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Those who want to combine water sports with relaxing hiking trails and interesting bike tours will be thrilled by the largest contiguous reservoir area in Europe. Three top Thuringian athletes have explored the region for us.

The charming landscape of the Thuringian Sea is located in the heart of the Thuringian Slate Mountains and Upper Saale Nature Park. Europe's largest contiguous reservoir area was built along the Saale in the 1930s in a charming mixture of forest and water. Almost fjord-like, the Saale forms an approximately 80 kilometer long and five times dammed Saale cascade - the "Thuringian Sea".

What to do in such a water paradise The possibilities are obvious: rowing, motor boating, diving, water skiing, fishing. In other words, there are plenty of opportunities to diversify your vacation in Thuringia. All of this is made easier by the region's many hiking and biking trails, including the "Hohenwarte Stausee Weg" quality hiking trail and the Saale Cycle Path. Culture is not neglected either: In Saalburg-Ebersdorf, for example, you can discover the enchanting Ebersdorf park and castle grounds. And finally, there is the spa town of Bad Lobenstein with the Ardesia-Therme, the only mud spa in Thuringia, which stands for wellness and relaxation.

A summer day with the winter stars

But how does such an ideal vacation day then concretely out, as one experiences it ideally at the Thuringian Sea? Three successful German winter athletes have tried it out. Mariama Jamanka is an Olympic champion in the two-man bobsled, Dajana Eitberger from Ilmenau in Thuringia is a European champion and silver medalist in luge. Finally, Johannes Ludwig, also a native of Thuringia from Oberhof, is a successful luger and won a gold medal with the German team at the last Olympic Games. The two winter sports enthusiasts made a start and set off on a discovery tour on the Bleilochtalsperre, Germany's largest reservoir at 28 kilometers near Saalburg-Ebersdorf. The adventure began for the two of them with the unusual way in which they spent the night: they booked themselves into a wonderful floating vacation home called a "Treibhouse".

The first sporting item on the agenda of the two athletes follows early in the morning: stand-up paddling with Carolin Pfeffer from CSports Fitness. Mariama and Dajana like the wobble on the SUP very much, but the two top athletes seem to feel much more comfortable on the bike. On this day, they are on a section of the Saale Cycle Path. It measures 403 kilometers in its entire length. But even a short stage keeps you fit. The fact that there is also a lot of culture to see on the tour is a bonus. Burgk Castle, for example, with its baroque rooms and its unique historic kitchen fireplace, the largest in Germany.

On the road with a multi-tasker

It's nice when you can do (almost) everything: The successful Olympic luger Johannes Ludwig from Oberhof in Thuringia is normally on skates in the ice channel. On the Thuringian Sea, however, he proves that he doesn't swim on a sailing ship either. He starts his trip at the SEZ Kloster (Segelsport und Erlebnispädagogisches Zentrum Kloster), which is run by the Thuringian Sports Federation, and floats over the fjord-like waters near Saalburg-Ebersdorf.

A little chat with fellow sledder Dajana Eitberger, who has meanwhile made herself comfortable on the floating "Treibhouse" villa, then it's already on from the Bleilochtalsperre in the direction of the Hohenwarte reservoir. At the idyllic Linkenmühle campsite, multi-tasker Ludwig then changes vehicles once again and paddles a canoe to the well-known Saale loop. This is an experience even for spoiled natures. For Johannes Ludwig, at least, the day was perfect.

Cover photo: The best view of the Saale Loop is supposedly from the "Devil's Pulpit". If that's too un-Catholic for you, any vantage point on this natural spectacle is world class © Paul Hentschel

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