The city of Stuttgart in the South of Germany offers ample opportunities to stay entertained and have plenty to explore. After a day trip arounr Stuttgart, however, besides the attractions in Stuttgart, you can take quite the variety of day trips.
Think medieval castle ruins high up on mountains, quiet trails through vineyards and beautifully restored old villages. Here are some ideas to inspire you.
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These are perfect if you do not have a car and rely on public transport. You can get off at a train station and walk to another. Along the way, you will discover quaint villages, gorgeous palaces and lush forests.
You don’t actually have to leave town to get some hiking done. There are various trails all around and if you want some inspiration check these local outdoor blogs here and here. (They are in German but your get some good trail inspiration.)
There are many vinyards on the hills around Stuttgart and day trip material for any hiking lovers. You can choose more gentle paths or take trails up and down the valley.
If you are travelling alone and prefer company, why not go on a guided hike around the vinyards of Stuttgart? Talk a walk around Bad Cannstatt and Münster with a guide who is dressed in the local traditional costume.
Extra bonus points are given for the wine, such as Cannstatter Zuckerle, tasting along the way. The hike takes three hours. You can reserve your spot and print your ticket here.
Ludwigsburg – Palaces and Parks
The town of Ludwigsburg has a perfectly quaint city centre with beautifully restored baroque buildings in pastel colours. You can start the day at a local café or grab a little something (maybe a bread bun sandwich or cake) from one of the many bakeries.
If you feel like it, you can also do a little shopping at the local arcade or stocking up on snacks and drinks for the day in the supermarket there.
There are always special events going on, such as flower festivals, concerts and the popular pumpkin festival.
Smaller points of interests in Ludwigsburg Palace and grounds is the fake ruin in the fairy tale forest (Emichsburg im Märchengarten). There’s also a small witch’s house (Hexenhaus – Omas Haus), which gives you serious Hansel & Gretel vibes.
Of course, you can also sit back and relax by sipping a glass of champagne or having your afternoon tea at the palace. Take a seat at the restaurant and café before moving on to your next destination.
Less than a five minute walk away, you can find the park Favorite across the busy road. There are pedestrian bridges for crossing safely and you’ll instantly find yourself transported to a quiet oasis. Shady trees, ancient woodland and sunny meadows will greet you on your visit.
If you’re lucky you will come across the deer of the park. Don’t feed them, they are semi wild. But they might approach you out of curiosity. Enjoy it if you do. Don’t walk too fast towards them if you do see them because they are easily startled.
Follow the paths up North and you’ll get to the small Favorite Palace (Schloss Favorite). It’s painted in bright yellow and pink colours and you can hardly miss it. It’s especially stunning underneath an azure blue sky. If you fancy, you can enter it as well.
Fun fact: This castle is the only “porcelain castle” in Germany that has been preserved in its original form. So appreciate this unique experience.
Keep following the hiking trails past fields, following forest alleys and you’ll reach the Palace Monrepos within an hour. It’s another small leisure palace in the Stuttgart countryside. There’s a small lake for taking a breather.
The castle lake’s name is French and means “my rest” and that’s exactly what you get here. Peace and quiet and beautiful views! Back when it was erected in the 16th century, it served its purpose as a retreat for the Dukes of Wuerttemberg after extensively hunting the woods. The lake is artificial, by the way.
Over the course of the centuries, the castle and lake were remodeled according to the taste of the times. So you won’t be able to see the original layout. However, as much as was possible considering nature protection guidelines, the parks were restored to their original English garden style during the times of King Frederick’s reign.
Freiberg am Neckar
If you have had enough, you can catch the nearest S Bahn from Favoritepark to get back into town. In case you haven’t had enough, turn right and walk for another hour to Freiberg am Neckar. It’s a small town and not exciting.
But it has a few charming traditional houses and gorgeous river walks for the nature lovers among you. There are trails on either side of the river Neckar, so you can walk towards Ludwigsburger Street, which crossed the river and then back into town. From here, you can catch the S Bahn back into town.
Do you have a car? Then why not do some village hopping. You can also do it by S Bahn as there are regular trains but not all villages are entirely interconnected, so there’s a ore travel time involved. It’s still possible. With the Stuttcard, you have access to the S Bahn system within the zone of Stuttgart. You can get it online here.
Some villages and smaller town that are beautiful with their half timbered houses are: Waiblingen, Bietigheim-Bissingen or Kirchheim unter Teck (with the Limburg Castle). In Vaihingen, there’s a pretty little waterfall. In Ditzingen, you can visit the ruins of the former fortress Nippenburg.
Close to Stuttgart lies the mountain with the same name as the state: Württemberg. Sometimes it’s still referred to by its original name Rotenberg. It was King Wilhelm I who renamed it in 1907. But the reference as to why the name remains unclear. Some say it’s Celtic, others say it’s from Luxembourg.
