Local travel for end of summer

Schlossplatz, the main square in downtown Stuttgart, is normally buzzing with activity on a summer’s day, albeit in a more physically distanced manner these days.

Story and photos by Bardia Khajenoori
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs

As summer turns to fall and days gradually turn shorter and colder, community members can continue to find opportunities to explore locally and engage in their interests.

Be aware that COVID mitigation measures are in place off-post, much like they are on post. Restaurants, museums, swimming pools, and other locations open to the public may require the collection of personal information at or before entry (at least a name and phone number/email address, and often an address) to enable contact tracing in the event that another visitor later tests positive. Some places, such as museums, may require masks to be worn throughout a visit, and masks are required when using public transportation.

Always remember to wear mouth/nose coverings where necessary and maintain the appropriate distance between your party and others as much as possible.

Public transportation can take you to all of these destinations; click here to see our guide on how to use it in Germany.

This overview is provided as a courtesy for community members to explore local culture and does not imply federal endorsement. This list comprises only a small sampling of things to do.

Museums

Stuttgart offers a diverse museum landscape covering everything from cars, art, and local history to dinosaurs, wine, and streetcars (and more). Open rain or shine, though typically not on Mondays, they offer unique experiences and welcome respite from chilly or wet weather.

Cars

This very antique vehicle produced by the Daimler Motor Company is presented at the Mercedes-Benz Museum.

Mercedes Benz-Museum: Covering the development of not only the brand, but the automobile itself, its nine levels provide plenty of engaging information even for people who may not normally be interested in a car museum. It effectively weaves in social, political, and technological changes happening globally alongside design innovations, and integrates exhibition themes into the building itself; for example, the display area showcasing new safety features has walls made of airbag material.

Porsche Museum: A striking building directly adjacent to an S-Bahn station (Neuwirtshaus – Porscheplatz) houses dozens of Porsche vehicles from all periods of the company’s history, including early models and modern racecars. Around 80 cars are on display at any given time, as well as a number of interactive experiences.

Among the themes at the Porsche Museum is a focus on the brand’s racing success.

History/Culture

City Museum Stuttgart (Stadtmuseum Stuttgart, in the StadtPalais): The permanent exhibition at this free museum tells the story of Stuttgart and its people from the 1700s through the present day. English translations are abundant.

Linden Museum: The city’s museum of world cultures has various permanent exhibitions and special exhibitions on the Aztecs (through August 16) and African artifacts. Audio guides available in English.

Württemberg State Museum (Landesmuseum Württemberg): Housed in Stuttgart’s Altes Schloss (Old Castle), the origins of this free museum date back to the “cabinet of curiosities” maintained by 15th-century dukes. Various pieces of antiquity present the history of the region dating from to the Stone Age to the Kingdom of Württemberg. An English audio guide is available.

A special exhibition on fashion runs through mid-October (subject to an entry charge).

Art

The Staatsgalerie’s home is itself a work of art. Its new building, seen here, was tied for fifth in a 2010 survey to find the most important structures completed in the previous 40 years.

Staatsgalerie Stuttgart: The collection of the State Gallery spans thousands of works from the fourteenth century to the present day, with a diverse array of styles. Everything from Renaissance art to French impressionism and American pop art can be found within its walls. Entry to the permanent collection is free on Wednesdays.

Kunstmuseum Stuttgart (Modern Art Museum): Those with a preference for modern and contemporary art will feel right at home at the Kunstmuseum, housed in the distinctive glass cube at Schlossplatz, the main square. Find an excellent view of the square and surrounding area by going to the top floor, near the entrance to the restaurant (no ticket required).

Natural History

Models of animals occupy an exhibit of a natural habitat at the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart’s Schloss Rosenstein.

The State Museum of Natural History Stuttgart is housed in two locations on opposite sites of Rosenstein Park: the Museum am Löwentor (identifiable is home to the well-known paleontology collection while Schloss Rosenstein focuses more on general natural history, biology, and ecology.

Other/Niche

Carl-Zeiss Planetarium: The Planetarium, located next to the main train station, offers a daily selection of mostly science and education-focused presentations, along with music-related special events. Their website offers schedules, contact information, and an updated list of sold-out presentations, as reservations are highly recommended at the present time. All presentations can be simulcast in English with the use of a receiver and headset that can be borrowed at no charge.

Looking out toward Untertürkheim and the city center from the Württemberg Mausoleum over the vineyards of Rotenberg, near the Viniculture Museum in Ulabch.

Viniculture Museum (Weinbaumuseum): In the absence of the traditional “wine village” which would be taking place in August, consider a visit to the city’s winemaking museum, located in the small hilltop district of Ulbach. The entire process of making wine, including specifics about the history of the craft in this region, is explained through bilingual signage. Of course, tasting opportunities are also available.

A visit to the museum should also include a stop at the nearby Württemberg Mausoleum (Grabkapelle auf dem Württemberg). The tombs of the area’s longest serving and most influential king, Wilhelm I of Württemberg, and Grand Duchess Katharina Pawlowna are located inside the monument, which is perched on an exposed hilltop above a sea of vineyards.

