Table of contents
- Tour tip Thuringia Green Wave
- Tour 1: Saale reservoirs
- Tour 2: Meiningen / Suhl
- Tour 3: Wartburg
- Info tour 1
- Info tour 2
- Info tour 3
Tour tip Thuringia
Tour tip Thuringia
Between Erfurt in the north and Coburg in the south, the Thuringian Mountains rise into a forest-rich motorcycle paradise ?? cultural and culinary experience included.
The narrow gray ribbon has been meandering through the multi-layered green of the mixed forest for tens of kilometers. Pleasantly cool air fills the lungs with life. You see a car so seldom that you almost get frightened. These Thuringian mountains are an Eldorado for motorcyclists. The Rennsteig, a 168-kilometer high-altitude hiking trail, uses the up to 35-kilometer-wide mountains for a tightrope walk. The Rennsteiglauf, a marathon spectacle, has been held annually since 1973. Motorcyclists limit themselves to crossing the climb countless times in constant ups and downs, as the winding, well-prepared roads are always more interesting for them.
Viewed in this way, there is hardly any opportunity to take a look at the beautiful things to the right and left of the street: to admire old architecture in the quiet villages, to visit castles and palaces, to stroll through museums and mines, to experience old handicrafts. They all deserved it. Apart from Suhl, the population keeps quite out of the settlement of the densely wooded mountainous landscape. Eisenach, Meiningen, Schmalkalden, Arnstadt, Saalfeld or Rudolstadt, each city worth a day trip, prefer to lie at the feet of the Thuringian Mountains; their citizens use the core of their homeland for recreation.
In the distant past, the region was poor in lakes. So the people helped and dammed rivers and streams, especially the Saale. This is how the Thuringian Sea emerged from the Bleilochtalsperre and Hohenwarte reservoir in the east of the Thuringian Mountains.
Thuringia’s cuisine is considered tasty and hearty. The national dish is the Thuringian dumplings made from grated raw potatoes, which are filled with roasted white bread cubes. Who brings the “real” ones to the table, that’s why people have been arguing for ages. The names of the dumplings are just as different as the admixtures. In Schmalkalden they are called “Hebes”, in Meinigen “Hutes” and in Suhl even “Knolle”. It doesn’t matter, as a rule they are served with roasts, roasted roast meats and a lot of sauce.
When a spicy smell wafts through the alleys, the bratwurst is usually not far away. According to legend, it is the number one Thuringian national dish. Spicy beef, veal and pork are stuffed loosely into pork intestines. Loosely so that the sausage can puff itself when crispy roasting over a charcoal fire. Caraway seeds, garlic, pepper, salt, onion and mustard make up the basic taste. Recipes are best kept secrets. In the afternoon, people like to eat cake – onion cake. None of this should be missed.
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Tour tip Thuringia
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Tour 1: Saale reservoirs
Go swimming? The Hohenwarte reservoir invites you to splash around in summer.
From Kolkwitz south to Saalfeld over the wooded “Heide”, a medium-high mountain range, the smallest, winding streets invite you to warm up. The historic old town tempts you to take a detour, but an evening stroll through the city is more advisable, as Kolkwitz is just 12 kilometers away. In fast, gently curved arcs it goes over the little-traveled B 281 to Saalfelder Hohe up to Schmiedefeld. When the visibility is good, there is a magnificent view to the east, almost as far as the racing town of Schleiz. Before Piesau the route turns left to Spechtsbrunn, we meander over Hasenthal and Vorwerk through the hilly slate mountains to Steinach. Instead of going straight to Sonneberg, there is a short detour via Hammern before going to the toy museum.
The world is over behind Steinach and Jagdshof. You could still turn to Judenbach, but the bumpy, fragile road through the dense forest down into the valley magically attracts at least enduro riders. The road, hardly wider than a car, meanders along the Tettau to the place of the same name. It remains mostly wooded, flowery clearings from time to time. Instead of turning to Probstzella, the route leads right via Ludwigstadt with its slate museum to Teuschnitz. In a constant up and down over the winding Frankenwald high road to Nordhalben, it finally goes on to the Franconian thermal bath Bad Steben. At Issigau you shouldn’t miss the small junction to Kemlas, which leads steeply downhill over a small road to the deep black water of the Saale. At “Haus Heinrichs Ruh” in Blankenstein, turn onto the 10 t path that leads through a lonely, wooded landscape via Schlegel and Neundorf to Lobenstein.
