One of the prettiest cities in Germany, Weimar is the cultural heart of the state of Thuringia (and was the place to be in Europe 200 years ago). Pastel-colored Baroque houses, sprawling parks, a lavish library and the Bauhaus museum draw visitors from near and far throughout the year. Wondering what to see in Weimar, Germany? Read on and pin this post for later reference when sightseeing Weimar.
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Where in Germany is Weimar?
Weimar is the third largest city in the central-most state of Germany, Thuringia. It lies halfway between Erfurt and Jena and can easily be reached via the autobahn or by train.
To get from either city to Weimar, you can get a Hopper Ticket at any trains station machine (not online) for 5,80 EUR (6.31 USD). Look for the “VHS Ticket” option on the main screen.
Fun fact: There’s a Weimar in Texas (USA) as well.
Goethe’s Garden House
Pretty much THE thing to see in Weimar is this compact garden house in the Ilm Park. Its publicly accessible. To enter, you pay a small fee unless you have the Weimar Card, which includes the visit.
Goethe lived and worked in the little house after he bought it in a rather derelict condition in 1776. It is assumed that the house used to sit in vineyard, which was then transformed into an orchard and flower garden.
Who was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe? Only one of Germany’s most famous writers. His most famous work is Doctor Faustus, in which a man strikes a deal with the devil. He was quite the character, a playboy and Renaissance man and buddies with fellow writer Friedrich Schiller.
- Address: Ilmstraße, 99423 Weimar
Goethe House and National Museum
Don’t get this confused with the Goethe Garden House. This Baroque house was built in 1709 and was another home of Goethe. (Which you also shouldn’t get confused with the Goethe House in Frankfurt.)
Nowadays, the beautiful building houses the Goethe National Museum, which consists of Goethe’s well-preserved library containing 5,400 volumes, and reception room. At the museum you’ll also be able to learn all about his life and work, including over 2,000 of his scientific papers and drawings.
So if you’re a fan of Goethe or just really want to feel immersed in 18th and 19th century history and lifestyle, this is an important attraction in Weimar to put on your to do list.
- Schillerstraße 16, 99423 Weimar
The Bauhaus Museum
The Bauhaus Museum is the ultimate place to experience and learn about one of the most common and recognizable design styles in the world. After all, it was founded in Weimar!!
The brand-new museum offers an opportunity to see countless works by Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, as well as many of his students and fellow artists. Tickets to the Bauhaus Museum are 15 EUR (16.72 USA) and it’s the latest tourist hot spot in Weimar, Thuringia.
Dower Palace, also known as the Widow’s Palace or Wittumspalais, was built in 1767 and served as the home of Dowager Duchess Anna Amalia, a German aristocrat and art lover (as well as long-time patron/lover of Goethe).
This palace was once the heart of social and literary activity in Weimar, Germany. The palace has since been transformed into a stunning Baroque museum, displaying period furniture, portraits of the family, and extensive art. Pick up an audio guide when you arrive to really get the most out of this rich experience.
The Duchess Anna Amalia Library
If you haven’t gotten enough of the old life of luxury from the Dower Palace, The Duchess Anna Amalia Library should be your next stop.
Housed in the Green Palace, this massive Renaissance building from 1563 is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
With over a million books, this library is massive and holds Germany’s most important collections of classic literature. The Duchess Anna Amalia Library is any book lover’s dream attraction.
Be sure to buy tickets well in advance, admittance is limited and tickets can sell out as far as six months in advance.
You won’t be able to see it during a visit, but the library has a spiral staircase entirely carved out of one giant tree trunk. Legend has it that it was a creation of love.
Back in the day, the resident aristocrat had the right of the first night with any newlywed bride and one groom didn’t like this at all. He struck a deal with the perv to carve out the stairs over one night so he would keep his bride for himself. And won.
The Memorial Buchenwald sits on the site of Buchenwald, the Nazi concentration camp (KZ in German) established in 1937 where an estimated 56,000 people died. The memorial sits on at the site of the mass graves, and is a stark reminder of the horrors that went on in Germany during Hitler’s reign.
There are a number of surviving buildings from the camp, including the crematorium, gatehouse, and detention cells. Mostly, it just looks like a plain field, forever deserted and a scar to the surrounding forested hill.
Direct bus lines operate multiple times day from the city center to and tours are available. However, they should be booked far in advance as the KZ tours are an extremely popular way to visit this sobering memorial in Weimar, Germany. It’s a sad Weimar attraction but an important one.
If you were to walk through the clearing in the forest from the concentration camp to the other side of the mountain, you’d get to Castle Ettersburg.
Right out front, there’s a star-shaped pattern of paths around the forest, which used to serve local hunting sprees. Now that the castle is no longer a pleasure ground for aristocracy and their esteemed European guests, you can visit its museum, park grounds and café.
In total, Weimar has three castles and the most stunning, if you ask me, is Castle Belvedere with its lush gardens and sculpted park landscape. (It’s one of my favourite castles in Germany!)
The luxurious Belvedere Castle sits atop a hill in a beautiful park on the outskirts of the city at the end of the greenway leading from Ilm Park in the city of Weimar.
