by Janis / 0 comments - Orginally published:23rd December 2016

Discover centuries of festive fun

The historic city of Stuttgart in southwest Germany is the capital of the German state of Baden-Württemberg. During the festive season, Stuttgart’s ancient Weihnachtsmarkt winds its way through the city’s attractive streets and notable squares, bringing a smile to the faces of the young and old.

Stuttgart’s Christmas market is one of the largest in Europe, and one of the oldest. It has been sharing yuletide fun and local traditions in the city for over 300 years.

For the petrol heads amongst us, Stuttgart is probably ringing a bell with you as it’s the headquarters of Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. Now, I must admit, we are Audi fans, but honestly, if you get the opportunity, the Mercedes-Benz Museum is certainly worth a visit.

We really love our road trips, especially to the German Christmas markets. With the extra bit of space that your car allows, it means you don’t have to hold back on the delicious gingerbread you bring home.

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We live in the southeast of the UK and choose to catch Le Shuttle, as the crossing only takes 35 minutes. Then from Calais, where the shuttle disembarks, the open roads are yours to discover.

So, after soaking up the Christmas atmosphere in the first 4 towns of Dusseldorf, Cologne, Nuremberg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber we head southwest to Stuttgart.

A highly decorated traditional german christmas market stall selling gingerbread presses to create your own sweet treats.
A typical German Christmas market stall

Where is Stuttgart?

How to get to Stuttgart

- By Air
The nearest airport is Stuttgart Airport, about 20 minutes (8mls/13.5km) from the centre of Stuttgart by taxi. Take a browse through for departures from your local airport.  There are also public transport connections which take around 40 minutes.

- By Car
If you’re venturing from the UK, jump on Le Shuttle and tour Germany under your own steam.

Alternatively, if you're arriving into an airport it’s so easy to explore on a road trip. Rental Cars searches multiple well-known car hire brands and discovers the best deals that suit you.

‘Green Power’ at Stuttgart’s market

Environmentally friendly cabins
There are around 300 stalls that complete Stuttgart’s festive Weihnachtsmarkt, all within very easy walking distance of each other.
Crowds milling in front of the christmas market stalls on Königstraße in stuttgart, germany
Along the Konigstrasse
You effortlessly wander from one merry square to another, all the time taking in the wonderful aromas that evoke Christmas. The roasting nuts are so very tempting; they get me every time.
A cake stall at the entrance to one of the Stuttgart Christmas markets.
Enjoying the market
The four main marketplaces that Stuttgart’s yuletide cabins are weaved around are Marktplatz, Schillerplatz, Karlsplatz and Schlossplatz. All the little festive huts are run from green electricity supplied by the city’s power company, so they strive to be as efficient as possible.

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Stuttgart’s Weihnachtsmarkt

Complete with a living nativity
It’s such a pleasure strolling around Stuttgart’s Christmas market; all the delightful historic squares are full of festive cheer.
A festive nativity display glistening above a gingerbread stall in Stuttgart's Christmas Market
A gingerbread stall

As we explore the twinkling yuletide cabins, we’re keeping an eye out for those quirky, magical differences that make each German town and city distinctive from one another.

We welcome it all, whether it’s that unique handmade gift or a delicious twist on the local gingerbread.

A cobbled pedestrian street lined with christmas market stalls and an impressive church in the background of Stuttgart at christmas
Strolling between the squares

The jovial atmosphere of Stuttgart’s market revellers will always bring a smile to your face. Family and friends enjoy the delights and festive traditions.

I love seeing the traditional wooden pyramids in Germany; they are so iconic to the country. We even have our very own Christmas pyramid decoration at home, which we bought from Käthe Wohlfahrt.

Surely, everyone loves a nutcracker soldier, and this fella was huge.

A giant german christmas solder nutcracker in a christmas market in stuttgart, germany
The nutcracker
A german christmas advent wheel on top of a drinks stall, in front of a historic tower, in the heart of stuttgart, germany
On the corner of Schillerplatz

Not content with the traditional, stable scene nativity, Stuttgart has its own twist on the proceedings and has its own ‘living nativity’.

Within the festive stables, you’ll find three lambs, two sheep and a friendly fluffy donkey.

A grey donkey in a straw lined nativity scene in stuttgart at christmas
The stable from the nativity
The lovely animals are looked after by the local Sheep Breeding Association and a pleasant stall selling farm produce.

Where to stay in Stuttgart

Our accommodation for the two nights in Stuttgart was in the Steigenberger Graf Zeppelin.

This luxury hotel, which is located directly opposite Stuttgart’s Central Station, is only a 10-minute stroll to Schlossplatz.

Another plus point for us was the underground car park, a daily charge applied.

Alternatively, pop your dates in the search box and discover further options for all budgets.

Decorative cabin rooftops

A feast for the eyes
As we ambled through the lanes of the Christmas markets, one of Stuttgart’s unique festive features was the incredible way in which the cabins had been decorated, particularly the rooftops.
A christmas market stall in stuttgart decorated with red and gold ribbons and a single reindeer pulling Santa on his sleigh.
Santa on the rooftops
The stalls were so elaborately festooned with all things Christmassy, from delicate baubles and cute cupids to giant reindeer. It was heart-warming to see.
A christmas market stall in stuttgart, germany, decorated with dayglo green and magenta elements.
Dayglo rooftops grab your attention
A christmas market stall in stuttgart decorated with a chrome stags head with a shiny red baubles garland.
The stags head cabin decoration
Keep a lookout for the annual competition held at Stuttgart, which chooses the ‘Most Beautiful Stall’.
A christmas market stall specialising in gingerbread in stuttgart, germany
Shopping for gingerbread
It’s so easy to become captivated by the gifts for sale on the gorgeous huts that you forget to look up.
A colourful christmas cabin roof on stuttgart's christmas markets
Baubles on the rooftop

I love nothing more than planning a trip and so often I use the DK Eyewitness books.  I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our Germany road trips, now you can grab the revised copy.

