Ah Stuttgart. Where do we even begin? This city is the birth place of the famous world renowned auto brand Porsche, and also home to an equally famous rival Mercedes-Benz. It is also the biggest city and capital of Germany’s Baden-Wurttemberg province. With a population of over 640,000 people, Stuttgart is the 6th largest city in Germany.
Despite having its own allure and charm, there are heaps of places nearby Stuttgart which can take your breath away. Simply book a train ticket, ride a bus or take a drive out, and the picturesque castles, fairytale towns and the enchanting Black Forest awaits you. Here are the 8 best day trips you can take from Stuttgart.
1. Hohenzollern Castle
Unleash the inner royal in you and visit the magnificent Hohenzollern Castle. Located just about an hour away from Stuttgart, the castle belongs to the House of Hohenzollern, a dynasty of royals and nobles which stretches back to the early 11th-century CE. The ancient castle sits picturesquely on a hill called Burg Hohenzollen and towers in between the towns of Hechingen and Bisingen. It has been rebuilt at least 3 times during the course of its life, surviving several wars across the ages. The final form was built in the mid 19th-century and served as a family memorial for the House of Hohenzollern.
Today, you can actually visit the castle and experience the magnificent architecture that adorns its walls. There are a lot of interesting royal artifacts inside which includes the Crown of Wilhem II, personal belongings of Frederick the Great and even a letter from the US President George Washington thanking a Hohenzollern descendant for his contributions in the American Revolutionary War. To enter the castle, you can go for a 30 minute hike up the hill or simply take a shuttle bus next to the parking lot shop. You can also have a splendid bird’s eye view of the Hohenzollern Castle at one of the hills, the best will be at Raichberg 1, 72461 Ablstadt-Onstmettingen.
Address: 72379 Hechingen, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany
Website: Hohenzollern Castle
Lccated along the Romantic Road, the town of Dinkelsbühl can be traced way back to the early 13th-century. It was once a free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire and is one of the few remaining walled medieval towns in Germany. The town was remarkably unscathed by the devastating effects of both the World Wars, except for a broken window in one of its buildings. This became the saving grace of the town as much of its medieval architecture and charm remains still intact today. The St.George’s Minster, one of South Germany’s most stunning Gothic churches, still rises up above the old town.
You can walk down the cobblestone roads of the old town and relive the atmosphere of a bygone era. Don’t forget to catch the Kinderzeche Dinkelsbühl which is held every summer. It is a historic festival which reenacts the town’s surrender to the Swedish troops during the 30 Years War. Residents will flock the streets all dressed up in traditional garments and perform the whole story again. Take out your camera and snap loads of photos in this wonderful town.
3. Black Forest (Schwarzwald)
Home to the famous Cuckoo clocks, the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) gets its name from the dense evergreen canopy which blankets the top of the forests, giving it a dark and sometimes sinister glow. Legend has it that the famous tales of the Brothers Grimm were inspired by the forest itself. You can traverse into the Black Forest from various towns lying around the area and reach its thick, lush greenery in less than 30 minutes. Furthermore, the forest itself stretches over a huge area, reaching the borders of France, Germany and Switzerland.
You can discover this enchanting forest and hike on many of its hiking trails while breathing in the fresh air that envelopes the thick forest. It is also home to various beautiful lakes, rolling hills and mountains coupled with an abundance of alpine trees surrounding it. Dubbed as Germany’s biggest nature park, a visit to this enchanting place is a must.
Black Forest (Schwarzwald)
Website: Black Forest (Schwarzwald)
This millennia old city is home to one of the oldest continually inhabited houses in Germany. Similar to Dinkelsbühl, this city was barely damaged during the World Wars. It was only briefly occupied by American Forces in 1945. Throughout its history, Esslingen was an important centre for people all over Europe. The major north-south highway of the Dark and Middle Ages ran directly through Esslingen which caused a major economical boom for the city at that time.
A walk through this classical German city will transport you into the times long forgotten by the modern world. The cobblestone streets coupled with over 200 half-timbered houses will stop you in your tracks as you ponder upon these beautiful structures and houses. Esslingen has both the oldest inhabited house and the oldest neighborhood in Germany.
The famous inventor Gottlieb Daimler was born in this town. Schorndorf is a quaint little town which will charm any visitor who visits it. The town was first documented in the early 13th-century and has grown to be the second richest town in Württemberg after Stuttgart in the 16th-century. Its riches were drawn from its viniculture and its wine and salt trade, which came to a grinding halt in the 19th and 20th centuries. One can have a walk around its Altstadt and soak in the classical German architecture which is prominent in the town.
The traditional university town of Tübingen is a well know destination among locals. Located just 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from Stuttgart, the town is situated between the Neckar and the Ammer rivers. In winter, this place becomes a winter wonderland but in summer, the city transforms itself into a lively town full of people relaxing by the park, walking about the old town or having a boat ride through the Neckar River in a famous “Stocherkahn” boat.
About a third of the population here are made up of students. Therefore it is no surprise for visitors to find a huge amount of taverns, student pubs and cafes present inside the town. Along with Dinkelbühl and Esslingen, the town was also barely scratched in World War II - only one bomb fell during the period - which makes it an ideal city for history enthusiasts to soak in its medieval atmosphere while walking along with the young student crowd.
7. Lichtenstein Castle
Built in the mid 1800s, Lichtenstein Castle is a relatively young castle compared to Germany’s over 200 other castles. Despite its relative youth, it is still an iconic castle not to be missed nearby Stuttgart. This privately owned castle has been described as the fairytale castle of Wurttemberg and overlooks the Echaz Valley in Reutlingen. The castle is owned by the dukes of Urach and is open to public via a guided tour which is only in German. The courtyard however, is open to the general public.
Despite its popularity among the locals, the castle is not overrun by international tourists and is only a hour’s drive south of Stuttgart. You will pass by the Swabian Alps and small villages and the journey itself can be rewarding.
Address: 72805 Lichtenstein, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany
Website: Lichtensten Castle
8. Triberger Waterfall (Triberger Wasserfälle)
The Triberger Waterfall is one of the highest waterfalls in Germany. The water plunges 163 meters (534 feet) down the Gutach River. During early spring, as the ice thaws, the water dramatically flows along the snowy patches along its 7 cascades. There are 3 marked trails which can be explored by foot to soak in the flora and fauna surrounding the waterfall. Squirrels are abundant here, along with many other cute little creatures. The waterfall can be easily reached from the city center of Triberg.
Triberger Waterfall (Triberger Wasserfälle)
Address: An der Gutach 1, 78098 Triberg, Germany
Website: Triberger Wasserfälle
Think a day trip outside Stuttgart is impossible? Think again. Aside from the 8 best places that were mentioned, there are maybe hundreds more interesting places yet to be discovered. You will only have to look closer and get yourself inline with the local gossips surrounding Stuttgart. Afterwards, simply pack your bag and go on a day trip out of Stuttgart and into the beauties of Southern Germany.
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