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2 or 3 Days in Stuttgart: Complete Itinerary For a Perfect Trip

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Stuttgart holds a special place in my heart. I called this city home for six years and have every intention of returning someday.

While many locals think of it as simply a car city or business hub, it’s also a city surrounded by rolling vineyards, beer gardens (biergarten), festivals, nature trails, and so much beauty.

We traveled as much as possible in those six years but most weekends were spent exploring our own backyard. I love that Stuttgart isn’t a big tourist hotspot (at least not yet), so you can get a feel for what local life is like in Germany (well, Swabia) while you’re here.

I created a 2-3 day itinerary to maximize your time here and see the best sights. If you want a complete list of things to do, here are the 28 top things to do in Stuttgart.

Where to Stay

For a short 2-3 day trip, I recommend staying downtown at a hotel. The downtown area extends from the Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof in the north and runs south between A14 and B27. The area is highlighted in yellow on Google Maps (screenshot below).

There are many hotel options downtown. For something more upscale (but central), I recommend going with Le Meridien. There’s a spa and pool area, and the breakfast is rated as very good.

Motel One is another great option – it’s not a motel, but an upscale chain around Europe. They have a fun atmosphere, and this one has a terrace and a bar. Motel One is also central, just a few minutes from the Hauptbahnhof.

Note on Airbnbs: For a 2-3 day stay, I’d recommend staying at a hotel and not an Airbnb. The hassle of check-in, not being able to drop your bags before your room is ready, and not having breakfast can add up. Plus you’re typically asked to do some housecleaning before you leave an Airbnb – since your time is precious, stay at the hotel with all the amenities.

Stuttgart Schlossplatz Germany
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Stuttgart 2 Day Itinerary

Before we dive into the details, are you visiting during a festival? Germany is loaded with amazing festivals, and Stuttgart is no exception. Here are the top festivals in the Stuttgart area. I recommend taking a look and even adding in a festival if possible while you’re here!

This itinerary assumes you’ll have two full days in Stuttgart. If you’re arriving that day, you’ll want to adjust the itinerary based on your timeline. I included the estimated times for each activity so you can easily adjust and make it your own.

Day 1 Itinerary

Highlights: Wilhelma Zoo or Ludwigsburg Palace | Schlossgarten | Königstrasse | Schlossplatz

Today you have two choices; you can visit the large Wilhelma Zoo and botanical gardens or take the train north to explore the Ludwigsburg Palace and Gardens. Then you’ll have fun at a biergarten in a park and explore downtown Stuttgart.

Start your morning with breakfast at the hotel. If that’s not an option, grab a croissant or other item at one of the many bakeries downtown. Just type in ‘bäckerei’ into maps and a large list will appear.

Germany doesn’t typically offer big American style breakfasts (unless you stay at a larger hotel) but there are options downtown such as Academie Der schönsten künste and Cafe le Theatre.

Brunch Tip! Germany is known for their weekend brunch. In Germany these are all day affairs, starting with breakfast in the morning then switching out for lunch and finally ending with sweet treats in the afternoon. Schönbuch Brauhaus and Amadeus are the best brunch spots downtown, and Schönbuch even has self serve beer on tap all day.

Wilhelma Zoo Stuttgart
Wilhelma Zoo
Ludwigsburg Schloss

Wilhelma Zoo
Estimated Time: 4-6 hours

I’ve been to many zoos around the world and Wilhelma Zoo truly tops the list.

This is a beautiful zoo and the only zoological-botanical garden in Germany. In addition to the animals, the botanical collections are a treat to see and walk around. This is one of the most visited zoos in Germany.

The zoo is just north of downtown Stuttgart. To get here, you can take the city train line called the U-Bahn. From the Hauptbahnhof (main station), you can take lines U13, U14, and U16 (this takes 8 minutes). Alternatively, you can just do U13 and U16 then walk about 250 meters.

Train Tip! I recommend downloading the VVS App to easily purchase tickets.

There’s a parking garage at Wilhelma. It fills quickly, so if you plan to drive I recommend arriving around opening time (8:15am) to guarantee a spot. There are three other parking garages nearby, around 750-900 meters away.

