The German city of Stuttgart is a popular tourist destination for its own sake and for its setting amongst lush green valleys, hills smothered in vineyards and the gorgeous countryside of Baden-Wurttemburg State of which it is the capital. Summer or winter, the historic city makes the perfect base for a short stay or longer vacation. Stuttgart is one of the largest conurbations in Germany – a mix of history and heritage, invention and industry, culture and the arts and its own unique blend of things to see and do.
Getting in and around is easy, with the international airport hosting flights on most major airlines as well as budget carriers and the city’s public transportation efficiently coordinated to include train, trams, buses and taxi travel. The only downside is self-drive, with the tricky street layout, numerous underground tunnels and paucity of parking making it more trouble than it’s worth! Stuttgart hotels are found all over the town and its suburbs, ranging from five-star to low-cost, with all offering traditional German hospitality. The heritage buildings which survived WWII are mostly located close to or in the city centre, as are the majority of the eclectic selection of museums, making it easy to explore on foot.
Once the castles, palaces, art galleries and museums have been covered, what else is there to do? The answer is simple – lots! From shopping everywhere from markets to superstores, picnicking in the vast verdant parks, wandering in the older parts of the city, searching out local eateries and bingeing on rich German cuisine and famous beers to haunting the many night clubs and bars, it’s impossible to be bored in Stuttgart.
Theatrical performances and concerts are big here, with everything from opera, ballet, classical music and jazz to the mega-decibels of pop, house and other modern noise. Festivals of all kinds attract crowds and go on for days, especially if their focus is wine, beer or food, and twice a year massive fun-fairs with all the trimmings and rides are set up in the squares and parks. Add trips to nearby historic towns and traditional countryside villages to these delights and Stuttgart becomes an unbeatable destination year-round.
Favourite activities in Stuttgart include shopping ‘till you drop – in everything from mega-malls, department stores, the central shopping district, small boutiques in the back streets and the famous flea markets. Favourite treasures to take home include all types of fashion, traditional musical boxes, exquisite German dolls, colourful pottery beer steins and Black Forest wood carvings – most popular in their ‘cuckoo clock’ format. Stuttgart is a great place for antiques, with the regular flea markets the source of a good selection at reasonable prices for the knowledgeable collector.
The Spring Fair – one of the largest in Europe, is held for three weeks from the middle of April and includes, as do all German festivals, a huge binge of eating and drinking. Beer tents, traditional food, fireworks, a Ferris Wheel, breathtaking rides and street parties are the order of the day for tens of thousands of visitors plus most of the residents. Evening eating out is great fun at the beer halls and pubs offering warming and tasty traditional Swabian meat-rich cuisine at great prices to take the edge off yet more beer! Old family recipes are used, with game dishes suing boar and venison all-time favourites. Lunchtime options include the tiny food stalls in the central market hall, serving German sausages with sauerkraut and other peasant foods
Beer and wine festivals – especially the September Stuttgart Beer Festival, held for two weeks from the last week in September - attract thousands of visitors to the city. Literally millions crowd the huge beer tents, each holding 5,000 happy drinkers, with unlimited food, a fairground and a massive market selling everything including hangover cures! Those needing practice for the Beer Festival can arrive early September and join in the Wine Festival, featuring large quantities of every German wine ever made.
Wilhelma Zoo and Botanical Gardens is a favourite with families, set in lovely Rosenstein Park close by the Schloss Rosenstein. Exotic animals, including hippos, elephants, lions, polar bears and rhinos as well as howler monkeys, historic buildings and exotic plants abound in a truly spectacular setting. The Carl Zeiss Planetarium is another fine family attraction, using innovative technology to display the wonders of the universe, the solar system and aspects of astronomy. Special children’s programmes are a feature here.
Lek Boonlert is an editor and content reviewer at DirectRooms and is responsible for all Stuttgart Hotels content.