Studded with parks, castles and automotive history, Stuttgart is a sensational vacation destination. See the best of it with our top 10 attractions guide.
East of the Rhine perched high above the Black Forest and close to the border with France lies Stuttgart. As the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg, it is the crowning glory of the stunning south-west corner of Germany. A place of vibrant vineyards, subtle spa towns, natural beauty, and manmade marvels, it’s a confident and prosperous city that has been welcoming travelers for centuries.
Our guide to the top things to do in Stuttgart will help you check off all the best attractions, no matter if your tastes favor the stately or serene. Dip in and out of this list, and you’ll find a city that knows how to live.
Meet the Mercs
Those of an automotive bent will be in heaven in Stuttgart. This is a city with an illustrious history of car design and manufacture, and the stunning Porsche Museum, which was revamped in 2009, is a must-see. However, the Mercedes-Benz Museum was the first big car exhibition in town – opening in 2006 to coincide with Germany hosting the soccer World Cup.
Mercedes-Benz is one of the most famous and historic German brands, dating back to its founding by Carl Benz in 1886. The museum brings his story to life, showcasing many of the 160-plus models that span its sparkling history. The ongoing exhibit shows and rolling events will provide entertainment for those who may need a little convincing to get excited over luxurious cars and their development.
A Trio of Gardens
While the locals are often unfairly stereotyped by other Germans as hard-working professionals with no time to play, you’ll soon discover this isn’t true when you visit the many green spaces ideal for relaxation peppered throughout the city. Schlossgarten – in the heart of the city – is actually made up of three distinct sections: Unterer, Oberer, and Mittlerer.
Each one is characterized by its own unique atmosphere. Wander through to see how the mood changes as you stumble across lakes and nature-filled walks. You’ll also find on your walks the Staatstheater, a zoo, fountains, interesting wildlife, and a famous biergarten. Seating 2,000 people, it’s popular with locals and tourists alike where all can enjoy a lively atmosphere of traditional music, foaming beer, and fresh pretzels. Just make sure you park the car before joining in the festivities.
Built for Duke Carl Eugen of Württemberg, Schloss Solitude is perhaps the most beautiful sight to see in Stuttgart. Constructed in 1763, it sits on the outskirts of the city and was originally intended as a summer residence and hunting lodge for the Duke.
Take a stroll outside to discover the landscaped gardens and pretty woods that give it an enchanting fairytale atmosphere. The real magic, however, lies inside. Styled religiously around the Rococo style, no corner escapes the rigorous attention to detail. Look up as you explore and see the shimmering chandeliers twinkle and cast their light on the gilded decorations that line every inch of the rooms. Highlights include the chapel and the White Hall, featuring a ceiling painting dating back to 1768. Join a guided tour, unlock the history of the castle, and immerse yourself in the beautiful interiors throughout this stunning setting.
The Festival Spirit
Neckar Park isn’t a traditional urban park, but rather one dedicated to hosting fantastic events and festivals throughout the year. It’s also where local soccer team VfB Stuttgart play their home games at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
Arrive on match day to be greeted by the excited roar of a raucous but friendly atmosphere. The park hosts carnivals too, as well as a number of folk and spring festivals. You’ll find people dressing up in traditional garb and sampling local food and drink, before diving into the array of funfair rides on offer.
The finest art gallery in Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie, boasts not only an impressive, eclectic, and wide-ranging collection, but also sits in a rather impressive building. The venue was designed by a British architect while the collection inside showcases the great and good of European and American art through the ages. You’ll find Swabian art from Germany, awe-inspiring pieces from the 14th century, and a particularly impressive collection of work by Matisse and Picasso. Take a leisurely walk through the history of art by wandering from Monet to Rembrandt via Dali in mere minutes.
Sun in Stuttgart
Soothe your senses at Killesbergpark in Stuttgart’s heart, one of the city’s prettiest and most popular green spaces.
Beautifully designed, it incorporates stately trees, manicured lawns, and fragrant flower gardens, while children will love the miniature railway that threads through it. There’s an outdoor pool for a quick swim and a tower – soaring 130 feet skywards – from which you can enjoy sensational views. Throw in a theater, petting zoo, and plenty of restaurants for a perfect place to visit for a sunny, laid-back afternoon.
Germany is famed for its atmospheric and joyous Christmas markets – and Stuttgart’s is absolutely no exception. You won’t be able to miss it if you’re here during the festive season – the twinkling of fairy lights alone will draw you in like a moth to a flame. Once there, you’ll discover stalls selling all manner of traditional Christmas trinkets, Santa Claus greeting guests of all ages, the unmistakable scent of mulled drinks, and the tantalizing smell of cinnamon. With nearly 300 booths to explore, it covers all bases, with wonderful handmade gifts to purchase for the holiday season, and no shortage of food and drink.
Temple of Literature
Forget the dim and dusty libraries of the past – the Stadtbibliothek (Stuttgart City Library) is a temple of modernism.
Designed by Yi Architects and opened in 2011, this curious cube-shaped building is a masterpiece in minimalism, as well as being welcoming and friendly. There are lockers for guests to use while browsing the impressive collection. At night, the building glows, while in summer, browsers take their books to the roof terrace to enjoy an al-fresco reading experience.
Lake of Fire
What’s the main attraction at Feuerseeplatz? Is it the shimmering lake Feuersee (‘fire lake’), or the Gothic splendor of St. John’s Church, which rises above and is reflected in the waters below? The late 19th-century church is perched on a peninsula and rose again after being bombed during World War II. Step inside to get a fantastic view of the stained-glass windows or come in winter when the lake often freezes over and locals strap on their ice skates, all in the shadow of this beautiful church.
If you’re wondering what to do in Stuttgart with children, look no further than the Wilhelma Zoo. It started life as a botanical garden in the 19th century with many of the buildings retaining the charm of that era. Wander from greenhouse to garden to animal enclosure, with flora and fauna to delight your senses. There’s a superb ape house, as well as elephants, lions, rhinos, and tigers among the 1,000-plus species on display. It’s one of the finest urban zoos in all of Germany.
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