Put it on Your to do List: Top 10 Stuttgart

Put it on Your to do List: Top 10 Stuttgart

Perhaps best known as the headquarters of Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, Stuttgart exudes an air of relaxed prosperity and a keen sense of style. It is renowned for being one of the greenest cities in Europe, boasting numerous parks, vast green spaces, and surrounded by over 500 vineyards. Art and culture thrive in Stuttgart, making it a haven for enthusiasts of art, cars, nature, wine, and beer. Here are the top 10 reasons why Stuttgart should be on your list.

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exploring-stuttgart-germany Put it on Your to do List: Top 10 Stuttgart

Why Go to Stuttgart

Top 10 Stuttgart

Stuttgart, situated in the heart of one of Germany’s largest wine-growing regions, captivates visitors from around the world. While it may not be at the top of your list, it should certainly be on it. Known for the roar of Mercedes and Porsche cars, stunning architecture, and a vibrant wine festival, Stuttgart offers an unforgettable experience.

Stuttgart’s History

Stud Farm to Industrial Giant

Originally established as a stud farm (Stuotgarten) on the Nesenbach Stream around AD 950, Stuttgart derives its name and coat of arms from this historical origin. By 1160, it had evolved into a thriving trade center, eventually becoming the royal seat of the Württemberg family in the early 14th century.

Modern-day Stuttgart has undergone significant transformations since the 18th century. While the city once boasted impressive facades, it suffered heavy damage during World War II. However, diligent efforts have resulted in the meticulous reconstruction of a few architectural gems to their former classical elegance.

During the first half of the 19th century, Stuttgart underwent a radical change as it emerged as an industrial powerhouse. Visionaries like Gottlieb Daimler and Robert Bosch ushered in a new era of technological advancements, shaping the city and leaving an indelible mark on the world.

The People

Multicultural Small Town Atmosphere

Stuttgart is a vibrant and multicultural city with a small-town atmosphere. Home to over 600,000 people from 170 different countries, it exudes sophistication and a penchant for education. During my recent visit, I found the locals to be friendly, eager to practice English, and always ready to assist with German.

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Porsche and Mercedes Museums

Vroom Vroom

Immerse yourself in the luxury of two world-famous premium car brands at Stuttgart’s unique automobile museums. Even as someone who doesn’t consider myself a car enthusiast, I couldn’t help but be captivated by the distinct sound of a Porsche cruising down the Autobahn. Make sure to set aside a few hours to visit the magnificent Porsche Museum, which opened in 1990. With approximately 80 vehicles and numerous small exhibits, including iconic cars like the 356, 550, 911, and 917, the museum showcases the outstanding technical achievements of Professor Ferdinand Porsche from the early 20th century. Additionally, you can enjoy a meal at the on-site restaurant, sip coffee at the coffee bar, and even observe active restoration work in the glass-walled workshop.

Another major attraction in Stuttgart is the sensational Mercedes-Benz World Museum. Located within a unique architectural setting, the museum takes visitors on a captivating journey that begins on the 8th floor and winds its way back to ground level. With 160 vehicle exhibits, a restaurant, and a museum shop, the Mercedes-Benz Museum offers an immersive experience. Guided tours (reservation required for English tours) and access to the Simulator ride are available for an additional fee.

Stuttgart Festivals and Events

Stuttgart is renowned for its traditional festivals, which enjoy worldwide popularity. One of the most significant and well-attended spring festivals in Europe takes place at the Cannstatter Wasen fairgrounds between mid-April and the beginning of May, attracting approximately 1.5 million guests.

During the summer, Stuttgart hosts the Summer Festival, transforming the Schlossplatz and the shores of Eckensee lake in the Obere Schlossgarten park into a magical venue adorned with white pavilions, fairy lights, and lanterns. This elegant open-air party spans four days in August and offers residents and visitors a delightful experience.

Wine aficionados flock to Stuttgart’s Neckar wine region, renowned for its 1000-year-old viniculture. The Stuttgart Wine Village, held annually in August, stands as one of Germany’s largest and most beautiful wine festivals. The city center, near the palace, is transformed into a festive wine village boasting over 120 booths and cozy wine alcoves decorated in the traditional Swabian folkloric style. With more than a million wine connoisseurs attending, the festival offers a perfect opportunity to savor Swabian specialties and sample over 250 regional wines.

