Erfurt is a beautiful town to take a stroll through, with its charming cobbled streets and ever-so-slightly crooked pastel buildings. It's one of Germany's better-preserved medieval centres and oldest university cities, where famous protestant reformer Martin Luther studied and fell in love with the place. The surrounding woods are home to scenic hikes, while the hearty local delicacies and beers make for a welcome return. Its thriving student population and laid-back atmosphere keep this old city young.
You can stay in an Erfurt hostel that used to be a police station or one set inside a historic building that's been fully restored to make it a backpacker's dream. There are places with on-site bars, so you can get acquainted with your hostel buddies before spending an hour or two soaking in the hot tub or chilling on the outdoor terrace. If you're planning on seeing the city on two wheels, you can find Erfurt hostels with bike rental. Free Wi-Fi is standard too.
Erfurt old town (or Altstadt) dates back to the Middle Ages and is home to major sights like the St Augustine's Monastery, Kaufmannskirche church and Erfurt Cathedral. A walk through its charming streets is a relaxing way to spend a day. Slightly west, the Petersburg district is where you'll find the Petersberg Citadel, a walled city with tangled tunnels below to explore with a guide. The nearby town of Gotha makes a good day trip for history buffs.
There's a lot to see in the old town. The medieval Krämerbrücke, or Merchant's Bridge, is the longest bridge in Europe to have inhabited buildings. It's lined with shops, delicatessens and galleries, making for a delightful leisurely stroll. Central Europe's oldest intact synagogue (sensibly named the Old Synagogue) is here as well, originally dating from 1100. You can visit the 8th-century Cathedral of St Mary too, where Martin Luther took his holy orders. In the evening, try some of the local beers while you tuck into a Thuringian dumpling or Bratwurst.
The tram service is the most convenient way to get around the city, although much of the centre is easy to see on foot. Erfurt Hauptbahnhof is the main railway station, a 20-minute walk from the centre. You can catch a train to there from Germany's major cities. Erfurt-Weimar Airport is just an 18-minute tram ride away.