Stuttgart might be one of my new favorite cities in Europe. The city offers easy connections for European and US travelers, fun festivals, unique architecture, and unbelievable shopping. We recommend a weekend in Stuttgart with friends, since the city has something for everyone.
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*We were guests of Stuttgart Tourism for the purposes of this review. As always, opinions are 100% our own.
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Fun Things to do if You’re Spending a Weekend in Stuttgart
First and foremost, you don’t need to rent a car in Stuttgart. Public transportation is extremely efficient and it’s easy to navigate. All of these recommendations can be accessed by bus, rail, or walking.
1. Head to the museums
Stuttgart has some of the best museums in Europe, so I would start with one that interests your group.
We would recommend the following:
- Mercedes – Benz Museum – tells the history of Mercedes and its role in the city’s history. Super unique exhibits and a must-see, even if cars aren’t your thing. There’s also a Porsche Museum if someone in your group prefers.
- Staatsgalerie and Kunstmuseum – if anyone loves art, there are a couple of museums that need to be on your Stuttgart itinerary. Staatsgalerie is home to more classical pieces, including Picasso and Monet. Kunstmuseum has modern and contemporary artwork.
- Landesmuseum Württemberg – learn about the history of Stuttgart and the surrounding region (Württemberg) from the stone age through the present time. Housed in the Old Castle in Stuttgart, this is a fascinating museum, but we would recommend an audio guide since many labels are in German only.
2. Check out the local festivals
Stuttgart has festivals throughout the year. Try to time your visit to coincide with one of them if that interests your group. Some of our favorite festivals in Stuttgart are:
- Stuttgart Wine Festival – end of August. Features over 120 local restaurants and vintners serving local dishes and wine pairings. Everyone sits at long shared tables with bench seating and some venues feature entertainment. Highly recommend trying local Swabian dishes like Maultaschen (dumplings stuffed with beef and herbs) and Swabian potato salad.
- Stuttgart Beer Festival (aka Cannstatter Volksfest) – end of September into October. If you want to experience Oktoberfest, there’s no need to go to Munich. Stuttgart has been hosting this amazing festival for over 200 years. It’s worth planning a trip around this!
- Stuttgart Christmas Market – end of November through December. The Christmas season is one of my favorite times to be in Germany and Stuttgart doesn’t disappoint with over 300 booths offering everything from glass ornaments to glühwein.
3. Explore the city’s wine history
If you aren’t able to make it to the Stuttgart Wine Festival, don’t worry. You can enjoy Stuttgart wines any day of the year.
Head to the suburb of Uhlbach-Stuttgart for a visit to the Stuttgart Museum of Viniculture. The museum is housed in a former wine pressing building and visitors can learn about 2,000 years of winemaking in the region.
Afterward, take a seat in the museum’s café where you can have a wine tasting and learn about the different varietals that are popular in the region.
From here it’s an easy walk through the vineyards to the Sepulchral Chapel on Württemberg Hill. The mausoleum was built as a tribute to the wife of King William I of Württemberg, Catherine Pavlovna of Russia. Once you’ve reached the building you can enjoy beautiful views overlooking Stuttgart.
If you want to complete your afternoon, head to the Rotenberger Weingaertle for dinner. The restaurant serves traditional Swabian cuisine and wine with stunning sunset views over the vineyards.
4. Shop until you drop
If there’s a European city that’s made for shopping, it’s Stuttgart. You can find everything here from mom-and-pop shops to grandiose department stores.
In the city center, you have the pedestrian-friendly Königstrasse with a variety of clothing stores, souvenir shops, and cafés. Stop in the coffee shop MELA for some of the best coffee and treats in the area.
Head towards the Marktplatz and you’ll find the city’s massive department store, Breuninger, and the Dorothein-Quartier, a high-end shopping mall.
