6 top experiences in the Cultural Heart of Germany for summer & beyond

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We know things tend to keep on changing in the “new normal“ but for now, fully vaccinated UK travellers can enter Germany without the need for quarantining. Cue, a selection of top experiences in the Cultural Heart of Germany regions of Saxony and Thuringia – including magical bridges and trails in gloriously unspoilt woodlands.

Take a deep breath in ancient woodlands
A tourism initiative to our liking: Thuringia’s “Urwaldpfade” (jungle trails) take hikers to a selection of the region’s most primeval and ancient forests. You can choose from more than a dozen routes, including in the wonderful UNESCO-listed Hainich National Park, to dive deep into unspoilt nature. It’s clean, green, and just what we all need now. Handy: Outdoor platform Outdooractive lists all of them with an English translation option.

Paddle out to Leipzig’s lakes
Combine urban cool with outdoor activities in Leipzig, where a system of canals takes you out to “Leipzig Lakeland”, a recreational area and tourism regenerative project featuring a collection of idyllic lakes, which used to be – opencast mines. Canoes can be hired in the city centre for the approximately 5.5 miles paddle out to the lakes. Or take the bike and enjoy the trails around the waters, beaching and water sports included.

Unique places to stay in Saxony
From romantic vineyards to spending the night in a factory loft, Saxony offers travellers a diverse range of accommodation options beyond the usual. Highlights include lakeside holiday apartments in the former guards houses of Moritzburg Castle just outside Dresden, charming guest houses on the historic Hoflößnitz wine estate or a super cool “Meisterzimmer” loft on the grounds of Leipzig’s art hub Spinnerei, a former cotton mill. Pick and choose!

Cameras at the ready
Stunning 19th century Rakotz Bridge in the Kromlau rhododendron park close to Saxony’s border with Poland is, unsurprisingly, a favourite with photographers. The bridge was specifically built to create a circle when it is reflected in the waters beneath and after extensive restoration work to save its delicate structure has come to an end, happy snappers can now again find their perfect angle. Tip: combine your visit with an exploration of the nearby UNESCO World Heritage site Prince Pueckler Park Bad Muskau.

Discover Thuringia’s hidden wine-growing region
It is not widely known but winegrowing is a thing in Thuringia and quality wines have been produced for many centuries in the region’s share of the Saale-Unstrut wine growing region which is one of Europe’s northernmost wine regions. Tip: Explore the vineyards on the hiking trails around the city of Jena east of Thuringia’s capital Erfurt and don’t miss Dornburg Palaces! This dreamy collection of three palaces and beautiful gardens above the Saale river offers great views and is part of this year’s BUGA garden festival with its hub in Erfurt and a range of sites across the whole region.

Hello, hobbit houses
Here’s a good one for families: Thuringia’s “Auenland” holiday village features eight hobbit houses for rent and these 3-star earth homes for up to 4 people certainly offer more comfort than what Frodo Baggins is used to. The location right in the Thuringian Forest Nature Park is ideal for outdoor adventures and exploring Germany’s most popular long-distance hiking trail Rennsteig. And the on-site adventure playground and summer toboggan run keep children busy and parents more relaxed.

Rakotz bridge, Saxony, copyright: Anita Demianowicz