting for the day (or staying the night; I wish I had).

You can easily spend a couple of hours leisurely pottering around its enchanting old town and stopping off for a bite to eat and something to wash it down.

Day trips from Stuttgart: Tubingen's town square that you can visit with its timbered buildings and a fountain in the middle

I noticed that some streets feature tiny little streams that really add to Tübingen’s charm.

One of Tubingen's streets with a small river and a small wooden bridge across it
A view of a side part of the river with the outside area of a restaurant alongside it

And the old timbered buildings are like eye-candy as you wander round the cobbled streets, staring up at their colourful facades.

Thankfully, the town was spared much of the devastation wreaked on many of Germany’s town and cities during the Second World War. 

The timbered houses you can see in Tubingen

Besides the Stiftskirche, the main square also features a 15th century old town hall (Rathaus). Look up and you’ll notice its astronomical clock. Opposite, you’ll also find the Neptune Fountain.

Part of the town square in Tubingen with the timbered buildings and fountain in the middle

Other sights worth exploring around the old town are the Cottahaus. This was once home to Johann Friedrich Cotta, who I read was the first person to publish Goethe.

Relax by the Neckar River

If you’ve arrived into Tübingen by train, you’ll be treated to the picture postcard view of colourful half-timbered houses forming a row along the banks of the river.

Tubingen houses along the river
Image: Freesurf69/ Dreamstime.com

As you approach the Eberhart Bridge which leads into the town, look left.

You can’t miss a wide promenade framed by trees called the Plantanenalle. It’s worth having a stroll down here and stepping closer to the river and its canopy of sycamore trees so you can take some photos.

Tubingen by the river and the Plantanenalle
Image: Jochen Schonfeld/ Dreamstime.com

You can also soak in the views of locals boating on the river and, (weather permitting), sunbathing on the banks.  

The river in Tubingen with people sitting on the wall beside it

Other things to do and see in Tübingen

For those with more time on their hands, you’ll also find the Kunsthalle museum and its exhibits of contemporary art.

There’s also a botanical garden, which is a little bit out of the town centre, and the Hölderlinturm, a silver-turreted tower that stands on the banks of the Neckar River. It’s home to a museum dedicated to the life of poet and philosopher Friedrich Hölderlin. 

Day trips from Stuttgart: How to get to Tübingen

As Tübingen is less than 43km from Stuttgart, it is only around a 40 minute drive away. Bus journeys however seem to be indirect and so take longer.

Tübingen is served by regular trains from Stuttgart’s main train station and can be reached in an hour.

Hotels in Tübingen

I didn’t stay the night, but if you do choose to this, a number of hotels stood out to me.

One is Hotel Am Schloss, a three-minute walk from the castle. This is right in the heart of the old town and has plenty of character judging by the photos.

For those with more money to spend, the Hotel La Casa is also recommended. This is a 15-minute walk from the old town. One of its main attractions is its top-floor spa.

For those looking for more bed and breakfast-type accommodation or budget accommodation, there is the Hotel Metropol Tübingen, Hotel Gardni Venezia, Hotel Krone and Ibis Styles.

Post written by Nick Warburton

Other ideas for European short breaks

If you enjoy European short breaks, you might find some of our other posts of interest:

For more ideas, visit my website.

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