If you want a nice stroll, you can walk through the beautiful Green-U park from the Hauptbahnhof. It’s about an hour walk (2.5 miles/4.1 km) which is something to consider since you’ll be walking quite a bit at the zoo. But if you’re up for it, it’s a lovely area with ponds, greenery, and trails.

Now let’s talk about the zoo. It doesn’t look large on a map, but the last time we went, we were there for 5 hours and realized we didn’t have time to see all the exhibits. So you can definitely spend an entire day here, especially with kids.

In between the exhibits and buildings there are playgrounds. And I mean really cool playgrounds and climbing structures. We spent just as much time at these play areas as we did looking at animals. If you don’t have kids, you’ll likely get through the zoo much quicker.

I’d recommend planning about 4-6 hours here. There’s a large gorilla exhibit, petting zoo, giraffes, zebras, many large cats, flamingos, penguins, and much more. Be sure to set aside time to explore the botanical gardens and buildings.

We always bring snacks but there are a few restaurant options to hold you over.

Once you leave, take the U-Bahn or walk back downtown.

Ludwigsburg Schloss (Palace)
Estimated Time: 5-7 hours

The second option is to head north to a beautiful palace. To get here, you can take the S-Bahn (local train) from the Hauptbahnhof (main station) in Stuttgart. Take the S5 and S4 to get there (about 20 minutes). You can also drive, but if you’re downtown, it’s almost always faster to take the train.

The Ludwigsburg Residential Palace is a sight to see. The mighty Baroque palace sits on large and beautifully maintained grounds, and was spared from destruction in WWII. It’s one of the largest Baroque buildings in Europe still in it’s original condition.

This complex is massive.

There are guided tours in English throughout the year. From April 1 – October 31, tours are available Mon-Fri at 1:15pm and 3:15pm. From November 1 – March 31, they’re available Mon-Sun at 1:15pm. The tours are about 90 minutes long and don’t cover many of the rooms – it’s that big!

In addition to guided tours, there’s a ceramics, fashion, and theatre museum. There’s also an interactive museum for kids (kinderreich). Be sure to check their website for opening hours as they change throughout the year.

Ludwigsburg during the pumpkin festival

Also on the grounds you can find a Fairytale Garden (Märchengarten) for kids. We took our son there when he was four and he absolutely loved it.

There are 40 recreated classics to explore. There’s a boat ride (fairytale stream), a playground, a mini train ride, and other small rides for kids. Kids can see where Sleeping Beauty lives and warn little red riding hood. It’s so much fun for little ones.

If you visit in the fall, there’s an impressive pumpkin festival. In fact, it’s the largest pumpkin festival in the world. During each year, they change themes every few weeks, replacing the pumpkins with new features. When we visited last time, the theme was under the sea, and there were all sorts of statues and scenes.

The pumpkin festival runs from August through November and is open daily.

Once you return from either activity, you’ll get to explore the downtown area of Stuttgart, known as the ‘Altstadt’ or old town. The Main Street is called Königstr, which runs a mile starting at the Hauptbahnhof. It’s called the ‘shopping mile’, and is one of the longest in Germany.

You can head directly here, or take a left out of the Hauptbahnhof and walk over to Biergarten Im Schlossgarten. It’s a nice biergarten set in a park. There’s a small playground and in the summer there’s often music in the afternoons.

You can order typical German food (bratwurst, pretzel (brezel), or fries (pommes) for example. There’s been construction nearby for the past few years with the expansion of the train station, but it’s still a nice spot for a drink.

Opera House

Then you can take a short walk over the pedestrian bridge to get to the Opera house. There’s a large pond and it’s a pretty area right in the city. From there, continue walking along the pond until you reach Schlossplatz (‘platz’ is a large square). This is the hub of downtown and is usually filled with people relaxing, enjoying the weather, and having a drink or bite at one of the surrounding restaurants.

Schlossplatz

Then make your way down Königstrasse. There are many shops – I always stop in at TK Maxx to see what they have. Often you can find great deals on items from Portugal, Poland, Turkey, etc.

Dinner Recommendations: For traditional German fare, most of the breweries (Brauhaus) are good. There are many options such as Paulaner, Schönbuch Brauhaus, or Carls Brauhaus.

