The capital of the Baden-Württemberg region, Stuttgart is quickly becoming a travel destination to rival better known German cities like Berlin, Dresden or Munich. At the heart of a region of fine Swabian cuisine and many miles of renowned vineyards (some of the best in all of Germany), Stuttgart is a provocative setting for adventure, whether you plan to explore the famous Black Forest, voyage up the Rhine, or take the short hop beyond borders to the equally enticing Zurich, Switzerland or Strasbourg, France. Arguably the greenest big city in the country and consistently high in standard-of-living and liveability indexes, Stuttgart is off-the-beaten-path and adventurous enough for you to feel as if it is a place you've discovered, not merely visited.
Historically, visitors have come because of Stuttgart's place as a world leader in the automobile industry, and, while the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche museums are incredible, the Schlossplatz is the true social and cultural center of Stuttgart. It's also in a geographically central position, with other historic and attractive squares like Marktplatz, Schillerplatz, and Karlsplatz within a few blocks, all of which host a number of classic churches, castles, and local government buildings. Then again, you could literally walk through five miles of greenery in a collection of urban parks locally known as Das Grüne U (the Green "U")if you set out north from the Neues Schloss on Schlossplatz. Highlights include Ronsenstein Park, with its gardens and an entrance to the Wilhelma Zoo, and Killesberg Park, with its steam train and observation tower, which is the highest viewpoint in the city. It may be also worth your time to linger in the district of Bad Cannstatt, where the famous Volksfest (a festival second only to Oktoberfest in excitement and beer consumption) is held and also where popular football club VfB Stuttgart play their home matches.
Beyond the city limits lie some of Baden-Württemberg's most idyllic castles. Burg Hohenzollern is all fairytale majesty, while Lichtenstein Castle clings incredibly to a cliff ledge, and both are within an hour's drive. Stuttgart is also within proximity to a few smaller cities and towns that have a profusion of quintessential Swabian architecture and culture. There's Wurzburg, with its inimitable Fortress Marienberg looking down upon it from the river; Bamberg, with its UNESCO-certified medieval center and numerous breweries; Heidelberg and its castle of the same name; and Ulm, home to the tallest church in the world and the birthplace of Einstein. For more cultural standouts in and around Stuttgart, we've got you covered.
More active adventures are also quite available for those willing to seek them out. The Black Forest, known for its clock-making communities, may actually be better known for its hiking trails, which include the long-distance treks called the Westweg, the Ostweg, and the Mittelweg that traverse huge tracts of pine-scrub mountains and valleys. Follow the Rhine north to the Palatinate Forest, where castle ruins abound in the country's largest continuous expanse of forest. Those who prefer a more leisurely experience can enjoy the Rhineland scenery via boat rides downriver, while those who like their adventures on the grand scale should try hiking and skiing in the Allgäu Alps, rock climbing at highly rated destinations like Eselsburger Tal or Blautal, skydiving just outside of the city, and paragliding that can be had in the hills all over the region with schools like Luftikus. That's just a start; our Stuttgart adventure page has more.
As far as logistics go, if you are in town for a few days, make sure to purchase the Stuttcard. It's cheap and it will get you great deals at local beer gardens and restaurants, while providing discounts on entrance to main attractions around the city. You'll also appreciate the convenience of public transportation, led S-bahn and U-bahn trains that run frequently and consistently even on the weekend. These will come in handy when you're trying to get back to your accommodations from nightlife areas like Theodor-Heuss-Strasse or a dinner of Maultaschen or Leberkäse in myriad eateries around the city.
Don't make the mistake of overlooking a dark horse like Stuttgart, especially if you're intrigued by the Swabian food and countryside, ancient castles, regal squares or the evolution of the modern automobile. Continue exploring our site for trip planning tools, travel pictures and videos, and much more on what Stuttgart can offer you as an adventurer.