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The Harz Mountains in Winter

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4.5 stars(23 reviews)
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Explore timeless towns and travel on romantic railways.

7 days From £1,295 per person

2023 Tour code: HZW23

About the tour

Join us as we ride on vintage steam trains through Germany's wild landscapes and gorges to discover towns with timber-framed houses and cobbled lanes. Wernigerode, a beautiful town amidst the mountains, provides an excellent base for this stunning winter rail holiday.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - London and Cologne

We depart London St Pancras on the Eurostar to Brussels. Our journey continues to Cologne for an overnight stay. After dinner, you might like take a stroll through Cologne's Old Town, which has been lovingly and carefully restored to its pre-war appearance. Admire the pretty pastel-coloured houses as the you stroll through narrow streets that wind down towards the Rhine Promenade. Afterwards, why not visit a traditional Cologne 'brauhaus' for a 'kölsch' (beer), a lovely way to warm up on a winter's evening.

Includes
  • Dinner
  • Eurostar Meal
Day 2 - Wernigerode

We board a train this morning, travelling across northern Germany to Hanover where we continue by coach into the Harz Mountains. Driving through the magnificent winter landscapes, we soak up seasonal landscapes of undulating forests peppered with pretty lakes. Such terrain is ideally suited to narrow-gauge railways, and today the Harz Mountains system offers a wonderful public transport service and steam-hauled tourist trains featuring beautifully restored vintage rolling stock. Arriving in Wernigerode, we check into our hotel for a five-night stay.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 - The Brocken Railway

Today takes us on a scenic rail journey aboard the Brocken Railway to the summit of Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains at 3,743 feet. We enjoy stunning panoramic views of the Upper Harz National Park as we wind our way up the snow-covered mountain to the terminus, Brockenbahnhof, the highest narrow-gauge railway station in Germany. This towering summit has long been associated with dark forces, perhaps most famously in Goethe's Faust, and during the Cold War Brocken was a military base used for border surveillance; until the fall of the Berlin Wall, the mountain was off limits to all but the Soviet army. Given its altitude, Brocken Mountain was the perfect location for the world's first television antennae and from the mountain's top, we enjoy one of Europe's most spectacular lookout points, commanding wonderful views of the sloping tree-lined hillsides below.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4 - Goslar

We travel by rail to medieval Goslar, nestled at the foot of the Harz Mountains. Older than Berlin, this former Free Imperial city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is crammed full of fantastic, historic architecture, including half-timbered houses dating back to the early 16th century. We take a guided tour of the picturesque town, discovering some fine examples of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. After the tour, you have some free time to continue exploring independently. You could visit the Kaiserpfalz, built at the beginning of the 11th century. This impressive building, designed primarily as a summer residence, is now the largest Romanesque palace in all of Europe. Alternatively, stop at the Rammelsberg Mining Museum for a fascinating look into the industrial history of Goslar.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 5 - Wernigerode

You are free to explore Wernigerode today. A particular highlight of this beautiful town is the grand Wernigerode Castle. Sat on a hill overlooking the town, this is a building straight from the pages of a fairytale. Constructed on the site of an old medieval fortress, it was rebuilt into its current Neo-Romantic style in the 19th century.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 6 - Quedlinburg and the Selke Valley Railway

Our excursion today is to the beautifully preserved town of Quedlinburg. Here, we take a guided walking tour, after which, you're free to explore at our own pace. Discover the cobbled streets, passing a fine collection of medieval, timber-framed buildings and Romanesque architecture in the Old Town, which has UNESCO World Heritage status. Considered to be one of the best-preserved medieval and Renaissance towns in Europe, it offers a wealth of history and culture, whilst also having a modern flair and fabulous examples of Art Nouveau architecture. This afternoon, we settle in for a cosy journey on the historic Selke Valley Railway. Arguably one of the region's best-kept secrets, the route ascends into the Harz Mountains through a wintry landscape of sugar-dusted forests and snow-bound mountain peaks.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7 - Wernigerode and London

We leave Wernigerode, transferring to Hanover by coach where we join the rail service to Cologne. Here, we connect with the Eurostar to London St Pancras.

Includes
  • Breakfast
  • Eurostar Meal

Additional information

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotel

HKK Hotel Wernigerode, Wernigerode

HKK Hotel Wernigerode, Wernigerode

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Trains

Brocken Railway
Eurostar
Selke Valley Railway

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Upgrades

Upgrade to Standard Premier Class on Eurostar
Extending your European holiday in Brussels
London Hotels
UK rail connections

Reviews

4.5 stars4.5 / 5 · 23 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (13)
  2. 4 stars
    (9)
  3. 3 stars
    (0)
  4. 2 stars
    (1)
  5. 1 star
    (0)

Richard from Berkshire

4 stars

Submitted 29/Mar

If you like Steam Trains and Snow this is an amazing trip. Many Steam Train trips. But Clip on studs that go over your shoes ie 'Crampons' should have been recommended for the top of 'The Brocken' as it can be treacherously icy. We saw many falls. The surrounding towns has some wonderful buildings and appears almost desolate. Very little is in English so you may need to rely on a guide, especially in restaurants. The escort was wonderfully organised and most necessary, especially with organisation and signage as despite what we think the train services in Europe are not too different to ours regarding efficiency and sometimes very much worse. Also having a central point/hotel in Wernigerode from which to explore the area meant we only had to unpack once to enjoy all the different trips. Being old we were surprised to find we could manage much of what was available to see and the guide took care to ensure we were catered for. You can very much imagine it was still part of Eastern Germany when it was controlled by Russia. Strongly recommended. Without a professional guide we would have missed a lot.

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Linda Phillips

4 stars

Submitted 29/Mar

It was OK. Weather not too good but that's not your problem. Tour Manager was excellent and hotels fine. I'm not a railway fan, holiday was for my husband's benefit, but it was nice to get away for a week.

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Mrs.Tina Jones

5 stars

Submitted 29/Mar

Just as the tin said. Fab views great train rides while being supported by a knowledgeable and helpful experience d your manager. I would recommend this holiday to both train buffs and people looking for something different

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Mr Purse

5 stars

Submitted 28/Mar

Wonderful holiday only slightly spoilt by passenger locator forms and other Covid bits. However, Great Rail did a wonderful job guiding us through the forms and the destination was marvellous.

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Heather greaves

5 stars

Submitted 27/Mar

An amazing experience, lots of trains! Lots of snow on top of Brocken Mountain. Thoroughly recommended if you want to see a "proper" steam railway.

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G Whittaker

4 stars

Submitted 27/Mar

Fabulous trip for steam enthusiasts - but a bit limited for general-purpose holidaymakers. The Harz Narrow-gauge Railway is deservedly world-famous and this is a fantastic way of visiting and experiencing this unique system. However - a few improvements are possible for those who aren't dyed-in-the-wool enthusiasts. 1) The central feature of the holiday is (obviously) the train journey up the Brocken mountain, but that shouldn't take place on the first full day in Wernigerode when people are still recovering from getting there. 2) The system of reserving a coach on the Harz railway didn't work - so don't bother !! The trains are ususally very busy and other people just ignore the stickers on the carriage windows and sit anywhere - and it causes bad feeling if you try and insist on your "reservation". 3) The guided tours around the local market towns are OK if you've never been to northern Germany before, but one German market town is very much like another and you really need to find something a bit different and a bit more specific for the vivitors who raen't just there for the railway.

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The Harz Mountains in Winter

Explore timeless towns and travel on romantic railways.

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