Outdoors in the Thuringian Highlands

Eine ursprüngliche Natur, fantastische Aussichtspunkte und ganz viel Blau.

Unspoilt nature, fantastic viewing points and a lot of blue. Nature guide Franziska Jacob points out the most beautiful places in the Thuringian Highlands/Upper Saale Nature Park.

It is early in the morning. There is still dew on the knee-high grass of the meadows. The rays of the sun fan out over forested hills and brush the deep valleys through which the Saale, the blue vital artery of the Thuringian Highlights, winds in large loops. For a distance of 250 kilometres, the river flows through Thuringia to the Saale reservoirs Hohenwarte and Bleiloch, which are nicknamed “the Thuringian Sea”. “The Saale is my favourite river,” says the nature guide Franziska Jacob. Then she looks into the distance as if seeing this natural region for the first time and wanting to assimilate every detail of this view. But she has been familiar with the sight of the Saale loop at the Fernsicht viewing point for years: “I love this location. This is a very special place in my home region!” Franziska Jacob grew up in the Thuringian Highlands and is attached to this region. She spent some time living in Sweden with her family. But her longing for her home region was stronger. 
She now works in the administration of the Thuringian Highlands/Upper Saale Nature Park and volunteers as a certified nature and landscape guide. In this role, she shows visitors what fascinates her so much about this unique part of the world. 

(Bild: Im Thüringer Schiefergebirge aufgewachsen: Naturführerin Franziska Jacob ©Volker Renner / Thüringer Tourismus GmbH)




“I love the nature of this region,” she says. “I can think of nothing better than showing other people what hidden and beautiful natural treasures our country has to offer.”
And there are a lot of these. On the Hohenwarte Reservoir Trail, one of Germany’s most beautiful hiking trails, visitors can say the “Thuringian Sea” in its magnificent diversity. The trail goes around the largest contiguous reservoir area in Europe and provides fantastic views. Franziska is particularly pleased about the service offered by the Thuringian Sea hiking bus: “It is great that this bus gives visitors the opportunity of an easy entry to active experiences of nature.” However, it is important to leave enough time. If you just come in a hurry to experience a couple of highlights, the beauty of this region will pass you by. You should find peace here and enjoy the fairytale landscape.

According to Franziska, the Linkenmühle campsite on the banks of the Saale is the perfect place for this. Here, you can park a camper van almost right by the water. With its own bathing beach, this campsite is a wonderful place to spend some time. Anyone who likes a more active holiday can put their balancing skills to the test here on the SUP boards. 
Another highlight can be reached on foot from the campsite: the Mühlenfähre ferry. “Many people come only to take a trip in Thuringia’s only car ferry,” says Franziska. The crossing of the 400-metre-wide waterway takes around five minutes and saves you a journey of 33 kilometres. The Mühlenfähre ferry takes not only motorbikes, cars and camper vans, but also hikers and cyclists. A special kind of experience.

Many rare species of animal have found a home in this unspoilt landscape. Fire salamanders, black storks and boreal owls are under special protection here. A bat walk in the evening is an experience for the whole family. Between May and September is the best time to observe these animals, which are active at night-time. As soon as the sun has gone down, the bats leave their habitats and fly out to go hunting. At selected points in the nature park, you can borrow a bat rucksack and go on a night hike. “In this way, you can experience a completely different side of nature,” says Franziska Jacob. “A real little adventure.” In addition to a detector that makes the cries of the bats audible, the bat rucksack also contains torches and suitable recommended routes.
As well as outdoor experiences, Franziska Jacob’s home region also offers a number of cultural highlights. She would particularly like to highlight Burgk Castle, the oldest and largest castle complex in the Thuringian Highlands. “In my view, it is a real fairytale castle, like from a picture book,” she says. What was once the castle of the reeves and lords of Gera and Plauen is in an idyllic location on a rocky plateau high above the Upper Salle. Today, the castle houses historic living space and exhibition space. With concerts, festivals and various exhibitions, it is regarded as a cultural centre in the south-east of Thuringia. 

A visit to the hydroelectric power museum in Ziegenrück is also recommended. “Such places are unfortunately rare. So much passion has been put into it, and visitors can really experience something,” says Franziska Jacob. The Fernmühle mill was converted into the first running water power plant of the Upper Saale in around 1900. In the power plant, which has now been declared a historic monument, visitors can experience how electricity is generated from hydroelectric power. At the same time, the museum offers a large portion of local history.
Thuringia even has something to offer the youngest visitors: the Fridlin wooden toy factory in Döschnitz. Here, modern wooden toys in bright colours are lovingly crafted by hand. On request, the proprietor Hans-Peter Keil and his wife Sigrid are happy to give tours through the production facility and provide exciting insights. Wouldn’t you love to be a child again.

(Bild: Naturführerin Franziska Jacob im Austausch mit einem kleinen Freund: dem Feuersalamander. ©Volker Renner / Thüringer Tourismus GmbH9



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