Saxony and Thuringia feature some of Germany's most stunning landscapes, including nature parks and protected areas. From the ancient trees of Hainich National Park to the stunningly bizarre rock formations of Saxon Switzerland - get your nature fix here and explore the region's countryside!
Eichsfeld & Werratal valley
The Eichsfeld in Thuringia’s northwest is an idyllic landscape and dominated by forested hills, lovely river valleys and small towns and villages full of timber-framed houses. While the northern part of this region is characterised by shell limestone plateaus with deep valleys and edgy rocks, the southern part features the romantic landscape of the Werra river, meandering its way through rock formations and pastoral river meadows. Tip: Explore the region’s excellent hiking and cycling routes including a stretch of the unique “Green Belt”, once the well-guarded border between East and West Germany and now an unusual nature reserve.
Hainich National Park
As one of Central Europe’s last remaining primeval beech forests, Hainich National Park is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site and home to rare plants and animals such as the endangered European wild cat. Then there’s a spectacular canopy walk at tree-top level, no doubt one one of the park's major visitor attractions. However, you are also very much encouraged to really dive into this unique piece of nature, following various hiking and cycling routes that cross Hainich National Park. Indulge in some forest bathing here and explore a unique wilderness in the heart of Europe!
Leipzig New Lakeland
Leipzig New Lakeland, just outside the city, is a stunning example of how a former industrial area can be transformed into idyllic nature: On 70 square kilometres, former opencast mines were flooded to create a beautiful region of 22 lakes that connect directly to the city: Yes, you can get to the New Lakeland by canoe from Leipzig! Once there, it’s all about water sports, be it surfing, sailing, wakeboarding, water skiing, stand-up paddling or just swimming. Choose from a variety of lakes and sandy beaches: Cospuden Lake is the most popular and famous one, there’s the lively Markleeberg Lake with one of Europe’s most modern white water facilities or Albrechthain Lake, surrouned by forest, for relaxation and quiet, shady spots.
Lusatian Lake District
The Lusatian Lake District in Saxony is another fascinating example of regeneration where East Germany’s old mines were transformed into a pristine landscape of glistening lakes, canals and soaring pine forest. A recreational area of 21 new lakes plus numerous natural forest lakes offers plenty of watersports opportunitie and idyllic beaches. The region is also perfect for cycling with many well appointed routes.
Widely considered as one of the most beautiful low mountain sceneries, the Ore Mountains attract hikers, cycling and nature lovers with spectacular views and a fascinating combination of nature and unique traditions. They take their name from the once thriving silver ore mining industry that goes back many centuries. On 100 miles, the mountains extend along the border between Saxony and the Czech Republic, with their highest peak “Fichtelberg” at 1,215 metres. In summer, hiking holidays and mountain biking are very popular activities and in winter, the Ore Mountains become a favoured destination for downhill and cross-country skiing enthusiasts. The regions benefits from hundreds of miles of hiking and cycling paths, ski trails and nature trails that take visitors through wide-ranging forests and romantic brook valleys to stunning observation points and the Ore Mountains’ fascinating historical buildings and heritage sites.
Not much known outside Germany, the Rhön region in Thuringia is a hidden gem of gently rolling hills, open spaces, meadow orchards and pastures. It is home to the Rhön sheep with their distinctive black heads and blissfully rural with idyllic villages and farming estates, many of them selling home-made products in their own shops. The former East-West-German border once ran right through this area and the “death strip” alongside it, is now, ironically, a delightful “green belt” where wildlife was given the chance to thrive for decades and take back a once off-limits strip of land, turning it into something beautiful. A hike on this route is highly recommended! Another highlight is the so-called “Sternenpark” (park of stars) as an area that is practically free of light pollution: Come here for a nocturnal hiking tour and spectacular views of the night sky with its stars and planets.
Looking for an unforgettable experience? Then put Saxon Switzerland’s unique landscape of strangely shaped sandstone mountains, valleys and gorges on your list. Saxony’s only National Park stretches from the picturesque town of Pirna on the Elbe river south-east of Dresden up to the Czech border and is not just one of Europe’s most beautiful landscapes but also also one of the continents most surprising. With more than 700 summits, it is a haven for rock climbers, and the less adventurous ones can choose from hundreds of miles of hiking trails. Take it all in from the Bastei bridge, one of the most scenic spots, and be enchanted by a place like no other.
In the Thuringian Forest, densely forested mountain routes alternate with amazing panoramic views, idyllic valleys and charming little villages. As Thuringia’s most visited holiday region for activity holidays, it is a mecca for hikers, mountain bikers and nature lovers. The legendary Rennsteig long-distance trail forms the Thuringian Forest’s “backbone”, stretching from west to east over a distance of approx. 110 miles. More attractions: The legendary Wartburg Castle with the nearby Dragon’s Gorge, a stunning geological formation where hikers are surrounded by moss-covered rocks or Thuringia’s highest mountain “Großer Beerberg” at 982 metres.