Everyone knows the Brocken and the UNESCO World Heritage town of Quedlinburg. But who has been to the sunny side of the Harz? In Bad Lauterberg and Bad Sachsa or Walkenried, where karst landscapes with steep mountain slopes meet dense beech forests, where rivers rush and dams glisten.

Nature lovers, culture enthusiasts, bon vivants and active vacationers will find paradisiacal conditions in the southern Harz. On a weekend trip you will discover the many facets of the highest mountain range in northeastern Germany.

Friday afternoon: let off steam in the spa park

Did you arrive by train? From the train station in Bad Lauterberg you walk towards the tourist information office - and although you are in the middle of the town of 10,000 inhabitants, you can feel nature everywhere. The mountain air is fresh and clear, the powerful green of the forests and meadows makes the half-timbered houses appear in a warm light: Welcome to the southern gate to the Harz National Park!

The destination of the walk is the huge spa park, which stretches between the tourist information office and the leisurely flowing Oder River. Here you can stroll through old trees and enjoy the peace and quiet and the singing of the birds during a stop at the music pavilion. A little further on, you'll come to the new hotspot for sports and games: children and adults can really let off steam at mini-golf, on the shuffleboard or soccer billiards facility, on the boules court, in the outdoor fitness park or on the tennis courts.

Friday evening: Kneipp bath and old town

After so much action, it's time to cool down: This is not far away, because on the way back through the spa park you will pass the water treading facilities. Take off your shoes and refresh yourself, as befits a state-recognized Kneipp spa. With renewed vigor, head back to the traffic-calmed old town. In the narrow alleys between the half-timbered houses there are many nice places in the numerous cafes, inns, restaurants, pubs and bars to let the first evening end comfortably.

Strolling along the boulevard: The old town of Bad Lauterberg with its half-timbered houses and narrow streets is a traffic-calmed zone © Harzer Tourismusverband/M. Gloger
Strolling along the boulevard: The old town of Bad Lauterberg with its half-timbered houses and narrow streets is a traffic-calmed zone © Harzer Tourismusverband/M. Gloger

Saturday morning: With the cable car all the way to the top

The local mountain in the north of the city has been in view since the arrival. Now it's up to the 403-meter-high mountain, where the ruins of Lutterberg Castle are located. Don't worry, you don't have to climb up - the castle cable car has been taking you from the city center to the top of the Hausberg for more than 60 years. In a spectacular way: The double chairlift climbs 110 meters in just a few minutes at a gradient of 63 percent, making it one of the steepest uphill chairlifts in Germany. Once you reach the summit, you'll be treated to a magnificent panoramic view of Bad Lauterberg, the Harz Mountains and its glittering reservoirs. If you want, you can walk the 2.3 kilometers back to town from the mountain inn on the hiking trail, or get back on the chairlift. The descent offers once again beautiful views as well as a tingling in the belly.

Saturday afternoon: sausage specialties and monastery rally

Need a snack? Back in the city center, you have plenty of options to satisfy your hunger. For those with a sweet tooth, we recommend the 2-Master Confectionery Mangold. For five generations, the café and confectionery have been serving bread and delicious cakes, including specialties such as Baumkuchen, truffles, pralines and Harzer Blätter (hazelnut almond thaler with dark chocolate). If you're in the mood for something hearty, you'll find a regional sausage kitchen at the Landwohl butcher shop, where all products are made on site. Venture into new culinary territory and try a Harzer Baudengriller in natural casing, a Baudenstracke on a straw belt, a Harzer Schwartenwurst in a natural ring or air-dried Harzer Stollenschinken. These and many other regional products in the Harz you will find under the label "Typical resin".

