A city with a difficult past, complicated present and uncertain future Görlitz is not the city that would feature on most Germany itineraries. However, if you do dig deep, it is the kind of city that ultimately is very rewarding. Alongside Meissen, Görlitz is the perfect day trip from Dresden and has enough sights to warrant an overnight stay. First of all it is a city really easy on the eye and very beautiful to walk around. Architecturally, it is one of the most unique cities in Europe. If you’re a movie lover, especially a fan of Wes Anderson, you’re in for a treat. Plus there are few hidden cafes and bars that warrant a visit and your support. It’s all condensed into this guide of the best things to do in Görlitz . If you want to learn more about my recent trip to Gorlitz, checkout my earlier piece about the city. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below or drop me an email. Thanks for reading and your continued support of the blog!
1. Breakfast at Best Western Hotel Via Regia
Start the day with the very filling buffet breakfast at the 3 star Best Western Hotel Via Regia where I had checked in the night before. A really stylish modern hotel, affordable too plus just a short walking distance from the train station.
From homemade bircher muesli to natural yoghurt and fresh fruits, cakes and doughnuts to smoked salmon -there’s something for everyone in the hotel breakfast. Plus you have unlimited fresh coffee, tea and juices. Loved the fact that lot of the items were locally sourced-from the bread and rolls to the mustard and Bauernmettwurst ( from Bautzen)
2. Enjoy the architecture
Walking Görlitz is a time travellers dream. With over 4500 listed buildings, the city is a timeline of all the major architectural styles of the last 3-4 centuries: from Baroque to Renaissance to Neoclassical to Art Deco, the range and style of buildings is incredible.Every corner, every twist and you’re in Babylon Berlin or 1920’s Paris – the city is like a movie set. The architecture of Gorlitz is best appreciated on foot-Gorlitz is a very compact city or to get a different perspective, climb to the top of the Rathaus Tower.
3. Visit the Grand Budapest Hotel
One of the reasons I was excited to visit Görlitz was to see the setting for the Grand Budapest Hotel- an abandoned, Art Nouveau department store in Görlitz called Görlitzer Warenhaus (An der Frauenkirche 5-7 )
Anderson found the space while location scouting for the movie and promptly fell in love with its unique, historical architecture. Thanks to the fantastic privileges of my day job, we got an whole hour to explore the building. Note: Despair not. You don’t need to be a blogger or have 5 million klubeks to visit ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ -you can visit the building for FREE only on Thursdays, Friday evenings only. There’s definitely something about a movie setting coming to life right in front of your eyes. I recognise the exquisite stairways, elevators, and atrium of the building from the movie. At one point, I try to stop taking photos and keep my phone back in my pocket to soak it all in. The fact that the building remains abandoned and empty just adds more to the illicit charm of visiting the place. Visit soon though, the building has been acquired with plans to redevelop it into a luxury good store.
4. Visit the Untermarkt
The Untermarkt is the older of two market squares that are to be found in Gorlitz. This a beautiful square, featuring charming Renaissance buildings, cobblestone streets and overarching arcades. Keen movie lovers will be familiar with the square from movies like The Grand Budapest Hotel and Around the World in 80 days ( with Jackie Chan ) It has a timeless look and feel, very reminiscent of Vienna or Paris. The magical atmosphere of the square is enhanced by the odd busker and small cafes dotting the square where you’ll find a mix of tourists and locals enjoying a drink, or a bite to eat.
The Untermarkt is also host to festivals like Tippelmarkt and Altstadtfest. Some of the places to visit in and around the Untermarkt are the Rathaus (town hall), the Neues Rathaus, the Schonhof houses of the Silesian Museum, a Renaissance house in the middle of the Untermarkt called the Waage, the Brauner Hirsch- a baroque town house and the ‘Whispering Arch’ or Flüsterbogen.
5. Rathaus-Take a tour of the tower of the city hall for the best views of Gorlitz
Definitely take a tour of the tower of the city hall for the best views in Gorlitz. The city hall tower or Rathausturm was built in the 16th century. It’s best feature is the panoramic view it provides onto the town of Gorlitz but apart from that it has intricate clocks, sundials and an organ piping lion for special effect! There are two clocks in the tower: one is the moon phase clock that is part of the lunar calendar and the other clock has the head of a warrior, eye rolling and sticking out his tongue, every hour on the hour, set in the middle of the dial.
The Town Hall tour is available from March to December and only from Wednesday to Sunday. The designated meeting point is at the stairs of the Town Hall stairs, Untermarkt 6-8 (no reservation needed) Tours always run on the hour from 11am to 6pm. Duration of the tour is 45 minutes. Fee for the tour for adults is €4 and for children 6 to 14 years, the fee is €1,50
6. Lunch at Restaurant Destille
The Restaurant Destille is one of Gorlitz’s best restaurants where you can eat everything from lasagne, pasta, salads, steaks to more traditional local dishes like the famous Schlesisches Himmelreich which is pork roast, ham, dumplings, and stewed fruit in a white sauce.
