Stuttgart is a city of dichotomies. It’s traditional yet quick to embrace the modern, sophisticated but eager for any excuse to celebrate, and its long history as a car city hasn’t hindered the preservation of green space and development of more pedestrian-only areas than many urban centres in Europe.

The capital of the south-western state of Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart lies in the historic region of Swabia, which comprises part of the former district of Württemberg and a section of neighbouring Bavaria. The Swabian culture is rich in tradition while the quirky dialect a teasing point for non-Swabians.

While Stuttgart has a lot to offer visitors, it doesn’t often make it onto the itineraries of international travelers. After several visits to this vibrant city, here are ten reasons why I think you should make Stuttgart travel plans part of your next itinerary.

Stuttgart Travel Top Ten:

1. Stuttgart loves the arts.

You can’t help but notice that the city places considerable emphasis on culture. Several grandiose buildings in the city centre house museums and art galleries with impressive displays and exhibitions such as the State Gallery (Staatsgalerie Stuttgart) that showcases art from the middle ages to the present and the Württemberg State Museum (Wurttembergisches Landesmuseum), which offers a full history of the former Württemberg district housed in the exquisite 16th century old castle (Altes Schloss).

Stuttgart Travel Tips 15 - Theatre

For those more enticed by the performing arts, Stuttgart offers world class options within the stunning Staatstheatre Stuttgart. The renowned Stuttgart Ballet is a particular point of pride for Stuttgart-ers, with many following the company with a keen interest and elevating the dancers to near celebrity status. The Staatstheatre also offers the city’s other favourite pastime Oper Stuttgart, the high calibre local Opera company, as well as other theatrical performances, often political in nature.

2. Stuttgart is green.

In a city and region dominated by the auto industry, Stuttgart offers a tremendous amount of green space. Parks and gardens can be found all around the city from the palace gardens (Schlossgarten) right in the centre of town to the Killesberg Park in Stuttgart’s northern section, all packed with people when the weather is pleasant. These and other parks are connected and can be walked in a couple of hours. A favourite outdoor spot for both locals and visitors is Wilhelma Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Inspired by the architectural style of northern Africa, the park grounds are visually stunning and the zoo is a fun attraction for families.

Stuttgart Travel Tips 11

Stuttgart is green in ideology as well. The city was at the forefront of the green party movement and now boasts both a green mayor and state minister. A controversial rail project happening at Stuttgart’s main station attracts protestors weekly.

3. Stuttgart has impressive architecture.

The city oozes stately sophistication with several grand buildings, both historical and modern. The Neues Schloss (new palace) was once the residence of the King of Württemberg and despite being partly destroyed during WWII, this exquisite 17th century Baroque castle now houses state ministries. Across from the palace on the other side of the Schlossplatz is the Königsbau (king’s building), built in the mid 19th century and featuring a 135 metre facade of columns. Nearby is the Altes Schloss (old palace), which dates back to the 10th century and currently houses the state museum. The impressive inner courtyard of the Altes Schloss accessible off of Schillerplatz is worth a gander.

Stuttgart Travel Tips 3 - Library

On the more modern end of the spectrum, the Porsche and Mercedes Benz museums are both architectural marvels and a draw even for those not as excited about the subject matter. The recently constructed Stadtbibliothek (city library) is composed of glass blocks that are illuminated with blue light once the sun goes down. Inside the library you’ll experience minimalism at its best with high ceilings and floors circling the open centre.

4. Stuttgart is a hub for foodies.

Swabia is well known for its deliciously hearty fare and Stuttgart has an abundance of restaurants offering the traditional dishes of the region. Local favourites include spätzle, a pasta-like dumpling usually heavy on the cheese and topped with onion of the green or fried variety, gaisburger marsch, a beef stew with roots in Stuttgart, and maultaschen, large pockets of pasta (not dissimilar to ravioli) typcially filled with meat, bread crumbs, and spinach. If your looking to indulge in local specialties, check out Weinstube Am Stadtgraben or Gaststätte Zum Ackerbürger, both in the town centre.

