5 reasons to drop everything and go to Stuttgart right now
The Local · 3 May 2016, 14:51
Published: 03 May 2016 14:51 GMT+02:00
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It's been in the news lately after city authorities issued a warning about high levels of airborne pollution and begged car drivers to stay off the roads and allow the smog to clear.
But the city on the Neckar has far more to offer than traffic-choked roads - in fact, it's one of the most beautiful places you can visit in Germany.
Here are six reasons why you should pack your bags and head to the south-west right now.
1 Historic buildings
There have been settlements on the site of modern-day Stuttgart since prehistoric times. The present-day city has existed since around the 10th Century – and there are plenty of historic buildings to be found within its limits.
The real gem among the city's royal buildings is the Solitude Palace, built in the 18th Century as a hunting lodge for Duke Carl Eugen von Württemberg.
The builders of the Solitude Palace probably didn't imagine it would become a famous tourist attraction. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Or you could take a tour of the Wilhelmla, the city zoo and botanical garden on the grounds of a historic castle with around 11,500 animals – the second-largest in Germany after Berlin.
Leap into the 21st Century by visiting Stuttgart's hyper-modern central library building.
Stuttgart's main public library - or the set of a science fiction movie? Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Or just take in a glorious panoramic view of the city from the top of the main train station by climbing up to the viewing platform below the famous Mercedes logo.
2 Local food
If you're in Baden-Württemberg, chances are you'll have tried a plate of Spätzle already – and there's no denying that the delicious noodles are a worthy staple of regional cuisine.
But delve a little deeper into the food scene in Stuttgart and you'll find all kinds of local glories that you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.
Visit the upscale Markthalle indoor market for the most succulent delicacies to be found almost anywhere in Germany – although you'll need to have deep pockets to afford some of the best items.
If original beer is more to your taste, you should head out to the suburbs.
In Ludwigsburg you'll find the Brauerei zum Rossknecht brewery, which is just as famous for the quality of its kitchen - try the Gaisburger Marsch beef stew – as for its changing selection of seasonal beers.
On the other side of town, Schönbuch Bräu in Böblingen will tempt your taste buds with their own brewery restaurant and a thirst-quenching Amber Ale.
And for the chocolate lovers among us, Waldenbuch, just a few kilometres to the south, is home to the Ritter Sport factory, where you can delve into the history of the famous square blocks – or just stock up on as-yet unreleased flavours.
3 Pick up a Porsche
For the very deep of pocket, buying a brand-new Porsche might be the moment when you visit Stuttgart, as buyers can arrange to come and drive their purchase out of the factory themselves.
Those lucky enough to afford one of the iconic sports cars will be treated to a factory tour, a 3-course meal at the on-site casino, a visit to the Porsche Museum and a detailed introduction to their new set of wheels.
The less financially-well-endowed will for now have to content themselves with a peek into the 60-year history of the carmaker's factory in Zuffenhausen on a visit to the museum.
4 Delve into the Black Forest
Baden-Württemberg's Black Forest isn't just the part of Germany where the famous - and delicious - Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte cake comes from.
It's also home to a slew of beautiful little towns along the Half-Timber House Trail (Fachwerkstraße) that will take you back to a pre-20th-Century world far removed from the modern buildings filling the "bomb gaps" in many large German cities.
The towns of Esslingen and Markgröningen, close to Stuttgart, contain some of the oldest examples of this construction style.
Baden-Württemberg is also home to the traditional university town of Tübingen - famous for its river punts, flat-bottomed boats like those used in Oxford and Cambridge.
History lovers could head for Burg Hohenzollern, the ancestral home of the former royal family of the German Empire.
Or if natural wonders are more your thing, why not clamber up to Triberg, home to Germany's highest waterfall with a 163-metre plunge from the mountains into the valley of the river Gutach. Just make sure that you go during off-season so as not to be swarmed by tourists!
5 Enjoy a seasonal festival or three
Stuttgart wouldn't be a German state capital if it wasn't handsomely furnished with festivals at different times of year to tempt even the most wall-hugging flowers from their hiding places.
Just like many large cities, there is a Long Night of the Museums early each year when culture vultures can haunt the exhibition halls until late into the night.
The more booze-inclined should note the Weindorf festival in their diary, a 40-year-old tradition which aims to promote the "Swabian lifestyle". Stuttgarters drink twice as much wine as the average German according to the festival website, so you have some catching up to do.
If you can't make it for the festival, you can get the true Stuttgart wine-drinking experience by hunting out a Besenwirtschaft ("broom pub"), seasonal bars that sell wine from a single producer.
Or venturing a little way out of Stuttgart, you can get stuck into the South German Cheese Market in Schwäbisch Hall for a taste of country life that's sure to be pungent.
There's plenty more to be said about Stuttgart - but why spend all day reading when you could be heading down there and discovering the place for yourself?