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Birthplace of the motor car and one of the manufacturing capitals of Europe, Stuttgart is the sixth largest city in Germany and capital of the Swabian region of Baden-Württemberg, in the south-west of the country. But there is much more to Stuttgart than the gleaming technology of Mercedes-Benz and Porsche; nestling among some of Germany’s finest vineyards, Stuttgart offers culinary, cultural and scenic pleasures to rival any city in Germany.
With a population of around 600,000, Stuttgart is a very manageable size, and has a range of hotel and accommodation options to suit every budget. The central station, the Hauptbahnhof, makes an ideal starting point for your explorations, and it’s close to Schlossplatz, the main square, and Königstraße, the main shopping street. Königstraße may be the longest pedestrianised street in the country and is a great place to shop for distinctively Swabian gifts and specialities, as well as the global high street brands. Schlossplatz, meanwhile, is a vast space bordered by handsome Baroque architecture, and on sunny days it’s filled with sun worshippers and people watchers. After centuries of dukes building bigger and better palaces and castles for themselves, Stuttgart has an impressive collection of architecture, parks and gardens, the piece de resistance being the Schlossgarten, the castle gardens that date back to 1350.
The Art Nouveau Markthalle, built in 1920, is a must-see and must-taste for every foodie, with its cosmopolitan range of culinary delights. And throughout the city, there are many restaurants that have perfected the distinctively Swabian delicacies of Maultaschen, square parcels of pasta dough with a variety of meat fillings, and the Spätzle, egg noodles characteristic of the region.
Stuttgart is home to Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, and a visit to their respective museums is a must for every visitor, car buff or not. The Mercedes-Benz Museum is the more comprehensive of the two, a gleaming vision of retro-futurist architecture telling the story of the automobile from the pioneering designs of Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz to the present day. The Porsche Museum is a slightly more modest affair, but it fascinates in equal measure with the stories of the Volkswagen Beetle, designed by Ferdinand Porsche, and of the marque’s glorious racing history.
Stuttgart boasts a range of artistic and cultural attractions to please all interests and all pockets. The Staatsgallerie, the state art gallery, is a striking collision of neoclassical and modern architecture, and houses important works by masters ancient and modern. The Wilhelma Zoo and Botanical Gardens, built in a Moorish style reminiscent of the Alhambra, is the largest combined zoo and botanical garden in Europe and features family groups of great apes. And the Cannstatter Volksfest, running from late September to October, is the second largest beer festival in Germany – connoisseurs of the golden nectar should make a bee-line to the Schwaben Bräu and Stuttgarter Hofbräu tents to sample the region’s finest brews.
For further inspiration for accommodation please have a look at our selection of cheap hotels in Munich.