The old imperial state of Baden-Württemberg in Southwestern Germany is a dreamy destination for every traveler, aside from its cultural attractions and ancient ruins, the state's landscape is mostly covered with valleys, lakes, meadows and vineyards. It has the best rated restaurants in the country according to online sources. Truly a traveler's perfect escape worthy to be added in your travel bucket list. 

PART II: STUTTGART and Nearby Areas

Stuttgart is the capital city of Baden-Württemberg, despite its urban status, the city is still surrounded with orchards, river, hills, valleys and forest along with its historic buildings, palaces and beautiful towns. It is the only German city that has vineyards in its urban territory. It borders France in the west and Switzerland in the south with Lake Constance streams on the boundary. Stuttgart is called the cradle of Germany’s automobile industry due to numerous luxury car brands headquartered in the city, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche and Daimler AG are just some.
For travel enthusiasts, Stuttgart is more than just a city of classical architecture, cultural flares and luxurious cars. It has festivals and fun activities celebrated whole year round. During summer, the Palace Square offers awesome fun summer fest, the Hamburg fish market at Karl’s Square with food and beer. During autumn, Stuttgart Beer Festival is also organized with unlimited entertainment and great food.

Top Attractions in Stuttgart and Nearby Areas Recommended by Travel Experts :

1. Black Forest

Black Forest remains to be the primary reason why travelers are enthralled to visit Baden-Württemberg, its breathtaking beauty of nature, stunning landscape, meadows, ravines and scenic atmosphere are perfect elements of a travel experience in fantasy. Located in  Southwestern part of Germany, the densely-wooded hills Black Forrest is one of the most visited upland regions in Europe. 

The German writers, Grimm brothers (Jacob and Wilhelm) who wrote the immortal classic fairy tale stories: Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, The Frog Prince and Rapunzel, mainly used Black Forest as the setting and backdrop of the stories. 

It lies on the extended topography starting from Pforzheim in the north, Waldshut in the south and Upper Neckar and Danube valleys in the east. Black Forest offers diverse travel indulgences in the area. Hiking, strolling, horseback riding, biking are just some. Honeymooners will probably fall in love more when they choose it as their main destination. I has some of the best restaurants in the country, wineries and spas. Choices of scenic and cozy hotels and tourist inns are also located in the region, it offers a perfect view of the valley, foothills, Alps and meadows. It is home to the most authentic Black Forest cake in the world, Black Forest ham and cuckoo clock. How to get there? If you are coming from Ulm, travel time is 2 hours and 40 minutes via A8 and A81. From Stuttgart it's 1 hour and 50 minutes via A81.

2. Europa Park (outside Stuttgart)
Rated as one of the best theme parks in the world, Europa Park is the largest theme park in Germany and the second most visited theme park in Europe next to Disneyland France. 
Europa Park offers a sizzling blend of amusement for high adrenaline rides, unique themed areas by country names and other amusement elements. It has restaurants, cafes and hotels inside the park. Its exact location is in the town of Rust, district of Ortenau, Baden-Wurttemberg, closer to Freiburg. 2015 is the best time to visit because the park celebrates its 40th year anniversary. Celebration runs from March 28, 2015 to November 8, 2015. Exciting shows await travelers. 
Travel time from Stuttgart to Europa Park is 2 hours. Admission for adult €42.00; Senior citizen and Children 4 years old up €37.00. Opening hours 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. Address: 77977 Rust, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. Visit website for more information EUROPA PARK
Themed areas inside the park:
  • Enchanted Forest
  • Kingdom of the Invisibles
  • Children's world or Vikings Land
  • Land by country themes
Other attractions:
  • Themed roller coasters, visit HERE

3. Mercedes-Benz Museum
One of the highly anticipated activities when coming to Stuttgart is a visit to Mercedes-Benz Museum, it showcases the development of the automobile industry and the birth of Mercedes-Benz. 
One of its founding father, Karl Benz, produced the very first modern car in the late 19th century which would become the Benz wagon, later it merged with Daimler AG and renamed Mercedes-Benz (interestingly, Mercedes was the named after the daughter of the top executive of Daimler and proposed it when they were searching for a name of the merger. This information is included in my book The Quiz Master II). Address: Mercedesstraße 100, 70372 Stuttgart. Admission: Day €8.00 adult, night (4:30-6:00pm) €4.00. People who will visit the museum on their birthday are free of charge just present your ID bearing your birth date. More information HERE

