We were more than right.
Ranked as the sixth largest city in Germany, Stuttgart is often referred to as the ‘cradle for the automobile’ since it is home to a serious industrial area. But more impressive than it’s numerous car museums was the diversity of hills scattered around the city - many of them topped with vineyards.
We used our Eurail Global Pass and took a 4.5-hour train ride from Luxembourg City to Stuttgart with 2 connections along the way. The connections were slightly more rushed than ideal but still went like clockwork.
Stuttgart is also easily accessed via car or plane.
Getting Around (And How To Save Money)
If you’ve read any of our other recent posts you will know we are fans of the tourist cards each city (or country) does. They save you time and money, especially when staying for a few days.
The Stuttgard card can be purchased for a 24, 48 or 72-hour period. The card includes unlimited transport on the VVS network including trams and trains. You can get free admission to nearly all the major museums and leisure facilities and, if it’s not free, then there is a huge discount. Plus it can also be used in selected restaurants, shops and theatres. Or if you’re on a tighter budget, a 3-day public transport pass is only €11.
The public transport network is pretty extensive and easy to use. Trams go to and from most attractions, as do the underground trains (and run very punctually as you would expect in Germany).
Where To Stay
A fabulous central option for families is the Hotel Ibis Styles in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt. The hotel was just a minute walk from the “U2” Stadtbahn tram line.
We discovered they really loved families. A small gaming centre was situated in the reception to amuse kids while the parents checked in.
Our room was a one-bedroom apartment – huge! When we first walked in the sheer size was extraordinary, with a large dining table in the middle of the living area. Along the edges of the room were two trundle beds and a sofa. Then off to the side was the main bedroom with a large, comfy bed and private balcony.
We enjoyed a buffet breakfast every morning here during our 3-night stay and it was absolutely delicious. But what really stood out was a table in the corner labelled ‘just for kids’, where the kids could choose their own cute character bowls and plates and select kid-friendly food options.
Excellent location, excellent room set up, wonderful family orientation, bright colours and style. Free filtered water, tea and coffee was also available all day until 10pm.
The only drawback of our room was the mini fridge didn’t work and our cheese brought all the way from Luxembourg really stunk after one day without refrigeration. Reception reported all the fridges were the same when we asked for a replacement, which was a little disappointing.
The reception staff were also unprepared for a midnight vomit. On our first night in Germany I felt quite ill and stayed home while Josh foraged for food. It passed by the following day and I thought perhaps it was just a little motion sickness.
The next evening Mia woke crying and could not tell us why she was upset. I brought her to my bed where we watched a movie for a little while before she sat up and said her tummy hurt, then proceeded to hurl up all over the bed.
Josh panicked and plucked her from the bed racing towards the bathroom while she continued to projectile vomit all over the carpet and onto the tiled floor.
When we rang reception there was no one available to help so we stripped the beds, cleaned the floors and asked for new sheets, blankets and pillows. The reception staff could not find them and brought back a very small cot blanket. Eventually he went to another hotel room and brought us all the linens and bedding from there.
We bundled the vomit items and placed them outside our door, requesting they be removed as soon as possible. When we left the room about 9:30am the next morning they were still there. I let the new reception staff know what had happened and if they could please fix the room up. Thankfully, when we returned later that evening, the room and bedding had all been corrected and the soiled linens removed.
A hard situation for anyone, but something staff could definitely benefit from just a little training or common sense on how to handle it.
The Wi-Fi was pretty touchy in the bedroom and worked better in the living room. That was the only drawback of the sizable room – distance from the Wi-Fi router.
Despite these two issues we would, without hesitation, stay at the Ibis Styles in Stuttgart again. Their focus on family travel was very refreshing.
Our hotel offered free Wi-Fi using a ticket system, as did a few of the attractions such as the Porsche Museum. Speeds around the city were pretty good.
What To Do
We have an in-depth post on the many things you can do in Stuttgart. We were surprised by how family friendly this German city was.
From the mineral baths to the botanical gardens to the world-class auto museums - there is just something for everyone, and enough to keep you busy for a real fun family vacation.
What To Eat
Every year for about two weeks Stuttgart holds a pop-up wine village called "Stuttgarter Weindorf" in the market square. An array of amazing restaurants offered traditional Swabian food and local wine for takeaway or you could find a place on the wooden bench and tables and enjoy a sit-down meal. Josh and I ordered a meat platter and, not surprisingly, we never made it more than half way through.
One evening we attempted to eat at Weinstube Klösterle a wine tavern located in the oldest house in Stuttgart from the year 1463. It was mid-week about 5pm, but they were fully booked! So you should make a reservation in advance, because the smells coming out of that kitchen were amazing.
We followed the advice of the Stuttgart Tourism board and headed to Zum Ackerbürger nearby. This little door-in-the-wall hid a surprisingly delightfully rustic, yet upmarket, dining experience. This restaurant is housed in the second oldest house in Stuttgart and features Swabian and international cuisine.
The restaurant is nestled in the old battlements that use to protect the city from intruders. Once cannons were invented and able to break through defensive walls, they didn’t need the walls anymore and peasants were allowed to build their houses attached to the walls, known as Ackerbürger-houses.
It’s all wood and stone and fire and warmth. You immediately feel you are sitting in a cosy cabin eating a real hearty meal, but at the same time the dishes are prepared with elegant techniques. The experience puts you at ease and entertains the tastebuds at the same time. Highly recommend a visit.
What Language Do They Speak?
The official language is German, however we did not have any problems speaking in English to shopkeepers, hotels, or bus drivers other than the one occasion in a mineral bath. Swabian dialect is also spoken by many of Stuttgart’s native inhabitants.
Why Is It Family Friendly?
Stuttgart was a surprise to us. As soon as we stepped off the train and into our first cab we were struck by how family friendly Stuttgart was. Upon entering that initial taxi the driver flipped a button and the seats in the back popped up to make instant boosters for the kids. It was amazing!
After that everything seemed to fall in line. The kids enjoyed the Swabian food, the activities in the city were perfect for kids and we didn’t feel overwhelmed by the expansive city. It must have been the generous allocation of parks and green areas throughout Stuttgart that gives it a more relaxed vibe, notwithstanding its iconic German preciseness. The beautiful vineyards around the outskirts of the city creates a very unique ambiance with the conglomeration between city and rural in perfect unison.
That’s how I would summarise Stuttgart – cars and wines, food and history, culture and future.