Tailormade tour Harz Mountains land of fairy-tales rail holiday Germany

7 nights/8 days

Cologne • Goslar • Quedlinburg • Hannover

The Harz Mountains in central Germany are steeped in folklore, with picturesque towns and atmospheric mountainous landscapes. This touring holiday by train will allow you to explore this region using the Harz narrow gauge railway line, which encompasses some of the best scenery the country has to offer. You will use the quaint towns of Goslar and Quedlinburg as your bases, with stops in Cologne and Hanover as well.
Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £1,120 per person.

Luxury rail holiday visiting the fairy-tale land of the Harz Mountains and a ride on the narrow-gauge Brocken railway

Highlights

Cologne • Goslar • Harz Narrow Gauge Railway • Brocken railway • Trans-Harz railway • Quedlinburg • Hannover

Day by day

Begin your Harz Mountains Railway tour by travelling from London to Brussels by Eurostar on an early morning departure. Upon reaching Brussels, continue to Cologne by high-speed ICE train. You arrive into Cologne just after 3pm, giving you time to explore the city after you check in to your hotel for one night. Cologne is an important cultural and economic city straddling the River Rhine. Dating from Roman times, the city was also a thriving centre in the Middle Ages, from Charlemagne onwards. The Roman-Germanic museum is located near the Cathedral and explains the history of the city from Palaeolithic times until the Middle Ages. It contains precious articles in gold, glass and other treasures. The landmark of Cologne is the Gothic cathedral dating from 1248 and housing the Shrine of the Three Kings. Nearby are remnants of the city’s medieval past with the Rathaus dating from the 12th century and reconstructed houses in the Old Town. Cologne is also home to numerous museums and galleries, as well as being an important musical centre with several orchestras. Cologne celebrates Carnival boisterously, produces its own beer, is famous for Eau de Cologne and is also renowned for its Christmas markets.

Today you travel to your first base within the Harz Mountains region. Departing from Cologne mid-morning, you will a have brief change of trains in Braunschweig before heading for Goslar. You will soon see tantalising glimpses of the hills to the south-east as you draw closer to the Harz Mountains. You arrive in Goslar just after two in the afternoon and check in to your hotel where you will spend the next three nights.

Goslar has over 1000 years of history and is known traditionally as a mining town. The main attraction in this fairy-tale town is the Imperial Palace, built between 1040 and 1050. It is possible to take tours of the palace to witness the incredible artwork and murals on the upper floors. The ground floor has been turned into a museum displaying artefacts of the palace and its imperial rule. The Rammelsburg Mine and Museum operated for more than 1000 years and is today listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is possible to take a guided tour of the mine on a mine train to see the wonderfully-preserved authenticity and learn about one of the world’s largest continuously-mined ore deposits. It is also well worth taking your time to stroll around the Old Town, another UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best-preserved city centres in the world. We recommend spending some of your time in Goslar to embark on two of the main lines of the Harz narrow-gauge railway: the Brocken Railway and the Trans-Harz railway. The Brocken Railway starts in Drei Annen Hohne, whose station has a restaurant which makes a good break for lunch. The final stretch climbs nearly 2,000 ft over a distance of almost 12 miles, travelling high above the heavily forested Cold Bode Valley. The final approach to the summit station is marked by a steeply-graded spiral around the mountain top. The Brocken is the highest elevation in northern Germany at 1,141 metres, and you will be met with stunning views at the top on a clear day. The Trans-Harz Railway runs from Wernigerode to Nordhausen. Wernigerode itself is well worth a visit for its incredible Rathaus (town hall) and Old Town. Leaving Wernigerode station, the 37-mile journey begins with tight curves as you head south before entering Thumkuhlenkopf Tunnel, the only tunnel on the entire Harz network. You will next pass the junction for the Brocken Railway at Drei Annen Hohne and travel between the ominously-named villages of Sorge and Elend (Worry and Misery) on your way back down from the next summit (1,827 ft). The railway continues to pass through forests as you head further south to Eisfelder Tahlmühle, finally descending out of the mountains slightly to finish in Nordhausen. Take a couple of hours to explore this city, which is the urban centre of northern Thuringia, before retracing your steps north through the mountains back to your base in Goslar. 

Today you travel from Goslar to your next base in the mountains, Quedlinburg, via a quick stop in Halberstadt. This route takes only an hour and a half and runs regularly throughout the day, so can be booked for a time to suit your preferences. Check in to your hotel in Quedlinburg for the next two nights.

