If you have only a few days for a trip, which city offers you the most for your stay? Stuttgart has more natural spaces and easy access to the Black Forest and the Alps. Frankfurt is more international and busy, and centrally located in Germany.
Stuttgart has a population of just over 635,000, slightly smaller than Frankfurt, it is a modern city with a relaxed atmosphere, perfect for a weekend trip.
Frankfurt has a population of around 753,000. It has a reconstructed old town and a large financial district. The city offers much more to do for longer stays.
Stuttgart is full of natural landscapes and is a great starting point for exploring this beautiful region of Germany on day trips. Frankfurt has plenty to see inside its city limits for a few days for those who prefer to stay within a city.
Both cities are a great way to experience traditional German culture. Stuttgart has easy access to small and quiet medieval villages. Frankfurt is one of Germany’s most important cities with busy streets and its own unique culture and history.
Table of Contents
What travelers say
- Frankfurt is a modern international city with skyscrapers, world-class shopping, and fantastic restaurants, but at higher prices even by German standards.
- Frankfurt is large and very commercial and is a major financial hub with many large banks and financial services.
- Stuttgart is more laid back than Frankfurt. It’s charming and unique with enough things to see for a couple of days. It has excellent scenic parks located right in the heart of the city.
- Frankfurt features a great market, fun walking tours with “Frankfurt on Foot”, interesting museums, and quaint Apfelwein pubs. There you can try the Green Sauce, a dish the city is famous for.
Frankfurt is the financial hub of Germany and may lack the cultural appeal that other German towns have to offer. However, the old town has been recently restored to its original style since the city was heavily bombed during WWII.
Getting from the Frankfurt airport to the city center is easy. The S-Bahn lines bring you directly into the central station in 20 minutes, every 10-15 minutes.
Going from Frankfurt airport to Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof is simple because the train station is available at the airport terminal. It runs at least once per hour with a travel time of 1:15 minutes.
Frankfurt’s public transportation system is great. You can access any part of the city using the network of street cars and buses.
Frankfurt is close to the geographic center of Germany. From there you can go to Munich, Berlin, Stuttgart, or Hamburg in about the same amount of time.
Stuttgart is the capital of the Baden-Wuerttemberg state in southwest Germany, bordering France and Switzerland, and home to the Black Forest. From the city, you can take day trips easily using affordable public transportation.
Vibe & people
Frankfurt is a beautiful city, perhaps more than Stuttgart. With newer modern buildings, it feels luxurious and high class, but it has somewhat of a cold feel to it.
The city is a great financial hub and a central location for both Germany and Europe. On the streets, international bankers and consultants are moving about speaking many different languages.
Frankfurt is near the Rhine Valley and its beautiful landscapes and scenery. There are many parks and mountains to explore nearby, such as the Taunus region which is great for hiking and biking.
Since many of the buildings in Frankfurt are relatively new, it is missing the historic aspects you would find in Berlin, Munich, or Cologne.
Stuttgart is regarded as a modern city, with a modern vibe. It features restaurants, world-class shopping, and skyscrapers. The “Altstadt” or old part of the city was never rebuilt after World War II – unlike Frankfurt’s old town.
Locals refer to Stuttgart as “Staugart” meaning traffic jam garden. The roads often get blocked up with cars. Every minute you will see another Porsche or Mercedes Benz, mainly because their headquarters are located there.
The suburbs and the areas outside of the city are beautiful, with interesting monuments and scenic countryside. The forested hills outside of the city are called the “Stuttgart Cauldron”. There are still vineyards within the city boundaries, which is quite unusual.
Stuttgart has more green areas than concrete jungle, giving it a more natural feel. Visit the Wilhelma, Europe’s largest combined zoo and botanical garden.
The Christmas Market in Stuttgart is one of the largest in all of Europe, dating back many centuries. Stalls and rooftops are beautifully decorated, and there are over 200 stands to buy goods. Millions of visitors attend each year, it is a spectacular sight.
Don’t be afraid if your German isn’t up to par, the locals in Stuttgart are quite friendly even if you don’t speak the language.
Sights & culture
“Frankfurt on Foot” is a fun walking tour and a great way to explore the city. It takes around 3-4 hours to complete and brings you to the best historical sites in Frankfurt.
