Located in Thuringia, Germany – Jena is the second-largest city in Thuringia and has a population of about 110,000 people.
The city is popularly known for being home to a wide range of wild orchids.
There are so many, amazing, unique, and historic landmarks, to discover in Jena.
One of the most popular attractions in Jena is the Optical Museum, which displays a wide range of vintage Zeiss microscopes and other optical collections.
So in this Meiningen travel guide, we are going to discuss in detail what to do in Jena, from the most popular spots in the city to tours that will help you see it all with ease and at once!
Did we miss any of the best places to visit in Jena?
If you know of any unique attraction that we did not mention, then let us know in the comment section
1. Visit the Zeiss Planetarium in Jena
Located just 300 meters away from the botanical garden is the Zeiss Planetarium.
The Zeiss Planetarium was opened in 1926 and is one of the oldest planetariums in the world that is still active, it is also of the most popular attractions in Jena.
Inside this place, you will find an art dome theater that projects beautiful images of the sky, planets, and galaxies on a big hemispherical screen.
When enter here, you will feel like you are an inhabitant of a space station.
You can try different activities like being on board the Hubble or Cassini satellites, walking on the surface of distant planets, perform a virtual dive from space.
One of the things I personally like about this place is how they used 3D technology to help people get very close to planets, stars, and other celestial bodies in a way that would be impossible with traditional telescopes
Drinks and snacks can be purchased in the snack bar that is located in front of the dome. The ticket is also affordable, a family ticket costs 33 Euros.
In general, the place is calm, and if you’re a fan of astronomy, space exploration, or technology then I suggest you check this place out whenever you are in Jena.
2. Explore the Jena Botanischer garten
The second tourist attraction on our list of things to do in Jena, the Jena Botanical Garden.
The garden is located a few minutes away from the Thuringian University and State Library.
This botanical garden is home to more than 10,000 plant species that cover 4 hectares of land
My favorite part of this garden is the theme park, which is designed to showcase flowers from different parts of the world, such as Asia, North America, and the Mediterranean.
The atmosphere here is very soothing and peaceful, and if you come with a book or company, you might spend more than 2–3 hours here without even noticing.
The entry tickets are very affordable too, €2.50 for students and €4 for adults.
If you’re touring this place by yourself, you can make use of the free audio guide that is available.
If you’re visiting this place with your kids, pay attention to their movement, so they won’t get in contact with poisonous plants
3. Watch A Live Music Performance At Jenaer Philharmonie
Another top tourist destination in Jena that is worth a visit is the Jenaer Philharmonie, a concert venue that hosts different musical performances every year.
This orchestra hall is one of its kind, it has a seating capacity of 1,000+ people and a stage that is big enough to accommodate a full orchestra and choir.
Apart from live performances, music festivals like the Jenaer Jazz Days are also hosted here.
The Janer Jazz Days is a music concert that is focused on showcasing the best jazz musicians from different parts of the world.
If you’re a fan of countryside music, blues, jazz, or reggae, then you will definitely love this place.
4. Check Out Some Artworks At Jenaer Kunstverein
Located just a few meters away from Marktplatz is Jenar Kunstverein, a contemporary art gallery that was founded in 1863 and has since become a top tourist destination in Jena.
This art gallery features a wide collection of sculptures and paintings from international and local artists.
One of the things I personally like about this museum is the educational programs and exhibitions they host every year.
The exhibitions are mainly focused on showcasing the work of both upcoming and established artists, while the educational programs are focused on getting people to know more about contemporary art.
There is also a nearby restaurant where you can stop by to eat or have a drink.
If you love artworks, then make sure you visit this place.
5. Visit the JenTower
One of the top tourist attractions in Jena is the JenTower.
The Jentower was built in 1972, (51 years ago) – it is 159 meters tall, making it the tallest building in Jena, Thuringia.
One of the most popular spots in JenTower is the observation deck, which is located on the 28th floor of the building.
You don’t have to worry about climbing stairs since there is an elevator that can take you up to the 28th floor in seconds.
The entry tickets are super affordable, costing €6 for adults.
When you climb the observation deck, you will have a stunning, 360 eagle eye view of Jena.
