Worldwide: 48 hours in ... Stuttgart

Shop till you drop along Germany's longest pedestrianised zone - then recover with some Kaffee and Kuchen, says Margaret Campbell

Why go now?

All the big trade fairs are over for the year and the Christmas Market in Stuttgart's twin squares of Marktplatz and Schillerplatz continues through to 23 December.

Visitors can take advantage of cheaper hotel rates, see two major exhibitions - "Chagall" at the Staatsgalerie and "Expressionist Paintings" at the Kunstgebaude - and enjoy some world-class dance by Uze Scholz, George Balanchine and Glen Tetley at the Stuttgart ballet (5-11 December).

Beam down

Rumours are rife in aviation that Stuttgart is a target for one or more of the UK's no-frills airlines. Until the cheapies fly in, the route is restricted to flights from Heathrow on British Airways and Lufthansa. Through discount agent Hamilton Travel (0171-344 3333), a flight on Lufthansa will cost pounds 137.10 including tax, though availability is limited. Alternatively, order a brand-new Porsche and the company will fly you out business class.

The city has an extensive public-transport network, best experienced with the three-day transport pass - pounds 4.30 from the tourist office. A city pass (pounds 10) provides access to public transport and a book of vouchers giving free or reduced admission to various attractions. Take subway line S2 or S3 from the airport to the main railway station. A taxi will cost close on pounds 20.

Get your bearings

Capital of the Baden-Wurttemberg region, Stuttgart's origins date back to the 10th century. Today it is home to Porsche and Daimler-Benz, and a prosperous symbol of Germany's post-war reconstruction. The tourist information office (00 49 711 222 8240, www.stuttgart-tourist.de) is at the top of Konigstrae.

Check in

There are hotels aplenty in Stuttgart, most of them catering to the business traveller - which makes them cheaper at weekends. The Christmas market means that it's advisable to book rooms in advance through the tourist office (00 49 711 222 8233), or you can just turn up and take advantage of their on-the-spot booking service. I stayed in the centrally located three-star Unger Hotel (Kronenstrae 17, tel 00 49 711 209 90), where I paid the special weekend rate of pounds 40 for a single room, including breakfast; a double costs pounds 72.

Take a ride

Hop on a 41 or a 43 bus (they stop outside the railway station) for a good overview of the city and its sights.

Take a hike

Start at the station, and wander down through the Schlossgarten, pausing to admire the wildlife in the lake and the gilded buck on the top of the Kunstgebaude art gallery. It's worth looking into the three-storey courtyard of the Alte Schloss, now the Landesmuseum (and a popular backdrop for wedding photographs), before nodding to Schiller's somewhat moody statue and following the narrower streets down to the City Hall on Marktplatz.

Lunch on the run

If you've followed the walk above, you are now within metres of Topferstrae and Geissestrae, which are lined with restaurants offering reasonably priced lunches, including Swabian and lighter cuisine. If you've stayed on Konigstrae, why not try Germany's healthy answer to the fast-food restaurant - the Movenpick Marche at number 16? Fill your tray with salads, pick from one of the many dishes (including a wide vegetarian choice), or watch as your meat is grilled to perfection.

Cultural afternoon

The New State Art Gallery is worth visiting just to look at James Stirling's postmodern design; it's often regarded as one of his most original buildings, where bright colours and unusual geometry contrast with the classic interior garden. Once inside, you'll find one of Germany's largest Picasso collections, and there is currently a fascinating exhibition of Chagall's lithographs, all rich colours and mythological motifs. Highly recommended.

Window shopping

Germany's longest pedestrianised zone, the Konigstrae, starts opposite the station, and you'll find department stores, boutiques, chain stores, arcades, churches and cinemas along it. Keep an eye out for the artwork on the shop-fronts, as well as the fountains and mobiles.

Work your way down to Schlossplatz, and stop in one of the cafes for a break and a chance to watch a swan that has wandered over from the nearby Schlossgarten, or listen to a street musician before tackling the second half of the street. The smaller side streets, such as Calwer Strae, are home to more exclusive boutiques.

