Both picturesque and brimming with local character, Stuttgart often finds itself eschewed by travelers in favor of more known tourist cities like Munich, Berlin and Frankfurt. But situated in the heat of hospitable Baden-Wurttemberg in Germany’s south, it is in fact a destination with much to offer. Especially – considering two of the world’s leading luxury car manufacturers are based here – for the motoring enthusiast…
Not only for auto aficionados, this impressive post-modern complex, with over 160 cars on display – some dating back to the earliest days of the motor engine – is a must-see for any tourist. It celebrates the work of Karl Benz, inventor of the gasoline-powered automobile (a canny operator – the Mercedes portion of his most renowned creation’s name coming from the daughter of his principal investor) and Gottfried Daimler, pioneer of internal combustion engines.
Both auto titans lived in and around Stuttgart, famously joining forces to form the Daimler-Benz company. The four-wheeled splendor within the walls of this impressively futuristic facility – all sprung forth from the inspiration of Daimler and Benz – is absolutely dizzying. The highlight? Impossible to say. But it’s hard to go past the mint condition 1955 Mercedez-Benz 300SL Gull Wing Coupe – possibly the most stylish vehicle ever created.
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 6pm. Adults 8 Euros. Children under 15 free.
Cementing Stuttgart’s status us a Top Gear nirvana, the city boasts a second state-of-the-art auto museum. This is the Porsche Museum, dedicated to Ferdinand Porsche, the founder of the company which created the world’s most popular sports car.
Porsche set up shop in Stuttgart in the 1930s, and along with the iconic vehicle that bears his name, also created the Volkswagen beetle plus the world’s first gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle. The motoring enthusiast will find more than 80 displays to drool over, from early prototypes through to classic examples of the iconic 356, 550, 911, and 917 series Porsche as well as renowned race cars.
Also open Tuesday through to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Adults 8 Euros. Children under 15 free.
Located just off Stuttgart’s charmingly cobblestoned Schlossplatz, or central square, the city’s ultra modern Kunstmuseum (art gallery) is a recently opened attraction not be missed. The exterior is designed to look like a glass cube, the lighted interior limestone walls becoming visible at night. Inside, the collection is devoted to the works of such outstanding German artists as Otto Dix (aclaimed proponent of the New Objectivity movement), Willi Baumeister, Adolf Holzel and father of bio-degradable art Dieter Roth.
Open Tuesday through to Sunday from 10am to 6pm (9pm Wednesdays). Adults 2.50 Euros. Children 1.50 Euros.
Carl Zeiss Planetarium
Hailing from the town of Jena north of Stuttgart, Carl Zeiss was considered the greatest optician of the 19th century. His specialty was creating powerful lenses for microscopes and telescopes, allowing us to look both inward and outward from our world. Replete with lenses created by the company started by the master, the Carl Zeiss planetarium in Stuttgart is considered one the best Europe. With its unique stepped pyramid design, the planetarium offers fascinating shows that take the traveller on a spectacular voyage through the galaxy.
Open every day of the week from 10am to 3pm. Adults 6 Euros. Students 4 Euros.
The Stuttgart flea market, held every Saturday at Karlplatz on the outskirts of town, is one of the more fascinating in Western Europe. Dealers and traders of varying degrees of reputation and from all over Germany gather here to hawk their wares. While the bockwurst,bratwurst and frikadelle sizzle on the imbiss grill, art, antiques, jewelery silverware, coins and stamps await discovery by the curious collector. This is the perfect place to pick up a travel memento with character – if one is lucky enough an authentic piece of jugenstihl (artnoveau) or a maybe even a pencil sketch by a recognized German expressionist.