15 Things to Do in Harz Mountains & National Park

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Author:  Caroline

The fantastical Harz Mountains sprawls out across three regions in Germany, is the birthplace of many a-legend and home to the most storybook medieval half-timbered villages in the country. There is plenty to do in the Harz Mountains & the Harz National Park, let’s delve in.

The Harz Mountains, located in central Germany, is a spectacular mountainous region carpeted in neverending forests made up of beech trees and high-altitude spruces.

There is something mythical about this part of the country, where wild lynx roam the forest, a 19th-century steam train slowly puffs its way through the mountains and every year, on the 30th of April, Walpurgis night is celebrated. Legend has it that witches gather on Brocken Mountain awaiting the arrival of spring.

This guide to the Harz Mountains was carefully created after I visited the region multiple times, once in winter and once at the beginning of Spring. The below itinerary can be done in 5-7 days and does not require a car, aside from one or two lesser-reachable attractions.


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Harz Mountains Quick Guide

WHERE TO STAY

HIGHLIGHTS OF HARZ

USEFUL READING: €49/month ticket Deutsche Bahn & Tools for Sustainable Travel by German National Tourism Board

OFFICIAL TOURISM WEBSITE: Town of Goslar; Region of Harz; Federal State of Lower Saxony; Federal State of Saxony Anhalt

MONEY SAVER: Look into the Harz Card which grants access to various museums and activities throughout the entire Harz Region.

INSPIRATION: Explore northern Germany with an electric car

15 Things to Do in Harz Germany

In Goslar

1. Meander around Goslar

The medieval town of Goslar is one of my absolute favorite places in the Harz Mountains. The remarkably well-preserved old town is UNESCO-classified thanks to the 1500 beautiful half-timbered houses, some of which date back to the 12th century.

Goslar was part of the Hansen Cities, a powerful medieval trading alliance of cities in northern Europe, promoting economic cooperation and maritime trade from the 12th to the 17th century. Its prominence can be traced to the discovery of rich mineral deposits, particularly silver and copper, in the nearby Rammelsberg mountain during the 10th century. The mining industry thrived, attracting skilled miners and craftsmen to settle in Goslar.

Goslar became an important mining and administrative center, where the extraction and trade of precious metals played a crucial role. The wealth and power of the mining guilds contributed to the town’s prosperity and led to the construction of magnificent churches, guild halls, and merchant houses.

Goslar Germany
Peterstrasse in Goslar
in Goslar
Goslar from the hills above the mines

THINGS TO DO | Visit Goslar Imperial Palace, Wander through Old Town, Climb the Bell Tower (Goslarer Marktkirchturm), Visit the Goslar Museum, Grab a drink on the Market Square, Find the Siemens house

VIEWPOINT | Walk up to the Maltermeisterturm for the best views over the town. As you meander back down, the rolling plains in front of the town are carpeted in picnic goers of all ages during summer.

WHERE TO EAT | Schneeweiss + Rosenrot (delicious vegan lunch); Soup and Soul Goslar; Weite Welt Goslar; Trüffel; Paulaner Goslar

PRACTICAL | Store your luggage in a locker inside the Tourism Office (requires €1/coin) while you explore the town.


2. Head into Rammelsberg Mine

Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 09.00 am to 06.00 pm; closes at 05.00 pm November to March
Entrance Fee: €9 without a guided tour, €18 with a guided tour (recommend)
How to get there: Walk 30 min from Goslar Altstad // Take either bus 803 or 809 (buy the ticket from the bus driver, in cash)

While I was hesitant at first “What am I going to do in a mine?”, the tour turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip to the Harz Mountains. As it was once the beating heart of Goslar, it is an essential stop for anyone looking to delve a little deeper into the local history and culture.

The mines has a remarkable underground mining system, consisting of tunnels, shafts, and galleries. This innovative engineering marvel allowed for the efficient extraction of resources and served as a blueprint for subsequent mining operations.

