Are you planning a trip to Germany? Will you be traveling with a car lover? If so, Stuttgart is the place you want to be!
Things to do in Stuttgart for Car Lovers
For many, a trip to Germany evokes images of Octoberfest and beer gardens, castles on the Rhine, and German sausages, but Stuttgart revs up car enthusiasts. The city is home to both the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche factories, their two magnificent automobile museums, and MotorWorld with the adjacent V-8 Hotel.
Anybody with a passion for auto history, vintage cars, or sinking into a bed where you must turn out the headlights will find Stuttgart, Germany, hums.
Your Stuttgart car experience starts at MotorWorld Stuttgart
During World War II, Wurttemberg served as the manufacturing site for military engines, making it a target for devastating allied air raids. A building where forced labor helped arm the Third Reich still stands. History buffs find the renovated location includes old airplane hangars and the former airport tower in the distance.
Today, the sprawling MotorWorld property (over 64,000 square ft.) showcases vintage, historic, and classic automotive rarities and showstopping collector’s vehicles. You’ll find these automotive treasures housed in ultra-modern, stacked glass-sided garages. Think Maserati, Ferrari and McLaren.
You can spend hours drooling over these beauties. You can even feed your need for speed by arranging daily rentals of a sports car through the V-8 Hotel.
Best of all, MotorWorld is free. Leave yourself plenty of time to browse the salesroom and enjoy the sophisticated combination of a classic car museum, an exhibition of sports cars, and excellent food.
You’ll also find a preponderance of BMWs, Porsche, or Mercedes on the streets; after all, Germany is their home.
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Stay at the V-8 Hotel
The V-8 Hotel complex carries out the auto theme in clever ways, such as a vintage Dodge truck that separates space in the Pick-Up Restaurant and rear car seats used as lobby benches. Look for clever touches on napkins, bath soap, ceilings, and more.
The design of the 26 individually themed V-8 double guest rooms will bring out your inner child. Beds feature actual front ends of vintage cars complete with working headlights.
My boyfriend, John, said, “When I saw the bed was in the shape of a car, I felt like I should be wearing little-boy Spiderman pajamas. Finding out the bed was from an actual mini Cooper body gave the concept a lot more appeal, and fun.”
Hand-painted murals and crafted furniture also add to the theme of the Hotel. For example, the Jaguar room, painted in British racing green, features the Jaguar XJ2 body and murals depicting various angles of the cat hiding in the jungle.
The ‘Drive-In Cinema’ themed room provides a cinematic experience under the stars. The snuggly bed is faithful to the original, converted Cadillac Coupe de Ville – – the ticket booth now the wardrobe. When the lights go out, a fascinating starry sky shines above.
Explore the Mercedes-Benz Museum
Star power reigns at the stunning Mercedes-Benz Museum (built at the staggering cost of $192 million between 2003-2006). The building appears as a double-helix of sleek rounded glass and metal, like a sexy curved piece of a car bumper. Miles of exterior polished aluminum and hundreds of sparkling geometric windows create an award-winning building measuring 178,000-square-feet.
Visitors ride elevators to the top floor, then wind their way down nine levels and 130 years automotive history. Stuttgart is where the automobile began, the pioneering invention of Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz.
In 1886, Gottlieb Daimler developed the first fast-running light engine that became a cornerstone for automobile development. The top floor displays the priceless early inventions and models, and biographical highlights of Daimler and Benz. They helped me understand the progression of the engine and auto designs.
Even non-car buffs love the easily digestible history lesson. Essential world events, especially both World Wars, as well as the development of the Daimler-Benz company, are depicted through large photos or video screens with minimal label reading.
Each area correspondingly showcases vehicles, more than 160 in total, some dating back to the very earliest days of the motorcar engine. Crowd favorites include the Popemobile and Princess Diana’s sexy red SL and Lewis Hamilton’s racy 2014 F1 World Championship car.
The Museum’s curators have done a magnificent job of putting the company’s development into the context of local, national, and world developments. The lower floors display futuristic concept models and an extensive gift shop. This impressive facility lives up to the company’s high standards.
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Dream at the Porsche Museum
The newer Porsche Museum, finished in January 2009, at the cost of over $110 million, also offers an architectural gem of design that matches the grace and power of its vehicles. The building appears to hover off the ground. The visual showpiece, standing 78-feet high, wows with three stelae, each mounted by a different version, and full-size model of the Porsche 911.
The Porsche Museum takes a more technical approach to present the racing legacy that underpins the brand’s appeal. You’ll see 80 legendary racing cars, such as the 1971 Le Mann’s entry, 917/20, called the Pink Pig.
Look for its body parts outlined as butcher cuts. Also exhibited are series production vehicles such as the 356 or 911, and many interactive displays. The Museum is not static; it rotates in-house exhibitions of 80 cars and 200 smaller items.
Of course, you’ll find an all-embracing Porsche gift shop as well.
Tip for visiting Stuttgart’s MotorWorld
Don’t try to see both museums on the same day; each brings an auto history overload and requires much walking. Be sure to inquire ahead of time if interested in Porsche Factory Tour.
While visiting Stuttgart cars is the goal, a visit is not complete without a stroll down the pedestrian shopping district. The city supports two art museums and a triple-branch theatre.
You’ll find many casual and elegant dining restaurants, including some with Michelin stars. No doubt, the city of Stuttgart will keep your motor running.
Visit regional attractions near Stuttgart
Visitors to the Baden-Wurttemberg area should plan to explore the nearby Baroque palace and charming town of Ludwigsburg or Heidelberg, with its famous castle, just 50 miles away.
A trip in December brings all the delights of the iconic German Christmas Markets. The biggest, Stuttgart Christmas Market, fills downtown Stuttgart with over 300 stalls featuring handcrafted ornaments, nutcrackers, smokers, nativity sets, and other holiday décor.
The stalls incorporate fancifully decorated roofs and an immense rotating pyramid with the nativity figures. Gluehwein, or hot mulled wine served in a mug, ranks as the favorite drink at the nighttime markets.
You’ll find a Baroque Christmas Market with more than 175 illuminated stalls in Ludwigsburg. I fondly recall a medley of holiday songs performed by young school children on an outdoor stage.
The colorful Esslingen Medieval Market remains my favorite. Merchants in historical costumes demonstrate and sell traditional crafts. Blacksmiths, glass blowers, woodcarvers, and minstrels engage the crowds.
One section offers fun midway-like games and jugglers, fire eaters, and performers. The historic district of Esslingen lies on the Neckar River, and every building is an architectural gem. Don’t miss it; I wish I could go every year!