I personally love Burger House, but I don’t get the chance to eat burgers too often. My favorite Indian place is Indian Palace. Maredo is a good upscale Steak house.

For a quick and inexpensive bite, grab a döner kebab at one of the many stands. There are also many Italian restaurants. I’d steer away from the Mexican options, especially if you’re coming from the US.

Day 2 Itinerary

Highlights: Mercedes Museum | Biergarten | Feuersee | Markthalle

Today is a bit more laid back. If you want to explore outside of the city, check out the day 3 itinerary.

This morning you’ll head to the Mercedes Museum, listed as the top attraction in Stuttgart. The S1 on the S-Bahn train will get you to Neckarpark, then it’s a short walk to the Museum. There’s also the option to drive, and there’s a decent amount of parking.

The building is laid out in in a circular pattern that slowly ascends to different levels. There are over 1,500 exhibits – my favorites were the old vehicles from the early 20th century.

Expect to spend a few hours here. If you love cars, you can definitely spend more time. And if you’re not a crazy car person (like me), you’ll likely still find the history of Mercedes quite interesting.

Afterward, head back to downtown Stuttgart. From here, grab lunch at one of the places listed in day 1, then make your way toward Karlshöhe. This park area sits up on a hill and is a great place for beautiful views. There’s also a nice biergarten here called Tschechen & Söhne. It’s a great place to stop and grab a drink.

If you enjoy hiking, I recommend continuing over to the Teehaus (Tee House) in Weissenburg Park for even more views of the city. In the summer there’s a biergarten area, which also a lovely place to relax and hang out.

Views from the Teehaus

By now it’s late afternoon. Head back downtown and check out Markthalle, a large international indoor market. Here you’ll find food and goodies from all over the world, as well as household items and a restaurant too.

If you like museums, head over to Schlossplatz toward the big glass building. This is the Kunstmuseum, and there’s a great restaurant at the top called CUBE. The views are fantastic and the food is just as good.

Grab dinner at one of the restaurants listed in Day 1 or at CUBE (requires reservations).

Stuttgart 3 Day Itinerary

Follow everything on day one and two then add day 3, below.

Day 3 Itinerary

Highlights: Lichtenstein Castle and Tübingen

Germany is a country of castles. It’s estimated that there are over 25,000 castles across the country. Schloss Lichtenstein is an impressive castle, set high atop a cliffside overlooking the valley below.

schloss lichtenstein germany fall with trees

Today you’ll visit this stunning castle, and stop at an equally impressive town called Tübingen on the way back.

I highly recommend getting around today by car. The train options are limited, and to get to Lichtenstein you need to take a train and bus combination. It’s possible, but it’s so much easier to rent a car, even for a day.

Hohenzollern Castle Stuttgart Germany

Want to learn more about castles in the area? Check out the 17 best castles to visit near Stuttgart.

The drive down takes about an hour by car and 2 hours by train and bus. I recommend reading over both places and deciding how you want to spend your time. I added some optional stops at the end which will require some pre-planning if you decide to do them (which I recommend!).

Lichtenstein Castle (Schloss)

First you’ll drive to Lichtenstein. Along the way, you can stop at a large outlet mall in Metzingen (Outlet City Metzingen). Parking can be tricky, but if you’re patient you should be able to find something. There are 380 brands here, they even offer childcare too while you shop!

Metzingen is about 30 minutes from Lichtenstein Castle, so plug in Lichtenstein Schloss (Schloss Lichtenstein 1, 72805 Lichtenstein, Germany) and continue on your way. You’ll make your way through the valley floor and then climb up the hill until you reach the castle grounds.

Not a drone photo! Shot from the castle grounds

There’s a small parking fee and it’s just down the hill from the castle.

There’s a lot you could do while here. The castle grounds are worth exploring and I recommend walking around the courtyard and along the cliffside to get beautiful views of the castle.

There’s also a ropes course, a beer garden, a small zip line, and many hiking trails in the area. There’s a restaurant, Altes Forsthaus (Old Forester’s Lodge), next to the castle with beautiful views and delicious Swabian dishes. I recommend trying Kuchen (cake) while you’re here!

Bad Urach Waterfall Nature Germany

TIP!
If you love hiking, consider adding Bad Urach Waterfall, only 17 minutes away.

