Stuart Forster overviews what to expect during a winter weekend in Stuttgart, Germany.
Travelling to Germany during Advent means being able to visit Christmas markets. Stuttgart, in Baden-Württemberg, has stalls at its centre and is a convenient base for exploring those in nearby cities, including Esslingen.
Disclosure: Stuart travelled to Stuttgart as a guest of Stuttgart Airport and Baden-Württemberg Tourism, who did not review or approve this post. Some of the links and banners below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Passing the shops of Königstrasse, the 1.2-kilometre pedestrianised street in front of Stuttgart’s railway station, I headed straight to the Weihnachtsmarkt, the Christmas market, on the square by the town hall.
Thinking about visiting the Stuttgart area for its Christmas markets? You might find my post on the Christmas markets in Stuttgart and Esslingen worth reading.
What to do in Stuttgart
The air was cold. Consequently, my hands were chilly, so I ordered something seasonal to warm them on; a mug of Glühwein—mulled wine made with Schwarzriesling, a grape varietal also known as Pinot Meunier.
Socialising while sipping warm wine is a popular element of a visit to Germany’s Christmas markets. Opportunities to munch on food such as sugar-coated nuts, fruit that’s been dipped in chocolate and sausages that have been roasted over charcoal grills ensure the convivial markets draw locals as well as visitors.
Stuttgart car museums
I headed to the latter, within a striking contemporary building a couple of minutes’ walk from VfB Stuttgart’s home stadium, the Mercedes-Benz Arena. (If you enjoy football (soccer) you may be able to buy tickets for a home Bundesliga game featuring Stuttgart. Be aware that the Bundesliga takes a winter break, known as die Winterpause. Typically that begins a few days before Christmas and lasts for about a month.)
An audio guide provided information about the exhibits, which provide an overview of how motor vehicles have evolved since the 1880s. Gottlieb Daimler fitted an engine to a carriage in 1886, the same year that Karl Benz received his patent for the motorcar.
Racing cars and vehicles made for use by the emergency services count among the many vehicles on display in the Mercedes-Benz Museum.
Though tempted to take to the ice on the rink at Schlossplatz, the square between the New Palace and the Königsbau shopping centre, I headed to Ludwigsburg, a 20-minute S-Bahn ride from central Stuttgart.
Visiting Ludwigsburg Palace
Ludwigsburg, a Baroque city with 83,000 inhabitants, is constructed on a grid pattern. Eberhard Ludwig, the Duke of Württemberg, ordered the construction of Ludwigsburg Palace in 1704 and lived there with his mistress, Wilhelmine von Grävenitz. His successors expanded the building into the grand attraction it is today. It would be easy to spend half a day viewing the palace and gardens.
On the marketplace, five minutes’ walk from the palace, Ludwigsburg’s Baroque Christmas market has 175 stalls. Arriving after darkness had fallen gave me an opportunity to see the market at its most atmospheric.
Dining at the Weinstube Klingel (Eberhardstrasse 8; tel. +49 7141 926968) in Ludwigsburg, presented an opportunity to tuck into dishes featuring locally shot game. I selected Hirschbraten, roast venison, served with Spätzle, hand-rubbed noodles — a dish typical of Swabia’s hearty cuisine.
Weinstubes are traditional taverns that offer wine by the glass, usually in 250-millilitre measures.
Stuttgart is surrounded by vineyards, some of which produce high-quality white wines. I ordered a crisp glass of Riesling from Besigheim’s Felsengarten winery.
Hotels in Stuttgart
Thinking of visiting Stuttgart Christmas Market and looking at hotels? I slept at the Park Inn by Radisson Stuttgart (Hauptstätter Strasse 147; tel. +49 711 320940), a modern, four-star hotel with 181 guestrooms. The hotel is across the street from Marienplatz, 1.5 kilometres (one mile) from the heart of the centre.
My bedroom was spacious and the free Wi-Fi proved quick and reliable. After a day of fresh air and strolling around the Christmas markets, sleep came easy. Maybe a beer from the Lounge Bar in the lobby, upon returning to the hotel, helped?
A buffet breakfast is available on the ground floor of the hotel, which also has a sauna and fitness area plus a rooftop terrace with city views.
Tram stops and the Marienplatz U-Bahn station are a couple of minutes’ walk from the hotel, offering an alternative to the 20-minute walk.
Stuttgart public transport
One of the easiest ways of exploring Stuttgart and the surrounding region is on the public transport network. Towns and cities in Stuttgart’s hinterland can be reached using the S-Bahn network.
The S2 and S3 run between Stuttgart Airport and the Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) in the city centre. Journeys take 27 minutes.
Buy tickets from vending machines before boarding U- and S-Bahn trains in Stuttgart and the surrounding region. Purchasing a one-day or three-day ticket can save time and money, in comparison to buying single tickets for each journey. KombiTickets are also an option for hotel guests staying in the city.
Travel to Stuttgart
Stuttgart Airport also has direct connections with Stansted, Gatwick, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Manchester in the United Kingdom, plus Dublin in the Republic of Ireland.
A StuttCard (nope, that isn’t a typo, that’s the correct name for Stuttgart’s city tourism card) includes admission to all of the city’s museums and a number of leisure facilities. The tickets are valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours, and also bring discounts in a number of shops, restaurants and theatres.
Tickets including the use of public transport are also available, as the StuttCard PLUS.
Map of Stuttgart
The map below shows Stuttgart in southwest Germany. Zoom in to see details of city streets:
Find out more about Stuttgart and the surrounding region via the Stuttgart Tourism website.
For more about attractions throughout the state, see the Baden-Württemberg Tourism website.
The German National Tourist Board’s website has information about the country’s southwest and, of course, other destinations across Germany.
Photos illustrating this post are by Why Eye Photography.
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