I went to the Harz Mountains a couple of weeks ago as it was my mum's birthday and my familiy usually does a trip somewhere around that time. We originally planned on visiting Berlin but then decided to visit the Harz Mountains and go hiking instead.
I'm really glad we did that! The mountains offer the most stunning scenery and although we only live 2 hours away from it, we never managed to go there in over 20 years.
As I'm moving to Norway soon, it was about time that we took that trip and although I lived and studied in a similar mountainous area for 3 years, the Harz Mountains appeared to be even more beautiful!
We went to the Harz on a Saturday and on our way to the hotel, we discovered a beautiful lake along the road. We stopped to take some pictures and the scenery was just gorgeous! You had to walk through the woods to get to the lake and to some rocks at the waterfront that were described as "the beach" on the signs we followed.
If we would have had more time, I would have totally plugged my feet into the water and pick-nicked on the rocks. After a short stop at the hotel to leave our bags, we made our way to the cable car station in Braunlage, a small town in the Harz that totally lives from tourism.
We wanted to go to the top of mountain Wurmberg, the highest mountain in Lower-Saxony, and as the weather forecast predicted thunderstorms, we thought it would be best to take the cable car instead of walking because you never know when the weather would change.
After we finally arrived at the top of the Wurmberg Mountain, we explored the area a little. It turned out that the mountain was very touristy with sun enthusiasts sitting in the beer garden eating schnitzel. There was a ski jumping hill right next to the beergarden too with a view on Mountain Brocken, the highest one in the Harz Mountain Range.
I love to watch ski jumping on TV each winter but somehow I never managed to visit a ski jumping hill in winter but instead only in summer in 25 degrees... Anyway, although it was very touristy on top of the mountain, we were glad we didn't take the train up to the Brocken.
A return ticket would have cost 30€ for each of us and that is just a ridiculous price. It is the same I pay for the train from Oslo to Gothenburg in the summer and instead of half an hour, I'm on the road for 4 hours there. But the view on the Brocken was nice indeed!
The top of the Brocken Mountain
Can you see the train?
After exploring the area a little and pick-nicking, we made our way to town again as the clouds were getting darker and darker. We were lucky as the thunderstorm only approached us after we took a stroll around town.
In the evening we had dinner at the local Italian restaurant which was crowded and apparently the sentence "eat where the locals eat" was true as we were the only tourists in there and the food was delicious and prices moderate.
Unfortunately all the hiking and the mountain air were too much for me as I fell into bed at 8.30pm with a serious headache. A little 10 hours nap fortunately cured me so I was ready to explore more towns and sights of the Harz the next day.
How to get to the Harz mountains
The Harz Mountains can be found in the heart of Germany and extend across the states of Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia. The biggest cities in the area are Quedlinburg, Wernigerode and Goslar.
Goslar is situated 90km from Hanover (which is also where the nearest airport is situated) and 45km from Brunswick. There are direct train connections from/to Hanover, Brunswick and Magdeburg, and on weekends even from/to Berlin. You can also fly into Hamburg and go by train via Hanover.
You can also get to Goslar by (cheaper) interregional busses from Berlin, Magdeburg, Kassel, Dortmund and Düsseldorf. If you'd like to travel all around the Harz, you can, for example, hop on the regional bus to Clausthal-Zellerfeld or Harzburg, and from there to smaller towns like Braunlage.
Where to stay in the Harz mountains
You have your pick between luxurious and budget hotels in the Harz mountains, so here's a small selection:
- Novum Hotel Kaiserworth is situated right on the market square in one of the town's prettiest buildings! If you'd like to splurge, you should stay here!
- Hotel Alte Münze is located in an old half-timbered building in the old town, which makes it perfect if you're short on time!
- Hotel & Tagungszentrum Hessenkopf is located outside of the city centre, close to the forest. If you'd like to go hiking, this might just be the perfect option!
- Hostel Goslar is perfect if you're traveling on a budget, and you have your pick between a bed in the dorm, a private room, or even your own apartment.
- Maritim Berghotel Braunlage is situated right by the forests of the National Park and provides everything from several pools to a tennic court and even a night club!
- Hotel Askania is actually where we stayed on our trip! The hotel is a little bit older but located right next to the cable car station and comes with an amazing breakfast buffet selection in the morning!
- Wellness & Ayurveda Hotel Am Eichenberg - While Bad Harzburg is a spa town for the older generation, you might want to treat yourself after a long hiking weekend in this chic boutique hotel!