Built as a hunting lodge in the 1700s, the castle was renovated to become an elegant summer residence, and eventually a museum full of incredible artworks and weapons from the time period.
Outside the castle are several jaw-dropping and relaxing gardens, well preserved stables and servants quarters. The musical department of the Bauhaus university also resides here and you may be lucky and hear classical music being played by the students.
The Herder Church
The Herder Church is a central part of Weimar’s beautiful Old Town. This late Gothic church was built in 1500, and is dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul.
This Weimar sight holds an impressive amount of history. The famous writer and philosopher Johann Herder served as court preacher here for many years, and his tomb now lies in the west choir.
When you visit, don’t miss the refreshing Garden at Herder House, which is located behind the church. It’s one of my favorite places in Weimar to catch your breath and really enjoy some quiet time.
It also concludes our Weimar top ten list, but since there are many more places to see in Weimar, let’s continue.
This archive is dedicated to the world-famous philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche spent the last years of his life in Weimar, in this house that is now a museum dedicated to preserving his work and the home in which he created it all.
The museum itself is truly beautiful, and it also holds unique exhibits such as one that deals with the Nazi party’s obsession with Nietzsche and his work.
The exhibits of the Weimar House (Weimarhaus) are dedicated to the region’s extensive and varied history throughout the different eras and human history.
Full sized wax figures tell the story of the appearance of mankind during the Stone Age, all the way up to the classical era, making it much more immersive and really painting a picture. Yes, it’s a little corny. But, oh well.
Extensive and clever lighting and sound effects really add to the whole experience, making Weimerhaus one of the most fun ways to learn about the history of the area. It’s a perfect museumwhen you’re on a trip to Weimar with kids.
Liszt House sits on the west side of Ilm Park. This modest yet beautiful home once belonged to Franz Liszt, one of the world’s greatest composers. This house turned museum is dedicated to the life and work of Liszt, and includes historical gems such as the silent piano, an instrument he used for fingers exercises.
There are many different events you can attend during your Weimar visit, many of them classical concerts or theater performance. But one that is an utterly unique thing to do in Weimar in itself is the annual Onion Market (Zwiebelmarkt).
It takes place over three days on the second October weekend and lures tourists from near and far. Like Weimar Christmas market, the streets around the Old Town center are lined with small wooden huts boasting all kinds of produce and handicrafts around a certain theme. Instead of Christmas, it’s onions this time of the year.
This means you can get beautiful onion wreaths and garlands to decorate your home. Next, sample onion food, such as sous, bread or even candy. (Yes, onion candy. I personally hate the taste!) But that’s not all, shop other locally grown or crafted items, like handsewn dresses, flower headbands honeys and breads.
Lucas Cranach House
Right opposite the medieval town hall and facing the market square fountain lies the Lucas Cranach House. It’s the left of the two gorgeous Renaissance houses.
Lucas Cranach the Older is one of the most famous German painters, graphic and print artists. His work introduced more realistic painting techniques into portraits during the Renaissance.
Originally from the city of Kronach in Bavaria, he moved to Weimar and into the iconic house in the 16th century and died here after a year. He lived here with his also famous son, Lucas Cranach the Younger who specialized in portraits.
Sadly, you cannot enter the house as it’s private property. If you time your visit right, you may attend a classical theater performance in the vault below, called Theater im Gewölbe. Performances are typically from plays of Weimar’s Golden Age (and in German), which means they are usually by Goethe, Schiller or Shakespeare. View the schedule here.
Fun fact: Goethe and Cranach were actually related!
Horse-drawn Carriage Ride
One of the most popular things to do in Weimar is exploring the city by horse. Like the good old times, you can step into a cozy horse-drawn carriage and have yourself shown around without having to walk at all.
Your guide is dressed in historic gear and will point out the most important historic buildings in Weimar as well as museums and other sights. It’s a fun and easy way to pass the time as well.
THE hotel to stay at in Weimar is Hotel Elefant. All important visitors to the city have stayed at this luxury hotel, such as politicians, Bauhaus designers (like Walter Gropius), painters (like Feininger), musicians (Udo Lindenberg) or writers. Thomas Mann even included a mention in its novel “Lotte in Weimar”.
While it was founded as a tavern in 1696, it was remodeled in 1938 and was deemed one of the most was deemed modern hotels in all of Europe at the time, thanks to its car lift.
You can book a room as well. Check current rates here. Alternatively, you can dine in the hotel restaurant to get a peek at the hotel glam.
Did you know that a former, massive bunker (formerly called “hall of the people’s community”, Halle der Volksgemeinschaft) in the center of Weimar was transformed into a shopping mall? Bunkers were built in such a way as to stand the test of time and getting rid of it proved difficult, so it was simply repurposed.
Now you can find high street stores, pharmacies, drugstores and a 3D cinema on the multi-level floor Atrium. It’s definitely the best mall in town. Do check out the top floor, which is decorated in such a way as to evoke Italy.
- Address: Friedensstraße 1, 99423 Weimar
The bee was declared the most important animal in2020. All the better occasion to visit the German Bee Museum in Weimar (Deutsches Bienenmuseum). In it, you can learn about all aspects to do with beekeeping.
