Don’t come to Weimar looking for nightlife. There isn’t any. Which is a bit strange actually given the presence of several thousand students at Bauhaus University.
But if you want to get an insight into the Germanic mindset Weimar is a great place to start. The town is rightly famous as home of the German Enlightenment, that is, the rise of reason and science over faith and tradition. Just about every important German intellectual of the last 300 years seems to have some connection with this town (check out this Who’s Who of famous Weimar residents). There are enough museums and architectural sights to back up the claims, and to keep you busy for at least a day. Check it all out in English here.
Weimar is easily doable as a day trip via train from Leipzig. There’s lots of service ranging from quick Inter-City trains taking about 1 hr each way, to the regional Bahn Mitteldeutschland trains which stop everywhere and will take 1.5 to 2 hrs each way. Prices vary enormously depending on ticket and train type. The Sachsen-Ticket for two people is valid for 24 hours of Mitteldeutschland trains, plus local tram and bus travel and is super value at €26. By car it’s a cruisey 130km on the fast A9 and A4 autobahns.
Weimar has plenty of accommodation a lot of it though is priced toward the high-end tour bus crowd. If you must stay the night we can suggest the excellent Pension Savina, located in a nice area a short walk from the train station. A lovely double room goes for €55 (single €35), and there’s a communal kitchen as well as a (very good) sauna.
Theaterplatz is (arguably) the focus point for most visitors to Weimar and where you’ll find the Bauhaus Museum, the Goethe-Schiller monument and plenty of eating and drinking options and other services. Schillerstraße, leading from the east corner of Theaterplatz, is where you’ll find the main café scene.
Nearby, there’s a fairly decent tourist office on the Markt square opposite the Weimarer Rathaus. Amongst other things, here you can arrange guided tours in English of the nearby Buchenwald concentration camp (or better yet just take bus 6 from in front of the train station or Goetheplatz and do a free self-tour). Between Theaterplatz and Markt there’s loads of twisting cobbled streets and lanes full of quirky shops, museums and places to eat or drink, perfect for an evening stroll.
Park an der Ilm
So why has all this high-brow stuff been going on in Weimar? There’s nothing obvious that explains why so many intellectuals concentrated here. It’s a pleasant town although some architectural gems were lost during bombing raids in WW2. Much remains thankfully, and most of it is now under UNESCO protection.
Perhaps it’s the quiet evenings and the relaxing Park an der Ilm on the Ilm river that get the brain juices flowing. The park itself is a UNESCO site and has a strong connection with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s life and work in Weimar. Make sure you visit or take a picnic in this lovely park.
[page content last updated April 2014]