In the southwest region of Swabia, Germany is where you'll find Tübingen. With cobbled streets, little laneways and old timber houses, the university city may not be as famous as Oxford or Cambridge but is just as beautiful.
As a region, Swabia is known for being one of Germany's sunniest spots and its most frugal; qualities which give it an unusually cheerful and wholesome character. Add around 27,000 passionate, young students, and you get an idea of what Tübingen is like; energetic, liberal and deeply innovative.
It's been that way for a while too. In 1968, Tübingen was one of many cities that hosted protests related to the 'West German student movement'; a social movement against the nation's traditionalism and political authority. Some 50 years later, the impact of such activism continues to shape life for the city's residents.
"In Tübingen, there are self-governed housing initiatives, where cooking and grocery shopping is organised collectively and is mostly vegan," Jenny Bröder, a staff member at Tübingen's University, told BBC Travel.
"The people running and living in these housings are often politically active, cultivate an awareness for social and ecological topics, and contribute to the cultural scene by organising concerts, lectures, festivals and parties. The food offered at these events is usually vegan too."
Veganism may seem like an unusual diet choice considering Germany's reputation for sausage and cheese, but in Tübingen, the plant-based diet is a popular one that illustrates the city's sustainable values.
So, while a vegetarian bakery like Ada Bakery may not survive in most German cities, it thrives in Tübingen according to owner Sedat Yalcin.
"A vegetarian Turkish bakery works here because of all the students, but also people who are from here, they care about the environment," he told BBC Travel.
The sustainability streak isn't just gastronomic either. Tübingen's District Council has included green politicians since 1979 and the city is constantly being redesigned in more environmentally friendly ways.
Large bike lanes, high parking fees and car bans along the city's main street has made cycling the transport option of choice. Meanwhile, buses are free on Saturday, and free for students after 7 pm on weekdays and on Sundays too.
The little city also attempted to implement a big new tax on the packaging, before it was foiled by fast-food giant, Mcdonald's.
The Verpackungssteuer(packaging tax), which Tübingen introduced at the start of 2022, added a fifty-cent fee to disposable packaging and a twenty cent fee to disposable cutlery. From takeaway coffee cups and pizza boxes to plastic spoons and forks, everything was taxed, regardless of whether it was made from plastic or recycled materials.
Within weeks, the tax had made promising progress and reduced the amount of waste in city rubbish buns by up to 15 per cent. However, it soon was challenged by the city's single McDonald's who claimed local or individual city policies stood in the way of nationally successful and implementable concepts.
This wasn't the first time McDonald's challenged a German city on packaging tax. Unfortunately, just like in the 1990s when their lawsuit stopped Kassel from implementing the packaging tax, McDonald's also had Tübingen's proposal overturned.
However, the city and its people refuse to be dissuaded and continue to live as a micro example of what a small group of like-minded people can achieve.
How to get there
Fittingly, you can only take a bus or train into the city. The closes airport is Stuttgart Echterdingen is the closest airport and from there, the easiest way to Tübingen an hourly bus service. Alternatively, if you are arriving from Frankfurt, the S-Bahn train is your best bet.
How to get around
Even if you have a car, Tübingen's strict ticket officers, terrible traffic system and countless restrictions mean you're better off parking up and exploring the city by bicycle, bus or on foot.
Best things to see
After roaming around the city centre's cobblestone streets, candy-coloured houses, and Marktplatz (Market Square) in Old Town, find your way to river Neckar where students often go punting during the summer.
Lace-up your good sneakers and climb up the hill to Hohentübingen Castle, which offers a stunning look at 1030's architecture and a few of the city from on high. Not to let a good building go to waste, it now houses several university faculties, including the laboratory where Friedrich Miescher discovered DNA in 1869.
On the way down, stop by the on-site Ancient Culture Museum to see some of the world's oldest artworks of humankind including a small Ice Age figure carved from mammoth bones.
Best places to eat
To eat where locals do, head for Neckarmüller restaurant, which sits on the edge of the river. But be warned, it's a popular spot so bookings may be essential. For something plant-based, hunt down Veggie Box, a vegan restaurant near the Old Botanical Garden or Vegi Bar and Café to try their famous falafel wraps and platters.