Take a steam train ride on Germany’s most popular narrow-gauge railway line – from Wernigerode up to the 1125 meter high Brocken station! This is one of the most popular attractions in the Harz Mountains, located in the middle of Germany. Read here everything you need to get in the mood for the journey with the steam train.
Brocken Railway - Quick Info
The Harz narrow-gauge railroads can be pleased about the attention paid to their Brockenbahn: It is the most popular narrow-gauge railroad in Germany. No wonder, after all, the Brocken station is the highest in the Federal Republic. Each year, the Harz narrow-gauge railroads transported about one million passengers – of which about two-thirds of all passengers travel on the Brockenbahn from Wernigerode to Brocken station.
|Brocken Railway – Short Info|
|Route||Wernigerode – Brocken Station, Harz Mountains, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany|
|Ticket Price||53 Euro (Adult, round trip)|
|Time Table||6 connections daily|
|Duration||100 minutes, 34 kilometers|
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The current Brockenbahn prices are valid since March 1, 2023. Below is a list of the Brockenbahn prices:
|From Wernigerode to …||Adult, Single trip||Adult, Round trip||Child, Single trip||Child, Round trip|
|Drei Annen Hohne||10 Euro||15 Euro||6 Euro||9 Euro|
|Schierke||14 Euro||21 Euro||8,50 Euro||12,50 Euro|
|Brocken||36 Euro||53 Euro||21 Euro||32 Euro|
The afternoon fare for the Brockenbahn is somewhat cheaper. Here, travelers who want to go up to the Brocken later in the day can save a little. The afternoon fare for the Brockenbahn costs 44 euros for the round trip instead of 51 euros – so you can save 7 euros when using the afternoon fare.
Brocken Railway: The Route
In Wernigerode, the journey begins with the narrow-gauge railroad in the Harz, on which the so-called “Brockenloks” are used as steam locomotives, more about this later. Wernigerode is considered the “colorful city on the Harz”, is a beautiful little town: old, winding, with many half-timbered houses. The train travels in a wide arc around the historic center of the town in Saxony-Anhalt and stops in Wernigerode Westerntor, the operating headquarters of the Harzer Schmalspurbahnen. After that, it gets especially crowded in Wernigerode Kirchstraße. After Wernigerode-Hasserode, the journey into the Harz Mountains begins.
From the stop Steinerne Renne to Drei Annen Hohne, 231 meters of altitude must be overcome on 8.2 kilometers of trail. From Drei Annen Hohne, beautiful hiking trails lead into the Harz National Park. In Drei Annen Hohne the Harzquerbahn turns off, which continues via Benneckenstein to Nordhausen. Our train continues upwards. At an altitude of 687 meters lies Schierke. The air and winter sports resort is also known as the “St. Moritz of the North”. Then the half-hour tour de force begins: At 1125 meters above sea level, the train finally reaches the Brocken. For the 34 kilometers from Wernigerode to Brocken station, a steam train needs about 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Now it’s done, the view over the Harz mountains is fantastic. In summer, for example, it is worth tackling the descent under your own steam. In winter, by the way, it is recommended to look in the current schedule changes of the Brockenbahn – the weather on the Brocken can be quite bitchy.
However, forest dieback in the Harz Mountains clouds the pleasure: The spruce forests are largely dead and cut down, due to drought and the bark beetle. Even if this opens up new perspectives for the future: The Harz as we know is history. And so the administration of the Harz National Park hopes that a healthy mixed forest will emerge in a few decades.
In summer, about six, in winter at least four pairs of trains run daily with steam locomotives of the HSB railroad from Wernigerode to the Brocken. For the 34 kilometers from Wernigerode to the Brocken, the steam locomotive needs about one hour and 40 minutes – plenty of time to enjoy nature in the Harz Mountains and old technology. After arriving at the Brocken train station, a stop at the Brockenwirt, hikes and numerous activities in the fresh air will entice you.
In the 2022 summer timetable, there will be six through services daily from Wernigerode to Brocken station with steam locomotives. In addition, there will be further connections pulled by a diesel locomotive, the so-called Harzkamel, which will only be used during seasonal peaks such as public vacations and summer vacations. There is also a traditional train, which is pulled by a Mallet steam locomotive and runs on certain weekends and holidays. An overview with the most important stations & connections can be found below. The 2022 summer timetable is valid from April 9, 2022 to November 6, 2022.
Brocken Railway: Where to stay & what to see
Those who come to the Harz Mountains to ride the Brockenbahn, have a great railroad experience ahead of them. Those who have rented accommodation in the Harz Mountains are offered a variety of possible excursions – with the Harz narrow-gauge railroad to Wernigerode, Schierke, on the Brocken. In addition, the Harz awaits with the Hexentanzplatz and the Roßtrappe – old legends that paint a riotous picture of the Saxons. Whether hotel, pension or own vacation home – choose here from more than 3000 accommodations for your Harz vacation:
Vacation in Wernigerode
The medieval half-timbered town of Wernigerode is a true gem – beautifully situated on the edge of the Harz Mountains and wonderful to look at. The “colorful town on the Harz” – once so named by Hermann Löns – looks back on an already 900-year history. The Western Gate and numerous renovated half-timbered houses bear witness to the medieval heyday that Wernigerode experienced.