Stuttgart Beer Festivals

Towards the end of September, the energy in Stuttgart reaches new heights with the Stuttgart Beer Festival. Taking place at the Cannstatter Wasen, this massive funfair is the second-largest festival of its kind in the world and serves as a great alternative (or addition) to Oktoberfest in Munich. While both festivals are family-friendly, it’s worth noting that the crowds in Stuttgart tend to be livelier than those in Munich.

As I walked by one of the beer tents, Bruce Springsteen blared through the speakers, and everyone inside seemed to embody the spirit of a rock star. The festival features Ferris wheels, roller coasters, haunted houses, and a myriad of entertainment options for both young and old. It’s advisable for families to visit during daylight hours. Each day, the beer tents at the Cannstatter Wasen can accommodate up to 5,000 visitors.

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Stuttgart Christmas Market

Don’t miss the enchanting Stuttgart Christmas Market if you happen to visit during the Advent season. Dating back to 1692, this market is one of Germany’s oldest and most beautiful. Over 200 stalls adorned with artistic decorations line the Marktplatz and Schillerplatz, creating a festive atmosphere.

The Christmas Market commences on the last Thursday of November, accompanied by a ceremonial concert in the inner courtyard of the Altes Schloss. Wooden houses are lovingly decorated with angels and fir twigs. They offer a diverse range of goods, from Christmas decorations and toys to mulled wine, waffles, and sausages. Children can enjoy the magical Fairy-tale Land at Schlossplatz, featuring merry-go-rounds and live stage performances. An open-air ice rink is also set up in front of the New Castle.

Parks, Gardens, and Architecture

Stuttgart is renowned for its numerous parks and gardens, collectively referred to by locals as “das Grüne U” (the green U). The name is due to their U-shaped arrangement around the city center.

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These parks and gardens create a picturesque path around the city that surpasses the size of Central Park in New York City. The journey begins at the Schlossgarten, adjacent to the new palace (Neues Schloss), which dates back to 1746-1807. From there, you can continue through Rosensteinpark, which houses the natural history museum and offers a rear entrance to the Wilhelma Zoo. The path concludes at Killesberg Park. A leisurely walk along this circuit takes about 2 hours, or longer if you choose to explore with your grandson Kamren. Along the way, you’ll find charming beer gardens, restaurants. The highlight of Killesberg Park is a stunning park. Originally designed for a botanical expo, it has retained its beauty, especially during spring when it bursts with colorful blooms. Additionally, the park features the grand Württembergisches Staatstheatre, a magnificent Neo-Classical theater building.

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While I initially visited Stuttgart with my grandson to explore the planetarium, we discovered that tours were only available in German on that particular day. However, we quickly overcame our disappointment when we discovered another gem: Wilhelma.

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Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Wilhelma is a unique attraction, combining a zoo and botanical gardens within a magnificent historical park. It is Germany’s only such combination and ranks among the top 10 places to visit in Stuttgart. As you explore, you’ll be captivated by the harmonious blend of plants, animals, and architectural wonders, both old and new. The zoo is famous worldwide for its successful ape-breeding program and extensive aquarium. In spring, visitors are treated to the breathtaking sight of Europe’s largest magnolia grove in full bloom. The greenhouses house a fascinating array of exotic plants, and you can encounter various animals such as apes, big cats, giraffes, and tropical birds on the premises. The zoo also features spacious outdoor enclosures for bears, bird cages, and a petting zoo with pigs and cows. Wilhelma offers a truly enchanting experience for visitors of all ages.

Getting Around Stuttgart

The main shopping street in Stuttgart is Königstraße, which begins at the central railway station. While the interesting shops on the adjacent streets shouldn’t be overlooked, the pedestrian zone of Königstraße is an excellent starting point for exploring the city center. Stretching 1,200 meters, it is Germany’s longest pedestrian street and has been in operation since 1953. Another popular street for nightlife and clubbing is Theodor-Heuss-Straße, which has seen the emergence of several bars, clubs, and lounges in recent years. It has become a favorite destination for weekend outings. During the summer months, there are also plenty of opportunities to enjoy a refreshing drink outdoors.

Final Thoughts

Stuttgart is not just a thriving industrial city and home to renowned automobile companies; it is also a cultural hub that has gained recognition for its vibrant art scene, diverse community, and love for green spaces. The residents of Stuttgart have taken great pride in preserving the city’s natural beauty, with over half of its area covered in orchards, vineyards, meadows, and forests. As one brochure states, “You are never more than 15 minutes away from the densest forests.” If you haven’t already added Stuttgart to your must-see list, it’s time to do so.

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