4. Schlossplatz or the Palace Square
Its main attractions are the gardens and jubilee column constructed to celebrate King William I’s silver anniversary on the throne. Schlossplatz is the eternal symbol of Stuttgart’s glorious royal days, it is surrounded with elegant buildings that symbolized the ducal past of the city. It has a cast-iron bandstand, sculptures and fountain. On the northwest side of the square stands Königsbau which has a colonnade and a shopping arcade, and Kleiner on the southwest side with its famous boutiques, shops and restaurants. Address: Schloßpl., 70173 Stuttgart. Admission is free.

5. Sepulchral Chapel or Grapkapelle 
Perched above the Wurttemberg hill and overlooking Stuttgart and the Neckar valley is the beautiful work of art and a symbol of eternal love, much like Taj Mahal in India. On the entrance door, an inscription can be read "Love Never Ends". 
This shrine was constructed between 1820 and 1824 on the order of King Wilhelm I of Wurttemberg for his wife, Queen Katharina, who died unexpectedly at age 30. The King ordered the removal of the former castle to erect this monument of love. It has a domed rotunda in Neoclassical architecture patterned after the Pantheon in Rome, it is known locally as Grapkapelle. The King and his daughter, Princess Marie, were also buried there. A visit to Grapkapelle can also be accompanied with a leisure walk through the vineyards around the area. Address: Württembergstraße 340, 70327 Stuttgart. Admission to the chapel: €2.50

6. Ludwigsburg Palace (12 km north of Stuttgart)

This palace, reportedly one of Europe’s largest baroque buildings to have survived in the modern world with its original form remained intact, has an impressive designs and interiors. Its layout has a rare blend of three architectural designs in the classical era: Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical.

It is a former royal palace of the Kings of Wurttemberg until 1918 when all German princely states and kingdoms were abolished. It has 18 buildings, 450 rooms and beautiful gardens. It houses Baroque gallery, fashion and ceramics museums. The private apartment of Duke Carl Eugen is also featured in the gallery containing his valuable furniture and accessories. The palace is open to the public daily from 10:00am to 5:00pm, however the residential palace is only accessible through a guided tour arrangement. Travel from Stuttgart is less than one hour via Heilbronner street B27. Address: Schloss street 30, 71634 Ludwigsburg, Germany. Admission Fees (See below):
Residential Palace: 6.5 € for adults and 3.3 € for children aged 6 to 15 years old, students and disabled visitors. It is free for children under 6 years old.
Museums: 3.5 € for adults and 1.8 € for children aged 6 to 15 years old, students and disabled visitors. Museums with audio guide, 6.5 € for adults and 3.3 € for children aged 6 to 15 years old, students and disabled visitors and free for children under 6 years old.
Favorite Palace: 3.5 € for adults and 1.8 € for children aged 6 to 15 years old, students and disabled visitors and free for children under 6 years old.

7. Lake Constance

The picturesque Lake Constance divides the border of Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg from Switzerland, France and Austria, it runs on the northern foot of the Alps and the Rhine. It is known as Bodensee in Germany. 

According to Lonely Planet, Lake Constance is the only place in the world where you can spend the night in Germany, cross Switzerland in the morning and arrive in Austria at tea time in the afternoon. Enjoying the breathtaking Alps in-between trips.

Lake Constance landscape is a scenery in fantasy. Surrounded by meadows, vineyards, orchards, Alpine hills and beaches, indeed a dreamy destination for nature lovers. The Constance town nearby also boasts, stone age homes and medieval castles. Perfect elements for cultural fanatics. How to get there? If traveling by car from Stuttgart-Singen: Take A81 and B33 towards Constance. From Ulm-Ravensburg: Take B30 from Meersburg car and passenger ferry towards Constance. Admission is free.

