How to have a student night out... for free


Rachel Bermingham, studying at the University of Tübingen, Germany.

Tübingen is a pretty cheap place to live and has a good nightlife, so how cheap can a night out in Tübingen be? Or one better... a free night out in Tübingen?

Well I tried. Here’s how it went…. (spoiler alert: there are varying degrees of success)

The centre of this beautiful German town is full of quaint bars serving any wonder of local beers. Table service seems to be a thing here, so technically you can have your drink and sneak out before they ask you to pay.

The fear of the Polizei here however is too real and well, I’m just not brave (or stupid?) enough to attempt to break the law in a foreign country. German may not be the aggressive language it’s stereotyped to be, until someone angrily shouts in it.

The night begins: 9.30pm. Spend: €0

Due to my refusal to ‘drink and dash’ from the bar, we decide instead to have a regular pre drinks in student apartments. With the amount of cheap alcohol available in the local supermarkets, no one needs to buy anything new so the night kicks off with €0 spent.


11.00pm. Spend: €0

As the cheap vodka starts to hit, the night inevitably gets that bit too rowdy for the downstairs neighbours and requests are made that the Irish take their loud dancing and singing on their way to the club early. We’re here to have a free night out, not make residential enemies, so we oblige for fear someone may one day need to borrow a cup of sugar from these people.

Semester bus tickets in hand, we begin our expedition. No matter what the challenge, you don’t want to be on caught on a bus without a ticket, as the result is a hefty €60 fine.

11.15pm. Spend: €0

It’s all fun and games until you realise the nightclub has a €10 entry fee. Upon discovering that no-one knows enough German to try and persuade the bouncer to let us in for free, we move on.

Warning: trying to encourage any German to be anything less than 100% professional can be incredibly difficult and is not for the faint hearted. Feeling optimistic that the local student bar will never fail us with its free entry, we head back to the bus.


11.35pm. Spend -€1

Once in our free student bar we proceed to dance the night away… until the collective need for a drink hits!

Alas, people don’t seem to really buy a rounds of drinks for their friends here so it’s hard to sneak in on someone’s round. Instead, drawing on the inspiration of a previous ‘Irish night’ we attempted to blag a free pint using an expert tactic; paying with potatoes. It had worked before so we were hopeful. Thankfully, they seemed impressed by our courage and the luck of the Irish was on our side! In this bar however you have to pay a €1 deposit when you get a glass, but this is refunded upon returning the glass.

12.00am. Spend €0

Glass returned deposit secured!


1.30am. Spend +€1

Finding an empty glass in the bathroom is rare, as it means some poor beer drinker has left without their €1 deposit. Luck strikes again because shots are the exact cost of my find! This starts a mad hunt as everyone begins madly searching for empty glasses. It’s soon clear that people treat their glasses like diamonds here to ensure their precious €1 is returned to them. We concede our luck has run out.

2.30am. Spend €0

The best way to end any night is, of course, with a drunken collection of chips, kebab meat and sauce mixed all together in a magical doner box. But no-one will let me give up my challenge at the final hurdle so I head home for some misery noodles, but with my bank balance completely intact.

  • Distance covered: 8.1km exactly
  • Overall money spent: €0 exactly
  • Calories burned dancing: 300 (give or take).

Rachel is on her year abroad at the University of Tübingen, studying Media & German. Twitter & Instagram: Rach_Bermingham

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