I'm vaguely considering a trip to the Harz region in September. However, recognising weather is always a gamble, is it likely to be wet, or excessively cold at altitude, in mid-Sept? Also, is Wernigerode or Quedlinburg a better base in the opinion of people here? In case it helps, I'm into steam trains, scenery and local culture, less interested in strenuous hiking/climbing.
Hi Philip, I stayed in Wernigerode four years ago,The train station is there along with the engine house and turntable,at the end of the day you can sit in the stands and watch the steam engines get tunned on the table and put into the shop.The ride to the top of Mt Bracken starts at the station,great ride,then take the elevator to the restaurant at the top of the mountain,good food and great views. This area was headquarters for Soviet communications,off limits to German citizens till the wall went down. Mike
Yes, Wernigerode is the better base. Choose Quedlinburg in case you want to stay in a perfectly preserved medieval and romantic town, easily on par with Rothenburg ob der Tauber.... and much more authentic.
It's impossible to predict the weather. It could be wet, or sunny, or cold, or still hot. The Brocken, the highest peak of the Harz mountains, has a climate like Island.
I don't think it starts to get particularly cold on the summit of Brocken until October. It's quite windy up there, however, so you'll want to bring at least a decent jacket and maybe even gloves and a hat. September should be fine, and early fall is usually the driest time of the year in most of Germany, but that's no guarantee that you won't get hit by bad weather. If you're not driving, Wernigerode would be a better location for lodging. With a car, both Quedlinburg and Wernigerode would be good options, with maybe a slight nod to Quedlinburg, because the Altstadt is so large. Even if you're not into hiking, the trek up Brocken from Schierke is a relatively easy two hour walk, and because this is one of the most popular hikes in Germany, you will encounter plenty of local culture. The scenery is also quite impressive, if not quite so awe-inspiring as the Alps. If you chose this option, you can buy a ticket for the Eisenbahn at the summit and ride back down. Or, take the train up and hike down.
"Choose Quedlinburg in case you want to stay in a perfectly preserved medieval and romantic town, easily on par with Rothenburg ob der Tauber" On that note, Quedlinburg even has a night watchman's tour! A few distinctions between the two cities, though. The historical preserved core of Quedlinburg is much larger. Only a small fragment of it's defensive wall remains, however. Also, whereas Rothenburg odT's historic core more or less represents a snapshot of a brief period from the 1600s (very little of it actually dates from the medieval period, despite popular perceptions), the preserved area of Quedlinburg covers a much broader scope of time, from the middle ages to the early 20th century.
In the past 10 years the Septembers were rather sunny and dry - actually the perfect summer months. July and August tend to be very hot and humid in Germany - Bangkok style.
Maximum and lowest temperatures in September. Brocken: http://i.imgur.com/1virLcx.gif http://i.imgur.com/48E8GkG.gif And Wernigerode: http://i.imgur.com/uQHjMVC.gif http://i.imgur.com/lCCx0eq.gif As you can see, it can be quite cold in the mountains. PS: here is a nice site with ~120.000 pictures of the Harz mountains: http://www.raymond-faure.com/index_harz_english.htm
I'm not sure what happened but I just typed a reply, my longest ever on this site, with one character left and when I hit the post button it said my request couldn't be handled at this time!!! What a disappointment... We spent a month based in Quedlinburg last summer and I have some information to share with you but I'll need to do it after work when I have more time. I'm so sorry.
Thank you, Mona. The exact same happens to me all the time. This is why I started to keep my responses really short.
I stayed in the Harz in November, 2008. I stayed in the mountains at Braunlage, and I would recommend doing that for the scenic benefits. There is a bus from the Bahnhof in Bad Harzburg to Braunlage and a lot of buses from Braunlage to other town in the Harz, including to Schierke, from which you can catch the narrow gauge steam train to the top of the Brocken or to Wernigerode. Alternatively, you can come in from the south via Göttingen to Walkenried and take the bus north to Braunlage. I was there in the first half of November. It rained one day, then was clear and cool, not too cold. The day that I took the train from Schierke to the Brocken, it was clear when I got to the top, but I went into the museum on the top, and, when I came out, it was so foggy I couldn't see the other buildings on the top of the mountain.
Here's a shorter version of what I tried to post yesterday morning. I too would agree with Mike about basing yourself in Wernigerode rather than Quedlinburg if your main focus is the steam train system. We spent a month with Quedlinburg as our home base last summer and while I loved the architecture and history oozing from every narrow street in the sprawling altstadt of Q, I would stay in Wernigerode if the steam train was my reason for visiting the area. Watching it turn around on the "turntable" at the end of the day sounds like a great experience for enthusiasts. We were at the little Q train station when the steam train stopped one day. Between 50-100 people with cameras in hand jumped off the train and started filming and snapping pictures of it doing an engine change.
We enjoyed the Harz area so much that we never ventured too far away in the month that we were there. I really enjoyed day trips to Goslar (our German friends think it is too commercialized but we like it) and an extended trip to Erfurt. We recommend a great hike in the Bodetal. It's not too strenuous and several guidebooks have recommendations for busing up and hiking down.
cont: I think you'll also enjoy the private regional, but DB connected, HEX (Harz Elba Express) train. You must take this new little train system to connect to the regular DB network. Our ride at midnight one night (the last train into Q) was interrupted by a lightning strike and the conductor summoned a taxi at their expense to take us the last 20km to Q. The HEX system also operates a fast train from Q to Berlin. It operates during the Christmas season and summer to bring tourists into the city. If you plan to visit Berlin during your September visit you could check to see if this service is still running. It is only 15 E o/w or 25 E round trip. http://www.harz-berlin-express.de/tickets/index.html As for the climate in September, we lived in Northern Germany many years ago for a few months and found early fall to be really enjoyable. The Harz mountains have a mixture of deciduous and non-deciduous trees so there should be some color on the hills when you visit in September. Enjoy your planning and your trip!
One more note about Wernigerode. One of Germany's "Big 10" brewers is located here, Hasserödder. I would rate their flagship pilsner a little bit above the average for Germany. I'm not sure if they offer a tour, but there's certainly a restaurant and reception center. And I love their slogan- "Männer wissen warum". "Men know why".
Thanks for all the information everyone. I think I'll go for Wernigerode but definitely visit Quedlinburg.