Frankfurt’s Old Town was recently rebuilt to match the original Gothic, half-timbered style from many centuries ago. In the old town square, or Römerberg, is the Alte Nikolai church from the 13th century.
A short walk from the old town square is the Frankfurt Cathedral, or “Kaiserdom” meaning imperial cathedral, where coronations and elections of the Holy Roman Empire were held.
The Goethe Haus is a short walk from the old town square. It’s a museum where famous writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe lived in his early years.
Eschenheimer Turm is a guard tower built in 1425 to serve as Frankfurt’s city gate. It stands 47 meters high and is one of the city’s most notable landmarks.
The Karmeliter Cloister features 16th-century frescos by Jörg Ratgeb. The enormous wall paintings depict the life of Jesus from birth to death. Entry is free.
The Kleinmarkthalle is an indoor produce market with over 150 stands offering fresh foods, produce, flowers, and other products from all over the world.
There are several Jewish memorials in Frankfurt. The Jewish Holocaust Memorial Wall has over 12,000 names on it, and the Medieval Jewish Cemetery is one of Germany’s largest and oldest cemeteries. To learn more about Jewish history, walk to the Jewish Museum nearby.
Frankfurt has a great collection of museums. Some of the more popular ones are the Städel, Schirn Kunsthalle, and the Modern Art Museum.
Some other museums to consider seeing are the Senckenburg (natural history), the Communication Museum, the Ikonen, and the Liebighaus, known for its fine collections of sculptures.
Interesting neighborhoods to visit include lively Bornheim, Höchst with its historical buildings, Westend, a good place for a stroll, and Sachsenhausen, a local favorite.
Two main attractions in the city are the Mercedes Benz Museum, which is loved by visitors and housed inside an astounding piece of modern architecture, and the Porsche Museum, featuring the history of this iconic carmaker, including 200 race cars. It is possible to visit both companies’ assembly plants if you book in advance.
Stuttgart has some attractive architectural structures, one of which is the world’s first modern TV tower called Fernsehturm. You can enjoy magnificent 360-degree views of the city from two observation decks 216 meters above the ground.
Weissenhofsiedlung was constructed in 1927 for an architectural exposition in Stuttgart. The buildings were constructed partially using experimental materials. It is one of the first neighborhoods created with a modern look and influenced building design for decades to come.
Both the old castle “Altes Schloss” from the 10th century and the new castle “Neues Schloss” from the 18th century, have been reconstructed after the intense bombing of the city during World War II.
Nature lovers enjoy going to Wilhelma, the largest zoo and botanical garden combination in Europe, set next to a former Moorish palace. The exterior gardens are beautiful, especially in the spring, and it offers a diverse mixture of wildlife.
The world-famous Stuttgart ballet and the opera house are the most honored in Germany and worth a visit. Group tours offer insight into the inner workings of this venue and its history.
The Staatsgalerie Museum contains some impressive works of art. The Stuttgart City Museum for Modern Art and the recently renovated State Historical Museum are also worth a visit.
Stuttgart has the most vineyards of any city in Germany. Take a scenic walk from Obertürkheim to the Wine Museum in Uhlbach to learn about the history of wineries in this area.
The Cannstatter Volksfest, the world’s second-largest beer festival, is a three-week event with lots of fun.
Food & nightlife
Frankfurt is in the middle of Germany’s most prosperous and oldest wine regions. Here the Riesling and Reingau wines are remarkable.
The Frankfurt Green Sauce on a schnitzel is delicious and unique to this region.
Some typical Hessian/German specialties include the “Quetschemännsche” which are small figures made of nuts, raisins, and prunes. Another thing to try is the Feuerzangenbowle German punch.
Travelers recommend walking from Downtown across the river to the Sachsenhausen area, and entering one of the many apple wine taverns, some of which are over 100 years old and offer great food.
After dinner, you can wander through the quaint Old Sachsenhausen nearby. It’s an old town with beautiful buildings and streets, a great place to stop for a bite to have a glass of wine in the old-style bars, contrasting with the trendy modern bars found north of the river
Kiosks offer wegbier – beer for walking. Grab a couple in a bag and take a stroll along the river, or just sit and relax at the Alte Oper or Willy Brandt Platz.
