Day trips: Idar-Oberstein

by Shereece Spain
Stripes Europe

It’s easy to get caught up in seeing the major cities in Germany. There are so many choices of dynamic and iconic cityscapes. One would be remiss if they overlooked a quick trip to the charming village of Idar-Oberstein.  

ABOUT THE CITY

Once two separate towns (Idar and Oberstein), they were united in 1933 into the town as it’s known today. Their individual histories date back centuries. “Hidden gem” is used quite frequently among writers. However, it’s super fitting for this quaint village along the Nahe River. It is known throughout Europe for having a vast collection of … jewelry lovers brace yourselves … gemstones! It is but one stop along the German Gemstone Road, which makes for a great road trip by itself.

LOCAL HIGHLIGHTS

Felsenkirche - Idar-Oberstein’s most famous landmark is the “Church in the Rock.” It makes for a one-of-a-kind cityscape and Instagram worthy pictures.


"Church in the Rock”

Nahe-Skywalk - Speaking of city views … If you don’t have a phobia about heights, head on up for amazing views of the town and the Nahe River. With a glass bottom, you’ll appear to be suspended in the air. It’s only a few years old, but it’s quickly becoming a must-see attraction!

Deutsches Mineralienmuseum - Three floors overflowing with sparkling baubles and glitzy stones await you at the city’s main attraction. They have jewels and gems from all over the planet. It’s a truly remarkable collection in such a relatively small town.

Castle Oberstein - The grounds are now open for the season, so now is the time to go. As so many other medieval structures, the original castle burned down in 1855 but has been partially restored to resemble its former glory. While you’re there, take the short walk to Fortress Bosselstein. Not much remains, but your imagination can take flight as you take in the remaining walls and what is left of the tower.

Gem mines - All ages can enjoy the tours through the local gem mine Edelsteinminen Steinkaulenberg, Europe’s only gemstone mine open to the public. You’ll be able to traverse through the caves to admire the natural glimmering beauty. Have fun digging for your own gems. This is perfect for those that don’t mind getting their hands dirty (and I don’t just mean the kiddos). They make the perfect unique souvenir. Witness first-hand how raw stones become the shimmering pieces we see in jewelry stores at the Weiherschleife cutting mill.

Louis Gottlieb and Son’s - All the other locations now have you in the mood for taking home your own new piece of bling, don’t they? This local jewelry store will help you do just that! You can even purchase larger pieces of uncut stone or ready-to-wear trinkets. Mother’s Day is this month!

 LET’S HIT THE ROAD

After approximately an hour drive northwest of the Kaiserslautern area or less than one and a half hours southwest of Wiesbaden, you’ll find yourself at the threshold of Idar-Oberstein. Parkhaus Austraβe is a great parking option close to the castle and gemstone museum. All the locations above are within a 15-20-minute walk and a great way to get those steps in for the day. Normally, I give you a train option since that’s one of my favorite modes of travel. However, that isn’t a choice for this trip. Thankfully, the car ride is short and picturesque.

On your next available day off, hop in the car and head to Idar-Oberstein. Their small, but eloquent, cityscape will leave you breathless.

Come back for their Christmas market beginning in late-November. It’s simply stunning!

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