Not far from here the Saale widens to the reservoir. Behind Frossen, Kunsdorf and Schilbach, Saalburg invites you to take a steamboat trip on the Bleiloch dam. Burgk Castle appears unexpectedly high above the river, and in the picturesque Ziegenruck you want to fish in peace with the men at the barrages. Behind Drognitz the road winds its way down in narrow serpentines. A little later, it hugs the banks of the Hohenwarte dam for a few kilometers. Have a quick coffee at the sight of the excursion steamer, then Kolkwitz is reached in a good half an hour.
Tour 2: Meiningen / Suhl
Railway romance: Rennsteig station near Stutzerbach.
Behind Rudolstadt, the route branches off to the left in Bad Blankenburg into the Schwarzatal and meanders in gentle curves along the course of the river, before the baroque castle Schwarzburg looms over the valley. In 1940 the National Socialists began to convert the palace into a Reich guest house. All that remained was a huge ruin. The road winds its way up to Oberweissbach in tight bends and reveals a beautiful view of the Thuringian Forest before plunging back into the deep green. At Limbach and Masserberg, the Rennsteig crosses the tour twice before the road pulls towards Schleusingen after a rollercoaster ride on the southern slope of the Thuringian Forest. Time seems to have stood still behind Rappelsdorf. Agriculture dominates the lovely area. Watch out! Many a chicken crosses the path to Dillstadt before you can enjoy your lunch break in the old town of Meinigen an der Werra.
Via Kuhndorf and Schwarza, the road turns before Viernau to Zella-Mehlis and finally arrives at Suhl – a bustling town, in whose heyday people made a living from hunting and sporting weapons. The Simson two-wheeler factory was also located here.
Up to the Erleshugel, which rises majestically above Suhl, the tour leads over the wooded ridge in long turns to Schmiedefeld. In the Waldgasthaus Schwarzer Crux you can enjoy the peace and quiet with a cup of coffee or let the host show you the adjoining mining museum. Or you can drive a few more kilometers to the Rennsteig train station. With a bit of luck, a steam locomotive from Ilmenau will appear under mighty clouds of smoke and store water before the journey to Themar continues. It’s great to rest in the freight shed of the beautifully restored train station. Old passenger wagons will soon be parked and prepared for overnight stays (www.bahnhof-rennsteig.de).
Around 20 kilometers of single-lane forest road via Frauenwald down to Steinbach follow before going up again via Giebubel to the Rennsteig. From Neustadt you drive quickly through wooded and winding landscape northwards via Gehren down to Konigsee and in Bad Blankenburg you come across the route into the Schwarzatal. We’re going back to Kolkwitz.
Tour 3: Wartburg
As if out of the blue, the Trusetal waterfall falls to the valley.
The motto is “avoid main roads”. The route crosses the B 88 in Kirchhasel, the B 85 in Teichroda and the B 87 in Dienstedt, former LPGs from GDR times line the route within sight of the Thuringian Forest. Behind Arnstadt, the road meanders through the Jonastal up to Crawinkel. Here Hitler had tens of thousands of prisoners from Buchenwald drive 25 tunnels into the shell limestone. To this day it is unclear what purpose the project served.
Via Luisenthal down to Ohrdruf, the route leads along the Thuringian Forest to Friedrichsroda. In the Cafe Busch you can fortify yourself with cakes made in-house before you go up and down the Rennsteig ridge to Kleinschmalkalden, Brotterode and Cabarz in wooded curves and bends. At Schmerbach you meet the B 88 and come to Eisenach via Wutha. .
With the Wartburg in the back, the route leads between the moss-covered rock walls of the Drachenschlucht via Etterwind to Ruhla. At high altitudes you can hardly get out of the forest back to Brotterode, you always come across the Rennsteig. A little refreshment at the Trusetal waterfall is good before the road winds through the dense, hilly forest down to Schmalkalden. Via Rotterdam and Oberschonau it slowly goes up again towards Oberhof. Unexpectedly, the Hans Renner ski jump appears on the right in the Kanzlergrund, while the road continues across the grandstands towards Oberhof. Past the Grober Beerberg (983 meters) and Grober Finsterberg (944 meters), the wooded road directly along the Rennsteig stays at a high level before it plunges in tight curves down to Stutzerbach.
You could now get directly to Ilmenau via the B 4, but behind the level crossing in Stutzerbach there is a nicer parallel route. The smallest brewery in eastern Germany can be found in Singen between Cottendorf and Hammersfeld. The Schmitt family brews around 2000 liters of beer a week. You can cost, but not too much, because it is still around 20 kilometers back to Rudolstadt via local winds.
