Stuttgart is the capital of the German state Baden-Württemberg and a wonderful stop in any German itinerary. The city with a population of 632,000 is often overlooked. Cologne, Berlin, or Munich are more popular, but not necessarily more beautiful. In this guide, I’m going to show you the top things to do in Stuttgart.
I lived one year in Baden-Württemberg and have been to Stuttgart many times. It’s maybe a little bit less exciting than other cities in Germany, but the lack of international mass tourism allows you to explore a more authentic side of my beautiful home country.
You probably won’t need to stay more than one day (I’ll recommend some hotels further down below), but there are quite some exciting tourist attractions in Stuttgart you can explore. In fact, you might want to get a Hop-on hop-off bus tour ticket* as it will be the easiest and fastest way to get around.
Anyway, let’s get started, eh?
Tip: Read my Germany packing list to come prepared!
Top things to do in Stuttgart
1. New Palace & Schlossplatz
The Neue Schloss Stuttgart is probably the main tourist attraction in town. It was built in the second half of the 18th century and dominates the gigantic Palace Square (Schlossplatz) in the heart of the pedestrian area.
You cannot go inside as a couple of state departments are still located inside. There’s only a small archeological museum in one of the cellars, but that’s not why you should visit. The whole square is incredibly beautiful and you can just breathe in the atmosphere here.
2. Old Castle
Right next to the New Palace, you’ll find the Old Castle where the rulers of Baden-Württemberg lived before they decided they needed a more lavish place to represent their might. Inside, you’ll find the Landesmuseum Württemberg, which is beyond magnificent.
The archeological department houses some of the most important finds from the UNESCO World Heritage in Blaubeurren & Swabian Jura, though there is also an amazing treasure vault and quite interesting exhibits from the celts or the Romans. The famous Lion’s head of Vogelherd is one of the oldest sculptures on this planet and believed to be 35,000+ years old. And yet it looks like it was carved just yesterday.
It’s definitely among the top 10 museums in Germany. I love all the modern displays. They often offer hidden drawers with additional information or videos to put a certain artifact into context! So, definitely put it on your list of things to see in Stuttgart
3. Mercedes-Benz Museum
I’m not sure Stuttgart would be the same city it is today, without the invention of the first gasoline-powered car in 1886. Daimler, Mercedes, Maybach – some of the most important household names in the whole car industry converge in Stuttgart. Even 140 years later, the car industry still dominates Stuttgart.
One of the best places to get in contact with this prestigious history is the Mercedes-Benz Museum on the outskirts. Over 1,500 exhibits, nine levels, and 16,500 m² of exhibition space will be a true highlight for all enthusiasts of motorized means of travel.
Stuttgart is also the home of the fantastic Wilhelma. It’s a huge zoo and botanical garden built in a historical park. It’s both among the most visited and most popular zoos in Germany and their great-ape projects have been setting new standards for the breeding of these endangered species since 1972.
It’s one of the best things to do in Stuttgart with kids and quite an enjoyable place to go for a walk. They got over 1,200 species and 6,000 different plants from all climate zones of the planet. In short, don’t miss it!
5. Porsche Museum
There are two important automobile museums in Stuttgart. If you are a fan of fast cars, then the Porsche-Museum is a must-see. The building is quite spectacular as well, so if you are an avid photographer, then there are actually two reasons to visit!
The museum is a bit smaller than the Mercedes-Benz museum and there are only a bit less than 100 vehicles on display. Still, it’s an exciting place and you’ll be able to get close to some of the most iconic cars in the world.
6. Public Library Stuttgart
Book-lovers harken! The public library in Stuttgart will be your best bet to view a glimpse of paradise. The Stadtbibiliothek Stuttgart is only a short walk away from the central station and is an Instagram dream come true.
There is also a beautiful rooftop café on the 8th floor which you should definitely check out. Other than that, just explore the mighty cube, pick a book, sit down, and breathe in the fantastic architecture. There is little not to love about this place!
7. Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
There are quite a lot of art museums in Stuttgart, but the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart is probably the most popular one. Inside, you’ll find an eclectic mix of old masters, Bauhaus and modern paintings. They usually also have a temporary exhibition.
I do want to be honest with you, though: The State Gallery can’t live up to the fabulous art museums in Munich. But it’s still an interesting place – especially on a rainy day!
8. Day trip to Ludwigsburg Residential Palace
Do you want to visit one of Germany’s fairy tale castles? Then the Ludwigsburg Residential Palace should be on your list. It’s a fantastic half-day trip from Stuttgart and here you can actually visit the actual palace and marvel at the lavish interiors. The park around the castle is equally magnificent.
Make sure to also visit the exquisite Favorite Castle (Schloss Favorite) while you are in town. The Baroque hunting lodge might be somewhat small, but it’s oh so pretty!
9. Solitude Palace
If you don’t want to drive all that far, Solitude Palace is an excellent alternative. It may be smaller, but it’s quite enchanting nevertheless. Also, the views from the palace of Stuttgart is nothing short of breathtaking.
12. Kunstmuseum Stuttgart
Baden-Württemberg’s capital has a fantastic home for contemporary art. The Kunstmuseum Stuttgart is definitely worth a visit and you’ll find it right across the street from the new palace.
I particularly love the restaurant on the top floor. The food is quite excellent and you’ll have a fantastic view of the inner city from here. It’s certainly not the cheapest place, but I personally think it’s worth it. Don’t expect traditional Swabian food, though!
