Historically, the center of Stuttgart clusteres around Schillerplatz, where a bronze statue of the poet and playwright, who was born near Stuttgart, presides over a sea of cobblestones. The modern Rathaus faces the old Marktplatz, where vendors in open stalls sell flowers, fruit, and vegetables. You’ll be able to walk to most sights within the center city, though you’ll have to rely on the efficient bus and U-bahn system to get to the automobile museums and other outlying sights. A single ride between points that fall within Stuttgart’s historic core on the city’s bus or U-bahn costs 2.20€. Rides to the outlying districts vary but began at 2.60€ and go up the farther out you travel. If you plan moving around a bit, consider buying a Tageskarte (day ticket), which costs 6.30€ and is valid for a day of unlimited transport within the city core and also within zones 1 (central Stuttgart) and 2 (immediate suburbs). For more information about the city’s transport system, its routes, and its prices, call [tel] 0711/19449 or visit www.vvs.de.
If you’re drawn to crowds and drinking, you might want to plan a visit to coincide with the Stuttgart Wine Festival in late August, when wine lovers converge to taste a selection of more than 350 Württemberg wines, or the 16-day Stuttgart Beer Festival, beginning in late September. This 200-year-old tradition, the second largest beer fest in Germany after Munich’s Oktoberfest, includes a grand procession of horse-drawn beer wagons and as many as 20,000 eager participants, many donning traditional costumes for the occasion. Stuttgart also plays host to a lively late-November and December Christmas Market (Weihnachtsmarkt), one of the oldest and largest in Europe, with about 230 decorated stalls selling gifts, mulled wine, and cinnamon waffles.
Information about transportation, sightseeing, and hotels is available at the i-Punkt, Königstrasse 1A ([tel] 0711/22280; www.stuttgart-tourist.de), which is open year-round Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm, Saturday 9am to 6pm, and Sunday 11am to 6pm.