The Top 8 Things to See and Do in Görlitz, Germany

St. Peter and Paul Church
St. Peter and Paul Church | © Schreib-Engel / Pixabay
Photo of Anwesha Ray
27 April 2018

Every dawn, it’s the city that sees the sun first in Germany. Yet there is a lot more to Görlitz than being the country’s easternmost city. Each corner of this Saxon city has a story to tell, and these stories often go back hundreds of years. You might have never considered visiting Görlitz, but its historic architecture, delicious food and convenient location will ensure you never regret your decision. Let’s take a look at the best ways of experiencing the true essence of Görlitz.

Go on a pilgrimage

The Via Sacra (Holy Route) meanders for 341 miles (550 kilometers) through Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, connecting some of the most significant religious sites in Europe. The 15th-century Parish Church of St. Peter and Paul in Görlitz is one of the stops along this route. The church, with its soaring towers and copper roof, is the most famous landmark in Görlitz and has a lavish, ornate interior that befits its splendid façade.

St. Peter and Paul Church | © Schreib-Engel / Pixabay

Have breakfast amidst 500-year-old murals

The breakfast room at Hotel Schwibbogen carefully preserves intricate mural art that goes back five centuries. The historic setting blends with delicious food and contemporary conveniences to create a truly unique environment. If you are staying overnight in Görlitz, Hotel Schwibbogen is a great choice of accommodation. This three-star hotel is located in the city center, conveniently close to Görlitz’s major landmarks, and consistently earns good reviews from guests.

Take selfies in famous movie locations

The irresistible beauty of Görlitz has inspired several film-makers to use it as a setting for their movies. Sections of the World War II drama The Book Thief (2013), of war satire Inglourious Basterds (2009) and of the critically acclaimed The Reader (2008) were shot in this town. The immensely successful movie The Grand Budapest Hotel was shot almost entirely in Germany and a then-defunct shopping mall in Görlitz served as the “hotel.”

Karstadt department store, the location of Grand Budapest Hotel | © Martin Püschel / WIkiCommons

Stroll to Poland

Görlitz is the easternmost town of Germany, and lies practically on the German-Polish border. It is located right across the river from the Polish town of Zgorzelec, which used to be part of Görlitz until 1945. Simply walk across the bridge to another country!

View of Zgorzelec from Görlitz | © Juri Kowski / WikiCommons

Gaze at beautiful architecture

More than anything else, Görlitz is a city of scintillating architecture. Masterpieces of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical and Art Nouveau styles have graced this town for centuries. Among these are Schönhof, the oldest civic Renaissance structure in the country, Reichenbacher Turm (remains of ancient fortifications), the 15th-century model of the Holy Sepulchre, and St. Marienthal Abbey.

Görlitz skyline | © poltmanns / Pixabay

Head to the zoo

Görlitz Zoo is not just another zoo, but more of a nature conservation area. Though small in size, it is an award-winning nature park that is a proud member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Here, visitors get to observe animals in an almost-natural habitat, and can even pet some of them. The nature park also offers specially designed, one-hour classes for children, to help them understand the concepts of environmental protection, nature conservation, biological diversity and sustainable development.

Taste Schlesisches Himmelreich and Landskron

Görlitz spells paradise for foodies. Here is your chance to try yummy Bohemian, Silesian, French or Russian cuisine, as well as a range of local delicacies. If you eat one dish in Görlitz, let it be Schlesisches Himmelreich (only if you eat meat, though). The signature dish of Görlitz consists of lightly smoked pork loin garnished with dried plums and apricots, and comes with juicy dumplings on the side. Wash it down with a glass of chilled Landskron, the popular local beer of Görlitz.

Schlesisches Himmelreich | © Dr. Bernd Gross / WikiCommons

Check out awesome museums

The Senckenberg Museum für Naturkunde (Senckenberg Museum of Natural History) walks visitors through the fascinating concept of evolution through exhibits collected over a period of 200 years. Görlitz Spielzeugmuseum is home to a great collection of ancient and modern toys, including wooden ones from Saxony’s Ore Mountains, while Schlesisches Museum educates visitors on the history, culture and lifestyle of the Central European region of Silesia.