Looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure in Germany? You’ve already done Berlin, Bavaria and the Black Forest, so explore another area of the country by venturing to the state of Thuringia – and stay at one of these top hotels, bookable with Culture Trip, for the ultimate German experience.
Let’s start off in the state capital, Erfurt, a beautiful city that dates back to prehistoric times. Hotel Krämerbrücke places you right in the middle of town, with views of half-timbered houses and the Instagrammable Merchants’ Bridge. Rooms have a crisp design and a homely feel, and downstairs you’ll find an excellent restaurant and bar. Alternatively, there is a huge selection of cafes, restaurants and bars within walking distance, plus a number of galleries, museums and shops.
A stay at this boutique hotel puts you in prime position for a shopping spree thanks to its position in Erfurt’s old town, where you’ll find a wide variety of independent shops. The hotel offers accessible rooms designed specifically for wheelchair users, as well as traditional single and double rooms, suites and full-blown apartments, for those wanting to stay a little longer. And you’ll definitely want to when you discover the wine bar next door, which stocks wines from Germany and all over the world, as well as serving traditional Thuringian food and locally brewed beers.
About halfway between Erfurt and Leipzig is this hotel, which lies in what locals call the Tuscany of the East. You have the gentle hills and plentiful vineyards to thank for that comparison, but there is a similar serenity to be had by spending some time in this quiet patch of Germany. The resort itself is set on the impressive grounds of what was once Auerstedt Castle, so expect well-kept gardens and courtyards, while a more recent addition is the beautiful Maloca – a Brazilian-style longhouse set near a wine terrace and natural pond. Be sure to have at least one meal in the exceptional hotel restaurant, Reinhardt’s im Schloss.
Hikers, take note. You couldn’t be better placed to explore the vast and untouched Thuringian Forest, known as the Green Heart of Germany, than when you stay at Panoramahotel am Marienturm. There are woodlands, parks and rivers nearby with lots of hiking and cycling trails, but you’ll also be conveniently located in the enchanting town of Rudolstadt, which is just as pretty to walk around. The hotel itself blends beautifully into its environment, and the warm hospitality of the owners will have you feeling right at home.
Another town amid the rolling hills of German Tuscany is Bad Sulza, a small but very charming place that has its best attraction within its best hotel. Toskana Therme is an internationally renowned thermal spa within an ultra-modern-looking structure. Immerse yourself in a world designed purely for your relaxation, with special baths, thermal pools and a wide range of treatments on offer. Rooms are spacious and elegantly designed with soothing views of the surrounding forest.
Weimar, while not the largest, is one of the most historically significant and culturally rich cities in all of Germany. The best spot to spend the night here is the Leonardo, which lies just minutes away from the gorgeous old town. Explore the nearby Schloss Weimar, Bauhaus Museum and the Goethe National Museum, which celebrates famous German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Perhaps the city’s highlight, however, is Park an der Ilm. The Unesco-listed site is a majestic landscaped park conceptualised by Goethe himself alongside Duke Carl August. The best part? This gorgeous park is literally on the doorstep of the Leonardo Hotel.
Back in Erfurt sits this pretty little boutique on the outskirts of the city. Hotel Linderhof is only 20 minutes down the road from Weimar, so it’s the perfect place to stay if you’re looking to split your time between the two cities. There are two obvious highlights here. The beautifully designed gardens, rich in flora and perfect for a calming morning stroll, and the excellent on-site restaurant, which specialises in Thuringian cuisine and uses fresh local ingredients. Combine the two with a meal on the outside terrace that overlooks the garden – you won’t want to eat out anywhere else.
City escapes don’t get greener than Jena, and there’s nowhere better to enjoy views over the idyllic Saale valley than from the comfort of Maxx Hotel. There are botanical gardens, riverside cycle paths and plenty of surrounding forest to explore, and the hotel’s location on the outskirts gives you the perfect combination of city and countryside. The hotel itself captures the visual style of early 20th-century America, which is at its strongest in Brooklyn’s Restaurant & Bar. Meanwhile, you can look after your mind and body at the extensive spa facilities, which also include a peaceful Japanese garden – it’s easy to forget that you’re in the heartlands of central Germany.
Altenburg is easily one of our favourite cities in Thuringia. Much smaller than the likes of Erfurt and Weimar, this is the kind of town that will have you totally charmed as you walk around the cobbled streets, neck arched up to gaze at colourful buildings and old churches. With a huge market square that comes to life on the weekend, and a number of lovely shops, bakeries, restaurants and pubs, this is a must-visit city with one problem – there’s a serious lack of hotels. That’s where Hotel Astor saves the day – it’s a cosy, friendly hotel that is just as charming as the city it calls home.
You want off the beaten track? You won’t see hordes of tourists in the sleepy town of Arnstadt, which is exactly why we love it. This is more of a base for exploring the wider region. There’s not a lot to do in town other than admire the picture-perfect architecture and drink exceptional local beers at the brewery that, in typical German fashion, is also the hotel. But does anything sound more heartwarming than returning from a long day exploring the German countryside to delicious local cuisine and an endless supply of the region’s finest beer? And it’s just a few stumbles back to the comfort of your bed. Das ist Bliss.
These recommendations were updated on October 8, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.