Stuttgart is the capital of Baden-Württemburg, one of the states of Germany. Though badly damaged in World War II, when its local industries made it a prime target, the city today is an attractive place to visit, especially at the time of its Christmas market (end-November to mid-December). It has an excellent Tourist Office situated next to the station escalator on Konigstrasse.
The city is the hub of a superb rail and tram system, which includes the national DB railways , the suburban S-Bahn network and the more local U-Bahn system, part of which is underground. Services are well integrated with each other and ticketing is also excellent, with many types of inter-modal fares available.
The local cuisine has much to offer. Specialities include Maultaschen, Spatzle and, of course, numerous varieties of sausage.
Stuttgart also has some excellent breweries and the local Trollinger red wine is an attractive, light wine. Moderately priced restaurants include the excellent Cafe Lang, located above the bakers' shop of the same name, on Konigstrasse, just to the right as you emerge from the main station pedestrian subway. Konigstrasse, with its large department stores and a massive Hugendubel bookshop, leads away from the station to the Schlossplatz, a large square with the "new" royal place to the left and the old palace and Schillerplatz straight ahead.
Reasonably priced hotels include the Hansa in Silverburgstrasse, five minutes by U-Bahn from the main station (Hauptbahnhof).
To get a good sense of the city layout, use the lift at the end of the main station concourse to ascend the station's tower. This affords panoramic views of the city and is free of charge. It is not very well publicised so is not usually very busy.
The Stuttgart Christmas market is held from late November each year, with stalls running from the Schlossplatz southwards to the area around the Rathaus (town hall). As well as the traditional mulled wine (Gluhwein), beer, sausages, dumplings and a range of local dishes are available from numerous stalls. Commemorative mugs and glasses are produced each year and these can be kept by customers if they forego the deposit (Pfand) which is charged on each drink when ordered.
Getting to Stuttgart is easy. From Manchester, the German airline Tui-Fly (part of the Thomson group) offers a regular and efficient service, often at bargain prices. The airport is situated on the S-Bahn system and a ticket can be purchased from multi-lingual ticket machines within the arrivals area.
Nearby places to visit include:
Although a little further away, also comfortably within day-trip reach are the following locations. Most can be reached using the excellent-value Landkarte of DB railways which allows up to five passengers to travel for a joint bargain price. These tickets not allow grant unlimited travel for a day (after 9am), they also confer free bus, tram and S-Bahn travel in cities and towns within the region. So, for example, you could go by train from Stuttgart to Ulm with this ticket and use it on the local transport when you arrive.