People are starting to realize what a fantastic country Germany is. The country is rising in popularity – the ideal place for a European getaway. Want to avoid the crowds? Forget Berlin, forget Hamburg, forget Munich. This article tells you why the small town of Marburg is the place to go. It is classic Germany, lots of charm and character, but without the overstated hype. Marburg is not exactly low on tourists. However, with this insider advice, you can explore the local scene – the cheap and natural attractions that are honestly worth your time.
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Wandering around Germany, you are going to see a lot of castles. Marburg is no exception. Its castle has dominated the town since the eleventh century. Once a protective fort, it is now a proud landmark of local history. This ‘Schloss’ lies at the top of the hill and can be reached by various cobbled pathways and hidden stone steps. Beyond crooked, overlapping rooftops, beautiful views are spanning the expansive countryside of Hessen. Be sure to go at night, when the castle is lit up and the evening air is calm and quiet.
On the walk up, you’ll find various hints to the past presence of the Brothers Grimm, former students of the university. Statues, paintings, and engraved quotes reveal the influence of Marburg on their famous fairy-tale stories; including the inspiration for Rapunzel’s tower. Stirred by the literary references? Find a quiet bench at one of the outlooks and spend an afternoon reading in the shade of the trees with beautiful views to keep you company.
Halfway up, there is a small church with a slanted spire. Sometimes weddings take place here; church bells, a violinist outside and families elatedly following the couple down to the town square. Watch out for one of these random local celebrations that give a burst of energy to the usually tranquil cobbled streets.
Food and Drink
In any of the cafés and restaurants that make up Marburg, you are sure to find a classic delicacy – auflauf. Made from pasta or potatoes with vegetables and a thick cheese sauce, auflauf is simply amazing. It is the perfect dinner choice for anyone, with each menu offering at least twenty different varieties. You can sit outside on cobbled streets and watch the world go by while enjoying this local German dish.
For dessert, grab an ice cream and find a step outside the town hall on which to people watch. Sit beside the fountain and observe the general slowness of the center. With no cars in the upper town area, this is a place to relax; no stress, no agenda.
If not the party central of Germany, Marburg still offers as much beer as any other German town. Full of students, the nightlife, provides a decent pub crawl round local bars, finished with a döner kebab at the end of the night. Try the Hessen style of beer with lemonade and fruit. Or, stick to the endless collection of traditional German beers, from cool, refreshing pilsners to strong and heavy wheat beer. While small and local, you can still search the streets of Marburg for hidden underground bars and random music gigs.
Embrace the character of this place! Talk to strangers all night or chill with friends under the wooden, crooked roofs of old pubs. If you’re feeling brave, try the ‘rusty nail’ shot. Just as disgusting as it sounds, it is a must for the true Marburgian. It is an act of initiation – a tabasco-based rite of passage for any visitor.
The river Lahn runs along the bottom of Marburg. Walking along it, you look up to see the castle watching over the town. Various bridges provide scenic, busy views of Marburg from a low perspective. The river path offers different routes. Follow it all the way out of town through parks and playing fields. Or, get lost in a local side street and absorb the characteristic, historical architecture lining the roads.
In the evenings, the sun brightens these pathways beautifully. Most people gather at bars spread along the river or climb down the banks and spend time sitting right on the water. You can hire kayaks and pedalos to have fun embracing the evening light by boat. The Lahn is affiliated with the masses of students that gather here. It flows right outside the main university building, and the concrete steps on the river are an excellent spot for meeting friends. Good weather inspires long evenings outside. Head to the river and join the students breaking out the beer and the BBQs.
Like any German town, the central hub of Marburg is the Rathaus. The town hall looks out over the main square, where people gather in small cafes or take random secret routes up to the castle. At Christmas, it acts as a massive advent calendar with the windows of the building opening to reveal a new festive picture every day. Indeed, Marburg is the perfect place for a winter getaway – traditional German markets and plenty of mulled wine.
If you are interested in shopping, there are many independent shops inviting you in. But thankfully, Marburg is a place accessible to those on a budget. With so many corners and alleys to be explored, you don’t need to spend money to enjoy this German town. Simply stroll through the streets and you will find yourself inevitably falling for the unique and enticing atmosphere.
Marburg is by no means a metropolis. The many spots of natural beauty deny the urban claustrophobia inspired by some towns. It can, however, become a bit of a bubble. Anyway, it’s always worth exploring the less embellished surrounding areas of a tourist town. If you want to throw yourself into those views from the castle, it is well worth renting a car or discovering the local buses to get to the Hessen countryside. There are various small villages on the outskirts of Marburg offering examples of idyllic lifestyles. Such villages as Dagobertshausen are good day trips for those wanting to explore the heart of Germany. Go to a local ‘Erdbeeren’ festival or try some home brewed regional beer at a village brewery.
Want to go hiking? Multiple walks take you into the rural beauty that tourists often miss. One particular site of immense beauty is the Rimberg Tower, a twenty-minute drive from Marburg. Climb to the top for stunning views over the trees and hills of Hessen. Especially try to make it there in time for sunset. Get out of town for the day and do the long hike or bike ride from town for the immediate experience of Marburg’s local nature. Not to mention, save money – in the free and simple act of walking.
If you want to stay close to town, be sure to visit the Spiegelslustturm. A small hike from Marburg’s center, it is identified by the illuminated heart that decorates the tower face. You can go up to witness scenic views over the town itself. At night, you can even call the tower and request for the heart to be lit up in the name of love. Cute.
That’s the word to describe Marburg – cute. With true charm and character, Marburg is the place to go if you are looking for an authentic yet understated German experience. You can find your path through this town; lots to explore without the pressure of tourist expectations. There is a calm and simple happiness to the place that makes meeting new people easy. When looking for the next travel fix, go to this gem of a German town and see for yourself everything that Marburg has to offer.