Silent mountain forests, clear mountain streams, flowering meadows, lonely moors: in southwestern Thuringia, nature is king.
Overnight guests of eleven communities in the Thuringian Forest can use their guest card and the Rennsteig ticket included in it to travel by bus and use the Rennsteig shuttle on weekends. Combined with the convenient train journey, you can enjoy a relaxing and environmentally friendly vacation in the UNESCO biosphere reserve.
Stand still. Pause. Take a deep breath and come to yourself first: The Thuringian Forest is a piece of nature like something out of a storybook. Blooming mountain meadows and extensive mixed forests, mysterious moors and bubbling streams combine to create a mystical natural landscape that you just want to dive deep into. To sniff flowers, listen to the buzzing of wild bees, look for warblers and black woodpeckers - just two of the many rare species here - wade through foaming streams and make a pilgrimage from village to village in well-laced hiking boots.
This piece of Thuringia between Oberhof, Ilmenau, Masserberg and Suhl has been a UNESCO-recognized biosphere reserve since 1979. Today it is considered a model region for sustainable development and climate-friendly nature tourism. As one of 23 Destination Nature areas in Germany, you can travel here in an environmentally friendly way by train and use the "Rennsteig Ticket" to get around easily by bus and train - completely free of charge for overnight guests.
And what else goes on in this area of the Thuringian Forest? Hiking, of course, which is a special pleasure here. In 36 hours you could walk around the area once completely. But it's even nicer to walk right through the middle of it, of course. On the Rennsteig for example, Germany's oldest long-distance and high-altitude hiking trail, which runs along here for 30 kilometers. You can also go with rangers or nature guides to impressive places or on a fragrant herb hike. On the high moor nature trail near Oberhof you can get to know the plants and animals of these mysterious landscapes safely and on dry feet. The primeval forest trail near Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig, which leads along picturesque streams through untouched forests in five hours, is - especially on warm summer days - a hot and refreshing tip. Cool end: the forest pool in Breitenbach.
And if you're really curious afterwards, the Biosphere Reserve Information Center in Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig provides you interactively with lots of background knowledge about this remarkable protected area in the Thuringian Forest. And you can find out, for example, how the region is connected to other UNESCO protected areas around the world.
Eleven friends: In the Thuringian Forest, eleven communities have joined forces and, with the guest card, simultaneously offer the Rennsteig ticket an: The bus and the Schwarzabahn are free of charge within these eleven regions, and on weekends the Rennsteig Shuttle also includes the train. The Rennsteig ticket is handed out together with the guest card directly at the check-in in your accommodation. You can find more information here.
By the way, you can find tips on how to travel comfortably and inexpensively on long-distance and local trains with Deutsche Bahn here.
Cover photo: The biosphere reserve measures about 16 by 18 kilometers and is located in the heart of the Thuringian Forest © Dominik Ketz
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