In our ongoing quest to find worthwhile “under the radar destinations” or UNRADs, we recently uncovered a cute little gem of a town just 14 km south of Stuttgart. While little Esslingen was once a major trade center in the middle ages, it now is essentially just a pretty little Stuttgart suburb. A big difference though is that while Stuttgart was largely rebuilt after 1945, Esslingen suffered very little damage and its medieval city center has a charm that Stuttgart simply cannot match. It is every bit as charming as some of Germany’s more heavily touristed towns, such as Rothenburg ob der Tauber and not nearly as crowded. The town has several excellent restaurants serving regional and international cuisine. Another big plus for Esslingen is that it is very close to Mercedes Benz’ headquarters and the fabulous Mercedes Museum. The Porsche headquarters and museum is also a short drive away.
For us, the big draw however was Esslingen’s Jazz Keller, a terrific club venue for live jazz. This weekend we heard our friend, Anat Cohen, play with her quartet.
Our recommendation is that if you’re going to Stuttgart as a tourist, and especially if you are there to visit the Mercedes or Porsche plants, stay in Esslingen and take the train wherever you want to go. You’ll find your visit much more rewarding and relaxing.