A *must do* as well as a convenient mode of transportation is the cable car from Oberwiesenthal to the top of Mt. Fichtelberg (1214 m). It was opened in 1924 as the first of that kind in Germany. Elevation difference is 303 m, the cable car takes close to 4 minutes for the 1175 m long ride. Up to 44 passengers are transported in each of the two cabins (one up, the other down) at once. This meant looong lines for many years, until a Quad chair-lift was built nearby some years ago.
The cable car is in revision for two weeks every year in April and November, otherwise in operation all year round 9 - 17 h. It's only a five minutes walk from the train station or the Markt square to the cable car.
Tickets are 5 Euro for a single ride, 7 Euro for a round trip (2013) for adults. Reductions for seniors, guests staying in Oberwiesenthal, students, children etc. Ski passes (winter) are valid for unlimited use of the cable car.
- Skiing and Boarding
I probably drove as often to Oberwiesenthal as I took the bus/train. The reason is that it takes too long for me to get from home to Chemnitz or Annaberg by public transportation, from where you can easily catch the bus. And if going for a long ski weekend with friends you simply have too much luggage incl. skis to drag with you, considering the many changes from bus to train and back to bus again.
The fastest option for driving is to take the motorway A4 from somewhere to Chemnitz, from where you take major road B 95 to Oberwiesenthal. The road is well maintained, but it goes through several bigger cities/towns (Chemnitz, Annaberg) and runs through smaller villages, is curvy, and crosses valleys ... also, traffic can be a nightmare, especially slow if the road conditions are nasty - ice and snow often in winter.
Once in Oberwiesenthal you can park your car for free on the big lots near the lifts - signposted. Streetside parking in town is NOT free, and you're lucky if you find a place. Make sure your hotel has private parking available. Parking on top of Mt. Fichtelberg is NOT free, either, and very limited available.
It doesn't make much sense to drive during your stay in Oberwiesenthal, except you want to do an excursion to a place farther away. From (almost) any accommodation you can easily walk to the skilifts or cross-country trails, hiking and biking trails start right in town.
- Road Trip
Bus - VMS
More frequently running and also better timed to other means of transport are the buses that connect Oberwiesenthal to Annaberg-Buchholz (where you can catch other trains/buses to Chemnitz or vice versa). Oberwiesenthal is in the VMS public transportation network that extends as far as Annaberg-Buchholz, Chemnitz, Zwickau and Freiberg. Day tickets are recommended, family and group tickets are available. The Sachsen-Ticket is valid on trains and buses here as well.
Buses run hourly from Chemnitz and Annaberg, travel time is roughly 2 hours from Chemnitz, 40 minutes from Annaberg. Bus lines are 210 and 411.
Ther is a city bus in Oberwiesenthal, line A - runs about once an hour from the train station via Markt square to the big hotel "Am Fichtelberg" and a few times a day further to the top of Fichtelberg mountain (quite helpful for cross-country skiers - lots of trails up there).
- Budget Travel
The most enjoyable way to get to Oberwiesenthal is - in my opinion - the narrow-gauge steam train "Fichtelbergbahn", which runs from Cranzahl to Oberwiesenthal. To get to Cranzahl take the trains of Erzgebirgsbahn from Chemnitz via Annaberg-Buchholz, or the bus from Annaberg-Buchholz. For schedules see www.bahn.de, please. From my experience I must say the schedules are not well timed with Erzgebirgsbahn or buses; I had to catch the steam train in Neudorf and only made it because the super friendly bus driver made an extra stop for me.
Fichtelbergbahn was opened 1897. The route is 17,35 km long and the train climbs 238 m up until it reaches Oberwiesenthal at 893 m elevation after 7 stops along the way and one hour travel time. The engines and cars are historic, well restored (see interior on pic 2). Some trains have dining cars (I had a piece of cake and a hot chocolate - pretty good), others have open-air cars for panoramic views (in summer).
A single trip is 7.40 Euro, round trip is 12.80 Euro for adults (in 2013). Kids pay 3 Euro, no matter if one way or round trip. You can catch the train on a stop along the way, it's getting a bit cheaper then.
- Historical Travel
Fichtelbergbahn Narrow Gauge Steam Railway
Oberwiesenthal's main connection with the outside world is the Fichtelbergbahn, a narrow gauge railway which has been steaming through the forests since 1897. It connects Oberwiesenthal with Cranzahl where you can change for the modern DB trains of the Erzgebirgsbahn. (Ok there is the bus 411 straight to Annaberg which is faster but... boring.)
The railway line leads through forests and small valleys past a handful of villages in between and takes you along the total of 17.35 kms in one hour. The train has to cope with (for a train) rather steep ascents in between. I felt reminded of the locomotive in "Dumbo"... (remember?) If you like nostalgic train rides, this one is highly recommended, both for the train and for the landscape views.
Adults are allowed to stand on the balconies at the front and end of the cars. But please keep doors and windows closed, otherwise the smoke enters the cars **cough**
One of the two trains has an open "cabrio" car. Great to enjoy the views on fine days but you'll smell like a smoked ham afterwards, and better wear dark clothes. The other train has a bistro car where you can enjoy some food and drink.
Fares: 7 € one way, 12 € return ticket (adults), included in ErzgebirgsCard
Tickets can be obtained: in Cranzahl in the flower and gift shop inside the station building, in Oberwiesenthal there is a real ticket office at the station which also sells souvenirs.
ErzgebirgsCard holders can simply hop on, the card is checked on board the train.
Check the timetable carefully, and check it again. There are some limitations about certain trains which are tricky to understand. I only noticed last minute that the train I had planned to take wasn't running that day and that I had to run to catch an earlier one.
The railway company have issued a flyer with lots of information and background about the locomotives and train cars, the route and what you see along it, the history of the railway, a map etc. etc. in four languages - make sure you grab one. The English version can alos be downloaded here
More photos are in my travelogues!
- Historical Travel
Cable Car Up Fichtelberg
The easiest way to reach the summit of Fichtelberg is the cable car, named Schwebebahn , which departs from the edge of the town and takes you to the top in a few minutes. It runs from 9.00 to 17.00 at 15 minute intervals. Fares for adults: 4 € one way, 6 € return ticket. The ErzgebirgsCard is valid for one return trip.
The Schwebebahn was built in 1924 and claims to be the oldest cable car in Germany.
The gondolas are rather big and the trip is calm. Only when passing the pillars it sways a little. Even a person who is scared of heights like me can make it - however, it took me some courage and self-restraint (and I decided to walk back down).
There is also a chair lift which runs parallel to the cable car but there is NO way anyone would make me board that thing...
- Mountain Climbing
- Family Travel
Fichtelbergbahn: Narrow gauge train
A good option (besides the road) is travelling there by train. The normal Deutsche Bahn will get you as far Annaberg-Buchholz and beyond to Cranzahl, from there you may best take the narrow-gauge railway to Oberwiesenthal.
A selection of (mostly) vintage steam engines and coaches will take you on a pleasant journey through the valley scenery...
- Historical Travel
- Family Travel
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