Feasting at Stuttgart’s Christmas Market

Indulging in mackerel & glühwein
We love discovering all the unique and individual flavours that each German region offers.
Racks of intertwined mackeral fish cooking on skewers over charcoal on a christmas market stall in stuttgart, germany
Cooked over charcoal
Whether it’s from their array of traditional local food or their selection of cheery yuletide drinks, it makes each location memorable and distinct.
A couple of dozen mackerel cooking over charcoal on one of the stalls in Stuttgart's Christmas market.
Smoking herring

While we were strolling around the food stalls in Stuttgart, we noticed whole mackerel being cooked over charcoal.

We had never seen this before; many times, we had seen and indulged in the flamed cooked salmon, but we had never seen mackerel on a stall.

A smiling vendor handing over his bread and meat kebab on the Stuttgart Christmas Markets
Something new from the markets
Another snack that we had only found in Stuttgart was a meat kebab entwined with bread and then slathered with chilli sauce. We couldn’t resist trying one, especially since the stall seller let us take his photo.
A bread and meat kebab on the Stuttgart Christmas Markets.
Bread and pork kebabs
A large copper cauldron full of gluhwein at a drinks stall on stuttgart's christmas markets
The copper cauldron
Of course, no German Christmas market is complete without the traditional heart-warming glühwein.
Two bright red plastic mugs of glühwein with Stuttgart's Christmas Market
Glühwein in bright red mugs
The pleasing feeling that you get while standing in a bustling, joyous Christmas market, hugging a steaming glühwein, is exceptional.
Two decorative mugs of glühwein on Stuttgart's Christmas Market.
Glühwein in china mugs

Visitor Information

For a bit more information on Stuttgart’s Christmas markets, visit the Stuttgart Weihnachtsmarkt website.

Stuttgart’s miniature railway

Steaming fun in Schlossplatz
While visiting Stuttgart at Christmas time, you must head to Schlossplatz and seek out the magical miniature steam train or Eisenbahn.
Stuttgart's miniature railway full of small children with their parents in the early evening after the sun has gone down.
The miniature steam train

This fantastic spectacle is for your little Christmas market fans, and I’m sure they will love it.

The miniature railway is primarily for children; however, it’s fun to stand on the sidelines and watch the mini locomotive chuffing and steaming its way around the illuminated miniature village.

The miniature diesel train running around a model village in stuttgart's christmas markets
Look out for the Eisenbahn
We had never actually seen a miniature railway at a Christmas market before, so it was lovely to see and an entertaining addition for kids to enjoy. The little steam engine runs throughout the day and looks even more enchanting in the evening.
The miniature diesel train running around a model village in stuttgart's christmas markets
The miniature diesel train
A small childrens' ferris wheel on stuttgart's christmas markets in germany
The mini-Ferris wheel
Along with the delightful miniature railway, families can enjoy the nearby ice rink and the colourful glistening Ferris wheel, which is located next to the steam train within Schlossplatz.
Families skating on stuttgarts' christmas ice rink in the early evening
The Ice rink

Stuttgart’s mini-antique market

Vintage Christmas
Another unusual and welcoming aspect of Stuttgart’s Christmas market is its mini-antique market. This festive vintage marketplace used to be nestled within Karlsplatz; however, it is now located along the cobbled streets of Schillerplatz.
A collection of stalls inside a marquee with a focus on antiques in stuttgart's christmas markets
Inside the antiques market
The charming antique market has now become a tradition within Stuttgart’s Christmas market. When you head inside, you’ll discover many rare and unusual gifts that make perfect Christmas presents.
A man strolling through stuttgart's antique christmas markets
Bargain hunting in the antiques market

Bring along your own antiques, as there are even specific days scheduled for you to get a free valuation on your old heirlooms.

When we strolled out of the far end of the antique market, we were greeted by more festive cabins, and on this occasion, it was a Finnish Christmas market.

Salmon being cooked over oak fires on stuttgart's christmas markets
Flammlach or smoked salmon
They were tempting me with one of my favourite dishes, which I always try to seek out: the delicious sides of salmon being cooked over charcoal. This dish is lovely served piled high with lettuce in a crusty bread roll.

Altes Schloss

Festive fun for everyone
Another stunning building that is brought to life at Christmas time is Stuttgart’s ancient Altes Schloss or ‘Old Palace’.
Inside Alten Schloss in stuttgart at night with its decorated Christmas Tree and twinkling balconies.
Altes Schloss at night
The beautiful Altes Schloss is festively decorated throughout, with twinkling lights and a glistening towering Christmas tree.
A historic round tower in stuttgart during its christmas market season
Historic Stuttgart
Each evening a yuletide concert is performed within the palace’s inner courtyard; the captivating melodies will enchant you as they reverberate around the galleried balconies above.
In the inner courtyard of Alten Schloss, with its giant festive tree during stuttgart's christmas markets
The courtyard at Altes Schloss
The daily open-air concert lasts around an hour, and admission is free.

Just a few points to note;

If you wish to fly to Stuttgart, a direct flight from London will take about 1 hour 35 minutes.

Dress warm and comfortable; this is essential because it was cold in December.

You really need to book early as these markets are very popular.

Germany’s Christmas markets are for all ages, don’t be put off that it is all for children; it really isn’t. We are all big kids at heart…..

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