From beetroot & raspberry ice-cream creations to a wine-growing region you might never have heard of – the following selection of city breaks in Saxony and Thuringia will help to give you the flavour of what these German regions have to offer:
On www.visitsaxony.com, the new ‘48 hours in …’ content hub provides an overview of 13 destinations, including itineraries for a long weekend full of must-sees and things to do. Travellers with more time on their hands can also easily combine different towns in one trip. Distances are feasible and easily manageable either by train or rental car:
Try, for instance, Meissen, just outside Dresden, known for the mighty late Gothic Albrechtsburg Castle and the world-famous porcelain. However, this fairy tale town of historic houses and narrow streets also happens to be at the centre of wine making in Saxony, Germany’s smallest wine-growing region in the Elbe valley. Meissen is located on the Saxon Wine Route and many of the regional wine growers deliver their crop to the co-operative cellars in Meissen. Wine lovers will delight in the fact that the local wines are rarities and only available in limited quantities.
Less than 80 miles further east, the truly European city of Görlitz on the Neisse River attracts visitors with 4,000 historic buildings spanning half a millennium of European architectural history. Or, heading west, Freiberg, a former silver mining town at the foot of the Ore Mountains, is a treasure chest full of beautiful patrician townhouses and, with two Silbermann organs in the local cathedral, a real find for music lovers. For more information on all 13 “48 hours in …” city breaks in Saxony, click here.
Erfurt, Weimar, Gotha are a trio of destinations in Thuringia
For your Thuringian city tour, take the regional capital Erfurt with its medieval city centre as a base for exploring. It sits between Gotha in the west and Weimar in the east, with both easy to reach by public transport. Erfurt’s most famous landmarks are the stunning ensemble of St Mary’s Cathedral and Church of St Severus and the Merchants’ Bridge (Krämerbrücke) as Europe’s longest inhabited bridge with 32 picturesque houses.
A leisurely stroll over the bridge’s cobblestone narrow roadway is a must. Krämerbrücke is a co-operative and is lined with small shops selling craft and art items, cafés (‘Mundlandung’ is great for breakfast!) and artisan chocolate maker ‘Goldhelm’ which, in summer, also offers a range of homemade ice-creams that are much loved by locals and include unusual flavours such as beetroot & raspberry.
Less than 15 minutes by train, the small town of Weimar is home to 16 UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Classical Weimar and Bauhaus ensembles. In preparation for next year’s 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus art and design movement, founded in Weimar in 1919, a new Bauhaus museum is currently being built. Tip for a cultural summer break: ‘Summer in Weimar’ makes the most of the town’s many green spaces, with open-air concerts, music and arts performances from June through to September.
Gotha’s main attraction is the 17th century Friedenstein Palace, built by Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, and whose descendants today occupy the British royal throne. The mother of Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert was born in Friedenstein and the Palace later became the official residence of their second eldest son Alfred as Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The Palace’s English landscape garden is a delight and apart from the impressive Ducal Museum, there’s also the unique sight of the Ekhof Theatre as a completely preserved theatre from the late 17th century.
Easy access to Saxony and Thuringia: All major airlines fly to Berlin and Ryanair to Leipzig.