Stuttgart is Germany’s sixth largest city, home to fast cars (Porsche and Mercedes), beautiful nature, designer fashion and broad culture.
Underneath Stuttgart’s exterior, you’ll find weinstubes (wine bars) filled with executives and tourists, regal plazas with grand fountains and mouth-watering food such as German pastries and meaty stews.
Schlossplatz (Castle Place) is located in the heart of Stuttgart and is an excellent place to people watch or lounge around in the sunshine eating ice cream. Here, you find the Castle Garden, the world famous ballet and the Opera so cultural fans should definitely include this on their visit to Stuttgart.
Automobile fans should make time to visit the Mercedes Benz and Porsche Museums, both situated close to the respective car factories. Enjoy the history and displays of vintage cars to present day, and the buildings are both modern architectural wonders themselves.
Located in northern Stuttgart, Wilhelma Zoo and Botanical Garden was originally built as a royal palace for King William I but now functions as a spectacular nature attraction that houses over 9000 animals including an aquarium with crocodiles and tropical fish, a bear enclosure and an Amazon greenhouse. Flora is also represented with a beautiful orchid collection and gigantic water lilies on the lake by the Moorish buildings.
Climb up through vineyards to reach the summit of 343 meter high Karlshöhe, found in the southwest of the city. In warmer months, Karlshöhe has a pleasant beer garden and you can watch the sun set over Stuttgart. The summit is best reached on foot via the Willy-Reichert-Staffel (stairs), so buy yourself a Quarktaschen (cheese pastry) to take with you to enjoy at the top.
Make a reservation at the Café Bar Oben situated 147 meters off the ground at the Fernsehturm. The Fernsehturm is the world’s first reinforced concrete television tower, and you can sip on a cocktail as you read the quirky window stickers telling you the distance to other global cities. The views are wide reaching across Stuttgart, the Neckar Valley vineyards and to the Black Forest.
Buy a ticket for a performance at one of the Staatstheater companies that merge the Opera Stuttgart, Stuttgart Ballet and the Stuttgart Drama Theater. Interestingly, the Opera House was one of a few concert venues spared destruction or major damage from World War II bombings in Germany.
Situated close to Stuttgart you can arrange a quick trip to Ludwigsburg and be back in time for lunch. The main attraction is the baroque 18th century Residenzschloss (Ludwigsburg Palace) that has magnificent ceiling frescoes. The gardens play host to opera performances and an annual pumpkin festival. If stately palaces aren’t your thing, head to the Marktplatz for a coffee, or hire a row boat at the lake at Schloss Monrepos.
Esslingen, or Esslingen am Neckar, is a charming town located 20 minutes’ drive southeast of Stuttgart and set on the River Neckar. A picturesque place with half-timbered houses, make sure you taste the locally produced Kessler champagne and if you visit during the festive season the Christmas market is unmissable with stall-holders dressed in medieval costumes.
Tübingen is an easy drive 30 kilometers south of Stuttgart. As a large base for university students, it’s a budget-friendly destination with cheap eats in restaurants, great drink prices in bars and wallet-pleasing shopping. For a dose of culture, stop by the Hohentübingen Castle that is now part of the university and the Cistercian Monastery.