Bad Muskau is a spa town in northeastern Saxony, Germany, on the border with Poland. It is known for its palace and extensive landscape gardens that are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Bad Muskau is located on the western bank of the river Neisse, in the northeastern-most corner of the German state of Saxony, right on the border triangle with the state of Brandenburg and with Poland. In the 19th century, it was the residence of the Counts of Pückler-Muskau, most notably Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau (1785–1871), the most famous scion of this family, a colourful adventurer, author, womaniser, patron of the arts, and—most importantly—landscape gardener.
The Polish town Łęknica (German Lugknitz) used to be a borough of Bad Muskau, until they were separated after the Second World War by the Neisse border river. While the spa and palace are in the German part, two thirds of the parks are on the Eastern, i.e. Polish, bank. For decades, the two parts were separated and the bridges were blocked or even destroyed. Thanks to European integration, they form a whole again, and you may stroll through both parts without passing a border checkpoint. Nevertheless, you should bring your passport (ID card suffices for EU citizens) as there may be infrequent spot checks.
- 1 Bad Muskau-Tourist (tourist information), Schloßstr. 6, 02953 Bad Muskau, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 09:00-18:00, Sa Su public holidays 10:00-17:00.
- 2 Tourismuszentrum Muskauer Park, Neues Schloss, 02953 Bad Muskau, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. February and 1 November–11 December: only Saturdays and Sundays, 11:00-16:00; 1 March–Tuesday before Easter, daily 10:00-17:00; Wednesday before Easter–31 October, daily 10:00-18:00; 27–30 December, 11:00-16:00. Contact to book guided tours of the park, visits of the tower, accomodations, tips for excursions; sells hiking maps, books and postcards.
Regular rail service to Bad Muskau was seized. The nearest station that is still served is in Weißwasser (9 km from Bad Muskau) from where you have to continue by bus, or ask your hotel to pick you up (some of them offer this service). By train and bus it takes 2 hr 45 min from Dresden (change in Görlitz and Weißwasser), 2 hr 50 min from Berlin (change in Cottbus and Döbern). From either Görlitz or Cottbus it is a 1 hr 10 min ride.
ZVON combi-tickets are valid both in local trains and busses. With an international EURO-NEISSE-Ticket, you may even cross the border to the neighbouring parts of Poland.
Only during the summer months, there is a heritage small-gauge railway from Weißwasser to Bad Muskau. It is however used for amusement rather than as an actual means of transportation.
The most comfortable way to get in is by car. From the Berlin area, take autobahn A 15 to exit no. 6 Roggosen, then follow the road to Döbern and finally the B 115 to Bad Muskau. From Dresden, take A 4 to exit no. 90 Bautzen-Ost, then follow B 156 road to Bad Muskau. The 160-km drive from Berlin takes about two hours, the 120 km from Dresden about 1½ hours. Both Cottbus and Görlitz are 40 km (40 minutes) from Bad Muskau.
As the parks are quite vast, a good means to get around is by bike. If you do not arrive on two wheels anyway, you may rent one on site.
- Fahrrad-Nowak, Alte Schmiede, Bauhof 1, 02953 Bad Muskau, ☏ . April–October, daily 10:00-18:00. €10 per day.
- Fürst-Pückler-Park. Muskau's main attraction. With an area of 2050 acres, it is the largest English-style landscape garden in continental Europe. In 2004 it was listed as a World Heritage site. The park's creator, Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau, was keen on variety, his motto was "A park must be like an art gallery, every few steps you should see a new picture." Consequently, the park features copious meadows, majestic trees, curved paths, picturesque lakes and rivers, unique bridges and buildings. Especially characteristic are the park's surprising, long vistas. The park is open daily, all year, admission is free.
The following sights are within the grounds:
- Old Castle.
- New Castle (Neues Schloss). April–October 10:00-18:00. Reopened in 2012 after careful renovation. Houses the exhibition "Pückler! Catch him if you can?". Innovative, multi-faceted and comprehensive exposition on the erstwhile lord of the manor, Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau, dedicated to his different roles (ruler, adventurer, landscape artist, writer, bon vivant). With several interactive options (like a "love letter machine" that automatically writes a suitable love letter after you tweak some settings—Pückler has written thousands of letters, sometimes using recurring, only slightly varied text modules), lovingly designed animations and displays, short film scenes as well as little audio plays and texts recited by actors. While some of the stations might only unfold their whole allure if you have some knowledge of German language and culture, most of the texts are also available in English, and the activities are simply fun, no matter what language you speak. Admission €6, reduced €3.
- historical palm and cactus house
- Cavalier house, nowadays used as peat bath
- Moorish-style Orangerie
Two thirds of the park are on the Polish side of the border. Both parts are linked by bridges that may be crossed without border controls (but you have to carry your passport or ID card).
- Bad Muskau's "Garden Realm" may be discovered by bike or on foot, by boat or carriage.
- From April to October there are public guided tours of the park (1½-2 hours) each Saturday, Sunday and public holiday at 14:00. Meeting point is at the tourist centre in the New Castle, costs €4 per person. There is another tour all year, each Saturday at 14:00, starting from the Kulturhotel and mainly targeting spa and hotel guests (same price).
