A three day Ore Mountains itinerary
When there’s snow you can ski. In December you will want to visit the Christmas markets. In the summer there is lots of hiking and outdoor fun. But what are things to do in the Ore Mountains year round? How can you learn about local history in this UNESCO world heritage area? What are the options of community tourism in the Ore Mountains?
Day 1 – Seiffen
No matter where you drive in from, you should spend at least one full day in Seiffen, the toy town. This is where the main street is lined with woodworking stores selling all kinds of wooden toys and decorations. Lots of it is christmassy, so all you Christmas fans will love it! They are locally owned too, so it’s a perfect place to go souvenir shopping. Just be aware that true craftsmanship has its price.
The Miner’s church in Seiffen has been depicted in countless pieces of woodcrafts and has become so famous that the reverend now gives daily tours at noon (except Sundays). You’ll learn about its rare octagonal shape and the stories around the intricate chandeliers. Otherwise you can see it for yourself between 11 and 3pm.
Also, try to visit at least one of the factories, where you can see with your own eyes the efforts that go into assembling and hand painting the infamous wooden pieces of art the Ore Mountains are renown for. There are several options in town, you’ll see them advertised as “Schauwerkstatt”
If you’re looking for a hearty meal, try the Holzwurm restaurant. Their wooden decor makes for a cosy atmosphere, portions are large and it’s located right in the center of town, amongst all the fun.
*Sustainability tip: Eat local when you can! Try some local dishes from a locally owned and operated restaurant.
Day 2 – Neuhausen Nutcrackers
Some quirky attractions are located just one village down the road, in Neuhausen. There is a nutcracker museum (because, well, this is where the nutcracker was invented) with the world’s largest nutcracker. The building is filled to the brim with thousands of nutcrackers! And the world’s largest music box plays in the yard every hour on the hour during the day.
In another nearby village you’ll find an old mine that is now open to visitors. You can climb down into the mine with a guide and get a feeling for what it was like for the workers, in the cold darkness.
I promise it’ll make you understand why they were so happy about every ray of light, that in the winter every house was decorated with what we would now call christmas lights. If you care to read more about where this tradition comes from, check out my post on Winter in the Ore Mountains.
There is also a generously sized restaurant on site, where you can have your lunch looking into a replica of a miner’s house around 1900. Eat local, and all that.
On the way there you will drive by the Czech-German border, right in the village. No wall, no gate, no uniforms, no weapons. Just an open border. I love the European Union 🙂
Day 3 – “Silver City” Freiberg
Alternativly, you can also visit a mine in Freiberg, a 45min drive from Seiffen. But they have so much more to offer! 850 years ago, silver was discovered here and has made Freiberg into one of the richest towns in the state. This history is brought to life in the City and Mining Museum.
Freiberg is where the famous explorer Humboldt attended university – at the Mountain Academy. He was fascinated with geology, amongst many other things. But even geology amateures will appreciated the exhibition Terra Mineralia. Located in the castle Freudenstein, several floors are dedicated to gem stones found all around the world. To take pictures you’ll need to buy a photo pass.
While you’re there pop into the church Freiberger Dom, which is almost as old as the first silver mine and admire gothic architecture at its finest.
For food, I recommend the restaurant Stadtwirtschaft in the old town. It has the traditional cellar ambiance with a very modern menu, featuring czech dishes as well as German and American influenced dishes.
Bonus: Departure Day – Annaberg-Buchholz
If by chance, your way home leads you through Annaberg-Buchholz, park the car and take a short walk. Not only do they have a cathedral worth popping into. There is also a tiny church just down the street from it with a unique attraction. Inside the Bergkirche St. Marien there are about a dozen hand carved wooden statues. Created by local artist they depict people from the silver age of mining in the area. Some faces are actual portraits though, of locals living there today. To take pictures you’ll need to buy a photo pass.
Do you have any other must-see tips for the Ore Mountains? Comment below!