If you would’ve asked me a few years ago if I wanted to go and visit the Harz mountains, I would’ve asked you: the what?! I had no idea where it was when I got invited by the tourism board of this region. It turned out it’s located on the north side of the middle of Germany. The more you know…
But you really HAVE to visit the Harz: I found out it’s a really cute destination for a weekend getaway. It’s full of little villages with wooden houses, and around Christmas time it’s packed with Christmas markets. During my trip I discovered four cute villages in Germany you really can’t miss.
Wernigerode is the smallest of the four places I visited. And though it’s got a cute city centre, I didn’t find it the centre that interesting. The castle is the real draw of this town though: Schloss Wernigerode. The castle is really old and has known good and bad times, but flourished again when the counts of Stolberg-Wernigerode were in charge. The castle got renovated to its former glory, and for a long time it served as the home of the second most powerful man of Germany. Since the beginning of the previous century the state is in charge of the castle. Schloss Wernigerode is not only located on a hill with a beautiful view of the area, it’s also been preserved perfectly, full of original furniture, which makes it one of the best castles I’ve ever visited.
Dine at: Casa Vita: a really cozy restaurant with all sorts of dishes (including Italian), with a pond INSIDE the restaurant. Konditorei & Cafe am Markt: their tomato soup is to die for, so creamy. And the club sandwich was pretty awesome too!
Stay at: Hotel ‘Am Anger’. We were literally the only non-senior people in this hotel (where reception closes at 7 pm… yes, really). But the rooms were very spacious and clean, the beds were lovely and we had a fantastic view at the castle from our window. The breakfast buffet is one of the best I ever had, with scrambled eggs, salmon, all sorts of yoghurt, bread rolls, delicious croissants… OMG!
Quedlinburg really is the definition of cute: a really nice market square including a Christmas market, and happy colored wooden houses everywhere. At the tourist information point you can get a free audio tour that will tell you everything about the history of this village. A really original way of discovering a place and learning more about the monastery that used to be here, and how it developed itself to a vibrant place full of trade and with the first female doctor in Germany.
Interested in a tour through Quedlinburg and learn more about the history? Be sure to check out this tour.
Dine at: Zur Altstad: the interior could be better, but after being snubbed by uninterested Germans who didn’t speak a word of English (or refused to), the friendliness of these people went straight to my heart. Such lovely staff. And the schnitzel was quite good too!
This was formally a holiday resort for rich Germans, though I haven’t really visited the city centre, so I wouldn’t know. I noticed a lot of expensive houses. There’s lots of opportunities for walking around though, and it’s also known as a spa resort. I mainly went to go on the Tree Top Trail: a footpath high above the ground, in between the tree tops. It’s so interestion to learn more about a region, its culture and nature, and especially since there’s a national park next to it. A really original way to explore an area. We also took a cable car to the top of the mountain for some nice views, but damn was it cold!
Dine at: Café Winuwuk. A random collection of stuff, dolls and wooden furniture, but in a good way. Really original, I liked it! I had a type of schnitzel with Spatzle and my kidneys are still recovering from the amount of salt, but sometimes it’s just too good to resist.
Of all the places I visited, Goslar was the nicest one. We did two things: we spent the afternoon in the mines (!) and in the evening we wandered around the Christmas market. The mine (Rammelsberg) was one of my favorite activities. Though I have no clue about its history (everything was in German), it was amazing to wander through the hallways, which were beautifully lit up by candles. During the weekend that we were there, there was also a Christmas market going on, IN the mines. I really felt like an adventurer, discovering the mine like this.
At night we had dinner in the city centre, but first we walked around the Christmas market which took up most space in the city. Though I’m not a bit fan of Christmas markets, I loved this one! So much fun. There were about three squares next to each other: one had a big market (including a Christmas stall!), one had music and a stage (party!) and one square was completely surrounded by Christmas trees with little lights. You could have a little peak inside: you just stand there completely surrounded by Christmas trees while sipping your mulled wine. So cool! And at the Christmas stall I petted an Alpaca. AN ALPACA. In my opinion it was definitely the best place of all!
Dine at: Restaurant Schiefer. I was a bit scared that I had to eat a schnitzel again (I love schnitzels, but after three days I was looking forward to some other food as well), lucky for me there were pizzas on the menu. YUM. Mr. and I both ordered a pizza (which were both delicious) and a glass of wine, and looked back at a really nice weekend.
I have to mention me and Mr. noticed how unfriendly the staff was in many places. I don’t know if this is common in Germany, but someone literally yelled at me because I didn’t understand there was a waiter behind me who asked me if I could step aside. Every time we tried to speak English (my German is not really good, even though I always try) everyone consistently kept on replying in German. Because I don’t speak German well I felt like quite an outsider in this region, unfortunately. It’s a pity, and definitely a point for improvement.