Unique Steam Train to the Top of Mount Brocken
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The Brockenbahn is a famous steam train to the top of the Brocken, the highest mountain in the Harz Mountains. It is one of the last steam trains in Germany. A ride on this steam train to the top, and back, is impressive. Especially in winter, when the trees and top are covered with snow.
I stepped on the train in the winter and thought it was bizarrely beautiful. These are the best tips for the Brockenbahn train ride. In this article you will find information about the route, the price of a ticket and the sights along the way and at the endpoint.
The steam train is the only way to reach the top of the Brocken in an easy way. The other option is on foot. The train ride is a true excursion. Along the way you see people everywhere taking pictures and making videos of the train, which passes with a lot of noise. A ride on the Brockenbahn is a full day excursion, as you can enjoy a nice walk at the end. At any season.
The route of the Brockenbahn is 19 kilometres long. It starts at Wernigerode. The journey takes about 1.5 hours in total. The tracks lead through the town, but soon you ride through the forests that surround it. The tracks further meander through the hills up to the top of Mount Brocken. The view changes after every bend, often with many vistas. The train is part of the Harzer Schmalspur Bahnen.
Each carriage has an outside stand, from where you can take good photos and videos. Make sure you have a spot at the start or the end of the train cabin. So you can regularly go outside to enjoy the scenery.
I made a video of my trip. The last part is especially beautiful. Just watch the video and you will see more and more snow. And all trees are full of ice.
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Wernigerode is a small medieval town with many half-timbered houses. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. You can combine a visit to this town with the Brockenbahn. If you have an accommodation, it is even easier to get on the train. This is possible at the Wernigerode Hauptbahnhof, but also at the Westerntorbahnhof Wernigerode. The distances in the town are small, everything can be done on foot.
The Drei Annen Hohne train station was specially built to connect two types of rail. It connects the Harzquerbahn (also narrow gauge railway) with the Brockenbahn. The name comes from the places Drei Annen and Hohne that are located in the immediate vicinity of the station. It is now a popular boarding point.
Schierke is the last stop before the climb to the top of the Brocken. The town is located at 687 meters altitude and is popular with hikers. It is a pleasant village with a few shops, restaurants and various types of places to spend the night. Think of hotels, hostels and holiday homes. If you like peace and quiet, this is a perfect place for your train journey.
According to many visitors, the Brockenbahn with snow is the most magical. The landscape changes into a winter paradise. With the roaring steam locomotive that plows through the landscape. The photos and videos you take are incredibly beautiful. And it is a unique sight: a steam locomotive driving through the snow.
Mount Brocken has up to 120 snow days. Which means that on the top there is snow for almost one third of the year. This mountain has its own climate, which makes a visit extra special in winter. Think of literally frozen trees, but also buildings full of snow and ice. It is an icy landscape that is incredibly beautiful. That is why a trip with the Brockenbahn is also popular in December, January and February, for example.
Bare in mind the cold. The perceived temperature is often much lower than the outside temperature. I was there at minus 6, but the wind chill was minus 15 because of the strong wind. Thick clothing, a hat, good gloves are a must. So check the weather forecast in advance and take into account a little more cold. This is because the mountain has its own climate.
This train journey can be done all year round. And is also worth it in the spring because of the many flowers that bloom on the mountainside. In the summer you have extremely long days, with a reasonable chance of a colourful sunset. It can get busy though. In the autumn it is quieter, with often good weather. And it is perfect for walking and enjoying the surroundings.
If you like to combine the Brockenbahn with a hike, you have several options. For example, you can hike from Schierke to the top of the Brocken and then go back by train. I did the opposite. I rode up by train and hiked to Bahnhof Schierke (6 kilometres) to take the train to Wernigerode again.
You can also take the train up and then walk around the mountain. There are several hiking trails that lead you around the mountain. So you can take the train back down afterwards. In the visitor centre at the top of Brocken, you can get a lot of information about the hiking trails. Be well prepared, the weather can change quickly here. So take extra clothing and food and drink if your hike takes longer than expected.
One of the frequently heard complaints is the high price of an entrance ticket for the train. This is around 50 euros back and forth. It does not matter whether you board in Weningerode, Drei Annen Hohne or Schierke. A train ticket one way is a lot cheaper but still expensive.
Although I also heard many people say that the excursion is special. Especially in winter when the train and the people on the train have to work hard to get the train up the mountain. And back down safely.
You can buy a ticket at the various train stations. But it's smarter to do it online. For sure you do not run the risk that the train is fully booked. And so you are sure of a place on board. The train may be fully booked, especially on weekends and high season. In addition, tickets are cheaper online. Arrange your tickets via the official website.
More information: official website
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