Stuttgart Travel Tips 14 - Market

As Stuttgart fancies itself an international city, there’s more to its food scene than typical German offerings. The city offers a diverse culinary experience from Turkish spot Alaturka to vietnamese Takeshii’s to Ethiopian outpost Injeera. If you’re more DIY in your eating, head to the wonderful central market (Markthalle), which offers a wide range of delicacies like meats, cheeses, fresh pastas, olives, cakes, breads, and wines. Head to the Schlossgarten with your goodies for a makeshift picnic if the weather permits.

5. Stuttgart has beer!

While not as renowned for beer as its Bavarian neighbours, Stuttgart is a city that celebrates beer. Most standard pubs and beer halls offer local brews like Dinkelacker and Schwaben but some newer brewpubs offer international and craft varieties as well like 87 Restaurant and Ridmüller.

When the weather is warm and the sun is out, Stuttgarters head en masse to one of the many beer gardens in and around the city. If you’re interested in a beer and some yummy Schwabian snacks, head to the Schlossgarten beer garden in the city centre, or Aussischtsreich perched atop the city in the hills, or the Neckarbiergarten at the river’s edge.

Stuttgart Travel Tips 4 - Cannstatter Volksfest

Although many beer enthusiasts think to Munich for beer festivals, Stuttgart hosts one that gives visitors the best elements of Oktoberfest without the abundance of tourists. The Cannstatter Volksfest is a three week festival at the end of September that sees upwards of four million beer fans each year.

6. Stuttgart has wine!

For those not as partial to beer, Stuttgart is located in a wine region much to the delight of its residents. With a history of wine production going back to the days when Stuttgart was a Roman settlement, wine is a popular beverage throughout the city. The most famous type is Trollinger, a red varietal that’s relatively light and fruity whose grapes are grown in the hills surrounding Stuttgart and available in wine bars around town.

Stuttgart Travel Tips 2 - Winerie

During the short harvest season that takes place at the end of the summer and into early fall, pop up wine booths along the Neckar river offer tastings and makes for a great day trip from Stuttgart. Another entertaining wine excursion is the Weinbaumuseum (wine museum), where you can sample local wines year round.

To celebrate Stuttgart’s wine the city also hosts multiple festivals throughout the year. Most significant is the Stuttgarter Weindorf (Stuttgart Wine Village), an event dedicated to all things wine for a week and a half at the end of summer. Residents gather in the city centre, which is transformed with wine stalls, wine gardens, and booths offering delectable dishes.

7. Stuttgart hosts cool festivals.

In addition to the annual beer and wine festivals mentioned above, Stuttgart hosts many excellent events throughout the year. The Stuttgarter Frühlingsfest is a festival celebrating the spring season that occurs mid April to early May each year. Similar to fall’s Cannsttater Volksfest mentioned above, the Frühlingsfest features beer tents, carnival rides, and traditional music, but on a smaller scale. 

Stuttgart Travel Tips 8 - Fruhlingfest

The Stuttgarter Sommerfest is a four day summer festival in front of the Neues Schloss in the Schlossplatz. It’s a laid back affair where locals peruse food tents lining the lake, have a beer in the sun, and sprawl out on the Schlossgarten. The festival also has a good line up of diverse music with five stages and over 35 bands performing throughout the four days. In the evening twinkling lights illuminate the Schloss making for one of the loveliest settings.

Stuttgart Travel Tips - Christmas Market

Like many German cities, Stuttgart hosts a Christmas market each holiday season. The Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt runs for a month leading into Christmas and is a beloved tradition for locals. The nearly 300 booths sell mostly original and one of a kind items, and the roofs are all elaborately decorated as proprietors seek to win the coveted ‘most beautiful stall’ award. Stuttgarters head over after work and on weekends to connect with friends and family over piping hot mugs of glühwein (mulled wine) or the feuerzangenbowle variation, which has added rum.

