The Harz Mountains, Germany: A Heady Mix of Culture and Countryside

Godfrey Hall is an award-winning UK based travel journalist and member of the British Guild of Travel Writers. He has been in search of elves in Iceland, traveled to the depths of central Australia and been off the beaten track in Bulgaria.

The Harz Mountains can be found in the northern part of Germany close to the city of Hannover. Near the border of what was formerly the German Democratic Republic, the area has become very popular with tourists. It offers a wonderful mixture of traditional towns (with black and white houses dating back hundreds of years) and beautiful countryside (which appeals to hikers, mountain bikers and horse riders). It is a region of fairytales, folk stories and steam railways. Ideal for families and those who enjoy the outdoors, it is a land of wholesome food, beer and beautiful scenery. A good time to visit is in the spring or early autumn.

St Michael's Church, Hildesheim (Godfrey Hall)

St Michael’s Church, Hildesheim (Godfrey Hall)

Places to See

The region has a number of delightful towns including Hildesheim, Goslar and Quedlinburg. Full of ancient buildings, the towns make it is easy for adults and children alike to imagine themselves in a Harry Potter movie.

There are also a large number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the recently reopened and spectacular Romanesque church of St Michael’s in Hildesheim and the fascinating mines of Rammelsberg where you can take a trip into the mine on one of the original trains.

Mines of Rammelsberg (Godfrey Hall)

Mines of Rammelsberg (Godfrey Hall)

Close by is the Upper Harz Water Management System. Dating back many years, this intricate system of lakes and canals was used to provide power to the mines.

For history buffs, a visit to the Lutheran city of Eisleben is a must. Here you can find out more about the life and times of Christian reformer Martin Luther as well as visit his birthplace and the house where he is alleged to have died.

Maritn Luther's Birthplace, Eisleben (Godfrey Hall)

Martin Luther’s Birthplace, Eisleben (Godfrey Hall)

Finally, steam enthusiasts can enjoy the Harz narrow gauge railway with over 100 kilometers of track and a station that is one of the highest in Germany (on top of the Brocken).


There are plenty of places to stay ranging from small intimate “gasthauses” to larger multifunctional hotels such as Hotel Der Achtermann, with an attractive indoor pool and ideal location in the middle of Goslar. The Hotel Schlossmuehle in Quedlinburg is situated close to the old town where you can visit the impressive Romanesque Collegiate Church of St Servatius. Here you can find out about the disappearing art treasures and the life of Saint Mathilda, including her special school for young girls and her husband King Henry von Sachsen. There are also plenty of other hotels close to the main UNESCO World Heritage sites where you can enjoy real German hospitality.

Quedlinburg (Godfrey Hall)

Quedlinburg (Godfrey Hall)

Food and Drink

It goes without saying that German food is both substantial and extremely wholesome. You will find that most restaurants sell a range of pork dishes, trout and a selection of tasty sausages. The Van der Valk Hotel in the main square in Hildesheim puts on an excellent buffet lunch featuring a number of local dishes. The restaurant Steinberg Alm high above the town of Goslar has a varied menu including local trout and is an ideal place to eat after a long walk through the pines and pastures of the Harz.

Goslar (Godfrey Hall)

Goslar (Godfrey Hall)

For a selection of local beers, try the Brauhaus Ludde in Quedlinburg. Germany is famous for its wide range of beers from light lager to very dark sweet varieties, which I have to say I find most appealing. Although please remember German beer can be a lot stronger than many found in the U.S.


Most of the nightlife in this region revolves around the town bars, where you will find locals having a drink and catching up on the day. However, many of the local churches also host a variety of concerts, which are typically well attended. Nightclubs are rare except in the much larger towns, but after a day walking in the mountains or visiting one of the many UNESCO sites, a few beers may be all you need before a well-earned rest.

Harz Narrow Gauge Railway (Godfrey Hall)

Harz Narrow Gauge Railway (Godfrey Hall)


There is an excellent high speed rail network (DB) serving the area, and several airlines fly into Hannover including Germanwings, a subsidiary company of Lufthansa. There is also a good motorway network, and the roads through the mountains are excellent. Renting a car is also easy.

US Airways flies to Hannover, with a change at Zurich, while British Airways offers a regular service via London. Regional operators in Europe include Germanwings, Air France and KLM. Expert Tips

How To Get There: As noted by the author, Hannover Airport (HAJ) is the closest airport to the region, approximately 90 miles, give or take a few. However, a more practical airport would be Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL), even though it’s double the distance. That’s because more flight fly to Berlin, and you’ll have more options, including nonstops from Newark on United Airlines. Other airlines that fly to Berlin are British Airways, Lufthansa and SWISS, along with regional airlines like Germanwings. From Berlin you can take the German Railway aka Deutsche Bahn. A one-way ticket from Berlin to Quedlinburg can be had for €38.
Best Time To Visit: The best time to visit is between May and September when the average daytime high is in the high 60s, and low in the low 50s. Late fall to spring is also ideal, albeit colder when the temperatures range from the low 30s to the low 50s, with January being the coldest month.

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Featured Image: Quedlinburg Castle (

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