Outdoorsy might not automatically think of Germany is a top destination for travel, but a little research into the Thuringian Forest will change all that. This scenic stretch of forest is known for its beautiful hiking trails, winter sports, and natural beauty. Called Thuringerwald in German, this forest is located in the central region of the country and stretches for more than 75 miles. With the highest peak stretching to upwards of 3,000 feet above sea level, there are many opportunities to stop sand soak up the views from scenic vistas in the forest, and due to its central location, Thuringia is easy to reach from Dresden, Stuttgart, Berlin, and especially Ulm. Pack your hiking boots and get ready to explore the more natural side of Germany.
While outdoor adventure is a top attraction in the Thuringian Forest, there are also a few other attractions too. One of the most famous is the Wartburg Castle. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was founded in 1068, making it an extraordinary piece of history. The castle however is famous for much more than its age and architecture. In the early sixteenth century, the Protestant reformer Martin Luther stayed at the castle in exile. Many visitors today get their first introduction to Thuringerwald with the Wartburg Castle, and many of these find it so beautiful that they don’t rush to leave.
The Thuringian Forest is particularly noted for serving as inspiration to German poets over the course of centuries. Some Germans even go as far to call the forest the “philosophical soul” or the “green heart” of the country. The highlands of the forest are not only appealing to nature lovers, but these highlands are home to many charming villages for travelers who want to explore German life and culture outside the cities. Music fans won’t want to miss out on visiting one local town called Eisenach, the birthplace of Johann Sebastian Bach. This is just one example of the rich culture you will find in this forest.
The most popular path for exploring Thuringerwald is called the Rennsteig trails. These hiking and biking trails extend for more than 100 miles, and they allow visitors to experience all the best attractions and scenery in the forest. The Rennsteig is an ancient path, following the main ridge through the forest and dividing the calmer terrain of central Germany with the more rugged, mountainous land in the southern part of the country. The trails aren’t for the faint of heart, however—there are some areas that are very steep. Travelers interested in winter sports should visit Oberhof while mountain climbers might want to attempt to get the peak of Mount Beerberg or Mount Schneekopf. One incredible place for hikes is called Dragon’s Gorge. This dense forest is full of hidden waterfalls and mountain streams.
A trip to the Thuringian forest will provide so much more than nature. Beyond music and culture, this forest also gave birth to the rocking horse and other German toys. You can learn about their history at the museum at Ehrenstein Palace. To end your trip, there would be no better place to spend a few days recovering from all the hiking and biking than the spa town of Bad Blankenburg. Along with Spreewald, this forest is known as one of the most peaceful destinations in Germany, which holds appeal for travelers who love nature, history, culture, and the beautiful scenery of central Europe.