Family standing on a mountain top in the Zittau Mountains
Philipp Herfort

Four Family Vacation Ideas in the Zittau Mountains

Susanne Jung-Klotz

In eastern Germany, tucked away between the Polish and Czech borders, lies the Zittau Mountains. This idyllic area in the tri-border region, with its unusual rock formations, is still a well-kept secret among fans of local vacations. Loads of unforgettable experiences ensure fun and excitement here, whether it’s a visit to the Stone Zoo or a ride on the narrow-gauge railway. Here are four family vacation ideas in the Zittau Mountains.

A Zoo Visit of a Different Kind: Zittau Mountains

Unconventional and yet truly an experience, the volcanic sandstone formations in the Zittau Mountains ignite the imagination of both young and old visitors. While some of the centuries-old rocks resemble teapots or organ pipes, many of them appear to resemble animals. This is how the Zittau Stone Zoo came to be. Three discovery tours through Oybin, Jonsdorf, and Lückendorf pass by stone turtles, brooding hens, and even a wild lion. It should also be noted that some of the routes are stroller-accessible and perfect for a tour with babies and toddlers!

Family hiking thorugh the Zittau mountains

All Aboard, Please! A Ride on the Zittau Narrow-Gauge Railway

There’s a hiss and a puff of steam at the Zittau station as the locomotive arrives with great fanfare. Since 1890, travelers have excitedly waited at the platform to embark on their adventure. And even though freight traffic has long ceased here, the historic steam locomotives continue to chug towards the spa town of Oybin day after day. Once arrived, visitors can leisurely stroll among picturesque half-timbered houses or hike to the castle and monastery on the eponymous Oybin Mountain. Extraordinary events take place on the train throughout the year, such as theater performances and even themed rides. Let the wild ride begin!

Family in front of a historic railway car in the Zittau mountains
Soom productions

Is It Saxony or the South Seas? The Butterfly House in Jonsdorf

Tropical temperatures, exotic palm trees, and beautiful butterflies fluttering around us: To experience the diversity of nature, one doesn’t always need to travel far. In the lovely spa town of Jonsdorf, there is a huge Butterfly House. It is home to over 250 species of shimmering butterflies. Additionally, reptiles, spiders, and other insects from around the world can be found here. But how did the butterflies end up in Jonsdorf? After the reunification, the region had to reorient itself. The textile companies based here could no longer sustain themselves independently, and factory buildings like the bleaching plant stood empty. To further promote tourism in the spa town, the idea for a Butterfly House on the premises of the former textile factory arose. Thanks to this idea, we now have a little piece of the tropics right in Saxony!

Family in the butterfly house in Jonsdorf

Reaching for the Stars: Herrnhut Stars

Over 160 years ago, a teacher in the Herrnhut Moravian Community had a great idea. To teach the boarding school children about geometric shapes, he crafted colorful paper stars with them. At the same time, these stars were meant to symbolize love and security just before Christmas, as most of these children belonged to missionaries and lived far from their parents. Soon, these colorful stars gained popularity beyond the school’s boundaries. Today, the beautiful idea has turned into a huge manufacturing operation! Around 700,000 stars are handcrafted here annually. For those who want to get crafty with their children, they can visit the Discovery World or book one of the coveted crafting spots. Here, you can create a mini star from plastic or an illuminated giant star from paper. The shop also offers a variety of other beautiful Christmas decorations!