Pig Museum: One of Stuttgart’s most unique museums, and located inside the former administration building of the city’s main slaughterhouse, the Pig Museum is home to 25 themed rooms and more than 50,000 pig-related exhibits from around the world. An onsite restaurant and biergarten offers a mix of swine and other Swabian delights.

The Streetcar Museum open for an anniversary event in 2018

Tram Museum (Strassenbahnwelt): Explore more than 150 years’ worth of local transportation history at the Tram Museum in Bad Cannstatt (a converted depot) amidst dozens of trams from different periods of use, some of which can be entered or viewed from underneath. Among the souvenirs for sale at the front desk are socks in the style of the Stuttgart U-Bahn seat pattern.

On Sundays, a historic tram operates between the TV tower (Ruhbank Fernsehturm stop) and the Tram Museum. Ticket prices and schedules are found at the museum website.

Weissenhof Museum in the Le Corbusier House: Anyone with an interest in architecture and design will enjoy a visit to this home designed by Le Corbusier, which enjoys UNESCO World Heritage status as one of his 17 most innovative works across the globe. The house itself is one of several surviving buildings of the Weissenhof Estate, created for a 1927 building exhibition with contributions from some of the most well-known architects and designers in history.

Swimming Pools/Thermal Baths

Freibad seasons end in Stuttgart and Böblingen on September 13.

A dip in the water can always be appreciated on a hot day. In the Stuttgart area, options include freibads, or open swimming pools, and thermal spas. Most, if not all, locations in the area have moved to pre-registration systems by which tickets are purchased in advance for a specific timeslot (in Stuttgart city pools, for example, there are currently no in-person ticket sales). If the timeslot is from 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., you are able to enter at any point after 2:30 p.m. and stay as long as you would like, until 7:30 p.m.

If booking for a thermal spa, be aware that a saunagarten is a “textile-free” area (that is, no bathing suits allowed).

Some payment systems allow credit cards while others require a German IBAN, or bank account identification number. Both on-post financial institutions provide IBANs to their account holders. If you are unsure of yours, get in touch with them for assistance.

Parks/Zoos

Stuttgart’s cauldron-like topography offers a wealth of scenic lookout spots excellent for relaxing and taking in sights of the changing foliage.

Wilhelma: The only combination zoo and botanical garden in Germany, Wilhelma has its origins as a royal bathhouse but is now home to nearly 1,200 animal species, making it one of the most diverse zoos worldwide.

Killesberg: This sprawling 123-acre hillside park hosts, between its numerous grassy lawns, a free-standing observation tower, swimming pool (freibad), mini train system (the Killesbergbahn), petting zoo, playgrounds, historic fairground area with antique rides, and more. If you’re hungry, bring a picnic or dine at several restaurants in or near the park.

An open-air relaxation event takes place in one of the lawns of the Untere Schlossgarten.

Schlossgarten: Officially divided into three parts, this 600-year-old park stretches from Schlossplatz to Bad Cannstatt, where it meets Rosenstein Park and continues the “Green U”—a corridor of about five miles of interconnected parks in the city center. The “Unterer Schlossgarten” (nearest to the U-Bahn stops of Stockach, Metzstrasse, and Mineralbader) has playgrounds, a mini “mountain biking” area for children, lakes, grilling areas, biergartens, and tree-covered pathways.

Karlshöhe: This park, on a ridge in the west of the city, offers a fantastic vantage point as well as a popular biergarten. Nearby is the Städtisches Lapidarium.

Ducks and a canoe traverse the water at Max-Eyth-See

Max-Eyth-See: Stuttgart’s largest lake was created during the canalization of the Neckar River in 1935, and the rolling hills and wide open green spaces surrounding it are one of the area’s most picturesque leisure spots. Although boats can be rented to go on the water, swimming is not permitted.

Weissenburgpark: The Bopser U-Bahn stop provides the easiest transit connection to this park, which is known for its panoramic viewing platform near an open-air cafe and historic “Teehaus.” A picnic would be well-advised, but come early if you hope to find a spot on the lawn ahead of sunset.

Städtisches Lapidarium: A cross between a park and an open-air museum, the Lapidarium hosts a collection of numerous stone works (including sculptures and architecture) in a garden environment. While potentially a bit boring for children, it’s an urban oasis of peace and relaxation. Free to enter, but open only on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Its location at the foot of Karlshöhe makes it worth a visit if nearby.

The tranquility of the Chinese Garden can take you out of the city bustle for at least a few minutes.

Chinese Garden: While small and best included as part of an itinerary that includes other stops in the city center, the free Chinese Garden is a unique and tranquil retreat about 15 minutes’ walk from the main station.

Along with the Lapidarium, the Chinese Garden is one of the locations on this list of which many locals may not be aware.

