Beautiful places and highlights in Thüringen (Thuringia)

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Germany is popular as a vacation destination, as everyone knows. Yet many visitors end up in states like North Rhine-Westphalia (Winterberg, Eifel), Rhineland-Palatinate (Moselle) or Bavaria. Too bad, because Thuringia is not much further in terms of distance and there is an awful lot to see. This state boasts a green, rolling landscape with atmospheric towns and is teeming with castles. I’d like to list some great places and sights in Thuringia for you.

The state of Thüringen

The state of Thüringen (Thuringia) is located in the middle of Germany. The region used to consist of several dukedoms; it wasn’t until 1920 that all these smaller territories were merged. It is still clearly visible when you drive through the hilly landscape. Wherever you are in Thüringen, you will almost always see 1 or more castles (or ruins) standing somewhere in the area atop hilltops.

Famous cities and villages in Thüringen

From Utrecht, it is about a 6-hour drive to Erfurt, the capital of Thuringia. In the north of Thuringia you will find foothills of the Harz, in the south lies the Thuringian Forest. In the middle of Thuringia, almost on a horizontal line, are the most famous cities: Eisenach, Erfurt, Weimar, Gotha and Jena.

Also read: 20 sights in Goslar, on the north side of the Harz


Eisenach is the first town you encounter when driving into Thuringia from the Netherlands. The famous composer Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach, and Martin Luther was allowed to call the city home. In addition, Eisenach is also known for its automobile production.

Eisenach Thüringen -

Highlights in Eisenach

It is highly recommended to take a look at the Bach House. Here you can read all about the life of the famous composer Johann Sebastian Bach. The Lutherhaus is the house where Martin Luther lived for 3 years during his school days and also one of the oldest half-timbered houses still in good condition in all of Thuringia.

Bachhaus Eisenach Thüringen -
Lutherhaus Eisenach Thüringen -

The Wartburg in Eisenach

The Wartburg is an important site in Eisenach. The castle stands atop a 441-meter-high hill and you have a wide view of the city of Eisenach and its surroundings. Founded in the latter part of the 11th century, the Wartburg is the only castle in Germany with a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Inside the Wartburg there is much to see from different periods. Chances are the glass mosaic-decorated room of Elisabeth, the knights’ hall and the banquet hall will impress you a lot.

The Wartburg Eisenach Thüringen -
The Wartburg Eisenach Thüringen -

Hainich National Park

From Eisenach you can drive to Hainich National Park in half an hour. Only a few places in Europe have native beech forests. Hainich is one of those places. In 2011, the park was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List Ancient and prehistoric beech forests of the Carpathians and other regions of Europe.

If you enter the park at the Thiemsburg visitors center, you can take a hike along the 530-meter-long treetop trail. The path has a height varying between 13 and 24 meters which gives you a beautiful view of the national park from above. From the 40-meter-high watchtower which stands in the middle of the 8-shaped tree crown path, the view of the surroundings is absolutely stunning! In the visitors center itself you have an exhibition about the native beech in general and about everything that lives in the national park. If you prefer not to read in English or German you can use an audio guide in Dutch.

There is no specific season to recommend a visit to Hainich. In spring, for example, the forest is full of colorful flowers and wild garlic. For a very green forest, you should come in mid-summer. For beautiful fall colors, autumn is the time to visit Hainich. The beech trees turn red then, which together with all the other shades of green and yellow make for a spectacular picture.

Hainich National Park Thüringen -
Hainich National Park Thüringen -


In Erfurt, you go back to the Middle Ages in the old town. Much has remained intact here, even after World War II. Impressive is the Krämerbrücke, a 125-meter-long bridge filled with medieval cottages. There used to be 62 cottages, but over time the cottages were merged and now there are 32. In two places the water of the Gera River flows under the bridge. Because this is a branch of the river, the water averages 20 centimeters high, making it a popular place to cool off in the summer.

Erfurt view on Krämerbrücke Thüringen -

Highlights in Erfurt

Besides the Krämerbrücke, there are many other attractions in Erfurt. Too many to mention actually! One interesting site is the old Synagogue. For centuries, the Synagogue seems to have been forgotten, until it was rediscovered in the 1990s. In the basement of the Synagogue is the treasure of Erfurt on display. Found during construction work in 1998, this treasure consists of 28 kilograms of silver and gold. The most startling piece in the treasure is a Jewish wedding ring made of gold.