You can even see as far as the Thuringian Forest and the Saale Valley.
The JenTower also has a restaurant and bar on the 28th floor, where you can relax and enjoy a meal or a drink while enjoying the view.
In addition to the observation deck and restaurant, the JenTower also has a small museum on the first floor.
You can check the visit to the museum on your way out.
6. Take a tour of the Friedrich Schiller University
If you visit Jena and then go back without checking out this university, then you missed out.
From what I’ve seen, all I can say is wow!
The Freidrich Schiller University was founded in 1558 making it one of the oldest universities in Germany.
If you end up visiting this university, you can check out some of the historic buildings and also learn more about how the university got started.
The main campus is located in the city center, and it contains a mix of modern and historic buildings like the famous Philosophenweg (Philosopher’s Walk), which is lined with statues of famous philosophers.
During your tour, you can also check out the faculties and departments that make up the university, e.g. the faculties of law, medicine, and humanities
7. Visit the Ernst Haeckel Haus, Museum
Another top tourist destination in Jena is the Ernst Haeckel Haus Museum.
This museum is dedicated to the life and work of the famous German biologist and philosopher Ernst Haeckel
The museum is housed in a renovated Nouveau villa.
The villa was originally built in 1904 and Haeckel lived here for more than 20 years.
You can freely explore the rooms in this museum while learning to earn about Haeckel’s life, works, and philosophy.
One of the things I personally like in this museum is the 2000+ watercolor paintings that are on display in the villa’s gallery.
The paintings are mainly illustrations of sea creatures and microscopic organisms.
If you’re into sciences and want to learn more about evolutionary theory, then add this museum to your must-see list.
8. Have Fun At The GalaxSea Freizeitbad Water Park
9. Hike To Napoleonstein
One of the popular landmarks in Jena is the Napoleon Stone.
In the 18th century, the Battle of Jena took place here between Cospeda, Krippendorf, and Vierzehnheiligen, during which Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, defeated the Prussians and their allies.
This stone was molded In memory of those who fought in the battle of Jena and Auerstedt.
If you’re someone who loves participating in outdoor activities like camping, hiking, or over landing, then hiking to the Napoleon Stone would give you the most fun.
There are several different hiking trails to the Napoleon Stone, once you get to the top you have a wonderful all-round view.
And regardless of the season, the view from the top of the Napoleon Stone is always beautiful.
10. Play Golf At Golf Club Weimar | Jena e.V.
If you are a huge golf fan and are looking for a place where you can place golf in Jena, then check out the Jena golf club.
This golf club has a solid, nice 9-hole golf course, and it is just 15 minutes drive away from the main areas of the cities.
11. Relax or Go Cycling At Mittleres Saaletal
Mittleres Saaletal is a wildlife reserve that is located in a valley.
The serene environment here makes it a good place to either relax, stroll around, go cycling, or just have a picnic with your friends or family.
The hill gives you a beautiful 360-degree view of Jena.
I personally prefer to visit here in the spring when the trees are flowering or in autumn when the leaves start to color.
12. Take a Day Trip to Nearby Weimar
One of the things I love to do whenever I find myself in a place is to go on a day trip to a nearby city.
Day trips usually offer unique experiences that you won’t find anywhere else, and if you’re in Jena, one of the cities I suggest you check out is Weimar.
Weimar is just a 30 mins drive away from Jena, and it is popularly known as the birthplace of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller.
One of the top attractions I suggest you check out whenever you visit Weimar is the Bauhaus Museum, and the Duchess Anna Amalia Library.
So if you would like to take a day trip, add this town to your list.
Read more: Best Things To Do In Weimar
Where To Stay In Jena, Thuringia?
Some factors like budget and location might affect where you will stay.
However, regardless of your price or location, there is always something for you.
With the help of Booking.com, a metasearch engine that compares all the internet’s hotel deals, you can find different hotels in Jena that suit you.
Even if you don’t book through that site, it’s a wonderful way to explore the possibilities on offer and learn about the most popular suburbs and districts to stay in.
As you can see, there are so many fun things to do in Jena, from visiting museums to sightseeing to going on outdoor adventures.
The activities we listed above, are the ones we believe will make your visit a fun and memorable one.