It’s hard not to be fascinated by the allure and charm of Wernigerode, a medieval town that boasts a picturesque location in the heart of Saxony-Anhlat. This region is stepped in history and surrounded by breathtaking natural scenery. Strolling along the historical centre, you can’t help but notice the beautifully restored half-timbered houses and Gothic buildings that pepper Wernigerode’s Old Town. Further away, the town’s imposing castle stands as a reminder of Wernigerode’s past and offers panoramic views over the nearby Harz mountain range. Whether you come here for a city break or for an active getaway, you can be sure you will find what you are looking for in Wernigerode.
When To Visit
Due to its location in the heart of Central Europe, Wernigerode and the surrounding areas have a temperate climate. Throughout the year, average daytime temperatures are 10°C, although they reach their hottest values in July and August, when temperatures of 25°C are not unusual. However, July is also the wettest month of the year, so May, June, August and September are generally considered the best times to visit the area. Having said that, the autumn brings an impressive show of nature to Wernigerode, as the surrounding beech and oak forests put on a colour-changing display. And if you are into winter sports, Wernigerode is also a good holiday destination, since abundant snowfall turns the town and the surrounding mountains into a magical winter wonderland.
Getting There And Around
If you plan on arriving by air, the most convenient airport is Leipzig / Halle, which is located approximately 140 kilometres away. Frequent flights are operated between this airport and cities in Austria, Germany, Spain, UK, Switzerland, Italy, and Turkey. To reach Wernigerode from Leipzing / Halle, you can either rent a car (fastest option) or use a combination of intercity and regional trains plus a bus transfer via Magdeburg. The trip using public transport takes approximately 4.5 hours. For more information, visit the airport’s official website.
The local bus station is conveniently located in the centre of town, right next to the train station. Tip: Wernigerode’s public transportation system accepts the HATIX ticket, a holiday pass that gives you unlimited rides in the area. Ask at your hotel or get more information here.
What To See And Do
Most tourist attractions are within the Old Town, an easily walkable and compact area with pedestrianised streets. You can pick up a map from the tourist information centre, but don’t hesitate to wander around and get lost in Wernigerode’s charming little alleys.
- Historical buildings: Wernigerode Castle, an impressive architectural marvel that is just as impressive on the inside as it is on the outside; and the 16th century Town Hall, which combines medieval and Gothic architecture.
- Museums: Harz Museum, where you can learn more about the region’s history and culture; the Schiege House Museum, an old mill that now is home to art exhibitions dedicated to the work of local artists; and LuftFahrt Museum, one of Germany’s best aviation museums.
- Artisan workshops: The 17th century Krell Forge, where you can learn more about the art of blacksmithing and purchase unique handmade souvenirs; and the Glass Works, where you can take guided tours or sign up for a glass-making workshop.
- Parks and gardens: Lustgarten, a beautiful urban park located in the heart of town offering plenty of shaded areas, views of the castle, children play areas, and picnic spots; Burgerpark (Public Gardens) and the adjacent miniature park, which are home to dozens of themed gardens, ponds, meadows, a mini-golf course, and a family-friendly restaurant; and the Kaiser Tower, an observation deck located south of the city centre that offers spectacular bird’s eye views of the region.
Tip: You can get a 10 per cent discount on guided city tours with your HATIX ticket. Another way of saving money while getting to see all the tourist attractions in the area is purchasing the Harz Card, which is available in 2 and 4 day options.
Despite its relatively small size, Wernigerode has an exciting cultural life, which is reflected in the town’s busy events calendar. Some of the events that may be of interest to visitors include the following:
- Wernigerode Castle Festival, which brings opera performances and other open-air events to the town’s iconic castle. Often held in July or August.
- Walpurgis Night, held on 30th April, this one-day folk festival is the local version of Halloween and fills the Old Town with parades, bonfires, and fireworks.
- Wernigerode Town Hall Festival, a summer event that celebrates the skills of local artists and invites residents and visitors to explore a medieval market where local food, drinks, and handicrafts are on display. Celebrated on the third weekend of June.
- Christmas is the most special time of the year in Wernigerode, and the town’s Christmas market is proof of that. Don’t miss it if you are visiting during the festive season!
