Rail & Trail through the Harz Mountains

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Duration: 8 nights
Type: Rail Adventures
Walking Grade: 3

Explore the green heart of Germany by both rail and trail with this holiday to the Harz Mountains. Hop across the English Channel by Eurostar before travelling through the history-rich Rhineland region to the spectacular landscapes of Lower Saxony. You’ll spend time in captivating Cologne and explore no less than two UNESCO World Heritage Sites - medieval Goslar and royal Quedlinburg. To top it all you’ll stay in showstopping Wernigerode where you can marvel at its dazzling fairytale-like castle and catch a steam train to the top of the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz. Expect incredible walks led by our local HF Holidays Leader combined with a wealth of history, sightseeing, and culture.

What you’ll love

  • Rediscovering a more romantic mode of transport
  • Embarking on a more sustainable rail journey from London St Pancras 
  • Touring Cologne and staying close to its famous cathedral
  • Discovering the royal history of Quedlinburg and mining past of medieval Goslar 
  • A heritage railway ride around northern Germany’s highest mountain
  • Scenic hikes in the Harz Mountains

What’s included

  • Full programme of guided walks led by a local HF Holidays Leader
  • Return rail travel from London to the Harz Mountains
  • Fully escorted travel from London with an HF Holidays Tour Manager
  • Half-board accommodation (breakfast and evening meal)
  • Overnight stays in Cologne with dinner in a local restaurant and breakfast
  • Guided tours of Cologne, Wernigerode, Quedlinburg and Goslar

Trip Notes

Easy to download as a PDF, our trip notes provide detailed information for every holiday. Please click below to find the trip notes for your departure date.

All our carefully-curated itineraries are designed by our experts. While we make every effort to adhere to the described itinerary, we may take alternative routes or adapt the running order for weather and/or operational reasons.

Meet your HF Tour Manager at London St Pancras and board the Eurostar to Brussels for your onward journey to Cologne. After checking in at the hotel, located opposite the railway station, a local guide provides a short tour of the city and its famous cathedral followed by a meal of traditional German fayre at a nearby restaurant. 


Today we travel by train through central Germany via Hannover and Goslar to the medieval town of Wernigerode where we’ll stay for the remainder of the week. After settling in at the hotel, there’ll be a guided walking tour of the town to discover its narrow streets, half-timbered houses, and famous town hall. 


Departing directly from the hotel we’ll head through a forest trail on the Zilierbach with a small detour to the top of Scharfenstein for great views of the Harz Mountains and the 1142m peak of Brocken. We continue climbing to the Kaiserturm Tower for impressive panoramas over the town before heading to Wernigerode Castle where there’s a guided tour. We’ll return to the town either on foot or by the castle’s railway. 

Distance: 8 miles (13 km) 

Ascent and Descent: 1300 ft (400m) 


A 30-minute train ride takes us to the historic town of Goslar. Nestled on the north-west slopes of the Harz Mountains, this medieval marvel has been an important silver and copper mining centre for over 1000 years. Tour the town’s charming old quarter and the nearby Rammelsberg mines – both UNESCO World Heritage Sites – and discover the royal past of Kaiserpfalz Imperial Palace (birthplace of Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV). There’ll also be lunch in a brewery house. We return to Wernigerode by train.  

Distance: 2 miles (3.21 km) 

Ascent: Little to no ascent 


The highlight of today is a steam train ride to the top of the Brocken, the highest peak (1142m) in the Harz. During the Cold War the Harz Mountains were divided by the Iron Curtain. While western Germany modernised, the Soviet side continued to use the narrow-gauge railway system and today the steam train is preserved like a working museum piece. Enjoy lunch with a view in the café at the summit before heading through the Steinerne Renne area and the idyllic Hasserode district back to Wernigerode 

Distance: 10.5 miles (17 km) (option to shorten available) 

Ascent and Descent: 2800 ft (910m) 


UNESCO-listed Quedlinburg is our destination on day six. Explore medieval streets and squares surrounded by half-timbered houses on our guided walking tour and stop for lunch in a traditional restaurant. Afterwards, we’ll walk through the Münzenberg district and follow the Bornholzweg route into the Eselstall Forest. Ascending along a tree-lined path, we’ll reach the Altenburgwarte observation tower for views over the sandstone Altenburg ridge before heading back to town via the remarkable Romanesque St Wipertikirche church.  