The center of the old town is the market square surrounded by colorful house facades and the market fountain. If you have rented a guesthouse in Wernigerode as accommodation, you should make a note of a trip to Wernigerode Castle, which stands on the 350-meter-high Agnesberg. There, a castle church, the study of Count Otto and an originally furnished banquet hall with a table set around 1880 await vacationers in the Harz Mountains. Also worth a visit in Wernigerode is the Museum of Aviation and Technology Wernigerode with more than 40 airplanes and helicopters by Clemens Aulich, plus lots of restored details and technology to marvel at.
Wernigerode is located in southwestern Saxony-Anhalt and has a good 30,000 inhabitants. If you are in Wernigerode: listen carefully: In the choral field, the city has made a name for itself. Choir and music schools, choir festivals and more invite you to spend some time musically.
Vacation in Schierke
Schierke is an idyllic place at the southeastern foot of the Brocken, which is characterized by its rustic atmosphere. Every year, one of the largest Walpurgis celebrations in the Harz takes place here. The winter sports and climatic health resort has a good 700 inhabitants – but significantly more tourists, who take the small town as a starting point to go to the Brocken with the Brockenbahn, hiking, winter sports or wellness.
Schierke is also considered the “St. Moritz of the North”, the accommodations, guesthouses and hotels knew a high standard. This fell in GDR times, due to the border location. For the resort of Schierke, which so many visitors to the Harz wanted to see, was difficult to reach. Anyone who wanted to get off here with the Harzquerbahn or Brockenbahn needed a pass. Today, things are much more open, and one reason for this may be the high-proof “Schierker Feuerstein”. The herbal liqueur is one of numerous herbal schnapps produced in the Harz Mountains. If you spend your vacation in the Harz Mountains in an accommodation in Schierke, you will certainly not get cold in your pension, vacation apartment or hotel room after a glass of “Feuerstein”.
The Harz National Park
The Brocken is part of the Harz National Park. As a protected area, the national park covers about 10 percent of the total area of the Harz Mountains. Almost all of the Harz National Park is forested, mainly with spruce and beech forests. It stretches from Bad Harzburg in the south to Ilsenburg in the north. Due to its large altitude difference of more than 900 meters, the Harz National Park includes a total of 6 altitudinal levels of vegetation from the hilly country up to the top of the Brocken. Those who vacation in the Harz Mountains will find an inexhaustible source of nature for hiking.
Roßtrappe: Situated on a rocky cliff at a height of 451 meters, the legendary hoofprint is the attraction. According to legend, Brunhilde, ancient Germanic king’s daughter, was able to save herself by a daring jump with her horse from a mountain stream onto an opposite rock – of course, from a gentleman who was stalking her. According to legend, this was the meddlesome Bohemian king Bodo.
Hexentanzplatz + Walpurgis Night
One of the most important destinations for tourists vacationing in the Harz Mountains is the legendary Hexentanzplatz in Thale. There are a lot of tales about Witches (“Hexen”) in the Harz.
The Hexentanzplatz is considered an ancient Germanic place of worship where rituals were held. These rituals were held especially on Walpurgis Night.
The Harz narrow-gauge railroads celebrate Walpurgis Night every year with special trains. On this occasion, the steam locomotives are decorated with fir greenery and brushwood and bring hundreds of Harz vacationers up to the Brocken train station for the nightly dance of witches and devils.
The history of Walpurgis Night, however, is less about the Brocken and more about the witches’ dance. According to legend, the Saxons once wanted to get to their place of worship that night. To do so, however, they had to get past the guards that Charlemagne had posted there. To get past the guards, the inhabitants dressed up and armed themselves with pitchforks and brooms. This had an effect – the guards fled, saying that they had been threatened by devils and witches. In this respect, the annual ritual of dressing up as witches and devils has something very rebellious about it: the shrewd fight against the authorities.
Brocken Railway: The history of War & Wall
On March 27, 1899, the entire line to the Brocken was opened to traffic. This section of the line quickly became the most popular of the Harz narrow-gauge railroad. From late April to mid-October, steam trains ran in the Harz Mountains up to the Brocken. The season was always started with the “Walpurgis trains” on April 30 – even today, there are Walpurgis trains running in that night! One should not break with traditions. Steam locomotives decorated with fir greenery and brushwood bring hundreds of passengers up to the Brocken for the nightly dance of witches and devils.
After World War II, the war damage was quickly repaired and passenger traffic continued until shortly after the construction of the Berlin Wall in August 1961, when the Harz Mountains became a restricted area: passenger traffic was discontinued and the Harz Railway only ran from Drei Annen Hohne to Schierke, usually with two pairs of passenger trains per day. However, a pass was necessary here as well, since Schierke was located in the border area to the Federal Republic of Germany. The Brocken itself was used for military purposes. Accordingly, the line fell into disrepair: After there was still freight supply traffic for the military facilities, even this had to be discontinued in 1987 – the track systems were dilapidated.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, operation remained questionable at first, but rail fans and politicians grabbed it: on September 15, 1991, public transport was ceremoniously reopened with two steam-powered trains after thorough renovation of the 1000-meter track.