Known as "Germany's biggest small town," Stuttgart is a thriving industrial metropolis in the heart of the bucolic Neckar Valley region. Get up close to some of the finest automobiles ever manufactured, take a hike near some of Germany's best vineyards, and enjoy beer and bratwurst with the locals.
Stuttgart was a small rural town until the early 19th century when the Industrial Revolution transformed the city into a manufacturing powerhouse fueled by internationally known companies like Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Bosch Electric. Today, Stuttgart is still a manufacturing hub - you can tour both the Mercedes and Porsche factories - but it is also a cultural center with several fine museums and a world-renowned ballet.
The locals are known for their friendliness and relaxed attitude. Visitors can join in the laid-back atmosphere by taking a stroll in one of the many beautiful city parks, noshing on kebabs at a Turkish food stand, or people watching in the tranquil Schlossplatz.
The Fernsehturm Stuttgart is a 710-foot telecommunications tower located in the suburb of Degerloch. The reinforced concrete structure was the first of its kind when it was erected in 1954, and today it provides sweeping views of downtown Stuttgart, the Swabian Alps, and the Black Forest.
Stuttgart is home to two of the world's finest automobile museums. The Mercedes-Benz Museum in Untertürkheim offers a complete history of the luxury brand, starting with the first vehicle manufactured by Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz in the 1880s, while the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen displays racing trophies and the first-ever Volkswagen Beetle.
Stuttgart is ideal for family vacations, with two kid-friendly destinations in the city center. The Schweinemuseum on Schlachthofstrasse, which is billed as the world's only pig museum, has educational exhibits and a porcine-themed playground. Visitors to the Wilhelma Zoologische-Botanische Garten on Wilhelmaplatz can see more than 9,000 animal exhibits, including a newly constructed Ape House.
Stuttgart gives you many opportunities to try Germany's delicious cuisine, whether it's a hearty supper of schnitzel with noodles made by one of Germany's finest chefs or sausage and beer at an outdoor brewery.
The Landesmuseum Württemberg on Schillerplatz has excellent displays about the region's history, but the pièce de resistance is the royal jewelry collection on the second floor. The glittering display includes a diamond-and-emerald-encrusted crown and gold scepter.
Unlike many major German cities, Stuttgart isn't crowded with tourists during the summer months. The wonderful weather, with average temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit from May through September, is a delightful climate for visiting Stuttgart's parks or taking a hike in the nearby Alps. Another great time of year to visit is fall for the annual Cannstatter Volksfest, which is the second largest Oktoberfest in Germany.
Most international visitors to Stuttgart will arrive at Stuttgart Airport (STR) via a connecting flight from a European capital. The airport is eight miles from the city center. The cheapest and easiest way to get to downtown Stuttgart is via the S-Bahn train system. Tickets can be purchased at vending machines, and they must be validated at an orange-colored stamping machine before you board.
Stuttgart is a major hub for Germany's national railway network, Deutsche Bahn. There are daily trains to most major European cities, including a high-speed line between Stuttgart and Frankfurt. All trains arrive and depart from the main station, the Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof.
Stuttgart is easily accessible by car via state highways A8 and A81. However, reaching the city by car can be difficult because of extreme traffic jams during morning and evening rush hour. Taking a taxi to Stuttgart can be quite expensive with drivers charging about EUR10 for a five-minute ride.
You can get several daily buses to Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich at the Hauptbahnhof, and there are also lines to other countries in Europe. Stuttgart Airport has a bus station that runs lines to Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich.
The Alex 30 Hostel on the Alexanderstrasse 30 is good value, with clean rooms and internet access. The Hotel NH Stuttgart Airport has comfortable rooms and a good restaurant at reasonable prices. The lovely Waldhotel Stuttgart is nestled into a quiet area about 10 minutes from downtown. The hotel connects to miles of hiking and biking trails and provides a peaceful woodland atmosphere.
City Center - this central district is a great place to start your tour of Stuttgart. Visit the Old State Gallery for works by Rembrandt, Rubens, and Monet, take a walking tour of the historic Schlossplatz, or shop till you drop at the luxury department stores on the Königstrasse.
Stuttgart-West - this trendy district near the University of Stuttgart is known for its nightlife. If you're in town when a soccer game is on, head to Ackermanns, a comfortable sports bar where you can watch along with the locals. If you prefer quieter pursuits, take a stroll through Schwarzwildpark, which has three scenic lakes and a deer park.
Bad Cannstatt - this outer suburb is home to Stuttgart's annual Oktoberfest and three state-of-the-art sports arenas, but it is world renowned for the ancient springs of Mineralbad Cannstatt. Since Roman times, visitors have flocked to Bad Cannstatt to soak in the warm waters and enjoy mineral cures.
Stuttgart offers three excellent forms of public transportation: The U-Bahn or underground, the S-Bahn commuter train system, and a city bus service. Ticket prices vary based on destination and time increments, but a good value option for tourists is the StuttCard. This card offers admission discounts to museums and attractions and free public transit for three days. The cost is EUR18 for transportation around the city center or EUR22 for transport throughout all of Stuttgart. StuttCards can be purchased at the tourist office across from the Hauptbahnhof.
Taxis are widely available in Stuttgart at a price of around EUR3 per mile.
Driving a car in Stuttgart is not recommended because of the confusing street layout, heavy rush-hour traffic, and limited parking. However, if you want to rent a car they are widely available from local and international car rental companies like Enterprise at an average price of EUR25 per day. The only place to park in Stuttgart is in public parking blocks, which cost EUR1.50 per hour.
Stuttgart's main shopping destination is Königstrasse in the city center. There you will find everything from traditional department stores to trendy fashion boutiques. The side streets along Königstrasse offer a lot of funky shops, where you can buy art, antiques, and souvenirs. If you are planning to do a lot of shopping, you can purchase a value-added tax form, which will give you up to 19 percent off purchased goods.
The world-famous Markthalle on Dorotheenstrasse offers a mouthwatering selection of specialty meats, cheeses, and chocolates that make wonderful, if pricey, souvenirs. Stuttgart also has outdoor food markets during the week, but if you are looking for an American-style supermarket, you can visit an Aldi or Lidl grocery store. The prices are reasonable with milk costing EUR2.40, eggs costing EUR2, and bread costing EUR1.10.
Cheap eats abound in Stuttgart. You can nosh on a buttered pretzel or buy a kebab at a Turkish food stand for as little as EUR1 or stop by Tobi's on Bolzstrasse for fast food, German style (don't miss their homemade fries). For gourmet fare, there is Wielandshöhe, where world-renowned chef Vincent Klink makes regional specialties with locally sourced ingredients at an average of EUR45 per person. For EUR15 per person, the outdoor beer garden Paulaner am alten Postplatz offers a pint with Swabian favorites like weisswurst (veal sausage) and Kaiserschmarrn, which is a dessert with pancakes, fruit, and cream.