GUIDED TOURS | The Rammelsberg Mines offer 6 different types of guided tours, and the option to visit the on-site museum without a tour. Most tours are available in English and German, while a select few also offer Danish tours. I took the Roeder Stollen gallery tour, which lasted about 1h30.

Good to know: If you are planning on going inside the mines, make sure to wear proper footwear as the ground is uneven and slippery in certain places. I wore sneakers, which worked out perfectly.


Bad Harzburg
Bad Harzburg in the Harz Mountains

3. Wander around Bad Harzburg

The tiny hamlet Bad Harzburg is worth a visit if you are looking for a quiet respite from the hustle and bustle. The town was a favored destination for royals and nobles seeking respite in its healing thermal springs.

A popular spa destination in the late 19th and first half of the 20th century, when Bad Harzburg was brimming with holiday goers, for whom lavish pensions (B&B’s) and health resorts were built. These buildings are slowly being renovated, slow being the operative word.

THINGS TO DO | Explore the ruins of the Harzbug Castle, walk along the Tree Top Trail, ride the scenic Burgberg cable car or go hiking in the surrounding Harz National Park.

WHERE TO EAT | Sagenhaft for salads, Cafe Flora for cake and coffee.

HOW TO GET AROUND | If you stay in Bad Harzburg you will receive a HATIX card, allowing you free access to all the busses. If not, make sure to bring cash to pay for a (bus) ticket from the driver or a (train) ticket from the vending machine in the station.

TREEHOUSE HOTEL: I used Bad Harzbug as a base to explore Goslar and Harz National Park. It is well connected via bus/train and I got to stay in an awesome treehouse at Sonnenresort Ettershouse!


Tree Trail in Bar Harzbug

4. Walk the Tree Trail in Bad Harzburg

Opening Hours:  April to October – 09.30 am to 6.00 pm; November to March – 10.00 am to 4.00 pm
Entrance Fee: €9 (adults)
How to get there: Walk 20 minutes from the Bad Harzbug train station or take bus 875/871/873 from the station. Get off at stop Bad Harzburg Märchenwald (line 875); Bad Hazrburg Burbergbahn (line 871/873)

The Tree Top Trail (Baumwipfelpfad) is an elevated wooden pathway winding its way through the lush forest, granting visitors a unique perspective of nature from above. Stretching over 1,000 meters in length and rising up to 26 meters high.

Along the route, strategically placed viewing platforms offer breathtaking panoramic views of the Harz Mountains, showcasing their majestic peaks, verdant valleys, and shimmering lakes. Educational signs and interactive exhibits provide valuable insights into the ecosystem and wildlife that call this area home.

I visited on a quiet weekday in June, which in practice meant I almost had the walkway to myself. The path was built to offer an inclusive experience for all kinds of travelers, ensuring young and old can enjoy soaring above the canopy.


5. Ride the Most Scenic Cable Car in Harz & Zipline Back Down

Opening Hours: April to October – 09.30 am to 6.00 pm; November to March – 10.00 am to 05.00 pm
Entrance Fee: Cable Car €5 (up and down); Zipline €15
How to get there: Cable Car Ride starts at the ticket office

The little white cabins whizzing over the Tree Top Trail are locally known as the Burgbergseilbahn and have been operating since 1929, long before the tree trail walk was opened. The 3-minute ride takes you up to the top of the BurgBerg from where a plethora of hikes into the Harz National Park start.

As you get off the cable car, take a left and head up the little stairs. Here you will find both a viewpoint (great at sunrise) and a small restaurant. Turn right from the cable car and walk about 5 minutes to reach the starting point of the zipline (BaumSchwebeBahn).

The “zipline” was created to accommodate all types of travelers. It slowly glides along metal rails down the BurgBerg to the top of the Tree Top trail. Personally, I am not convinced it is worth the entrance fee. A 45-minute hike will bring you back down to Bad Harzburg and provide the same views.