7. Visit the Silesian Museum of Gorlitz
Silesia was once a culturally distinct country with its own history. Olden day Silesia was part of present day Poland with small parts in the Czech Republic and Germany. Gorlitz was selected as the location for the museum celebrating Silesian history because Gorlitz is Germany’s largest Silesian town. The Town of Gorlitz donated the museum building – the Schonhof (Beautiful Court) and later a museum administration building Zum Goldenen Baum (The Golden Tree) was acquired. The permanent collection offers a good glimpse into the history of Silesia. Here you can view the arts and crafts of the 17th to 19th centuries. Highlights from the collection include geographical views of Silesia, art objects from the Riesengebirge. Donations from the Silesian people abound here. Coins, ceramic and other beautiful artefacts can be seen here.
Address: Untermarkt 4, 02826 Gorlitz, Germany
Hours: Tues-Thurs- 10am-5pm
Rates: Adults- €6, Concessions- €4
8. Whispering Arch” aka Flüsterbogen
Delight in a spot of secret whispering around the Whispering Arch or Flüsterbogen in the Untermarkt of Gorlitz. Whisper sweet nothings at one end of the overhead arch and a person positioned at the other end of the arch is perfectly poised to listen in. This is a little piece of magic in Gorlitz that should not be missed.
Address: Untermarkt, 02826 Gorlitz, Germany
9. The Upper Lusatian Library of Sciences aka the Harry Potter Library of Gorlitz
Barely a few minutes walk on Neißstraße 30 is another gorgeous baroque house- The Kulturhistorisches Museum (cultural history museum) which houses the stunning Upper Lusatian Library of Sciences. The unique and beautiful library is arranged with beech shelves in the middle of the room, instead of along the walls. This gives the feeling and the grandeur of being on a stage and it really takes your breath away. The library often features on list of the most beautiful libraries in the world. It contains 40,000 volumes with numerous rarities and treasures, including medieval manuscripts and incunabula, which were the earliest printed books before 1501.
Essentials: The museum is open Tuesday – Sunday and admission is €5. Every Monday at 11am there is guided tour of the library.
10. Cross the Neisse river into Poland
A short walk across the 200 feet wide Altstadtbrücke (Old Town Bridge) will bring you to the other half of the city, the Polish city of Zgorzelec. The proximity of the two cities makes Görlitz a unique location where you can experience two countries and cultures in one place.The bridge only became fully accessible as late as 2007 when Poland gained accession to the EU. Once you cross the bridge, signs in a drab font advertising cheap cigarettes and booze giveaway the fact that you are now in Poland. A pretty row of restored houses lines the riverbank on the Polish side. One of them bears the plaque of its most iconic resident, Görlitz’s most famous son, Jacob Böhme, a philosopher and Christian mystic born in the 16th century. The house has a Jacob Böhme exhibition where you can learn more about his life. Enjoy a symbolic Zywiec beer at one of the restaurants lining the river. We chose Ristorante & Pizzeria Espresso-good prices and friendly staff.
11. Coffee and cake at Cafe Herztstuck
Cafe Herzstück (Weberstraße 2 ) was one of my finds from the trip- very alternative cafe with a focus on vegan and vegetarian cuisine plus great coffee. On the surface it seems like any other normal, cosy cafe but my eye spots a row of Singer sowing machines. Apparently you can come and rent the sowing machines by the hour. The cafe also organises book readings & concerts to praline chocolate making classes and table football classes-there’s something for everyone here.
12. Beers at Brauerei Bierblume
Formerly a brewery dating back to the 18th century, come and relax in the beautiful inner courtyard where you’ll find locals on wooden benches supping on their delicious homemade beer in large glass mugs-an oasis of calm and great beer in the city, definitely make a point to visit this brewery and say hello to the friendly Alex Klaus, the owner and brewer. Perfect place to end your day in Gorlitz.
Fly into Berlin or Dresden and then take the train to Görlitz . Trains run frequently between Dresden and Gorlitz ( €24, 1 to 1 1/2 hours) If you are coming from Berlin , change in Cottbus ( €44, 2 1/2 hours )
Where to stay in Görlitz
Hotel rooms are modern, extremely comfortable and clean. The hotel serves a very generous buffet breakfast. Only minor drawback is the location- hotel is a 5 minute walk from the station and a bit far from the centre of town. Perfect if you have a car.
Another excellent budget option for couples or solo travellers is centrally located Görlitz “Old Town” Europe Youth Hostel. Located in a beautiful period building. ( one of the grandest buildings on the square-it really doesn’t like a hostel from outside ) the hostel has large inner courtyard that is perfect to relax in after a day of sightseeing, generous buffet breakfast plus simple but comfortable rooms-altogether this hostel is a good choice if you’re on a tight budget. Room prices start from €60 a night for a double and include breakfast. A bed in a multi bed dorm starts from €25 per person, per night and includes breakfast.
My stay in Görlitz was possible thanks to the support of the Saxony Tourism Board who invited me to discover some of the region’s lesser known cities: Meissen, Görlitz and Bautzen. I’d like to take the opportunity to let you know that while my trip was supported by the tourism board, the article and all the views represented here are entirely mine. Thank you for reading.