Frankfurt has a plethora of clubs all over the city.
The Sachsenhausen region has many traditional German bars and restaurants. Have dinner at a local Äppelwoi Wirtschaft (Frankfurter Apfelwein tavern). There you can sample the famous green sauce Grune Sauss and tasty apple wine Āppelwoi.
Weinstubes or Besenwirtschafts are privately owned bars by wine growers and a great place to enjoy Swabian food and wine.
Some well-known restaurants with Swabian dishes are the Weinstube Heslach, which is just outside of the city center, Weinstube Frolich, and Weinstube Kiste.
If you are in the Bad Cannstatt part of Stuttgart, go to the Weinstube Kloesterle inside an old medieval home.
Wielandshoehe is a great 1-star Michelin restaurant on top of a hill overlooking Stuttgart. It can be reached via the cogwheel railway.
Zeil is the main shopping street in Frankfurt, with the large MyZeil shopping mall and a good mix of other retail stores along a long open promenade in the city center.
Berger Strasse offers a nice mix of shops, small restaurants, and bars. It’s a great place to take a break from shopping and have some traditional-style food or simply have a coffee.
Koenigstrasse is the main street for shopping in Stuttgart. There you can find small fashion boutiques and a number of restaurants and cafes. If you are looking for a larger department store, check out Breuinger. You can also travel to the nearby town of Metzingen which has lots of factory outlets at great prices.
Steigenberger Icon Frankfurter Hof is located near the historic district of Frankfurt. It is an elegant hotel, with both modern and traditional decorations. There is a spa and Turkish bath with great outdoor seating for breakfast, and classy indoor rooms for dining.
If you want to be right in the middle of Old Town Frankfurt, the Hilton Frankfurt City Centre is in a great location. It has a spa, gym, and half-size Olympic swimming pool.
The Frankfurt Marriot Hotel offers rooms with fantastic skyline views of the city and is only one kilometer from the central station. It has easy access to the A4 motorway and underground parking.
The well-known Sofitel Frankfurt Opera is a 5-star hotel located in the Old Town. It has a modern high-class feel. Dine indoors or outside and enjoy scenic views of the city.
Le Méridien Stuttgart is one of the top hotels to stay in. It’s close to all of the museums in Stuttgart. The rooms and dining areas are spacious and classy. Enjoy the unique swimming pool or sit outside in a small garden area in good weather.
Maritim Hotel Stuttgart is great if you are planning on shopping in the city, Koenigstrass street is only one km away. It features a beautiful indoor pool, and the dining rooms are quite elegant.
EmiLu Design Hotel is right in the center of Old Town Stuttgart. There a good views of the city from the top floor terrace. The rooms are modern and stylish.
Heidelberg is about an hour away by train, where you can visit Heidelberg Castle, one of the most impressive castles in Germany. The old town and marketplace are very lovely, along with the historic university.
The Baroque architecture of Würzburg is worth the train ride from Frankfurt. It’s right on the Main river. Enjoy the wine, and explore the wonders of the massive Würzburg Residence. The tour of the interior is breathtaking.
In Rüdeshiem take a pleasant boat ride on the Rhine River. This small quaint village is known for its wine, old traditional houses, and small cobblestone streets. A great way to relax in a friendly atmosphere.
The medieval city of Esslingen is a 15-minute train ride away. Visit Kessler Sekt, Germany’s oldest sparkling wine cellar. It has been in production since 1826, and it is right off the main square.
A 20-minute train ride north of Stuttgart is Ludwigsburg, a small city built around the enormous Ludwigsburg Palace, or “Swabian Versailles”. It is the largest palace estate in all of Germany. Be sure to book a ticket in advance for the interior tour.
Southeast of Stuttgart is Swabian Jura or “Swabian Alps”. It’s a beautiful region with many castles and palaces. Go on a hike and explore several caves with ice age art and superb clifftop views. The best way to explore the Swabian Jura is by car.
The Black Forest, known for its evergreen scenery and traditional villages in the mountainous German southwest, is easily accessed from Stuttgart.