Straddling the border between Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, the Harz Mountain National Park protects extensive tracts of spruce and beech woodlands, as well as several bogs that provide a habitat for rare black storks, peregrine falcons, European wildcats and Eurasian lynx. It’s a walkers paradise and crisscrossed with themed trails that form part of the Harzer Wandernadel network, with badges awarded based on the number of checkpoints visited.

Follow in the footsteps of Goethe along the Goethe Way, which leads from Torfhaus through the Brockenfeld Moor to the summit of Mount Brocken and forms part of the 100-kilometer-long Harz Witches’ Trail. Another popular hike is the Kaiser Way that crosses both the Harz and the Kyffhäuser hills while na-turists can hit the Harzer Naturistenstieg where naked hiking is legal.

In addition to the hiking trails that traverse the slopes of Mount Brocken, a nar-row-gauge steam train makes the journey to the 1,141 meter-high summit. It was built at the end of the 19th century to connect the mineral and forestry-rich Harz region to the rest of Germany while helping to promote tourism in the area.

At the summit of Mount Brocken is the fascinating Brocken Museum, which traces the natural and human history of the mountain. Learn about the role it played during the Cold War and as part of the German Democratic Republic, then discover the myths and legends that have long been intertwined with the Harz Mountains. Learn about the tale of the child witch Bibi Blocksberg and how the mountains influenced Goethe’s acclaimed work “Faust”.