8. Killesberg Park
Killesberg Park is an urban public park located half a square kilometer in Stuttgart. Visitors may indulge in nature hopping at this park with its beautiful landscape of plants and flower beds combined with architectural elements.
The park is said to be at its amazing beauty during summer due to its diversified shapes and sizes and flowers are in perfect bloom. There's a small steam engine train to take visitors around the park. Every July, the famous Lichterfest  is organized inside the park with thousands of lanterns scattered around the area. Fun activities are held for visitors to enjoy. A firework display follows at night time. Address: Stresemann street, 70192 Stuttgart. How to get there? Through a subway-U7, stop-Killersberg Messe. Admission is free.
9. Weikersheim Palace

Weikersheim is a small town located in the beautiful landscape of Tauber valley, it is home to Weikersheim Palace widely regarded as the most beautiful palace in the Hohenloe region. Its best attraction is the baroque garden with striking cast of statues. It exemplifies the Renaissance concept of a country estate.The palace was believed to have constructed in 1586 when Count Wolfgang of Hohenloe took up residence in the castle and ordered to erect a new home which would become the Weikersheim Palace.

As with most construction of ROYAL HOMES in aristocratic Europe, the palace was built in splendor and style with heavy emphasis in art and culture. It is famous for its rich details on paneled ceiling and spectacular garden that houses several baroque statues. It has an orangery that charms visitors due to its eye catching backdrop. It contains sculptures of classical and mythological figures like Apollo and Diana and representations of earth elements and seasons. Travel time from Stuttgart: 1 hour and 30 minutes. Address Marktplatz. 11, 97990 Weikersheim, Germany. Admission to the palace and gardens € 6.50 for adult,€ 3.30 for children and senior citizens. Operating hours 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.

10. Schwetzingen Palace

Noted for its ornate and magnificent gardens, Schwetzingen Palace is one of the most visited classical palaces in Baden-Wurttemberg. A former home of the Prince Electors from the House of Wittelsbach, its grand refurbishment was ordered by Prince Johann Wilhelm in 1697. 

Many would claim that Schwetzingen Palace is a work of a genius due to its splendid restoration which was initiated by Prince Carl Theodor in the middle ages. He commissioned architects to design the gardens in an elaborate layout and eventually created a masterpiece of spectacular beauty and rich variety. The architects added a landscape park which was one of its kind in Germany during that period.

The palace gardens are rich in creative designs with unique ornamental elements that represent the cultural heritage of Europe. It comprises sculptures and dreamy buildings of all assortments. There’s a small round building dedicated to Apollo, a bath house with its own garden modelled after an Italian villa, and Turkish gardens full with oriental details. Cultural highlights of the palace rooms include furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries, and the Rococo theater with galleries in the north wing. Address: Schloß Mittelbau, 68723 Schwetzingen. Admission € 9.00 for adult,  € 4.00 for children and senior citizens. If you want to visit the palace gardens only, admission is  € 5.00 and € 2.00 for children and senior citizens. Operating Hours: 9:00 am to 8:00 pm. Phone +49 6221 658880

11. Heidelberg City

Due to its romantic and picturesque landscape, Heidelberg is voted by travelers as one of the most exciting travel destinations in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg. Its top attractions include Heidelberg Castle, the Philosopher's Walk, Heidelberg Tun, Museums, the River Banks, Heidelberg University, the Neuburg Abbey, Botanical Garden, and the Baroque style Old Town located on the south bank of the Neckar river. 

Top things to do in Heidelberg include a leisure walk through vineyards along the Neckar river, hike to Heidelberg Castle. The castle, cloaked on a rugged hill top above the Old Town, is one of the most historical and impressive castles in Germany. A scenic stroll along the beautiful Philosopher's Walk and enjoy its gorgeous blooms and exotic plants like Japanese cherries, bamboo and Cypresses. This area also provides a breathtaking view of the river valley and Heidelberg Castle. Travel time from Stuttgart: 1 hour and 45 minutes via A81. Stuttgart hbf train ticket price  19.00 for time departure before 8:13am, however if you choose the departure time from 8:13am ticket price ranges from  €23.00 to  €27.00