If you want to experience some culture as a family, a trip to the Cistercian Museum Walkenried Monastery is worthwhile. Children can also experience the exhibition of the Cistercian Museum Walkenried Monastery in a variety of ways. With the specially developed audio guide, the museum visit becomes an audio walk with Cistercian monk "Brother Conrad" and monastery mouse Mathilde. The hidden children's flaps also tell young visitors about the life of the monks and help explain the exhibits. During the monastery rally "With letter and seal on the traces of the monks" the young visitors explore the monastery rooms, their former tasks and functions, individually. By the way, it is not unusual for adults to prefer listening to the audio guide tour with Brother Conrad. The modern museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays and holidays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with last admission at 4 p.m.
Right next to the museum, the information center for the World Heritage Site "Rammelsberg Mine, Old Town of Goslar and Upper Harz Water Management" has now opened its doors in the manor house of the former monastery domain. Covering an area of around 180 square meters, the exhibition provides an insight into the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Harz Mountains, which covers an area of over 200 square kilometers, together with its 3,000 years of cultural history.

Saturday evening: Raccoons and Bismarck Tower

If you have decided to hike on the "Harzer BaudenSteig" in the direction of Sieber, you will automatically come to the Bismarck Tower on the 535 meter high eastern peak of the Kummelberg. Built in 1904 in honor of Reich Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the lookout tower made of brick and natural stone is 15 meters high and has a great viewing platform. Next door is the Waldgaststätte Bismarckturm, the highest restaurant in Bad Lauterberg. A special feature besides the rustic atmosphere are the raccoons that live in an enclosure up here. Those who don't feel like the 2.5 kilometer walk from town can be picked up by the minibus of the forest restaurant.

Sunday morning: Birds of prey in Bad Sachsa

Eleven kilometers from Bad Lauterberg, the climatic health resort Bad Sachsa welcomes you. Its location amidst natural meadows, rolling hills, lakes and ponds has earned it the nickname "Pearl of the Southern Harz". You will start the day at the Harzfalkenhof, which is home to about eighty birds of prey, eagles, vultures, falcons, owls and several other species. During the flight demonstration, hunting falcons swoop over the heads of the spectators at top speed, while the eagles draw circles over the landscape with their majestic wings - simply breathtaking.

In the "Clip'n Climb" climbing hall, the adrenaline rush continues: 26 adventurous climbing stations challenge muscles and balance. Climbing for all ages and abilities is the order of the day here.

At the Harzfalkenhof in Bad Sachsa you can watch birds of prey like the bald eagle
At the Harzfalkenhof in Bad Sachsa you can watch birds of prey like the bald eagle

Sunday afternoon: indoor playground and nature time museum

The kids are dying to play? Then head to the Regenbogenland indoor playground, where you can have a midday snack in the café while your offspring run, slide, crawl, hop and jump. A much quieter but equally exciting alternative is the Museum of Natural History. Here you can embark on a journey through 290 million years of natural development in the southern Harz region. It takes you from the Ravensberg volcano to fossils of bony fish and coelacanths to the Ice Age and dinosaurs.

Sunday evening: adventure pool and primal pub

After the eventful day it is now time to relax and unwind - in the Salztal-Paradies adventure pool. The large bath with vacation world has everything a person needs for well-being and wellness and is open until 9 pm. Water fun can be had on the 95-meter-long tire slide, in the whitewater channel, in the wave pool or in the outdoor whirlpools. You can get free massages in the Medi-Stream spa as well as in the foot reflexology massage pool. Various saunas, steam baths and well-kept relaxation zones invite you to chill out.

During the final stroll through the small half-timbered town of Bad Sachsa, you can settle down in one of the many nice restaurants, enjoy Harz specialties and toast the beauties of the southern Harz with a nightcap in the "Urkneipe Bärlinchen". If you have just acquired a taste for the Harz, you can add many more Harz weekends or an entire Harz vacation. The region is large and holds countless adventures and experiences.

Wellness and well-being in the Salztal-Paradies adventure pool, for example during a rapid descent on the 95-meter-long tire slide © Bädergesellschaft Bad Sachsa mbH
Wellness and well-being in the Salztal-Paradies adventure pool, for example during a rapid descent on the 95-meter-long tire slide © Bädergesellschaft Bad Sachsa mbH