Last week, I embarked on a press trip to the German region of Thüringen. While I’ve been traveling extensively in Germany for more than 15 years, I’ve never had the chance to visit Thüringen – and boy, have I missed out! Curious about why you simply must add Thüringen to your bucket list? Read on.
Being one of the smallest regions in Germany, Thüringen still houses some of the country’s most famous cultural cities and sights. Did you for example now that Luther studied here or that Goethe lived and wrote his most important works here? No? Maybe you knew that the first Christmas tree was erected here in the 19th century or that Marlene Dietrich lived here before she became famous? All that actually doesn’t matter now, because I’m going to show you why Thüringen is such a magical destination to put on your bucket list.
First stop: Erfurt
My first night in Thüringen was spent in Erfurt, which is also the capital of the region. Erfurt was one of Germany’s most important commercial towns during the Medieval Ages and so its historical value is easy to spot when strolling around in the city of a little more than 200.000 inhabitants. I definitely recommend exploring Erfurt with one of the local tour guides, who can reveal a lot of interesting facts about the city. Erfurt is home to plenty of outdoor cafés, romantic squares and even a merchant’s bridge (like the one in Venice), so it does have certain similarities with an Italian city. Erfurt also offers several interesting things on the gourmet scene and I’d like to recommend the following:
1. Goldhelm Chokoladen Manufaktur
Chocolate lovers will truly find paradise when entering the small chocolate manufacturer of Goldhelm! Nestling on the Krämerbrücke in the heart of the city, Goldhelm has gained recognition for its out-of-this-world handmade chocolate, which comes in all shapes and sizes. The beans are shipped from the finest cocoa plantations in Vietnam and the shop even offers a great selection of wine and liquor. Indulge in the heavenly truffles and pralines – and make sure to take some home as well (it’s highly addictive!)
Krämerbrücke 12-14, Erfurt
2. Goldhelm Eiskrämer
We can all agree that chocolate is one of life’s true pleasures, but when paired with hand-made ice cream, magic happens! Goldhelm is also the proud owner of ‘Eiskrämer’, which is located right next to the chocolate shop. There’s often a line, especially in weekends, but it’s so worth the wait! Extravagant flavors such as ‘tarte tatin’, ‘cassis & balsamico’ and ‘campari orange’ will make your heart skip a beat! My personal favorites are salty caramel and cider sorbet (with French apple wine, mind you).
Krämerbrücke 15, Erfurt
3. Born Senf-Laden
If you say Erfurt you naturally have to say ‘Born’ as well. No one eats a sausage here without a little Born mustard on the side, and it’s been like that for nearly 200 years! The small shop in the center of Erfurt contains hundreds of different mustards, ketchups, oils and mayonnaises, and the free tasting samples enables you to choose your favorite. I’d go with the honey or fig version any day! Prices are VERY reasonable and there’s even a small mustard museum explaining the products and how they’re made.
Wenigemarkt 11, Erfurt
4. Kromer’s Restaurant
The family-owned restaurant ‘Kromer’s’ is well-known in Erfurt for its cosy ambience and home-made cuisine. If you crave a traditional German gasthaus experience, this is the place to be! Kromer’s is a part of ‘Slow Food Deutschland’ which seeks to promote restaurants offering genuine dishes made from local or simply fresh ingredients with no artificial flavors.
The service here is both attentive and friendly and there’s quite an extensive wine menu as well.
Kleine Arche 4, Erfurt
5. Thuringian sausages
If you’re fond of the German bratwurst, the Thuringian version is simply a must-try! Many restaurants in Erfurt offer a taste of this local sausage, which should obviously be enjoyed with a bit of Born mustard on the side. If that’s not enough for you, check out the German Bratwurst Museum, which is also worth a visit. It’s located about half an hour’s drive from Erfurt.
Bratwurstweg 1, Amt-Wachsenburg
Where to stay:
Although there aren’t plenty of hotels in Erfurt, the city still offers a small selection of hotels and guest houses. I stayed at the rather traditional Radisson Blu Hotel, but other options count Mercure Hotel Erfurt Altstadt (four star) and Arcadia Grand Hotel Am Dom (five star).
The Copenhagen Traveler was a guest of the German National Tourist Board, but opinion are, as always, our own.