10. Sepulchral Chapel on Württemberg Hill
Another beautiful view-point in Stuttgart, especially for watching the sunset, is the Sepulchral Chapel on the Württemberg Hill. The neo-classic memorial is so beautiful and houses the remains of King William I. of Württemberg and his second wife.
I really love this place – it’s just so serene and beautiful. Downtown Stuttgart can be quite busy and here you will get a good feeling for the beauty of the whole areas surrounding the capital of Baden-Württemberg.
12. Stiftskirche Stuttgart
Right in the heart of the city, you will find the Sfitskirche (“collegiate church”) – the most important Evangelical-Lutheran Chuch in Württemberg. It was bombed heavily during World War II, but its foundations can actually be traced back to the 10th century.
The interiors are rather plain and functional, but it’s two characteristic bell towers are still one of the most famous landmarks in Stuttgart. Some of the reliefs and windows survived WWII (mostly because they were taken out of the church in time). The mixture of old and new is quite interesting.
13. State Museum of Natural History Stuttgart
Stuttgart has quite an amazing natural history museum. If you are traveling with kids, then the Naturkunde Museum has to be on your list of things to do in Stuttgart. It’s quite an interactive place with lots of taxidermies of the most popular species on this planet.
14. Carl-Zeiss Planetarium Stuttgart
Would you like to visit outer space? Well, right now it seems like you will need a lot of money to ever do so. But there’s a cheap solution – at the huge Planetarium Stuttgart, you can enjoy daily virtual reality shows that take you into space. Tickets are usually just 5 to 10€ (depending on the show) and it’s quite worth it!
15. Fernsehturm Stuttgart (television tower)
Would you like to get very high and enjoy a view of Stuttgart and the rest of Swabia? Then consider visiting the television tower. At the top of the 217-meter high tower, you can even find a restaurant. The perfect spot to observe the sunset!
Fun fact: The Stuttgart Television tower was the first of its kind in the world when it was finished in 1956 and served as a model for many other towers in the world. Before, most cell towers favored the construction used for the Eiffel Tower.
Other places to visit in Stuttgart
Stuttgart might be the capital of Baden-Württemberg, but there are actually not that many other popular things to do in the city. I personally love the Church at the Feuersee (“fire lake”). It’s one of the best photo spots in Stuttgart.
Also, you shouldn’t forget that there is a beautiful Opera and a famous theater just right behind the Palace. The Killesberg Park is a popular place where locals go for a walk.
Architect fans might enjoy visiting the cubist Weissenhof Estate or the Weissenhofmusuem at the House Le Corbusier.
Please keep in mind that some of the tourist attractions in Stuttgart (like the Wilhelma or the Porsche Museum) are not exactly in the city center. Even though the number of highlights is somewhat limited, it will take quite a bit of time to explore them – especially if you plan to explore the surrounding hills.
Where to stay in Stuttgart
Because Stuttgart is such an important center for the car industry, you’ll find plenty of options to stay a night in the city. Remember that Stuttgart has quite an excellent public transport system, so it’s doesn’t really matter a lot if you stay in the middle of the city or not.
For business trips, I personally am a huge fan of Motel One as they are always a combination of stylish, inexpensive and practical. I actually prefer them to many average luxury hotels (which is usually my preference). Anyways, here are my recommendations:
Luxury hotel in Stuttgart
Budget hotels in Stuttgart
Best time to visit Stuttgart
I don’t think there is a good or bad time to visit Stuttgart. There will be a Christmas market in December which is quite lovely, but other than that, it really doesn’t matter when you visit. Weekends are usually quite busy, while a lot of museums will be closed on Mondays.
Things will be a bit busier during the European summer holidays, but nothing you would notice if you are familiar with other popular spots (like Neuschwanstein Castle, etc).
How to get from Munich to Stuttgart
There are regular train connections between Munich and Stuttgart. The highspeed trains take 2 hours and arrive at Stuttgart central station. They depart almost every hour. You can check your schedule and buy tickets on the official website of the German Railway Service.
There is also a bus between Stuttgart and Munich, but it only stops at the airport or further outside of the city. It takes 2 hours and 30 minutes (depending on the traffic), but only costs 9,90€. The train ticket will be around 50€. For budget-sensitive travelers, it can be a viable alternative, as there are very frequent & cheap connections between the airport and the city center.
You could also rent a car, which would make sense if you are traveling in a group of 3 or four. It won’t be faster than the train and will probably take around 2 hours and 30 minutes (just like the bus). Still, it’s a fairly easy route as the autobahn A8 connects the two towns. Just follow the signs saying “Stuttgart” which you will find on all major roads around Munich (or use google maps) to find your connection to the autobahn.
If you take the train, it is even possible to do a day trip from Munich to Stuttgart. I did it quite a couple of times!
Is Stuttgart worth visiting?
Stuttgart is a lovely town and certainly has its very unique charm. For car lovers, it’s certainly a must-visit. If you compare it to places like Bamberg or Nuremberg it probably can’t keep up. Stuttgart doesn’t have a medieval old town with half-timbered houses and neither is it a UNESCO World Heritage site like Bayreuth or Regensburg.
But it can be a nice stop in an extended Germany itinerary. The Mercedes-Benz Museum, the Wilhelma Zoo, and the Landesmuseum are true highlights and they could easily occupy you for a day! So, don’t hesitate to visit.