Don’t miss the Bean Quarter (Bohnenviertel) with antique shops, galleries, and second-hand stores. The Market Hall (Markthalle) is an indoor marketplace with every type of produce, pastry, and flower you could imagine. Don’t miss Merz-Benzing on the first floor. It’s where Pottery Barn meets Home Goods and more!
5. Relax in the city’s parks
In Stuttgart, you will be spoiled for green space as there are four major city parks and smaller parks in many areas. Start at Schlossplatz, the main square in Stuttgart. We recommend sitting on the patio at Carls Brauhaus and having a pilsner and schnitzel if the weather is nice.
On a rainy day, you can still enjoy the view of the park from above. Duck into the Kunstmuseum for a beautiful city view while enjoying coffee and cake in their upstairs restaurant, CUBE.
Don’t miss a chance to visit the city’s botanical gardens at Wilhelma. There are over 30 beautiful hectares to explore, and it’s also home to the city’s zoo. If the weather is nice, this is the place to go.
6. Take a day trip to Esslingen
Esslingen am Neckar is a charming medieval city about 20 minutes from Stuttgart by car and 40 minutes by train. This is one of the more unique places to visit in the area, as there are over 200 half-timbered houses, many dating to the 13th century.
Spend time wandering the streets and admiring the unique architecture. Some of our favorite stops include Stadtkirche St. Dionys, the Marktplatz, the Altes Rathaus, Wolfsturm, and Maille Park (and the surrounding Little Venice canals).
If the houses aren’t charming enough, we recommend taking a hike to the top of Esslinger Tower, which has stunning views over the city, vineyards, and the Neckar River. It’s worth the climb!
Tip: If you are looking for the perfect place for breakfast or coffee, we recommend Markt E1NS in the Marktplatz. For lunch, head to Weinkeller Einhorn which has been serving traditional Swabian cuisine for hundreds of years.
7. Sample the local wine and cuisine at some of our favorite restaurants
It is a German tradition to take coffee and cake each afternoon, but if you would rather have a pre-dinner glass of wine, there are plenty of options for that too.
Check out the following bars for a pre-dinner cocktail:
Austern Champagnebar (oysters and champagne)
Restaurants in Stuttgart we recommend for dinner with friends include:
MALO – this fun plant-filled space offers pasta, salads, bowls, and vegetarian options.
Ta Os – a wine bar serving Swabian dishes with a twist.
Das Lehen – traditional Swabian food in a historic setting.
The Ratskeller – a contemporary restaurant in the Markthalle with a great wine bar.
Where to stay for your weekend in Stuttgart
One place that we would recommend for a getaway with friends in Stuttgart is Waldhotel. The property is a quick 10-minute tram ride from the city center and it feels like you’re a world away!
The hotel is located in the middle of the countryside and many rooms have views of the grounds and forest beyond. Amenities include a sauna and fitness room, tennis courts, walking trails, and gardens. It’s an amazing spot to simply relax on your balcony and listen to the sounds of nature.
There are several different accommodation options at Waldhotel, but we stayed in a superior room. It was extremely spacious with a double bed, couch, desk, and private terrace. The outdoor space was my favorite place for morning coffee.
I would also recommend taking breakfast and dinner at the hotel restaurant, Finch. Mornings start with a massive buffet with everything from yogurts and pastries to eggs and meats. Made-to-order breakfasts are also available.
Don’t leave Stuttgart without having dinner at Finch. The gazpacho starter left a lasting impression, with its perfect vegetable blend and a dollop of crème fraîche to top it off. My entree was handmade gnocchi with spinach, figs, and edible flowers. It tasted as beautiful as it looked and the service was impeccable.
Finch has a seasonal menu, but I don’t think there are any bad options. If the weather is good, be sure to take your meal on the charming outdoor terrace.
Stuttgart has it all, outdoor spaces, architecture, shopping, history, and delicious cuisine. I think you can agree, there is something in Stuttgart for everyone in your group to enjoy, making it the perfect weekend getaway.