TICKET PURCHASE | There is one ticket office for the cable cars, zipline and Tree Top Trail.

RECOMMENDED ITINERARY | Take the cable car up to the BurgBerg, grab a coffee at Plumbohms B&B and hike in the direction of Molkenhaus for lunch. From here embark on one of the many different hikes around the Harz National Park and back down to Bad Harzburg.


in Wernigerode

6. Stroll Around Wernigerode

We made but a very brief pitstop in the colorful town of Wernigerode, which was decked out in full Christmas regalia, adding to the already undeniable charm. Walking around Alstadt, with its 16th-century half-timbered houses and cobblestone alleys felt like stepping into a postcard, albeit one with questionable Christmas music playing in the background.

THINGS TO DO | The absolute best thing to do is simply get lost in the labyrinthine stress of the town. Start from the central square and check out the lavish 15th-century town hall (Rathouse Wernigerode), saunter past the Krummelsches Haus and see if you can find the smallest house in town (kleinstes house).

WINTER TIP | The Christmas Market is held from the last week of November until a few days before Christmas (dates vary each year).


Wernigerode Castle
Wernigerode Castle as seen from the Agnesberg

7. Check Out Wernigerode Castle

Entrance Fee: €7 adults; €4.5 children
Tickets: Purchase at the entrance
Guided Tours: Available upon request, pre-booking required online
Opening Hours: Check official website

If you are exploring Wernigerode, then a visit to the beautiful Wernigerode Castle is an absolute must. This turreted beauty is arguably one of the most iconic castles in the entire Harz Mountains. The magnificent interior contains over 50 rooms all of which can be visited with an audioguide (a surcharge of €2.5 for the audioguide is applicable).

The original castle dates back to the 12th century when it was a small medieval fortress. Over the years the castle was extensively renovated and expanded. It served as a residence for the noble family of Stolberg-Wernigerode until the early 20th century.

BEST VIEWPOINT | The opposite hill, Agnesberg, offers the very best views of the castle itself. We hiked a short 10 minutes to the top of the hill, which has a little bench and a large clearing with uninterrupted views of the castle itself.


Hiking Brocken Germany
Hiking in Harz National Park

8. Hike in Harz National Park

With over 9,000 kilometers of marked hiking trails, the Harz National Park is one of the very best places for hiking in Germany. The terrain is varied ranging from steep climbs to gently sloping paths crisscrossing thick forests. Most of the trails are well-marked and dog-friendly!

I picked up a hiking map at the tourism office in Bad Harzburg and embarked on an easy day hike from the top of the Burgberg, round to the Rabenklippe and in the direction of the Molkenhaus (which serves delicious lunch). After lunch I made my way back down in the direction of Bad Harzburg simply by following the signs.

If you want to go about your hike in a slightly more organized manner, check out Komoot or Alltrails for tons of hiking inspiration. Although I had a 4G signal throughout my hike, this might not always be the case so be sure to download the offline map before you head out.

GOOD TO KNOW | Weather in the Harz Mountains, like any other mountain range, can be pretty unpredictable. Always carry a rainjacket with you are wear solid hiking shoes.


Brocken Train in Germany

9. Ride the Brocken Train

Ticket Price: €49 (to and back)
Ticket Purchase: Online or at the station
Train Table: Check online (only in German)
Route: Wernigerode to the top of the Brocken

The Brocken Train, also known as the Harry Potter Train of Germany, is a historic railway line in Germany that winds its way through the picturesque Harz Mountains. Its history dates back to the late 19th century when it was primarily used for the transportation of goods and people.

During the Cold War era, Brocken Mountain became an important observation point, and the train was closed to the public. It resumed its passenger services after the reunification of Germany in 1989. I went in winter to ride this vintage steam locomotive and loved every minute of it. It offers a scenic journey to the summit of Brocken Mountain, the highest peak in the Harz range.

