Koblenz and Landau - a portrait of two university towns

Anyone who has decided to attend a certain university is also choosing a new place to live.  You are fortunate indeed if you are able study in Koblenz. This, the third-largest city in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, is a small yet modern metropolis with history.  If your choice of university takes you to Landau, you may be surprised to discover that this city in the southern Pfalz region has more to offer than a pleasant climate and delectable wines.

Koblenz - portrait of a city

With roughly 110,000 inhabitants, Koblenz is the third-largest city in Rhineland-Palatinate; not only that, it is also one of Germany’s oldest with a history that goes back over 2,000 years. Since 2002, when the city’s population breached 100,000 people, it has been among the largest 78 cities in the country. One of the most notable features of Koblenz is its location at the confluence of the Moselle and the Rhine rivers.  The so-called ‘German Corner’ where the two rivers meet is not just the site of the reinstalled giant equestrian monument to Emperor William I. This man-made spit of land also plays host to cultural events and concerts, particularly in summer.

Koblenz - Am Plan

Foto: Gauls - DIE FOTOGRAFEN

Since 2002, this independent municipality with its many architectural highlights has been the northern gateway to the UNESCO-recognized region of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley; large parts of Koblenz are themselves UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The current mayor of the city is Joachim Hofmann-Götting (SPD).  And if these weren’t enough good reasons for tourists to visit the city in the past, another reason was added to the long list in 2011 when the first Federal Garden Show in Rhineland-Palatinate was held here. Koblenz experienced long-term benefits from the show as well, and not just thanks to the aerial cableway, which still takes passengers in its 18 gondolas up to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress 118 meters above the Rhine.  The myriad construction and urban improvement projects in advance of the event certainly helped upgrade the city.

From historic to hip

Koblenz is a city with culture and history, and anyone who moves here should definitely take the time to explore both thoroughly. In addition to Ehrenbreitstein Fortress and the ‘German Corner’, any journey into Koblenz’ history needs to include a detour to the Electoral Palace and of course to the Deutschherrenhaus, home of the Ludwig Museum Koblenz with its collection of contemporary and primarily French art.  The Schängelbrunnen fountain is also worth a look. It is a tribute to the German-French history of the city and should be part of any visitor’s itinerary.

Koblenz - Ehrenbreitstein Fortress

Foto: GDKE Rheinland-Pfalz/Pfeuffer

From its exciting and diverse beginnings, Koblenz developed into a lively modern city with a broad spectrum of cultural and leisure activities to enjoy.  Events such as the Oktoberfest, the Long Night of Libraries and the annual Leading Club Night, when the best clubs in town join forces for one night, all show that Koblenz can be both hip as well as historically relevant. When it comes to more classical culture, the city offers a number of theaters and museums along with a diverse alternative scene including the Kulturfabrik (KuFa). Three cinemas also draw crowds for popcorn and big-screen experiences.

Sport, shopping and recreation

Koblenz has four public swimming pools (three indoor and one outdoor) that offer guests the option of either getting fit in the lanes or lazily sunbathing.  Shopping streets like the Obere Löhr or Viktoriastraße invite you to window-shop between seminars while anyone looking for more energetic activity than merely a stroll can take longer walks on the hiking paths in and around Koblenz. If you want to just turn off and tune out for a bit while gazing out at the river, the banks of the Rhine offer loads of spots for just that.

Koblenz - German Corner

Foto: Koblenz-Touristik/ P!ELmedia

The bar scene in Koblenz is showcased once a year during the Club and Kneipenfestival, an event put on by radio station Antenne Koblenz 98.0. The rest of the year has something for everyone as well, whether it’s an extended Sunday brunch or bars where you can enjoy a nightcap after a lively student party. Enjoy rustic beer taverns, classic cafés like Extrablatt, cozy Irish pubs or a burger at Circvs Maximvs, after which you can dance it off there. In summertime the Stattstrand beach on the outskirts of town invites you to enjoy quartz sand, palm trees and culinary delights.

 

Landau - portrait of a city

Watch Kaiserlautern’s ‘Red Devils’ or Karlsruher SC play soccer, go window shopping in Neustadt on the Wine Route or enjoy a tarte flambée in Alsace - it’s all readily possible if you are based in Landau. The city with its 45,000 inhabitants is situated perfectly as a starting point for extended tours of the region. The problem is , once you’ve gotten to know Landau you won’t want to leave.

The eastern portion of the city - whose current mayor is Hans-Dieter Schlimmer (SPD) - is located on the Upper Rhine Plain while the western section is part of the Wine Route. Expansive tracts of the Palatinate Forest are also part of the greater city area.  So, after a long day of lectures, if you’re looking for a bit of exercise or relaxation in the great outdoors you’ll be spoiled for choice in Landau in terms of jogging paths and quiet oases.

Surrounded by nature

The same can be said about choosing a wine bar: you’re simultaneously deciding against all of the others! Not an easy task in a wine-growing community. When in doubt, we recommend a visit to the local vinotheque, where over 300 of the best wines and their growers from the southern Wine Route and the southern Palatinate are featured. You can combine your visit to the vinotheque with a detour to the former site of where the State Horticultural Show was held in Landau in 2015. The city still benefits from the improvements made around the city in preparation for that event.

Landau - Marketplace

If you’re spending a weekend in Landau and are looking for something different, the city offers a vast number of fascinating visitor venues, including the Reptilium, Germany’s largest zoo for reptiles.  The Chaplin Entertainment Center offers bowling lanes, darts, billiards, air hockey and table football all day long. Anyone who prefers their leisure activities to take the form of high speed chases is best served at the Kart Center Landau, either in the large indoor area or on the outdoor track where you can race outside when the weather permits.

Sport, wellness and bar culture

Speaking of being outdoors, one main draw of this city in the southern Palatinate is of course the zoo with its more than 100 years of history and modern focus on species protection and nature conservation.  The doings of the delightful penguins living there can even be followed via webcam from home, but if you want to see the regal tiger, the nimble South American monkeys or the animated seals you will need to be there in person.

Sports enthusiasts and wellness fans can enjoy the La Ola Freizeitbad, a water park and pool complex open in both winter and summer.  The outdoor public pool on Prießnitzweg opens its doors in summer as well for both lap swimmers and sunbathers. The region around Landau is also excellent for bicycle excursions, either on signposted paths or more remote trails. Short walks or long hikes are also an enjoyable way to explore the area.

The city has loads of restaurants, bars and nightlife options for foodies and night owls too. In the Old Town there are numerous cozy bistros that are worth a visit while Colosseum and LOGO will attract clubgoers. FATAL, the legendary university bar, is also always an option.