Festivals

While many festivals and large gatherings are canceled through the end of the year, including Volksfest and Oktoberfest, some (particularly those taking place in spacious outdoor venues) have managed to make adjustments and carry on.

Slow down and appreciate pumpkin-based sculptures like this snail at the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival.

One such event, which was initially delayed and then extended for 2020, is the pumpkin festival held around the Ludwigsburg Residential Palace. The world’s largest pumpkin festival, it takes place through December 6. This year’s theme is music, evident through pumpkin sculptures of Elvis, a violin, and a boombox, among others. Enjoy pumpkin food and drink, children’s activities, and a look at some of the largest gourds in Europe.

Capacity controls are in place. While tickets may be purchased online, this only allows you to skip the line at the ticket booth on the day of your visit; if the park is full, you will need to wait until a sufficient number of people have left the event before you are allowed to enter.

Kulturwasen/Open-Air Movies

Note: While the run of most films has now finished, musical concerts continue through the end of September.

Who would have thought that 2020 would mark the return of the drive-in movie? The cancellation of the festivals that would normally take place on the Cannstatter Wasen fest grounds over the course of the year has led to an opportunity to try different events more suited to life in the times of coronavirus.

Cars and the “Open Air Lounge” are seen at a live opera performance at the “Kulturwasen,” held at the fest grounds in Bad Cannstatt.

The “Kulturwasen” is a series of films, concerts, and even opera events held at the site of the Volksfest. Visitors can buy car tickets and stay in their vehicles for the films, with the audio track coming through the radio, or choose an open-air lounge with physically distanced clusters of two, three, or four deck chairs (with individual headset and receiver for audio). The original audio track from English-language films is offered as an option.

Tickets at kulturwasen.de.

Playgrounds

There are numerous playgrounds in and around the city for children of all ages, including in the urban center (for example, on Kronprizstrasse), in parks, in forests, and along the Neckar River. Nearly all Biergartens will have large playground areas as well. Searching online for “playground” or “spielplatz” should provide leads (some may say “temporarily closed,” but this is likely in reference to outdated COVID restrictions).

Cycling

A bicycle rests against a tree in the overlook of the Bärenschlössle, north of Patch Barracks.

The greater Stuttgart area is very bicycle-friendly, with a large number of dedicated bike lanes and other infrastructure. Cycling is a perfect way to cover a lot of ground and explore. Taking the relatively straightforward route from Vaihingen (near Patch Barracks) to Max-Eyth-See is approximately 12-14 miles in each direction and takes you from the forested areas of Heslach through the southern plazas of Erwin-Schoettle-Platz and Marienplatz, past the city center landmarks, through Bad Cannstatt, and along the riverside vineyards.

A station of RegioRadStuttgart, the city rental bike system, is seen full of bicycles for hire.

Don’t have a bike? RegioRadStuttgart is the city’s bike sharing service, with nearly 150 stations in the region enabling you to rent one of nearly 1,300 bicycles (including 450 pedelecs, a type of e-bike). The bikes can be rented from one spot and returned to another using an English-language app; an annual membership of €3 is charged but is applied immediately at signup as a credit. Prices range from €2-4 per hour or €9-16 per day.

Linking a Polygo card to your account offers additional benefits. The cards are issued as part of public transportation subscriptions but are also available to all local residents on request. Linking a card reduces rental prices further (to €7 euros/day for a regular bike and €10/day for a pedelec), offers 30 minutes free on each regular bike rental, and also lets you rent from a console found at most rental locations, rather than only through the app. Click here to order a Polygo card to use with RegioRadStuttgart.

Hiking

A historic, nearly century-old cable car links Südheimer Platz to the forest cemetery and a hilltop with a number of urban hiking routes.

The topography of the Stuttgart area lends itself to fantastic hiking opportunities for every level of interest and difficulty. While a search of the web will lead to hundreds of potential routes, one particularly well-known hiking trail in the city center is the Blaustrümpflerweg. This route of under five [walking] miles, spanning both forest and city streets, can be completed in under three hours at a brisk pace and provides a unique way to explore part of the southern and western parts of the city.

It also involves the use of Stuttgart’s two unique public transit offerings—the historic wooden cable car (Seilbahn) between Sudheimer Platz and the Waldfriedhof (Forest Cemetery), and the rack railway, or “Zacke,” which offers stunning views of the city between the Pfaffenweg and Wielandshöhe stops as it connects Degerloch with Marienplatz on a steep incline. A regular public transit ticket allows use of these services as well as all other regular services. (Click here for our guide to public transportation)

Safety Tips for Hot Weather

  • The sun is strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Wide-brimmed hats protect the eyes, head and neck, and lightweight clothing that covers the arms, legs, and torso when spending long amounts of time in the sun. Remember to use sunscreen.
  • Drink lots of water, but don’t exceed 1.5 quarts per hour. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Avoid caffeine or alcohol when performing intense activity, as it makes the body lose water and increases the risk of heat injuries
  • Check yourself for ticks, especially in wooded areas or fields of tall grass