The house dates back to 1907 when the priest Ferdinand Gerstung founded the “Imperial Beekeeping Museum”, which was then later moved into a former tavern building.
It houses both permanent and temporary exhbitions and I’ve been told the home-made cake here is the best in town.
Ilm Park and Roman Bath
Weimar has quite a few parks and gardens but the largest and most known among them is the Ilm Park (Park an der Ilm). It was created in the 18th century under the guidance of Goethe himself and features typical classicist and Romantic elements, which were highly sought after at the time.
Such features include the visual axes, which help to spot its bridges and buildings from afar. For instance, there’s a small Roman Bath and multiple ruins. Of course, all were built brand new and were made to look old and authentic. There’s also a monument to and statue of William Shakespeare and Yorick, which I always make sure to visit.
That was part of the Romantic endeavors. To reminisce about glorious past civilizations and the passing of time. No wonder, the park is part of the UNESCO Heritage listing “Classical “Weimar”. The most iconic among them is the Goethe Garden House (Goethes Gartenhaus).
- Address: Ilmstraße 3, 99425 Weimar
Not only can you idly traverse the many pathways around the Ilm Park, but you can also walk beneath it in the park cave (Parkhöhle).
It’s not just one large cave but actually a system of tunnels to store the favorite beers of Duke Carl August. During WWII, it was used as a bunker and extended.
Nowadays, you can enter it on a guided tour near the university cafeteria and exit at the Nadelöhr, “eye of the needle”.
Right in the center of Weimar in front of the market square and Cranach House is the town hall. It’s unmissable with its Neo Gothic facade and the flags waving on its balcony.
It has three floors in total and is topped off by gables and a bell tower, making it one of Weimar’s landmarks. While it’s not the first townhall that stood in this place, parts of the original 1396 building have been preserved after a city fire burned it down.
If you’ve been to Saxony, then you may be familiar with the town of Meissen, which produces the world famous Meissen porcelain. The 35 bells in the belfry are made out of Meissen porcelain and they play music four times a day.
In December, 24 of its front windows are turned into a giant German Advent calendar, which each day a new window revealing a different picture.
Besides the cavern theater of the Cranach House, there’s the Shakespeares. In fact, Weimar is a perfect destination for culture connoisseurs with so many plays and performances around the year on offer.
The Shakespeares functions as a restaurant and theater space, which operates under the name Galli Theater. It’s a small, intimate space that stages the plays of Johannes Galli, ranging across various genres. Plays are in German and the current schedule can be viewed here*.
- Address: Windischenstraße 4-6, 99423 Weimar
As you might know, Weimar belonged to East Germany and as such, you can still spot a few such quirks, like the traffic light figures. To take some special East block souvenirs home, step into the Ost-Shop.
Here, you can find all things GDR, many things that I still remember from my childhood. Get a tiny eraser in the form of a Trabbie, Trabant. Or Shirts with vintage brand logos. View it in advance here.
- Address: Windischenstraße 4-699423 Weimar
Just as famous as Goethe (though definitely not as rich) was playwright Friedrich Schiller. He also resided in Weimar and spent the final three years of his life in the bright yellow house in the city center.
Plays that he penned here were “Die Braut von Messina“ (Bride of Messina) and “Wilhelm Tell”. You can visit the rooms and see the original writing desk (where he died). There’s also a newer building with many more insights into his life and work. More details here.
- Address: Schillerstraße 12, 99423 Weimar
Herrmann the Cockroach
Wander up and down the leafy Schillerstraße and stop as soon as you see the displays of shiny stones and gems. The curious shop features finds from all over the world, such as dried exotic fruits, seeds, preserved insects and minerals.
Do talk to the staff to hear all kinds of fascinating stories from their trips and their extensive knowledge of all that they stock. And make sure to say hi to Herrmann, the resident pet roach.
He spends his days chilling out in an empty coconut until you take him out and let him walk around the palm of your hand. Don’t worry, he’s clean and not at all gross. Visitors love him!
- Address: Mineralien- und Fossilienhandel Peter Gensel, Schillerstraße 6, 99423 Weimar
St John Church
Another church well worth checking out in Weimar is the Church of St John (Johanneskirche). Unlike most churches in town, this one was erected in the 1930s. Fun fact: it’s heated in winter.
It’s simple in style and Protestant-Lutheran. However, the most important feature of the church, however, is the grave of Lucas Cranach the Elder. You can see his memorial plate at the south wing of the church. His bones are interred underneath the church.
- Tiefurter Allee 2b, 99425 Weimar
More Weimar sightseeing tips
As you see, in Weimar things to see can be found in abundance. But if you want to explore the surrounding area – and you should – here are a few more suggestions.
For one, there are many castles around Thuringia, many pretty close by. Plus, you can do some easy hiking in the vicinity, or even take the trails in Jena. Also, biking along the fields to smaller villages, such as the floating huts of Eberstedt (Schwimmende Hütten).
For day trips, check out the Seven Wonders of Jena or the delicious foods in Erfurt. There’s even a German dumpling museum only a short drive outside of Weimar!
What will you see in Weimar? Let me know in the comments.
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