A weekend in Stuttgart: the best things to do

by Gaetano
Schlossplatz

If you think of Stuttgart, maybe the first things that come to mind are Mercedes and Porsche. This city is, in fact, one of the homelands of the automotive industry, and many people come here only to see the two automotive museums. These are also beautiful modern architecture buildings surely worth the visit.

One day is maybe enough to stroll through Stuttgart city center and have a general overview of its attractions. But since I had a little more time and I’m not fond of cars, I preferred to explore the city surroundings instead of the two automotive museums.


Stuttgart in a nutshell


The following is an interactive map. Some monuments and general points of interest are marked with blue pins. All other city attractions are divided by topic: parks, historic buildings, and museums.


Must-sees


There are 30 minutes direct train connections between Stuttgart airport and the railway station. Since the railway station is overall easy to reach and located right next to the city center, my tour started here.


Schlossplatz


There is only a few minutes’ walk, between the railway station and Schlossplatz, the most prominent square in Stuttgart. This square can be reached along the Königsstraße, which is the most popular shopping street in the city.

Schlossplatz includes some of Stuttgart’s most popular attractions:

  1. New Palace (Neues Schloss). Stuttgart was the residence of the Counts of Württemberg from 1300. They became later Kings of Württemberg and the New Palace, built between 1700 and 1800 in Baroque style, was their residence.
  2. Königsbau. It is an imposing building with a front colonnade. Today, on its backside, there is a shopping mall.
  3. Old Castle (Altes Schloss). It is a Renaissance-style building that dates back to 1500. It was the historic residence of the Württemberg family and today hosts the Landesmuseum Württemberg. This museum shows the history of this region, from antiquity to modern days.
  4. Stuttgart State Opera.
New Palace

New Palace


Schillerplatz


Another very famous square in Stuttgart. Among other things, one of the most characteristic Christmas markets in Germany is held here. Schillerplatz is located right next to the previous square, Schlossplatz, and does not lack attractions:

  1. Schiller Memorial.
  2. Collegiate Church (Stiftskirche). It is the oldest and most famous church in Stuttgart. The interiors have been rebuilt in a modern style after the bombings of World War II.
  3. Market Hall (Markthalle). An art nouveau building hosting Stuttgart covered market.

Other points of interest in the inner city


  1. Carl Zeiss Planetarium. In the middle of the park near the railway station.
  2. City Hall. It was built on the ashes of the old City Hall bombed during World War II. It is an almost faceless building if it weren’t for its clock tower with carillon bells.
  3. St. Leonard’s Church. It is the second oldest church in the city.
  4. St. John’s Church. It is a neo-Gothic style church built in the late 1800s. Thanks to the artificial lake in front of it, it is a picturesque location, especially at sunset or with the night lighting.

Bad Cannstatt


This is the oldest district of Stuttgart dating back to Roman times. A real little-known gem little frequented by tourists, and easily accessible with a couple of metro stops. In addition to its several historic buildings, it also hosts the Wilhelma Zoo and Botanical Gardens, and one of the largest thermal baths in Europe.

If you stay only one day in Stuttgart, maybe your visit ends here. For those like me, who had the chance to stay one or two more days, there is still a lot to discover: parks, palaces and castles, and museums.


The parks


The Schlossgarten Park (literally Castle Garden) begins directly in the inner city. It is a 600 years old park and extends for over 3 km in length. The green area is divided into 3 connected parts (upper, central, and lower part), and hosts several historic buildings or attractions. I had a very enjoyable walk here.

The Wilhelma Zoo and Botanical Gardens could be a good choice if you are traveling with children.

The Killesbergpark is located on a hill north of the inner city. It includes a small zoo (goats, ponies, etc.), various sculptures, and fountains with water features. But the highlight is a spiral-shaped 40 meters tower, from which you can enjoy a gorgeous view of Stuttgart.

But my favorite park was another one, an original and incredible one: the Waldfriedhof (forest cemetery). I hadn’t seen anything similar before and was extraordinarily impressed. But my favorite park was another one, an original and incredible one: the Waldfriedhof (forest cemetery).

I hadn’t seen anything similar before and was extraordinarily impressed. It is de-facto a cemetery surrounded by hectares of trees, plants, and bushes like it was a big botanical park. To reach it you need to take a historic cable railway, which dates back to around 1930 and makes the trip up there just more interesting

Waldfriedhof - The forest cemetery

Waldfriedhof – The forest cemetery


Historical Tour


For history or architecture enthusiasts, things get more complicated. Around Stuttgart, there are, in fact, a lot of religious architectures, palaces, and castles, all beautiful and well preserved. But unfortunately, a weekend is not enough to see them all, since they are not right around the corner.

Among the most famous palaces and castles are surely worth a mention:

  1. Rosenstein Castle. Built in neo-classical style, it was the summer palace for King Wilhelm I of Württemberg. The Castle houses today a part of the Stuttgart State Museum of Natural History. It is easy to reach by underground.
  2. Castle Solitude. The Castle was commissioned by Charles Eugene, Duke of Württemberg, and was built in the late 1700s in Rococo style, as a place for reflection and solitude. It is located on top of a hill, and to reach it, the Duke also commissioned the Solitude Allee. This is a 13 km straight road that connects the castle with the other Württemberg residence in Ludwigsburg. The road is still there and is perfectly visible from Castle Solitude. Today you can reach the castle by bus.
  3. Ludwigsburg Palace. It is located outside the city and to reach it you have to travel about 15 minutes on the metropolitan train (S-Bahn). Together with Versailles (Paris) and Schönbrunn (Vienna), the Palace is one of the largest baroque residences in Europe. It was built in a time when the royal families competed for having the most impressive residence.
  4. Castello di Hohenheim. Easy to reach by underground, it was built in the late 1700s in the late-Baroque/Renaissance style. Today, it is home to the University of Hohenheim.
Castle Solitude

Castle Solitude

Other architectures or places of historical interest:

  1. Birkenkopf. It is an artificial hill built with one and a half million cubic meters from the ruins and rubble from World War II. Some remains come out from the ground and are still clearly visible. It is a place of memory, and to reach it you have to take the underground and then do a 30 minutes’ walk. On top of the hill, there is a plaque and a steel cross.
  2. Mausoleo Württemberg. Built in honor of Catherine Pavlovna of Russia, second wife of William I of Württemberg, it is open from April to November, and its architecture is inspired by Palladio’s Villa La Rotonda.
  3. Crematorium at the Prague Cemetery. Insider tip for the enthusiasts of Art Nouveau and its international derivations (for the German-speaking countries: Jugendstil or Secession). It can be easily reached by underground.

Before traveling to Stuttgart, I have made some research and choose where to go and what to see. At the end, I have been to Castle Solitude, Ludwigsburg Palace and to Birkenkopf.


Museums


I already mentioned the Landesmuseum Württemberg (in the Old Castle) and the Natural History Museum (in part in the Rosenstein Castle). Moreover, Stuttgart hosts two of the most famous car museums in the world, for history, quality of the exhibition, and architecture:

  1. Mercedes-Benz Museum;
  2. Porsche Museum.

A must for the enthusiasts, but I am not one of them.

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