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Highlights of the Harz: from Quedlinburg to Thale

by Emiel Van Den Boomen

In June we spent three beautiful days in the Harz region in the East of Germany. Honestly we didn’t know much about the Harz before, but after these three days I can safely say that we will be back! In an earlier post on this blog you were introduced to the Harz where I took you from the highest to the lowest point. Now it’s time for a deep dive into what the Harz region can offer you!

Houses Quedlinburg

This post describes a tour from Quedlinburg to Thale that you can easily do within one day. The city of Quedlinburg (established in the 9th century) was our homebase, a town that you really should not miss! The old town of Quedlinburg is an UNESCO World Heritage and described as an “extraordinary example of a medieval European town.

Houses in Quedlinburg

Harz Germany

Start you day by wandering through the narrow streets and gaze at over 1300 half-timbered houses. There are really a lot of them (it kind of looks like a movie set) and the quality seems to be extremely high. The nucleus of the town is the castle hill. Make sure to climb up to the St. Servatius church on top from which you have a fabulous view over the city.

Servatius church Quedlinburg

View from Servatius church Quedlinburg

We were lucky to experience the Quedlinburger Kaiserfrühling event (Festival of the Emperor), happening every year in June. You can enjoy music performances, enjoy local food and try to get a glimpse of how people lived in the Middle Ages.In and around the St. Servatius church people dress up like knights, craftsmen and noble women.

Servatius Quedlinburg Kaiserfrühling

Servatius Quedlinburg Kaiserfrühling

All highlights in the city are within walking distance. Quedlinburg breathes history, architecture and culture. The city really surprised us!

Devil’s Wall

Let’s continue on our day trip. After a morning visiting Quedlinburg drive towards the city of Thale. Make sure to stop half way at the Teufelsmauer (Devil’s Wall), a strange looking rock formation that goes on for miles and miles.

Devils Wall Harz

This is almost a magical place where you really wonder how this rock formation could have been formed. There is a great legend to explain this formation. It goes something like this: the Devil proposed to God to split the world below them into two by building a huge wall. God agreed but under one condition: the Devil had to build the wall in one night before the first rooster would crow. The Devil started to work. But a farmers wife came by during the night with her rooster that she wanted to sell on the market. She saw the Devil, was shocked and tripped. The rooster started to crow and the Devil thought he failed his job, after which he destroyed parts of the wall.

Devils Wall Harz

The Devil’s Wall is actually more than 20km long (!) and was put under protection as a nature reserve in 1935. It’s one of the oldest nature reserves in Germany. In reality the wall is of course formed by erosion. Softer rock eroded, leaving hard rock to form ribs up to 20 meters above the surrounding area. It’s really a beautiful and peaceful place.

Devils Wall Teufels Mauer Harz


Next up on our trip is the town of Thale where you can engage in nice (family) activities in the nearby Bodetal: beautiful views after a great trip with a chair-lift or a gondola lift, a fun 1km all-weather toboggan run (HarzBob), mountain bike tracks, and a climbing forest (with special kids tracks).

Gondola Thale Harz

Family at Harz

Thale is a very popular place for both tourists as well as locals. With the gondola lift you will reach the top of the mountain where you can visit the famous ‘Hexentanzplatz’ (Dancing spot of the Witches). Really, everything here is about old legends of witches and goblins where it is believed witches danced at night on this particular spot (although I don’t know if they really did it naked…).

Dancing witches Thale Harz

Don’t skip the Harzbob! You can include a run when buying your ticket for the gondola lift. You will run through the forest for 1 kilometer with 55 meters difference in altitude. Definitely a fun ride.

Riding the Harzbob line

Back to Quedlinburg…but not yet

After Thale you might want to return to Quedlinburg (lots of activities done already!). When we visited we were not ready yet to go back so we decided to drive a bit further to Rübeland and watch the huge Wendefurth dam.

Wendefurth dam

If you are a real dare devil you might want to try the Harzdrenalin Megazipline….zipping for 1 kilometer all across the river passing the dam. We were too late as it was already closed, but I would have loved to experience this one!

On the way back to Quedlinburg you will pass small villages where you might find little treasures like this: an old Trabant (or Trabi) car, built in the former German Democratic Republic (DDR). Positioned in a private garden it really looked like it was on display!

Trabi Trabant DDR

Our first day in the Harz was a perfect one! Our kids just had to run up and down the hills, taking it all in. We loved it here.

Jumping on Brocken Harz

In Quedlinburg we enjoyed a daily dinner in the Hotel Schlossmühle, right below the St. Servatius church. What better way to end the day.

Dinner in Harz

We made use of the convenient Harz Card, providing free entry to all kinds of places for just one fee. On the tour described above the following is included in the Harz Card: various museums in Quedlinburg, all kinds of activities in Thale including a ride with the chair-lift and a visit to the information center of the Wendefurth dam.

We were invited by the German National Tourism Board and Marketing Saxony-Anhalt to explore the Harz region. In the next post we will offer another itinerary for a day trip to Wernigerode, the Brocken mountain and the mines in Goslar.


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amy&andrew June 28, 2014 - 20:29

Love the old buildings and we’re always a fan of gondola rides! Despite living most of our lives in the UK we have yet to go to Germany; this part of the country looks beautiful. We hope to make it to Germany one day!

Emiel van den Boomen June 28, 2014 - 21:29

We were really surprised about this area. Would really love to discover more in the eastern part of Germany!

Heidi Wagoner June 28, 2014 - 18:58

Wow this looks fantastic. I love how you provided a one day plan to follow along. Now we just need to get there. What a wonderful and mystical place. It is great how the areas provide a card for you to do activities. We found the same to be true in Austria and we were able to really take in the area far more than if we had to pay for each activity.

Emiel van den Boomen June 28, 2014 - 21:28

Thanks Heidi and it’s been our pleasure to share the itinerary 🙂 The Harz Card is value for money indeed. Especially when you check my latest posts : the trip up the Brocken mountain with the steam train is quite expensive but included in the Harz Card.


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