Erfurt Altstadt Thüringen -

For a great view, climb the tower of Ägidienkirche. From here you can look out over the Krämerbrücke and all of Erfurt. In the distance are the Mariendom and the St. Severi visible, standing side by side on Cathedral Hill. The Augustinian Monastery is another great place to visit, both for history buffs and lovers of architecture. Martin Luther lived here for a time as a monk and the building houses an exhibition on his life.

Read more about this beautiful city in our article 13 highlights in Erfurt.

Erfurt Augustineklooster Thüringen -

Leuchtenburg Castle

It is an hour’s drive from Erfurt to Leuchtenburg Castle. The castle sits on a 400-meter-high hilltop, and in the old part there are a lot of authentic rooms to visit. The new part has a permanent exhibition: Porcelain Worlds. The exhibition shows you the history of porcelain from all over the world. Of course, Thuringian porcelain is in the spotlight here. A place not to be missed in the castle is the porcelain chapel. This chapel has been ecumenically consecrated allowing baptism and marriage. After visiting, you can write a wish on a porcelain plate and throw it down from the 20-meter-high Skywalk. Brings good luck they say :-)

Read more about my visit to the extraordinary Leuchtenburg Castle in this article.

Leuchtenbrug Castle exhibition porcelain worlds sights in Thuringia -


Also, the city Weimar is well worth a visit when in Thuringia. Weimar is a bustling city with a lot of cultural value. There are many large, historic buildings in the city, giving it a grand appearance, even though it is not at all large in terms of surface area. There are plenty of restaurants and cozy terraces in the center. Weimar is very popular with students. The Bauhaus University is located here which ensures that young people from all over the world study in Weimar.

Bauhaus university Weimar -

Highlights in Weimar

Weimar has many city gardens and parks. One of the most famous parks is Park an der Ilm, which includes Goethe’s garden house (Roman house). Schloss Weimar is located on the north side of the park. More greenery can be found around Schloss Belvedere. This beautiful castle, which served as the summer residence of Duke of Saxe-Weimar Ernst August, is located atop a hill at the end of Belvederer Allee. Plenty of opportunities for walking here through beautifully landscaped gardens and dense forests. And in many places beautiful views of the city of Weimar.

Slot Belvedere Weimar -

The new Bauhaus Museum is a must visit for lovers of architecture and art. It is located opposite the Gauforum, which was built by the National Socialists between 1937 and 1945. These buildings are huge and, because of their size, were mainly meant to convey that the National Socialists were in power.

Other attractions in Weimar include the Anna Amalia Library, the Goethe-Schiller monument, Liszt’s house, the Peter and Paul Church and Fürstengruft, the crypt where several members of the ducal family are buried, as well as Goethe and Schiller.

Park an der Ilm Slot Weimar Thüringen -

Weimarer Land

The area surrounding Weimar is known as Weimarer Land. Hills, authentic villages and endless meadows; this is what you can expect when driving through Weimarer Land. Curious about how people used to live here? You can see it at the Hohenhelden open-air museum. Weimarer Land lends itself extremely well to hiking and cycling. If you get on your bike or go hiking, Buchfart is a nice stop during your trip. Here you will find a rather rare, 43-meter-long wooden bridge that is completely covered. The bridge is located next to the Buchfarter mill. Flour has been made here for centuries. The German bakery next to the bridge still makes bread with the flour from the mill.

Hohenfelden open-air museum Weimarer Land Thüringen -
German bakery Buchfart Weimarer Land Thüringen -

Thuringian bratwurst

We all know bratwursts but nowhere are they more delicious than in Thuringia. The fine Thuringian bratwursts are roasted on charcoal after being in a bath of beer extract with mustard, onions and spices. If this bath is not available, it also happens that the grill is smeared with a mixture of beer and herbs before the bratwursts go on the grill. A Thuringian bratwurst is usually eaten in a bun with mustard but often with sauerkraut and baked potatoes. Or with potato salad. If you love meat and are in Thuringia you can’t pass up this specialty!

Thuringian bratwurst -

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