Tübingen

After you leave Lichtenstein, make your way northwest to the university town of Tübingen (about 40 minutes from Lichtenstein).

I recommend parking at one of the many Parkplatz (parking garages) around town. We always find a spot at ‘Parkhaus Altstadt-Mitte (Stadtgraben)’. Some can be quite small, so if you have a larger vehicle, you may want to consider an open parking area or side street.

Note: Parking garages have electronic signs that show how many spaces are remaining.

Tübingen is a lovely college town of about 90,00 people, with nearly 30,000 being students. Because of this, the town always feels lively and vibrant. It’s one of Germany’s fairytale medieval towns that is beautiful everywhere you turn.

Tubingen Germany

Tübingen was largely spared from bombing in WWII, and many of the buildings you see date back to the 15th century. Hohentübingen Castle towers over the old town below and has records dating back to 1078.

Once you park, make your way to the Old Town (Altstadt). This is a large area teeming with beauty. You can see half-timbered homes quite literally leaning against one another for support. There are many alleyways and narrow streets to walk along.

The best stops in the old town include Marktplatz and Stiftskirche St. Georg (the church). I always enjoy meandering through the area, stopping in at shops, grabbing a cafe or eis (ice cream), and exploring all the narrow streets.

You can pick up a map at the tourist office just across the Neckar Bridge. It’s called Verkehrsverein Tourist & Ticket Center and the address is An der Neckarbrücke, 1, 72072 Tübingen, Germany.

Tuebingen Germany Altstadt Downtown

Walk up the hill and check out Hohentübingen Castle. From here you have great views and can check out the beautiful inner courtyard.

Tuebingen Germany
Tubingen Germany Cloudy summer

Afterward, head toward the Neckar River to the island of Neckarinsel. There’s a beautiful treelined walkway through here and you can watch the famous punting boats that are reminiscent of the boats in Venice. They’re also called “Stockerkahn” and are navigated using a long wooden pole. These used to be reserved for college students but are now popular among locals and visitors alike!

In fact, you can even go on a punting tour here, although you’d need to reserve this in advance.

Tubingen, Germany
Tubingen Germany

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, I recommend heading over to Neckarmüller. They have fantastic beer (bier) here and delicious German & Swäbisch dishes too. The restaurant is along the river and in the summer there’s a large outdoor patio overlooking the water.

Once you’ve explored Tübingen, it’s time to make your way back to the city. If it’s not too late in the day and you want to see more of the area, I recommend following this route (link to Google Maps).

Pro Tip: There are many speed traps on this particular route, so follow all the posted speed limits!

This route will take you to the Bebenhausen Monastery, which offers tours with the last admission at 4:30pm. It’s one of the most impressive medieval monasteries in the region, and I recommend a visit if you have time.

bebenhausen monastery Germany stuttgart

Then continue north toward Ritter Sport Chocolate Factory.

Yes, the famous Ritter Sport chocolate is made right here near Stuttgart! The factory is in the town of Waldenbuch, a beautiful village of half-timbered homes.

Stuttgart Germany Ritter Sport
Outdoor seating at Ritter Sport

There’s a shop, museum, and cafe here (open until 6pm). The shop has tons of chocolates and Ritter candies you can’t find elsewhere. They also sell large bags of chocolate deemed not good enough to sell elsewhere, so it’s heavily discounted. It’s open until 6:30 so plan accordingly.

Then use Maps and plug in your hotel to make your way back to Stuttgart for the night.

FAQ’s

Do people speak English? Yes, English is widely spoken in Stuttgart, although learning common phrases is appreciated. Some simple phrases include Hallo, Guten Tag, and Auf Wiedersehen.

Where is Stuttgart? Stuttgart is located in the state of Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany. It’s just north of the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) and a short drive to France. It’s surrounded by rolling hills and an area known as the Swabian Jura or Alb, the foothills of the Alps.

What is Stuttgart Known For? Stuttgart is known for cars. The massive Mercedes plant is in an outlying town of Stuttgart called Sindelfingen where roughly 35,000 people work. You’ll find many engineers and people in related fields working for the company. Porsche also started here and there’s a Porsche Museum. Stuttgart is in the “Swabian” region of Germany where people speak a different dialect than in other parts of the country.

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