From a medieval old town to open-air jazz concerts and an almost 200-year-old bodega, this riverside city is one of southern Germany’s most captivating destinations.
Magnificent architecture, colorful festivals, beautiful parks and a vibrant culinary scene; the attractions of Esslingen am Neckar are varied and showcased with civic pride. Esslingen am Neckar straddles the Neckar River in the Baden-Württemberg region, where it has been shaped for over a millennium. Its atmospheric Old Town is an enthralling mix of canals and cobblestone alleys home to hundreds of historical buildings, half-timbered landmarks, cafés, galleries and theaters.
The Old Town’s compact layout makes it a great place to explore on foot. Admire monuments, including the 13th-century Schelztor Gate Tower and Wolfstor Gate Tower. Note the contrasting styles of the New Town Hall and Old Town Hall. Visit the Romanesque-Gothic Stadtkirche St. Dionys and St. Paul’s Minster, Germany’s oldest Dominican monastery. Looming over the touristic center with sweeping city views is Esslingen Castle.
Get an insight into the city’s ancient history at the Yellow House Stadtmuseum. Step back in time to the Franconian Empire at the underground Excavations Museum. See collections of centuries-old children’s books at the J.F. Schreiber Museum. Browse exhibitions of contemporary art at Villa Merkel, the municipal art gallery located in riverfront Merkelpark. Spot impressive crypts and mausoleums at Ebershaldenfriedhof.
Be sure to delve into the city’s food and wine culture. Sample regional dishes such as maultasche, a filled pasta similar to ravioli. Take a tour of Kessler Sekt, the country’s longest-operating sparkling wine producer. Watch a theater performance at Württembergische Landesbühne and attend jazz shows at the Jazzkeller.
Plan your visit around one of the many colorful festivals. April’s PODIUM Festival welcomes young and upcoming chamber music artists from across Europe. Enjoy some family-friendly fun at the world-famous Esslingen Medieval Market, which takes place for month from late-November. Shop at the stalls of around 200 costumed craftspeople and be entertained by street performers.
Reach Esslingen am Neckar by flying to Stuttgart and then catch a train or rent a car from there. It’s a comfortable daytrip from Stuttgart or you can stay overnight at hotels and guesthouses, some set in the city’s medieval houses.