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 (click here for guidebooks to help you plan your visit).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I noticed that some streets feature tiny little streams that really add to Tübingen’s charm.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can also soak in the views of locals boating on the river and, (weather permitting), sunbathing on the banks.
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.
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.