Catching the Harz Steam Train to Brocken
You don’t need to be a train buff to enjoy riding on this train; there was however a lot of train fans, photographers, children, and me and my mum. I am not a train person therefore I won’t be copying and pasting any technical details about the narrow gauge steam train, I didn’t even know what ‘narrow gauge’ meant until a few weeks ago. I will be talking about how I went about catching the Harz steam train to Brocken.
A few weeks before my holiday to Germany I saw a picture of this train on Instagram, it looked like the Harry Potter train and it looked magical. I needed to go on it! I found out where it was located and conveniently it was somewhere between Frankfurt and Berlin so I managed to include it in my itinerary.
There are a few different routes you can take, so I read some forums and decided the best one to take was the train from Wernigerode up the Harz mountain to Brocken.
Wernigerode is a nice town to base yourself for a day or two (if you think you’re pronouncing it right, you’re probably not, no one understood me and I still don’t know how to say it right). There are plenty of things to do such as the castle, the smallest house in Wernigerode, wander around all the quaint houses, check out the town hall, and of course go on a steam train up the mountain.
We stayed at Altora Eisenbahn Thermenhotel. Just a 5 minute walk from the station (across the road) and it has a bit of a train theme. If you select a room with a train view you get to see all the steam trains filling up with coal, and doing whatever else they do; they move around a lot. The restaurant at the hotel is truly amazing, definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. The hotel had a breakfast buffet, which was included in the price and was definitely worth it as not much is open at normal breakfast time.
This is the timetable for the trains, it’s a little difficult to read but if I figured it out anyone can.
Tickets are sold at the train station, not the one you arrive in on the normal train, but right beside that station is the ticket office for the steam trains. Tickets cost around 40 euro for the return trip up to Brocken from Wernigerode, and takes nearly 2 hours each way.
I noticed barely anyone speaks English in the town so it was slightly difficult getting a ticket, a bit of a game of charades… made sure I threw in the word Brocken and return.
It’s a good idea to have the timetable on you so you know where you have to get off to transfer trains, for example the 11:55 train from Werniegerode ends in Drei Annen Hohne so you need to hop off there, then hop on the Brocken train which should be there waiting. On our return journey we also had to get off at Drei Annen Hohne and wait about 45 minutes for the next train. The carriages are toasty warm in winter and obviously you’re allowed to get some relatively fresh air by standing between the carriages. I stood out there for a bout 15 minutes breathing in the coal air with rain pelting my face. Throughout the trip you get offered small bottles of alcohol which are around 2.50 euro. I didn’t have one.
At the top of the mountain a lot of people get off to go sledding and hiking. There is a small shop that looks like it sells drinks and snacks. Be careful on the stairs up to the shop in winter. Along with a few other people, I slipped down the stairs with a train full of people watching.
This train trip would be enjoyable for anyone. It’s a beautiful ride through the forest and up the mountain. I think it’s extra special in winter because of the snow. They appear to be operating all year round as I was there on Christmas day and they were still doing their normal timetable.