- The tourist centre arranges tours by horse carriage with local carters.
- Neiße-Tours offers zodiac tours on the Neisse river from the old weir to Żarki Wielkie with return transport.
- Bad Muskau owes its status as a state-approved health resort to the Moorbad (peat bath). It offers administrations with healing natural peat pulp, thermal brine or medicinal chalk, massages, physiotherapy and manual therapy.
- 1 [dead link] Waldeisenbahn Muskau (Muskau forest railway). 600-mm gauge heritage railway linking Bad Muskau with Weißwasser. It runs on weekends from May to September, additionally on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays in July and August and around Easter. Moreover, there are some special events throughout the year (see current calendar on the website). Sometimes, the trains are pulled by steam locomotives, more often historical diesel-powered field railway locomotives are deployed. One-way €5.80 (reduced €4.20), return ticket €8.50 (€5.80), family ticket €22.
Neapolitan ice cream (i.e. iced parfait blocks of three different flavours, usually vanilla, chocolate and strawberry) is known as Fürst-Pückler-Eis ("Prince Pückler ice-cream") in Germany and has therefore a special relation to Muskau's erstwhile lord. It is offered in many places. The Kulturhotel even offers a degustation of different "Fürst Pückler" ice-cream variations (on request).
- 1 Restaurant "Grüner Fürst", Kulturhotel, Schloßstraße 8. Combination of international cuisine with regional and seasonal products (e.g. chanterelles, asparagus, venison). Mains from €15.80, three-course menu from €27.80 (fish) or €21.70 (vegetarian).
- 1 [formerly dead link] Schloss Cafe, Schlossstraße 2, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. April–October daily 10:00-19:00.
- 2 Hermanns-Theke, Clara-Zetkin-Str. 27, ☏ . Pub with billiards and darts.
There is a number of smaller accommodations (B&Bs, private rooms for rent, holiday flats), see this directory. Single rooms starting at €14, double from €28 excluding breakfast; holiday flats from €30. Every guest has to pay a visitor's tax of €1.25 per person and night.
- Bed and breakfast
- 1 Glockenhof, Schulstr. 15, Bad-Muskau OT Köbeln, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
- 2 Pension Parkstübel, Kirchstraße 53, 02953 Bad Muskau, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Single from €30, double from €50.
- Holiday flats
- Holiday flats in Fürst-Pückler-Park. Four holiday flats (max. two persons each, 49–59 m²) located directly within the Muskau Park, close to the Oder-Neisse Cycle Route. Each with bathroom (shower), kitchen equipped with electric cooker, fridge, sink, water kettle, coffee machine, crockery; TV. Linens and dishtowels are included; face towels can be rented for €5 per person. €48 per night + €30 for final cleaning.
- 3 Hotel Am Schloßbrunnen, Köbelner Straße 68, 02953 Bad Muskau, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Small three-star hotel (13 rooms) in a quiet environment on the outskirts of the town (700 m from the entrance to the park). All rooms with shower/WC, radio/TV, phone, free WiFi; restaurant. Double from €59 including breakfast.
- 4 Parkstadthotel, Schulstr. 45, 02953 Bad Muskau, ☏ , fax: . With restaurant. Single from €45, double from €70.
- 5 Kulturhotel Fürst Pückler Park, Schloßstraße 8, 02953 Bad Muskau, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Large four-star hotel (100 rooms, including five suites) on the marketplace, directly next to the park entrance; standard rooms are 20m²; special rooms for handicapped people and allergy sufferers; non-smoking hotel, barrier-free; wellness area, sauna, gym, beauty and wellness packages; restaurant. Holiday and themed arrangements (wellness, romance, culinary, etc). Pickup at Weißwasser train station included; collection from other places within 150 km on request and surcharge. Double from €104.
- 1 Azalea and Rhododendron park Kromlau (Azaleen- und Rhododendronpark) (6 km west of Bad Muskau; 300 m from the forest railway station Kromlau). A landscape garden of nearly 81 ha, created by landowner Friedrich Hermann Rötschke—a contemporary of Prince Hermann von Pückler—starting in 1844. He directed the planting of both domestic and exotic plants as well as the arranging of artificial rock formations and landscape sculptures (like caves, grottos, pyramids) made of basalt from Saxon Switzerland and Bohemia. After Count Egloffstein-Arklitten acquired the park in 1893, he hired landscape gardener Georg Eichler to redesign the park with rhododendrons and azalea that still dominate the park's flora. The park includes a 18th-century mansion and the very picturesque Rakotz bridge (colloquially called "devil's bridge").
- 2 Lausitzer Findlingspark Nochten (Lusatian boulder park), north of Nochten, 02943 Boxberg/Oberlausitz (about 21 km southwest of Bad Muskau, on the B156 road to Bautzen). Landscape garden covering some 50 acres in a recultivated former lignite mine. About 6000 boulders, witnesses of the ice age in Central Europe, that were in the way of the excavators' giant shovels, were collected and arranged here, surrounded by artificial hills and a variety of different plants, including rhododendrons, succulents, perennials and heather.