8. Stuttgart is close to many cool things.

There are some great sights in and around Stuttgart that can be easily incorporated into your itinerary, particularly if you rent a car. If you’re into history and interested in seeing some castles in the region, head south from Stuttgart along the B27 where you’ll come to the impressive Burg Hohenzollern (Hohenzollern Castle), perched atop the Swabian Alps between the cities of Hechingen and Bisingen. Further south along the B463 is Schloss Sigmaringen (Sigmaringen Castle), a medieval fortress on the banks of the Danube River. Heading back to Stuttgart along the B313, stop over at Lichtenstein Schloss (Lichtenstein Castle), a beautiful castle on a hill overlooking the Swabian countryside. Check out Tourism Baden-Württemberg for more castles and sights in the region.

Stuttgart Travel Tips 9 - Esslingen

Closer to Stuttgart and accessible by train is Esslingen, a town that was relatively left intact during WWII. Esslingen is a quaint town with a well preserved old town with several traditional German homes and buildings. A particularly pleasant time to visit Esslingen is during the holiday season when the town hosts a medieval Christmas market complete with historic costumes, fire lanterns, axe throwing, and an abundance of traditional handcrafted gifts.

9. Stuttgart has nice cars.

As the birthplace of two of the most sought-after car brands Porsche and Mercedes-Benz, Stuttgarters have a reputation for appreciating the best of German engineering when it comes to their vehicles. As soon as you arrive you’re keenly aware of the pride the city has in it’s homegrown car industry with the larger-than-life Mercedes-Benz insignia topping the central train station. Both companies have museums dedicated to the history and future innovation of their brands, and the draw isn’t just for car buffs.

The Mercedes-Benz Museum traces the history of the automobile and the company’s roots in Baden-Württemberg over nine floors of interesting and interactive exhibits and displays. Classic models from over the decades are displayed, showing the evolution of the car maker in stunning fashion.

Stuttgart Travel Tips 12 - Porsche Museum

While the building is visually striking, the Porsche Museum is as impressive on the inside as it is on the outside. Chronicling the automaker’s roots from turn of the century carriages to Formula 1 feats of engineering, the sleek museum has a lot to offer visitors. For those wanting an even more interactive experience, book a Porsche Drive, where you can rent out your favourite model from one hour to one week, starting from 69€.

10. Stuttgart is well located.

Situated in the south-west quadrant of the country, Stuttgart is close to main hubs like Frankfurt, Nuremberg and Munich, all easily reachable with the extensive German rail system. While in Stuttgart, you’re also not far from Switzerland, north-western Austria, the Alsace region in France, and Luxembourg.

Stuttgart also has an international airport in the south end of the city that operates about a hundred flights a day. Many of the destinations are within Europe including hubs like London, Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Paris as well as holiday favourites such as the Canary Islands, Mallorca, and Split.

Stuttgart Travel Tips 7

While the major regional carrier Lufthansa operates several flights out of the airport, its discount subsidiary Germanwings has a ton of flights in and out of Stuttgart’s airport, offering more cost effective travel. Other lower cost airlines such as easyJet, Ryanair, and Vueling also have a handful flights every day.

Those are the top reasons I keep returning to Stuttgart along with what I hope are some useful Stuttgart travel tips. Have you been to Stuttgart? Share your Stuttgart travel tips or reasons for visiting in the comment section below!


Stuttgart travel photos courtesy of JP Bervoets, Flickr; barnyz 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Fu Ke, Luftphilia, Jack Kennard, sebastian.dahler


ADVERTISEMENT

Lauren Barth

Lauren Barth

Lauren Barth co-founded Departful in 2012 is the Managing Director of Departful Media. Since then she has worked between North America and Europe and has published content in partnership with a variety of tourism boards and businesses based around the world. Lauren is currently based in Toronto, Canada.

Departful is a travel magazine that provides accessible, relevant, and thoughtful travel tips and ideas to inspire people to explore the world around them. We feature travel articles, travel tips, and photography based on our own experiences from over 100 countries covering all things adventure, culture, food and drink, technology, and gear. Made with ❤ in Toronto.

More Departful