Info tour 1
There is a lot of water to see on this route.
The starting point for all tours is the small village of Kolkwitz in the Saale valley. In the country hotel “Edelhof” you can enjoy the good Thuringian cuisine on the cozy, covered terrace and end the day wonderfully on the lawn or in the pool (www.landhotel-edelhof.de).
The wooden Leipzig tower rises high above Schmiedefeld. One euro for a magnificent view of the Thuringian Forest and hardly more for a good cup of coffee or hot cocoa are money well spent. Ice cream and cake in Saalburg. The hustle and bustle of the Bleilochtalsperre can best be enjoyed directly at the pier for the passenger ships.
The mining of alum slate, copper and silver produced what are probably the most colorful grottos. The “Saalfeld fairy grottoes” (www.feengrotten.de) and the Morassina show mine (www.morassina.de) are worthwhile. If you don’t like it too kitschy, you can find out a lot in Lehesten about the historical slate mining over days, how school boards were made and roofs were artistically covered (www.schieferpark.com). Or you can climb the Altvaterturm on site.
Germany’s oldest toy museum is not only recommended for children (www.spielzeugmuseum-sonneberg.de).
Caution, risk of breakage
Thuringia’s “white gold” is completely unsuitable for transport on a motorcycle, but it is still worth taking a look behind the scenes of the Thuringian porcelain craft along the Porzellanstrabe.
Info tour 2
Rape fields as far as the eye can see. In summer between Oberweibach and Cursdorf.
From the Obstfelder Schmiede in the Schwarzatal to Lichtenhain, the Oberweibbacher Bergbahn, a technical monument and steepest funicular in the world, overcomes 323 meters in altitude on a route length of 1,387 meters (www.oberweissbacher-bergbahn.com). The factory in Meiningen (www.dampflokwerk.de) is the only remaining steam locomotive to repair and restore old locomotives. Guided tours are offered.
The traditional blacksmithing festival takes place at the Rennsteig train station on Whitsunday and Whitsunday, which demonstrates old Thuringian handicrafts against the backdrop of the steam train. Whit Monday is mill day. Over 50 mills in the region keep their gates open for tourists on this day.
On the edge
Eagles, buzzards and Andean condors are kept at Greifenstein Castle above Bad Blankenburg. An impressive example of Romanesque architecture rises around five kilometers from Rottenbach: the Paulinzella monastery ruins. And another monastery: between Themar and Schleusingen, the well-preserved Vebra monastery with its agricultural history museum (www. Museumklostervessra.de) invites you to visit.
Suhl was not only known for its sporting and hunting weapons (www.waffenmuseumsuhl.de), but also for the vehicle manufacturer Simson. Its history can be seen today in the center of the city of Suhl (www.fahrzeugmuseumsuhl.de). The GDR State Security had digged into the ground near Frauenwald. A tour of the bunker museum takes around 50 minutes. You can also stay overnight in it (www.Waldhotel-rennsteighoehe.de).
Info tour 3
An encounter of a different kind.
Mentioned for the first time in 704, Arnstadt is the oldest city in Thuringia. Johann Sebastian Bach was the organist in the Bach Church on the market for several years. Caution: the inner courtyard of the Arnstadt brewery tempts you to sit down (www.arenstadt.de). Schmalkalden is also worth a city tour. Handsome half-timbered houses characterize the picturesque old town center (www.schmalkalden.de).
Bratwurst and beech
In the middle of the forest, coming from Ruhla, at the Brotterode / Winterstein junction, there is Oliver’s snack bar at Gerbenstein. It offers the opportunity to eat a real Thuringian bratwurst from the charcoal grill while looking at a 650-year-old beech tree. On the trail of the Thuringian bratwurst you can find out everything about grilled sausage in the “First German Bratwurst Museum” in Arnstadt-Holzhausen (www.bratwurstmuseum.net).
Mining was of great importance in the Thuringian Forest, as can be seen from numerous references to visitor mines. On rainy days, we recommend the Marienglashohle in Friedrichroda (www. Tropfsteinhoehlen.de) or the Finstertal visitor mine near Schmalkalden on the route.
There are around 240 steps in full motorcycle gear from the parking lot to the Wartburg. A gigantic view over Eisenach is worth the effort.
A suitable format for the tank bag is the Goldstadt travel guide “Thuringia” for 10.90 euros, ISBN 3-89550-326-6 or Marco Polo Insider Tips “Thuringia” for 9.95 euros, ISBN 3-8297-0277- 9.
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