Quedlinburg is the picture-perfect fairytale town which one comes to expect from Germany. Half-timbered houses line pretty cobbled lanes, and the imposing Schloss Quedlinburg looms in the background. Now a museum, this magnificent structure gives information about the history and development of the region and the town. The Old Town itself is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and will enchant you with its quaintness. The Fachwerkmuseum in Ständerbau houses a small museum detailing the history of half-timbered houses and the evolution of the town of Quedlinburg. It is housed in one of the oldest half-timbered houses in Germany and is supposedly the only museum of its kind in the world. Quedlinburg makes an excellent base from which to explore the third and final main line of the Harz narrow gauge railway system: the Selke Valley Railway. The least-used of the three lines, trains on this route stop at numerous small towns, including the medieval town of Gernrode and the spa town of Alexisbad. From here it continues southbound into the mountains at a steep gradient. The train terminates at Hasselfelde, north of which there is a sharply curved loop which allows the trains to turn around. Return to Quedlinburg and retire to your hotel for your last night in the Harz Mountains.

You depart from Quedlinburg on a mid-morning service which arrives into Hannover at around half past one. Hannover is known for its rich cultural heritage, as well as for being the location of Oktoberfest in the Autumn. You will have the afternoon to explore the city’s beautiful gardens, in particular the Berggarten, which is now one of the world’s leading botanical gardens. The New Town Hall resembles a palace and offers incredible views from its 93.5 metre-high observation deck. Opposite this is the Lower Saxony State museum, housed in a splendid Neo-Renaissance style building. This displays a collection of 11th to 20th century art, as well as natural history artefacts and a huge vivarium.

On your final day you leave Hannover at around 10:30 in the morning for Brussels, with one changeover in Cologne. Check in to your Eurostar service in Brussels and arrive back into London St Pancras in the evening.

Special offers for this holiday>

Holiday price guide From about £1,120 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room and including second class rail travel. First class and standard premier on Eurostar supplement of £285 per person.

Holiday Code EEBR13

Luxury rail holiday visiting the fairy-tale land of the Harz Mountains and a ride on the narrow-gauge Brocken railway

Special offers for this holiday>

Holiday price guide From about £1,120 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room and including second class rail travel. First class and standard premier on Eurostar supplement of £285 per person.

Holiday Code EEBR13

Our prices include ● Rail travel from London throughout, back to London
● Second-class travel on all trains (first class and standard premier on Eurostar can be booked at a supplement)
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Classic double room at Excelsior Hotel Ernst, Cologne
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Classic double room at Hotel Alte Münze, Goslar
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Classic double room at Romantik hotel am Brühl, Quedlinburg
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Standard double room at Central Hotel Kaiserhof, Hannover
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Our prices do not include What’s not included
● Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (although we can arrange this on request at additional cost)
● Any other services not mentioned above, such as transfers and meals except breakfast at hotels
● Personal holiday insurance. This is essential and cover should be in place from when you book the holiday.
● Local tourist tax, usually between Euros 1 and 3 per person per night, and payable locally to the hotel
● Transfers in any cities

Additional information This holiday can be arranged throughout the year. Timings can vary depending on the month and day of the week.

Luxury rail holiday visiting the fairy-tale land of the Harz Mountains and a ride on the narrow-gauge Brocken railway

Hotels included in this tour

Special offers

Early booking offer Book this holiday by 31 January 2021 and receive a reduction of £100 per person. Valid for travel in 2021 or 2022.

Holiday price guide From about £1,120 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room and including second class rail travel. First class and standard premier on Eurostar supplement of £285 per person.

Holiday Code EEBR13

Luxury rail holiday visiting the fairy-tale land of the Harz Mountains and a ride on the narrow-gauge Brocken railway

Highlights of Germany

Berlin’s world-class museums, bustling bars, galleries and monuments; Rugen Island, with its rugged chalk cliffs, windswept beaches, Romantic-era spa architecture and tree-lined country roads; Dresden, with its baroque beauty on the banks of the majestic Elbe; Cologne’s magnificent cathedral; the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bamberg; the sandy dunes of Sylt, a North Sea island with fabulous beaches and surf; the beer halls of Munich, ideally in September during the Oktoberfest; Lubeck, a Hanseatic gem; Muritz National Park, where you can go paddling and camping in a paradise teeming with birds; Bremen, a metropolis in miniature, with lovely red-brick and Art Nouveau architecture; the Alpine resorts of Bavaria, including Berchtesgaden, with dramatic peaks, dreamy lakes and superb walking trails; drive or cruise along the Rhine or Mosel, visiting castles, medieval villages and superb vineyards along the way; the walled medieval towns of Rothenburg and Trier, both with wonderful Christmas markets; the Christmas market at Nuremberg, oldest – and still most picturesque – in the world.

Facts in brief

Capital Berlin
Airport Several airports are served from the UK, including Berlin, Bremen, Cologne-Bonn, Dortmund, Dresden, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hannover, Stuttgart and Munich.
Size 137,000 sq. miles
Population 82 million
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