Where To Stay
The streets leading to the central square of Marktplatz are home to many mid-range accommodation options with nightly prices ranging from 70€ to 85€. There is also a great deal of boutique hotels (often built inside traditional half-timbered houses), which offer a classy atmosphere at a slightly higher price tag (averaging 90€), although bargains can be found at venues like Zur Post Hotel, which has rooms for under 60€.
Pensions are a suitable option for travellers on a budget. These establishments which have an attached restaurant or cafe and offer accommodation with optional half-board. Prices go from 40€ to 65€ depending on number of guests and season.
The area near the castle is known for its upscale establishments, often located in historical buildings and beautifully restored villas. Schlossberg Hotel and Erbprinzenpalais are good options for visitors with a budget in the 100€ – 150€ bracket.
Last but not least, there are many guest houses, holiday apartments, and bed and breakfast options situated in the outskirts of town. This is a suitable option for visitors looking to enjoy an active holiday in Wernigerode or to have easy access to the town’s amenities while staying in a peaceful location.
Please note that Wernigerode levies a tourist accommodation tax of 2.5€ per person per night.
The main shopping area is clustered around Breite and Burg Streets, which are packed with shops selling antiques, rare books, jewellery, and local spirits. In the Old Town and near the train station you will also find department stores and shopping centres, like Altstadt Passagen, where you can get everything you need for your holiday. If you have a HATIX ticket, you will be able to get discounts at certain local shops.
Note: Like in the rest of Germany, shops in Wernigerode are closed on Sundays.
The regional gastronomy is characterised by the abundant use of locally sourced ingredients, such as vegetables, game meat, and fish.
- Snacks and light bites: Pottsuse (a spiced pork spread, usually eaten with warm homemade bread); Spargelsuppe (asparagus soup seasoned with dill and nutmeg); and Gurkencremesuppe (Cucumber and potato soup).
- Mains: Kasseler (smoked pork served with sauerkraut or kale); Rosinenfleisch (a flavourful pork or beef casserole made with raisins, cooked apples, and plenty of aromatic spices); Bernberger Zwiebelfleisch (braised pork served with potato pancakes and horseradish sauce); and Harzer Lamm (roasted lamb in buttermilk).
- Desserts: Baumkuchen (a type of ring-shaped cake covered in chocolate and rosewater syrup); and Eierschecke (a three-layered cake made with apples and custard and topped with nuts and / or chocolate).
- Cheese: Harzer Kase, Milbenkase, and Bördespeck.
Don’t forget to pair your traditional meal with one of the excellent local wines available. Saxony-Anhlat is home to Germany’s northernmost wine-growing region. The wines grown here are little known abroad, but nonetheless they boast an excellent quality and are worth sampling. Wines from Saale Unstrut and Rotkäppchen Sekt come strongly recommended.
Visitors will find plenty of opportunities to explore the town’s nightlife. Pub crawls around the Old Town are common on weekends, and the area also caters to those looking to enjoy a quiet evening thanks to its many cosy cafes and cocktail bars. If you would like to sample a few of the local beers during a night out in town, check the famous Wernigerode Brauhaus, located in the main pedestrian area of Breite Street.
There are also a couple of jazz bars in the Old Town, and a few venues featuring Irish and folk music, whereas night clubs (such as Lounge Malzmuhle and Ars Vivendi) tend to be outside of the Old Town.
Active Holidays & Nature
If you fancy exploring the beautiful natural landscapes that surround Wernigerode, you have plenty of options all year round. In the summer, a popular thing to do is taking the steam train to Brocken mountain. If you are feeling energetic, you can get off at Schierke village and walk to the summit, where wonderful views await you.
During the winter, you can practise your favourite winter sports in the local area. There are five cross-country ski trails in Schierke, ranging from short and easy 2 kilometre runs to more challenging trails of over 15 kilometres. Sledding, tobogganing, ski jumping, and ice skating are other ways of staying entertained and active in the winter months.
Fishing, hiking, and birdwatching are popular outdoor activities in densely forested areas like the Wernigerode – Blankenburg Protected Area and Hoccharz. These are located within easy reach of Wernigerode and make for a great day out in peaceful and picturesque surroundings.