The ticket price of €49 allows you to ride the entire route from Wernigerode to the top of Brocken Mountain (1h54 trip). We got on at the station of Schierke (about 30 minutes train ride) and paid the same price. It seems there is but one price for the entire journey, regardless of where you get on.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT | While the Brocken Train might look beautiful, it has an undeniable negative effect on the surrounding Harz National Park. It runs on coal and as such is highly pollutive.


10. Hike around Lake Oderteich

HIKING ROUTE | Check out the route on Alltrails or simply follow the path.

GETTING THERE | Getting here by public transportation is possible from Bad Harzburg although it will take around 45 minutes to reach, 20 minutes by bus and another 20 minutes walk from the bus station.

Lake Oderteich is one of the largest artificial lakes in northern Germany, nestled in the very heart of the Harz National Park at the foot of Brocken Mountain. The hike around the lake is easily accessible for everyone, the 4.5km loop should take between 1 and 2 hours to complete.

The first time I visited the make was covered in a thick layer of ice and the pathways were blanketed with soft snow, this made hiking around more challenging and will require proper footwear. The second time I visited in summer, the pathways were easy to navigate and sneakers were more than adequate.


11. Hike the Brocken

HIKING TRAILS | Check out the various trail on Alltrails (from 6 to 16km)

The Brocken is the highest peak of the Harz Mountains, standing tall at 1,141 meters (3,743 feet) above sea level. After WW2, the Soviet troops closed off the mountain for hiking as they set up a complex espionage station right at the very top. These days spyware has made way for cafés and a restaurant.

I was lucky enough to hike up to the very top of the Brocken with local friends during the spring, we caught a beautiful sunset at the television tower before making our way back down (with the help of a headlight). The hike we embarked on was a solid 16km and did require proper hiking shoes.

The various trails are clearly signposted along the way, but I would make sure to download a map beforehand, just in case (either use Map.Me, the Alltrails app or download Google Maps offline). Once you head higher up the mountain, the 4G connection becomes very spotty!


Quedlinburg in Harz

12. Fall in Love With Quedlinburg

Storybook Quedlinburg was voted one of the prettiest towns in Germany, and boy does it live up to that reputation. The town was founded over a thousand years ago and it has been preserved remarkably well, so much so it earned a UNESCO World Heritage status.

The mix of half-timbered houses, labyrinthine cobblestone streets, bustling marketplaces and hidden squares is very similar to Wernigerode and Goslar. If you are short on time, my personal recommendation would be to prioritize Goslar and Quedlinburg.

THINGS TO DO | Visit the Quedlinburg Castle, grab a drink in the former Quedlinburg Abbey, learn about half-timbered architecture in the Fachwerkmuseum Ständerbau, pop into the St. Servatius Church, get lost in the Old Town

BEST VIEWS | Hike up the Münzenberg for breathtaking panoramic views of Quedlinburg, the surrounding countryside, and the iconic silhouette of the castle.


13. Visit the Gustav Adolf Stave Church

Opening Hours: Check official website (hours vary each day & according to the season)
Entrance Fee: €2 or €5 for a guided tour
Address: Professor-Mohrmann-Weg 1, 38644 Goslar, Germany
How to get there: Reachable via bus from Goslar (40-min ride)

While beautiful, the Gustav Adolf Stave Church seems slightly out of place in the heart of the Harz Mountains. Stave Churches are medieval wooden churches typically found in Norway, these days only about 28 of them have survived the passing of time.

This beautiful specimen is in fact a very recent addition, having been completed in 1908 with spruce from the local mountains. When we visited in December, the church was sadly closed so we never got to see the beautiful carved interior. But, one quick Google should make it abundantly clear that, if possible, definitely head inside!


