The building that houses the Mercedes-Benz museum is worth a visit in itself – the atrium could easily double as a villain’s lair in a James Bond film. The museum has no fewer than 160 vehicles on show, with enough variety to keep everyone interested.
Starting at the top you descend through the company’s illustrious history, starting with the first ever car, built by Karl Benz in 1886, and the first four-wheel car, built just months later by rival Gottlieb Daimler. The companies merged in 1926, adopting the moniker Mercedes, which had earlier been given to a Daimler model named after the daughter of a local car dealer.
Sports cars and motor racing is what Porsche is all about. The 80 vehicles on show in the company’s museum give a fantastic overview of how cars have got faster and more advanced since former Merc employee Ferdinand Porsche started building them for speed, not luxury, back in the 1930s.
Remarkably for a city known for its industrial might, vine-covered hills are dotted throughout Stuttgart. With so many wineries just a half-dozen metro stops from the city centre, it’s no wonder wine is more popular than beer in the region. There’s a fantastic wine festival annually at the end of summer (in 2010 it’s August 25 to September 5).
A walkable, signed wine trail starts at the Obertuerkheim metro station and covers a dozen wineries and numerous local taverns. Meanwhile, the 425km Württemberg Wine Road runs from Metzingen, south of Stuttgart, to Markelsheim, passing through some lovely countryside. Download or request a brochure on the routes at stuttgart-tourist.de.
Fans of cutting-edge thinking will love the Weissenhof Museum, a home by genius architect Le Corbusier for a 1927 expo on modernist design. It’s a masterpiece of functional design and would not look out of place if built today. The fact it’s from a period when classical design was king makes it even more remarkable. Only 10 of the original 21 homes in the surrounding estate survive, and they can only be viewed from the outside.
Oktoberfest’s not-so-little cousin
For a slightly more authentic experience than Munich’s Oktoberfest, the Cannstatter Volksfest could be for you. It runs for two weeks every autumn (in 2010 it’s on September 24 to October 10) and is Germany’s second-biggest beer festival. Expect lots of authentic food and traditional costumes.
Day trips from Stuttgart
Baden-Württemberg, one of Germany’s most prosperous states, has plenty of must-see attractions that are easily reached from the capital Stuttgart.
The Black Forest
There’s much more to this popular area – just a couple of hours from Stuttgart – than the cake that bears its name. It’s all about the great outdoors and cutesy towns. There are plenty of opportunities for hiking and cycling, while scenic rail and car journeys are also a good idea. Spa towns include Baden Baden and Freudenstadt, while the Kinzig Valley has some pretty villages.
About two hours south of Stuttgart you’ll find this picturesque lake, which also borders Switzerland and Austria. Go swimming or boating or just enjoy the postcard-perfect lakeside towns and vineyards.
» Daniel Landon travelled with Stuttgart Tourism and Germanwings. Flights to Stuttgart start from €19.99