An aperitif

Cafe le Theatre (Bolzstrae 6, through the Gloria Passage from Konigstrae) makes a smooth transition from popular day-time eating place to trendy evening bar. Beer drinkers should try the local brew, Herren-Pils, but the Cafe often has special cocktail nights to tie in with a specific theme: their "Something About Mary" cocktail (whisky, lemon, soda and a secret ingredient) didn't turn me into Cameron Diaz, but was worth the pounds 4, nevertheless.

Demure dinner

It's a short walk across the Schlossplatz to the Alte Kanzlei on Schillerplatz. Housed in the former treasury, this restaurant has friendly staff and typical Swabian cooking (main dishes start at pounds 6.50, soups at pounds 2.60). As wine-growing used to be one of Stuttgart's main sources of revenue, don't miss this opportunity to sample some local wine, such as Trollinger or Riesling. Reservations are recommended (00 49 711 294 457). If the Alte Kanzlei's full, try the Tauberquelle, 19 Torstrae (00 49 711 235 656), a more traditional tavern.

Sunday-morning: go to church

Begun in 1170 and largely restored after the Second World War, the Stiftskirche (Collegiate church) is widely regarded as a symbol of the city. Inside, a row of 11 statues depict the Dukes of the Wurttemberg region and modern stained-glass depictions of the prophets contrast with dense, deep-red traditional designs. The morning service starts at 10am.

Bracing brunch

The Cafe am Kunstlerbund at 2 Schlossplatz, adjoining the art gallery, is the place to go for elevenses that run into lunch. Expect to pay pounds 2.40 for the "Mini" and pounds 7 for the "Big Time" breakfast; the lunch menu starts at pounds 1.50 for a small salad. If you can face it at this time of day, ask for the organic wine (pounds 3.20): it might even put you in the mood for a quick look at Otto Dix's paintings of decadent 1920s Berlin.

A walk in the park

And what a park - home to thousands of animals and exotic plants. Take bus 53 or 55 over the Neckar to the Wilhelma park, designed as Moorish gardens for Wilhelm I of Wurttemberg in 1850. Sit beside the water-lily park, visit the polar-bear enclosure, or try to put your arms round the 140- year-old trees: the choice is yours. Entry is pounds 5.

Alternatively (and if you prefer your parks free of charge), take tram 2 to the Rosensteinpark, the setting for a small artificial lake and the Schloss Rosenstein, once a country house for the aristocracy and now a natural-history museum. This quiet area of greenery stretches all the way south, past the Planetarium and over a main road to the Schlossgarten.

The icing on the cake

You can't come to the home of Mercedes-Benz and Porsche without paying a visit to one of their museums. Either is worth a visit, but Mercedes-Benz is closer to the centre: cross the Neckar on bus 56 to the Daimler-Stadion stop (there's free entry to the museum). The Silver Arrow, the world's first motorbike, and luxury limousines are all a far cry from the modern-day automobiles manufactured in millions in Stuttgart.

Or opt for some real cake. German Kaffee und Kuchen are justifiably renowned, and the selection of cheesecake and gateaux at Cafe Graf Eberhard makes the walk to Nesenbachstrae 52 worthwhile. Off the usual tourist trail, it's frequented by locals who appreciate comfortable seats and good coffee.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas Pynchon in 1955, left, and Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of his novel, Inherent Vice

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Nicole Scherzinger will join the cast of Cats

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Fans were left surprised by the death on Sunday night's season 26 premiere

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lady Mary goes hunting with suitor Lord Gillingham

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Arts and Entertainment
Sergeant pfeffer: Beatles in 1963
booksA song-by-song survey of the Beatles’ lyrics
Arts and Entertainment
music'I didn't even know who I was'
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl was left in a conundrum with too much talent and too few seats during the six-chair challenge stage
tvReview: It was tension central at boot camp as the ex-Girls Aloud singer whittled down the hopefuls
Arts and Entertainment
Kalen Hollomon's Anna Wintour collage

art
Arts and Entertainment

TV Grace Dent on TV
Arts and Entertainment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?