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The borders of the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland all intersect near the small city of Zittau, in the German Free State of Saxony. Zittau and its surrounding area may remain relatively unknown to most foreign tourists, but those who use car rental to drive into the city will find one of Germany's oldest town halls and the country's smallest university. Visitors can also enter Zittau aboard one of Germany's oldest rail lines and will soon be able to drive directly from here to the nation's easternmost city, Görlitz.
Who to Book With
Although there is a Sixt office in the heart of the city centre of Zittau, most car hire companies in this small community are independent operators such as Hentschel Holger Autovermietung and Kutschke's Ausflugsfahrten Fredo Kutschke. Online booking, however, is accepted by nearly all of these companies.
Best Time to Go
Zittau is rarely crowded with tourists no matter what time of year, so even those who travel during the warmest and busiest summer months, July and August, should not have trouble finding affordable hotel rooms or vehicles. Even larger discounts, however, can be had during spring, autumn and especially winter. Winters may be cold, but temperatures rarely fall more than a few degrees below the freezing point.
Need to Know Essentials
Upon arrival, all motorists must present these documents before claiming a rental vehicle:
- A national driving licence or an International Driving Permit
- A passport or another form of valid ID with a photo
- The credit card used to reserve the vehicle
Zittau's driving infrastructure is still very much a work in progress, but motorists will rarely encounter traffic jams or overly aggressive drivers in this small and largely undiscovered city. The ring road around central Zittau is numbered 99 and leads directly to the motorway towards Görlitz, Germany's easternmost city. The main road into Poland is called the S146.
Our Guide to Germany features even more driving details.
Zittau, like most other German cities of a similar size, is easily walkable. However, visitors can also easily drive, take taxis or travel by bus or train. Both buses and trains depart regularly from Zittau Bahnhof, which is conveniently located in the middle of the northern section of the city. The nearest major airports are situated in Dresden and Berlin.
Rail may be the easiest form of public transportation in and around Zittau. One of the most leisurely ways to explore Zittau and its surrounding area by train is aboard the narrow gauge steam railway which has made journeys around Zittau's eastern section since 1890. Passengers can choose between open-air or bistro cars where light snacks and beverages are served. The rail route between Dresden and Zittau crosses the border into Poland during its two-hour long journey.
All three of Zittau's city bus lines meet at Zittau Bahnhof, which contains a total of six bus stops on its forecourt. Regional bus line 27 travel along abandoned rail lines to Lobau, while bus line 41 travels to Bernstadt auf dem Eigen. Although long-distance bus service is not as reliable as rail service, buses travel from Zittau to Leipzig, Dresden and Görlitz.
There is no shortage of taxi operators in Zittau, although finding drivers who can speak English can be a challenge. At least a couple of taxi companies, including Taxi-Genossenschaft and Taxizentrale Centrum Zittau, offer excursions to the nearest airports and free trips to nearby hospitals for sick passengers.
Zittau is mere minutes away from one of the few points in Europe where the borders of three different countries come together. In 2007, driving around this region became even easier after Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland all joined the Schengen Area. Northeast of Zittau lies Görlitz, Germany's easternmost city, but the Czech city of Liberec is located even closer to Zittau.
Oybin – One of the nearest communities to Zittau is this state-certified spa retreat which shares its name with the exposed natural sandstone Oybin Mountain. Many more unusual rock formations stand throughout this community whose streets fill with historic monk processions after dark.
Liberec – It takes less than 30 minutes to drive from Zittau to this Czech Republic community surrounded by the Jizera Mountains, a popular cross-country skiing site in winter and a place to cycle or hike in summer. Lesser known, but also worth visiting, are the lower Lusatian Mountains, which still contain several deserted concrete bunkers from WWII.
Görlitz – No German city stands further east than Görlitz, where visitors can easily walk across the Neisse River pedestrian footbridge to the neighbouring Polish city of Zgorzelec. The summit of Landeskrone Mountain provides the best view of Görlitz's Old Town, one of the best preserved in Germany.