GERMANY is known for its beer and charcuterie, but if wine is your drink of choice, Stuttgart is the city for you.
Nestled in a fertile valley in Swabian Baden-Württemberg, through which the Neckar River flows, the beautiful town is just an hour from the Black Forest and surrounded by hills, almost all covered in vineyards.
Forget the Oktoberfest, for wine lovers, Stuttgart’s three-week Weindorffest, which has been held annually for the past 45 years, is a must.
The charming market square and surrounding streets are taken up by 30 innkeepers selling street food and a wide selection of local wines by the glass.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that 70 percent of the region’s wines are red – and incredibly good ones at that.
There’s Trollinger, made from a grape grown almost exclusively locally, light and refreshing with a fruity flavor that would be a welcome addition to a summer lunch.
And the second most brewed in the region, Lemberger is a heavier, darker wine more akin to Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz, but incredibly smooth.
To get a closer look at the wonderful vineyards, we embarked on a bus tour dedicated to the drink, the Wine Tour.
It’s a hop-on hop-off service that takes you across the city for sweeping views of the vine-covered hillsides, with a chance to sample the local blends along the way.
With the 18-euro city ticket for the bus, you can also enjoy two further tours of the city, famous for its castles, within 24 hours.
It’s a fun way to stop at the many museums along the way, including the quirky SchweineMuseum – or Pig Museum – with over 45,000 pig exhibits.
Or the Mercedes-Benz Museum, a must for any car enthusiast, showing over 160 cars ranging from some of the oldest automobiles ever built to futuristic research vehicles, as well as engines that once belonged to Princess Diana and Ringo Starr.
Save time to explore Schlossplatz, a stunning square in the center of the Old Town.
From here you can marvel at the beautiful Baroque-style New Palace, built by Duke Carl Eugen von Württemberg from 1746 to make Stuttgart the “new Versailles”.
Behind the palace lie some picturesque gardens and the Opera House, an imposing columned building with a rounded facade overlooking a vast lake.
This area is also full of cafes and coffee bars.
Our favorite was Carl’s Brauhaus, which offers a wide variety of local and European dishes, including a wide selection for vegetarians and vegans like the delicious plant-based schnitzel.
The Alte Kanzlei restaurant on the square in front of the Old Castle has indoor and outdoor seating and is a great place to sample traditional local dishes, including Kasespatzle (egg noodles with melted cheese and fried onions) and Maultaschen (with meat-filled noodles). ) and Schupfnudeln (potato and wheat noodles).
If you want it a little lighter, you will find fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, cheese, herbs and all kinds of culinary delights in the lively market hall.
Then wash it all down with a delicious unfiltered, cloudy lager from a brewery two miles from downtown, Dinkelacker Kellerbier.
An unexpected treat across from our apartment hotel, The Adina, is the new library, built in 2011 at a cost of 80 million euros, which is a triumph of modern design, with a central spherical gallery rising through the nine floors, lit only by a skylight above .
DOWN IN HISTORY
The hotel, where the attractive rooms have their own fully equipped kitchen, is just a short walk from the city center and close to an underground station, from which you have access to the well-run and user-friendly public transport system.
For the best value, you can buy three-day train tickets that are valid for 72 hours after you’ve stamped them in the orange machines onboard the first train you travel on.
While Stuttgart isn’t a must-see for most people, this pretty, historic city is worth a long weekend.
And if you can visit during the wine village, there is an additional magic.
GET THERE: Flights from Heathrow to Stuttgart cost from £60 each way. See eurowings.com.
STAY THERE: Rooms at the Adina Apartment Hotel start from £95 for two people. Buffet breakfast is not included in the price but can be added at £20 per person. See adinahotels.com.
FROM & ABOUT: The Stuttgart Wine Village usually takes place in the last two weeks of August. See stuttgarter-weindorf.de. You can find more information about Stuttgart at germany.travel.
https://www.thesun.co.uk/travel/20032128/stuttgart-holiday-wine-festival/ The European holiday break with boozy festivals and wine bus tours