A view of Stuttgart from our hotel window
When we decided to visit Germany for the Christmas Markets, we were surprised to see how many cities we had to choose from. With some internet research, we discovered that there are many great cities to choose from – Munich, Cologne, Hamburg, Nuremberg. They all have excellent Christmas Markets. In the end, we chose Stuttgart for several reasons:
1. It’s in southwestern Germany near the Black Forrest (oooo & ahhhh)
2. It has one of the largest traditional Christmas Markets in all of Germany
3. The baroque Christmas Market in Ludwigsburg was 20 mins away by train
4. The medieval Christmas Market in Esslingen was 15 mins away by train
5. As you can see, we could visit 3 Christmas Markets from one location
6. Stuttgart was an easy one-hour hop by plane from Amsterdam
7. I would have gone anywhere TCP chose, if they had Christmas Markets
We chose the Hotel am Schlossgarten in Stuttgart as our base camp. What a great choice! We got a park view room that was the epitome of old world European charm. We had a king bedroom with a sitting area, great windows overlooking the park and hillside (including the opera house and museums), a bathroom with a towel warmer (great for drying our handwashed skivvies) and a chandelier. You heard me! I said a chandelier! It looked like a crystal and gold chrysanthemum. The hotel’s location couldn’t have been more perfect.
Hotel am Schlossgarten - Park View King Bedroom
The sitting area of our park view deluxe king room
It's an ornament...it's a chrysanthemum...no, it's our sitting room chandelier!
The hotel is located on the Koningstrasse (a major shopping street) and directly across from the main train station (for easy access to anywhere we wanted to go by subway or train). It was also only a few short blocks to the Christmas market on the plaza across from the palace. We were able to walk to everything we wanted to see, as well as some great shopping and our favorite German brew house, the Calwer Ech Brau, where we enjoyed some fabulous local Swabian cuisine and some fine hand-crafted beers. PS – we’re now in love with spaetzle. Big time. Google it. You should eat this every chance you get. It’s simple, buttery, and oh so very delicious! Here are a few shots from around Stuttgart:
Konigstrasse - Great location & excellent shopping in Stuttgart
Hauptbahnhof Train Station right across from the Hotel am Schlossgarten
Stuttgart's modern Kunstmuseum on the Schlossplatz
Market Hall's fabulous indoor market - I could live here!
A Market Hall food stall - mouth-watering goodies for sale
Warm bread & fresh veggies - Market Hall rocked my world
What's a vacation without a chocolate shop? I mean, really.
The New Palace and Schlossplatz (Square) from the gazebo
Every year, beginning the week of Thanksgiving, Stuttgart hosts one of the largest traditional Christmas markets in Germany. The market covers an area from the lovely Konigsbau building on the schlossplatz through the Old Palace, across City Hall and Market Square and down to the beautiful Stifts Church and Schiller Square. It’s a beautiful stroll along old cobblestone streets in the lovely, historic center of town. Every twist and turn brings another cluster of booths selling a variety of food, beverages, and holiday gifts and decorations. The market opens by 11am each day, but it’s especially lovely at night. Take a look:
A choir creates a magical moment in the Old Palace
Christmas Market stalls in Stuttgart, Germany
Ornaments for sale at the Christmas Market
A typical cobblestone lane lined with vendor booths
The booths are beautifully decorated - each one is unique
Saurkraut with dumplings and sausage - outstanding!
So many pretty things to choose from at the Christmas Markets
From Stuttgart, we took a lovely 20 minute train ride out to Ludwigsburg, where they host a Baroque Christmas Market. You know what they say…if it ain’t baroque, don’t fix it! Sorry. It’s also a great place to see the baroque palace of Duke Eberhard Ludwig from the 1700’s, including the main residential palace, and several others. The town’s main square with its pretty town hall is the site of the Christmas Market. While it’s not as large as Stuttgart’s, it is unique and lovely and totally worth a visit. I just realized I’m saying ‘lovely’ way too often, but it’s true. Everything about these towns and Christmas Markets was lovely. See for yourself:
Ludwigsburg's Residential Palace
The angels with lighted wings are a Ludwigsburg trademark
Carved wood items are a tradition at the German markets
Gluhwein - it's hot, spicy mulled wine & warms you quickly
Colorful gingerbread cookies - another Christmas Market tradition
Handcrafted items include scarves & paper star luminaries
Honey and beeswax items for sale
A closer look at the hand carved ornaments for sale
I've never seen a cuter chocolate-covered pear!
Market booths are a feast for the eyes - so beautiful
Ludwigsburg's town hall and market - a perfect day trip
I’ve saved my favorite Christmas Market for last, so stay tuned! Next up – the medieval Christmas Market in the jaw-dropping town of Esslingen, Germany.