Distance: 6.8 miles (11km) 

Ascent and Descent: 138m (450ft) 


Our final day follows the so-called monastery path to Ilsenburg. Along the way, we’ll tick off a trio of spectacular monastic sites. Marvel at the ruins of Himmelpforten Monastery, explore the gardens of Drubeck Monastery and visit the 1000-year-old hermitage in the medieval heart of Ilsenburg. 

Distance: 9 miles (15 km) 

Ascent and Descent: 920 ft (280m) 


Today we say goodbye to the Harz Mountains and head back to Cologne by train via Hannover and Goslar for a final night in the city and free time to explore. 


Depart Germany and take a relaxing rail journey back to Brussels and then onward to London St Pancras aboard the Eurostar. 


Itinerary map for Rail & Trail through the Harz Mountains

Wyndham Cologne, Cologne

Conveniently located steps from Cologne's central railway station, few places put you closer to the city's standout sights than the Wyndham Cologne. Just a short stroll from the spectacular Cologne Cathedral, this contemporary retreat offers tastefully decorated rooms, plus a hotel bar and restaurant serving buffet breakfasts as well as snacks and local beers throughout the day. The hotel also provides free access to its fitness centre gym.

Harzer Kultur und Kongresshotel Wernigerode

This hotel boasts a standout location just a skip away from Wernigerode’s historic old quarter and the well-connected train station for easy travel around the Saxony-Anhalt region. Comfortable rooms provide a relaxing stay, while no less than three restaurants and a bar cater to every refreshment need. It also has a wonderfully relaxing spa area complete with sauna, steam bath, and solarium.

Essential information

It's best to be prepared for all weather conditions. To make it easier, here is a list of items you should consider packing.   

Essentials  

  • Walking boots 
  • Waterproof jacket 
  • Waterproof trousers 
  • Insulated jacket/top 
  • Walking clothing  
  • Walking socks (plus spares)  
  • Sunhat 
  • Gloves/mitts and warm hat
  • Water bottle (minimum 2 litre capacity)  
  • Headtorch 
  • High-factor sunscreen (minimum SPF 30)  
  • Sunglasses with a dark lens 
  • Rucksack (15-30 litres)  
  • Mobile phone 
  • Personal first aid kit (containing your medication, blister plasters, etc.) 
  • Passport 
  • Visa (if applicable) 
  • Copy of your travel insurance policy 
  • UK Global Health Insurance Card (formerly known as EHIC

Recommended

  • Collapsible walking poles 
  • Swimwear and travel towel
  • Snacks
  • Dry bags
  • Rubbish bags
  • Insect repellent

Optional extras

  • Camera 
  • Sit mat
  • Flask for hot drinks 
  • Durable lunch box
  • Gaiters 
  • GPS device 

Guest reviews

All holidays are subject to availability. Supplements may apply.

Non-member fee: £30 per person.

Advertised rail prices are based on trains departing from London St Pancras.

Date (Start - End) Itinerary Double / Twin Room Single Room Notes / Offers Trip Notes Book
2024

24 Jun - 02 Jul 2024

8 nights

Itinerary
Rail from London St Pancras International Station

Single Call to Enquire
Double Call to Enquire
Call to Enquire Call to Enquire Trip Notes

16 Jul - 24 Jul 2024

8 nights

Itinerary
Rail from London St Pancras International Station

Single Call to Enquire
Double Call to Enquire
Call to Enquire Call to Enquire Trip Notes
Date (Start - End) Itinerary Double / Twin Room Single Room Notes / Offers Trip Notes Book
2024

24 Jun - 02 Jul 2024

8 nights

Itinerary

Single Call to Enquire
Double Call to Enquire
Call to Enquire Call to Enquire Trip Notes

16 Jul - 24 Jul 2024

8 nights

Itinerary

Single Call to Enquire
Double Call to Enquire
Call to Enquire Call to Enquire Trip Notes

Important information

Guests who choose to make their own travel arrangements (land only package) will join the holiday on the afternoon of day 1 at the Wyndham Cologne.  They will depart the holiday after breakfast at the Wyndham Cologne on day 9. The hotel is conveniently located opposite Cologne's main railway station. 

Duration:
8 nights
Type:
Rail Adventures
Walking Grade:
3

Call to Enquire

020 3974 8865

For group bookings of 10+ guests click here

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