Stuttgart expat weekend guide
What to do in the weekend as an expat in Stuttgart?
In the past, your weekends might have been tied up with family commitments. Now you've moved abroad, you are in the somewhat enviable position of having all your time to yourself. If you're abroad for the first time, you may feel the pressure to travel as much as possible. To explore as much as you can while you're here. Your weekends are precious time to relax and recuperate from a heavy week at work. Maybe you need a long lie-in or chance to catch up on chores. You work hard, you're entitled to play hard. So, what is there to do as an expat in Stuttgart at the weekend?
Do the tourist thing
You have to do this at least once, especially at the beginning of your contract. Pretend you don’t live here and go out and look at the city through the eyes of a tourist. Take a hop on hop off bus and visit the sights and attractions. Even if you've lived here a while, it'll give you a renewed appreciation of all the city has to offer. Visit the famous museums from Mercedes-Benz and Porsche and get to know the city’s history with the automobile. Take a trip back in time at a fairytale palace at the Schlossplatz and see the Württemberg crown jewels. Spend a day at the Wilhelma zoological and botanical gardens or climb up the TV-tower and get a panoramic view of the city.
Stuttgart is situated in the beautiful South German hills, and there are many fantastic places to visit in the Baden-Württemberg region. Within one hours drive of Stuttgart are the Disney style castles of Hohenzollern, Lichtenstein, Hohenneuffen and Neuschwanstein. All set in enchanting forests, perfect for hiking. Go deeper into the Black Forst and take the treetop walk at Bad Wildbad. Take the train to the cosmopolitan city of Frankfurt. Known as 'Mainhattan'. Frankfurt is a juxtaposition of glittering skyscrapers and a wooden medieval old town. The city also has a nightlife second only to Berlin. Visit Bad Urach, the prettiest timber housed town in the region and also home to a volcanic thermal spa.
Escape to the country
Sometimes you need to get out of the city to get away from the noise and recharge your batteries. Luckily Stuttgart has many quaint little villages on its outskirts perfect for a day trip with friends or visitors. The small town of Magstadt is a traditional farming town. It has many bike and hiking trails leading to the fabulous Heckangau nature reserve. Take a little drive to Lake Constance and spend the day mooching around the old town or take a catamaran out on the lake. The countryside around the city is ideal for cycling or hiking. You could take the "Radel-Thon" circuit around Stuttgart or meander along the Neckar and Rems rivers.
Hop over the border
Stuttgart is ideally placed for a bit of international travel! France, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Austria are literally on your doorstep. So, if you fancy an experience a little less German, then hop on a train or take the autobahn out of the country! Strasbourg, in France, is only 1.5 hour’s drive from Stuttgart and is well worth a day trip. The city has had a long, tumultuous history in Europe, but is now the centre of transnational cooperation as the home of the EU Parliament. Stuttgart is just over 2 hours from the Swiss capital of Zurich, where you can try fondue and stock up on chocolate, or watches, whichever you prefer. Austria, on the other side of Lake Constance, can also offer stunning scenery and a breath of fresh mountain air.
Shop till you drop
There are two types of shoppers: browsers and sourcers. The first view shopping as entertainment, retailtainment if you will. They enjoy shopping at weekends, browsing around the shops with nothing in particular in mind. Maybe stopping for a coffee, just whiling away the hours people watching. Sourcers on the other hand, know what they want. Get in and get out as fast as they can. Whichever type of shopper you are, Stuttgart has all the shops you could ever need. From big high street brands on the Konigstrasse to elegant, luxurious boutiques on the Calwer Strasse. Smaller, more unusual and interesting shops can be found in the old part of town at the Bohenviertal. One of the best shopping attractions is the indoor Markthalle, and there are also open-air markets on Saturdays at the Marktplatz, Schillerplatz and Karlsplatz. Bear in mind though that the shops are mostly all shut on Sunday.
One of the realities of life is that at least some of your weekends will be spent doing jobs around the house. Whether it's a simple job such as painting or something requiring serious skill like putting up a shelf, you're going to need to know where to buy materials. Hornbach is a gigantic DIY superstore selling all the building supplies you could ever need for projects big and small. OBI is also a considerable hardware store selling everything from fitted kitchens to power tools. If you're living in central Stuttgart, you likely have a small apartment with no garden to speak of. But, if you want to bring some green into your home, you can visit a garden centre such as the Pflanzen-Kölle to stock up potplants.
Blow off some steam by getting physical. Stuttgart has many gyms in the centre and surrounding suburbs. You should choose one close to you to keep you motivated. The Fit/One gym is affordable and well-equipped but can get quite crowded. Elements on Feinstrasse is more exclusive, with prices to match, and also has a spa and sauna on site. Rather than choosing one gym, the Urban Sports Club allows you to try various different locations around the city. Alongside regular fitness, you can try Crossfit, climbing, martial arts and pilates. Those who prefer the outside can go for a run in one of the city's many green park spaces. The Kurpark Bad Cannstatt is a beautiful English style park with winding paths, old trees and a lawn perfect for a picnic.
While it’s nice to have plans, stay active and get out and explore, sometimes you just want to hang on the couch and binge watch your favourite series. You could try and improve your German by watching terrestrial television, but sometimes you need a taste of familiarity to stave off the homesickness. Luckily, with the expansion of international streaming services, cloud computing, and on-demand programs, you can watch all your favourite shows from your home country wherever you may be. Netflix and Amazon Prime are the primary streaming services in Germany. Kick back with some chips and relax.
Mundialz understands the challenges of moving abroad for work. Our clients have found that employees who feel settled and happy in their environment are more likely to stay and perform well in their jobs. That’s why we go out of our way to help you adjust to your new way of life. Our job doesn’t end with a successful hire. We’ll continue to support you and offer you advice throughout the whole process. Don’t let borders hold you back.
Emma Samson | Content writer of Mundialz.com | February 2020
Emma is a British expat, living in the Netherlands with her family for the past 12 years. Working as a freelance copywriter and English teacher, she has a light-hearted insider view of the expat experience. Suffering from a severe Netflix addiction, she enjoys spontaneity and procrastination in equal measure.