Strangely enough, this last minute weekend is turning into one of my most asked about trips! So, I figured it would be helpful for everyone if I wrote a post detailing what we did :)
I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of Instagram these days. However, I do still use the app as a freelancing resource, for design/photo inspiration, and (most importantly ;)!) as a tool for unearthing fresh travel destinations.
Last week, I came across the most beautiful shot of a seemingly arctic landscape by German photographer Max Muench and was SHOCKED to learn it was actually just a 3 hour drive from Berlin! Fast forward a few hours and my friend Caitlin and I had booked our train tickets for the following morning (oh, the joys of working remotely).
We booked a 3h30min train ride (it wasn’t direct, there were 2 easy connections at small stations) with Deutsche Bahn from Berlin to Wernigerode, a quiet village tucked away in North Germany. I also saw in my research that FlixBus has busses offering this same Berlin > Wernigerode route.
Wernigerode sits in the Harz Region, which is brimming with many natural sites and quaint villages. My favorite thing about it, apart from the endless rows of timber-framed buildings from the 1500s, was that we were seemingly the only tourists in town! We chose to spend two nights here because it’s the closest town to Brocken Mountain, the tallest point in Northern Germany. This time of year, the mountain is completely covered with snow and offers some of the most incredible winter landscapes I’ve ever seen. The ride from Wernigerode up to Brocken is just as spectacular because it’s in a vintage steam train (<< the train timetable is in that link) that looks like it came straight out of an old movie!
We bought tickets to Brocken in the Wernigerode train station the morning we wanted to go up the mountain. They were a little steep at €42 return per person. We’d been checking the live weather cam all morning and saw a total whiteout with almost zero visibility, but decided to go up anyway because the weather at the top is so unpredictable.
The train makes a stop a little more than half way up at a village called Schierke. Here, you can get out and hike the rest of the way up the mountain (about 3 hours) or just have a little walk through the woods and then hop on the next train up (which is what we did). Don’t forget to buy a mini bottle of schnapps from the woman selling them on the train to keep warm! ;)
Once you’ve reached the final stop at Brocken, you can walk around the top of the mountain, stop into the dining hall for lunch or walk down the hiking trail leading back to Schierke (we heard it’s about 2.5 hours going downhill). Be sure to wear proper clothing and shoes, most people were in ski suits (we weren’t and VERY cold as a result). Also, keep a close eye on the train timetable as the trains up/down run pretty far apart. Despite fearing at one point I may have frostbite, it was an otherworldly landscape I never thought I’d be able to experience outside of Lapland or some other extremely remote place. Happy Travels!