Walkenried Monastery Unesco Germany

14. Take in a Bit of History at the Walkenried Monastery

Opening Hours: April to October 10.00 am to 05.00 pm (last entry 04.00 pm); Closed on Monday
Entrance Fee: €7 (adults)
Address: 4a Steinweg Walkenried
Getting there: Requires a car to reach

The Walkenried Monastery is the only monument I did not get to visit. But it is rather too captivating not to add, so if you are in the neighborhood make sure to pop in. Founded in 1127 by Cistercian monks, the monastery thrived for centuries as a spiritual and cultural center. It played a significant role in the region’s history, witnessing periods of prosperity and turmoil.

The monastery’s architectural ensemble reflects the transition from Romanesque to Gothic styles, with its church being an outstanding example of early Gothic design. The intricate vaulted ceilings, elegant cloister, and tranquil gardens transport visitors back in time, offering a glimpse into the lives of the monks who once inhabited this sacred space.

In recognition of its historical significance, the Walkenried Monastery was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2010 as part of the “Mines of Rammelsberg, Historic Town of Goslar and Upper Harz Water Management System” property.


Hiking Hexentanzplatz Germany

15. Hike in and Around The Hexentanzplatz

Getting there: Reachable via train from Quedlinburg
Trails: 24 different trail options

The Hexentanzplatz holds a bit of a mystical allure. Translating to “Witches’ Dance Floor,” this rocky plateau is the very spot where witches gathered for midnight gatherings and pagan rituals. At least according to local folklore.

Today, the Hexentanzplatz offers visitors stunning panoramic views of the Bode Gorge and Harz Mountains. A small theme park with a wildlife park and a witches’ museum is great if you are traveling with kids.

Alternatively, skip the theme park and delve into the abundant hiking trails available. The most popular ones start in Thale and hike up toward the Hexentanzplatz. You will need sturdy hiking shoes as the terrain is uneven.

How to Reach the Harz Germany

By train

I took a train from Brussels to Bad Harzburg, with a transfer in Hannover and Cologn. The total journey time was a little over 8 hours. For this ride, I took the ICE (high-speed train), which requires booking in advance.

Compare prices via Omio or book directly via DeutscheBahn. Keep an eye out for their summer deals, where some long-distance routes cost as little as €10.

By car

The Harz Mountains are connected to the rest of Germany via their autobahn. The first time I came to Harz, I actually drove from Brussels (6 hour drive).

By air

The closest airport is Hannover, however, you can also opt to fly into Berlin or Hamburg and hop on a local train that will take you straight to the Harz Mountains. Check various trains on the Omio platform before you go.

Where to stay in Harz

Depending on the duration of your stay and the focus of your trip to the Harz Mountains, I would opt to stay in Bad Harzburg, Goslar or Wernigerode.

HIKING TRIP | If your focus is hiking, stay in Bad Harzburg. It is budget-friendly and at the entrance of the Harz National Park.

LONGER STAY | For an extended stay that includes both hiking and culture stay in either Goslar or Wernigerode. Wernigerode has slightly better public transportation connections.

Sonnenresort Ettershouse
Treehouse at Sonnenresort

RECO – BAD HARZBURG: Sonnenresort Ettershouse ($$)

The Sonnenresort Ettershouse Hotel has a set of very cool treehouses right off their main hotel building. Either book a cabin for larger groups or opt to stay in a cozy little round treehouse (pictured) for 2 people like we did!

Romantik Hotel Alte Münze
Source: Booking.com

GOSLAR: Romantik Hotel Alte Münze ($$)

Goslar is the perfect base to explore the Harz National Park. Romantik Hotel Alte Münze is located in the heart of the historic center in a beautiful half-timbered house.

Ringhotel Weißer Hirsch
Source: Booking.com

WERNIGERODE: Ringhotel Weißer Hirsch ($$)

The family-run Ringhotel Weißer Hirsch is located right on the town’s main square. The beautiful 17th-century half-timbered building house has been tastefully restored. Guests have free access to the on-site sauna.