The mountain offers the ultimate views over Stuttgart and surrounds and has a little mausoleum up on the top, where a castle used to stand. The mausoleum was erected in memory of the second wife of King Wilhelm I, Katharina Pawlowna.
There are many trails along the mountain and its terraces. The closest S Bahn stop is Untertürkheim. From here, the hike up takes at least 30 minutes, depending on your constitution.
The hiking trail known as Neckarweg promises a smooth hike as you follow the river bend on concrete and cobblestones. You can easily spot it thanks to the square, white signs with the curvy blue “N” marking the trail.
It is rather a long hike, which takes a total of 40 hours according to Google. But you can cover smaller sections. The official beginning is in Schwenninger Moos and finishes in Mannheim. You can also pass Karlsruhe and Freudenstadt throughout the journey.
Obertürkheim to Esslingen
For a much shorter hike try local paths around Stuttgart. For instance, there’s a hike that takes around 80 minutes between Obertürkheim and Esslingen. You can take the S Bahn to either destination.
Pretty close to the centre of Obertürkheim is a cute little tower, which is locally referred to as the “fairy tale tower”. Officially, it’s called Mélacturm. There are different folk tales surrounding this tower. One says that a local women rendezvoused French officer Mélac and helped prevent the French from invading the town.
Also along the way, you can in restaurants called “Besen”. These are restaurants opened with special permission by wine farmers. So be sure to ask for a local red!
If you feel like you just want to spend time in nature mixed with a dose of the Middle Ages, visit the Fortress Hohen Neuffen. For this day trip it’s best to hire a car to easily navigate between the destinations.
Now mostly a ruin (though an impressive one), the former fortress was one of the biggest high fortress of the country. Its elevation is 743 m above sea level and is close to the Swabian Alps.
Afterwards, get back into your car and drive for an hour over to Fortress Hohenstaufen. Interestingly, it hasn’t been long that the mountain top once hosted a vibrant settlement long before the castle was built.
The castle itself was in use between 1070 and 1525 before it was left abandoned and deemed interesting again for exploration purposes in the 19th century. Fun fact: the German word “Stauf” refers to a drinking vessel which the mountain was said to resemble.
City Getaways around Baden Wuerttemberg
If you want to sound local, call the city Hall. (Pronounced like the word hull.) The city is located on an old salt stream in a valley surrounded by shell limestone. The houses here are positively pretty and you can also go for hikes in the surrounding Swabian Franconian Forest. There are bike trails too, such as along the Rivers Kocher, Jagst and Bühler.
Local sights worth checking out are the Baroque town hall, the monastery Cromburg, Museum goers will want to step into the art gallery Kunsthalle Würth, the art museum Hällisch-Fränkisches Museum or head outside to the open air museums Hohenloher Freilandmuseum orWackershofen.
One of the prettiest cities in Germany, Heidelberg seems to have it all. A towering castle high up and beautifully illuminated at night. Riverviews near old stone bridges with cafes to enjoy people watching and local cuisine. A myriad of hiking opportunities and gorgeous views. No wonder every year 11.8 million people come and visit.
Besides the castle, soak up historic feels in the Old Town. In particular, look for the Heiliggeistkirche, the Church of the Holy Ghost, and Haus zum Ritter, the Neckarstaden with the old court stables and the Stadthalle. If you can, visit for the market in December, one of the most beautiful Christmas Markets in Germany.
From Stuttgart a day trip to the North of the country, such as to the city of Heilbronn, takes less than an hour by car or train. Heilbronn is the chosen location for the annual Garden Show of Germany for the year 2019.
The city also boasts the castles Guttenberg and Stettenfels as well as the underground salt mines Bad Friedrichshall.
Right in the centre of Baden Wuerttemberg, also under an hour away from Stuttgart lies Reutlingen. The city lies on a plateau and there isn’t much to do hiking wise. (Although you could also walk along the River Echaz or head up nearby mountain Roßberg.)
So this is mainly a city trip. There is a lot of history to uncover here and you can learn more in the local Heimatmuseum. There are a few art museums as well as a car museum in case those are more to your liking. One of the quirkiest things to see in the city is the world’s smallest alley, which is the Spreuerhofstraße. It is only 31-50cm wide and dates back to 1727.
A wonderful medieval city is that of Ulm. The first thing you should check out is the old minster with its Gothic church. There are other exemplary styles for different architectural eras, such as the Renaissance style town hall or the baroque monastery in Wiblingen with its rococo library.
If you want to come as close as possible to the vibrant colours of countries such as Croatia or New Zealand, schedule in a trip to the Blautopf, a cave, monastery and vibrant lake. Another instagrammable spot are the half timbered houses of the Fishermen’s and Tanners Quarter through which the Danube flows.
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