A vacation in Thuringia can be a real voyage of discovery. In the cultural region of Wartburg in the Thuringian Forest, for example, there are many interesting treasures to uncover: In addition to tourist highlights such as Wartburg Castle or Wilhelmsburg Castle, you will also find unknown corners where you can try something new, experience culture and customs. Here are a few tips:


Vessra Monastery

Sea aquarium Zella-Mehlis


Weapons Museum Suhl


Off the beaten track: With the mountain railroad through the herb garden

Lushly blooming summer meadows, fragrant herbs by the wayside - in Germany's gigantic herb garden, the approximately 300 square kilometer "Olitätenland", you can experience the Thuringian herb tradition. From May to October, for instance, the herb-infused Olivity car of the Oberweißbacher mountain railroad on the picturesque route in the Schwarza Valley. Through the glass roof, glass-free windows and binoculars, it offers the best views of the landscape and its "treasures of the soil".

Rail in Thuringia
Small red train in a beautiful landscape - the Oberweißbach mountain railroad passes through colorful herb meadows © Luftbilder, Thomas Ab

Immerse yourself in ancient times: Veßra Monastery

Many a herb has also grown around the former Veßra monastery, for example in the lovingly reconstructed medicinal and spice herb garden. You can also dive deep into historical architecture and traditional crafts in the uniquely preserved medieval complex of the former Premonstratensian monastery. The old walls not only surround the listed monastery building including the ruins of the monastery church, burial chapel, gate tower and an exhibition on the history of the monastery. The ensemble of converted half-timbered houses is also worth seeing.

The former monastery Veßra
The former monastery Veßra is impressively well preserved © Veßra Monastery

Dive: Sea aquarium Zella-Mehlis

If you don't want to go back in time, but rather to the sea, travel to this submarine world in the forest: The Meeresaquarium Zella-Mehlis invites you to a tour through the colorful underwater world of the tropical oceans. In over 60 aquariums spread over more than 7000 square meters you will encounter the beauty of bizarre corals and sea anemones and unusual fish. In the shark tank alone, which holds more than 1,000,000 liters, you can see lemon sharks, nurse sharks, sand tiger sharks and bull sharks up close without any danger.

Shark in the aquarium in Zella-Mehlis
Hi, dear shark - in the Thuringian Forest you don't need to be afraid of the predatory fish and you can even experience them up close © Michael Reichel / arifoto.de

On the trail of the Reformation: staying with Luther

The cultural region is also ideal for extended hikes. If you like, you can follow in the footsteps of Goethe, Bach or Luther and enjoy the landscapes that inspired these great minds. The Luther Trail, for example, leads to important sites of the Reformation and sights such as the Wartburg in Eisenach and also includes Luther's 17-kilometer historic travel route to Schmalkalden. It was in this picturesque half-timbered town that Luther preached in 1537 and published his Schmalkaldic Articles, which became known worldwide as the creed of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. The Luther House, where the reformer lived at the time, offers not only a permanent exhibition on the history of the Reformation, but also a vacation apartment.

The magnificent Luther House in Schmalkalden even has a guest apartment © Moritz Kertzscher

Targeted: A museum for hunting and sporting weapons

In the middle of the 16th century, Suhl was considered the "armory of Europe". Later, the town in the Thuringian Forest moved primarily to the production of hunting weapons. And Suhl's hunting and sporting weapons still enjoy a worldwide reputation. Today, one of the most important special museums in Germany and the only special museum for handguns in Europe focuses on the tradition of shotgun and rifle production. More than 600 exhibits in the Suhl Weapons Museum document the history of Suhl handguns. Among the most valuable pieces are magnificent weapons from the 18th century. In addition, a special exhibition tells exciting stories about the origin and meaning of medieval sayings.

At the Suhl Weapons Museum
Old state weapons in the weapons museum Suhl © Waffenmuseum Suhl

Extra Tip: Families can combine a cultural trip to the Thuringian Forest with a visit to one of the many attractions for children and young people. Why not visit the Saalfeld Fairy Grottoes, the summer toboggan run in the Inselsberg Fun Park, the laser tag arena in Suhl or the Explorata world of physics in Zella-Mehlis.

Cover photo: Look who's swimming: In Zella-Mehlis, you can travel to the underwater world of tropical seas © Michael Reichel/arifoto.de

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