How to Get Around Harz

I went two separate times to the Harz Mountains, once by car and once entirely reliant upon public transportation. The region might look large on a map, but in reality, it is relatively small. For reference, Wernigerode to Quedlinburg in car takes 20 minutes and it is a mere 45 min by train.

Public Transportation

The Harz Region has an extensive network of buses and regional trains that can get you pretty much anywhere. Make sure to check out the HATIX card which includes the free use of all buses and trams. I received mine from my accommodation, it was however only valid for the town where I was staying.

GOOD TO KNOW | Bus tickets are to be purchased in cash from the driver, while train tickets can be purchased at the vending machine inside the train station. The vending machines can be very fickle with (credit) cards so best to have cash on hand here too.

By Car

The roads are well-maintained and easy to navigate. Parking is free in many towns and surprisingly abundant. Some of the more remote places (Walkenried Monastery, Brocken) are slightly easier to get to by car.

Goslar

Harz Mountains Germany Sample Itinerary

DAY ONE: Goslar, Rammelsberg Mine & Gustav Adolphe Stave Church

DAY TWO: Bad Harzburg, Tree Trail Bad Harzburg, Cable Car Burgberg

DAY THREE: Hiking in Harz National Park / Brocken

DAY FOUR: Wernigerode or alternatively take the Brocken Train

DAY FIVE: Quedlinburg

DAY SIX: Hike around the Hexentanzplatz

DAY SEVEN: Walkenried Monastery

Harz National Park

Best Time to Visit The Harz National Park

The Harz Mountains are a year-round destination. Noteworthy to mention is the school holidays is Germany take place between the middle of June to the beginning of September.

SPRING: Oftentimes the Upper Harz is still carpeted in snow until the end of April, while the flowers in the Lower Harz have already started to bloom. Spring is a bit of a mixed bag, weather tends to be more volatile.

SUMMER: The second time I visited was at the beginning of summer, right before high season. Temperatures were a comfortable 21°C (70°F), the perfect conditions for some long hikes. This season sees the least amount of rain but has the highest prices. Aim for June if you can.

AUTUMN: The beautiful autumn foliage carpets the area from September to October and turns the region into one giant patch of orange oftentimes covered in moody fog.

WINTER: I went during winter and while the temperatures were cold (0°C /32°F) there was no denying the magic of thick blankets of snow in the mountains and the little towns decked out in full Christmas regalia. If you are not looking for hardcore hiking aim to visit in December.

Vegetarian Food in Germany

Tips to Minimize Your Impact in the Harz Mountains

LOCAL PRODUCTS: Look for the Typisch Harz label which is awarded to regional products that meet certain criteria. Can be awarded to individual food products but also to restaurants and handicraft products. 

HEAD INTO NATURE: With over 9,000km of hikes crisscrossing the region, there is a hike for everyone. Many of the hikes will have a smaller section that is accessible for travelers with limited mobility.

STAY A LITTLE LONGER: The Harz Mountains have an unparalleled wealth of culture and nature. Book at least one week to get in some stunning hikes and explore the various UNESCO world heritage sites.

TAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Public transportation gets you everywhere in the Harz Region. Look into the HATIX card before you go and remember to always carry cash to pay for your ticket if needed.

15 Things to Do in Harz Mountains & National Park

MORE TRAVEL RESOURCES FOR VISITING EUROPE

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Germany: 7-day road trip through northern Germany in an electric car
Belgium: Beautiful places in Belgium to add to your bucket list
Belgium: 16 Castles you can actually stay in Belgium
Luxembourg: Is Luxembourg worth visiting?
Luxembourg: Visiting Vianden Castle in Luxembourg

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Caroline Muller

Thanks for dropping in! My name is Caroline, and I am a full-time writer & photographer. With this blog, I hope to harness the power of travel to do good in the world. Think connecting with local cultures, sustainable tourism, and in-depth guides to known and lesser-known adventures. Adventure awaits!

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