Hiking in the Harz Mountains: around Bad Frankenhausen and the Kyffhäuser

Aktualisiert am: 06/03/2024

Are you looking for a beautiful hiking route in Germany that is easy to hike, even for beginners? Come with me to the southern Harz: From Bad Frankenhausen I’ll show you a wonderful route through the Kyffhäuser! If you love nature and forests, you will like this tour. But hiking in the Harz mountains doesn’t sound like you, do you think? As a total city gal, I have to admit that I really discovered hiking last year only, too!

Hiking in the Southern Harz and the Kyffhäuser mountains

The starting point of my little hiking trip is Bad Frankenhausen, an idyllic little town in Thuringia. The town center is clearly laid out but homely, with half-timbered houses adorning the well-kept little streets. Despite its small size, Bad Frankenhausen has a lot to offer and many hiking enthusiasts use it as a starting point or stopover.

Welcome to my travel blog!

Hey, I’m Tatiana, a German-Brazilian living in Berlin & the author behind The Happy Jetlagger. I’ve been writing about my travels since 2014. In addition to my job as a flight attendant, this blog is my passion project!

What to do in Bad Frankenhausen

Probably the most famous sight in Bad Frankenhausen immediately catches my eye: the Leaning Tower of Bad Frankenhausen. Over 600 years old and built on less than stable ground, the leaning Oberkirchturm tower is the town’s landmark. Unfortunately, the nave no longer exists in its entirety. But an elaborate construction ensures that at least the tower can still adorn the city panorama.

It’s even more inclined that the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa!

Hiking around the Kyffhäuser mountain

My hiking trail around the Kyffhäuser begins in Bad Frankenhausen. Conveniently, all the hiking trails are well marked – as an absolute beginner when it comes to hiking, I’m already struggling to use the popular hiking apps that allow you to choose suitable tours. But thanks to the good signposting, it’s almost impossible to get lost (I still managed it a few times, but never mind).

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The Kyffhäuserweg

I hike along the Kyffhäuserweg, a long-distance hiking trail, and although it goes up and down the Kyffhäuser, even as a beginner hiker I find the route long but doable. The total distance is 38 kilometers, which is split over two days. However, you can also hike only part of the route, for example by taking the regular bus service from Bad Frankenhausen up the Kyffhäuser to the monument and then walking down the Kyffhäuser Trail into the valley.

Kyffhäuser Trail for retracing on Outdooractive
Information about the Kyffhäuser Trail

You can find lots more great travel ideas within Germany here!

Past orchards and through dense forest

It is full of variety. At first, my biggest worry on my first long hike alone was that I might get bored. But this was unfounded, sometimes I listened to podcasts that I had always wanted to hear in peace, or simply immersed myself in nature, enjoyed the silence and consciously breathed in the fresh forest air. Many parts of the trail lead through dense tree cover, not a soul far and wide, just tall trees and paths on the fluffiest forest floor, which feels like soft absorbent cotton underfoot.

Around Tilleda you will pass huge orchards with apples in the brightest colors. Coming here in the sunny late autumn was definitely a good decision!

In Tilleda you will find idyllic meadow orchards as well as a small café, which is wonderful for a short break!

Cherry Café Tilleda

The Kyffhäuser Monument

At the very top of the Kyffhäuser, the Kyffhäuser Monument is enthroned, highly visible and a popular weekend destination for families and motorcyclists who enjoy the ride up the winding roads. The Kyffhäuser Monument is sometimes also called the Barbarossa Monument, but is dedicated to Emperor Wilhelm I.

The Kyffhäuser Monument
Kyffhäuser Monument at sunset
The Kaiser Wilhelm Monument on the Kyffhäuser Mountain

Country life and autumn impressions

My feet were already getting heavier on the last part, but the landscape made up for it! Broad views of the valley with cows, close enough to touch:

More interesting tips in and around Bad Frankenhausen

Locations & Attractions

For those who want to explore more of German and Thuringian history and culture, I highly recommend the following locations:

Panorama MuseumThe Panorama Museum above the city shows only one painting, the “Early Civil Revolution in Germany” by Werner Tübke or Peasants’ War Panorama. Painted as a huge panorama, you are immersed in the history of the region and experience the period surrounding the German Peasants’ War of 1525 as if you were right in the middle of it.
For fans of: German history, art, culture

Kyffhäuser thermal baths As befits a spa town, Bad Frankenhausen also has a great brine spa with bathing and sauna facilities! If it hadn’t been for the pandemic, this would definitely have been my first port of call after my long hike: The best relaxation in the brine water!
For fans of: Wellness & Relaxation

Brine water vitality parkLocated in the middle of the spa park, you will find a modern outdoor saltwater pool with such illustrious features as a foot reflexology course, Kneipp pools and an inhalation pavilion. A dream come true for me as a pollen allergy sufferer.
For fans of: Outdoor pools, wellness and outdoor

Barbarossa Cave You come across this name often: according to legend, the legendary Emperor Frederick I, also known as Barbarossa, is said to sleep in the Kyffhäuserberg – with a little imagination, you can see him sitting at a stone table in a rock formation, while his long beard grows around the table.
For fans of: Legends, Myths, Archaeology, History

Where to eat in Bad Frankenhausen

Thüringer Hof Hotel with restaurant. Traditional house, here you can enjoy hearty Thuringian specialties!

Kur-Café Trautmann If you hike so much, you can also stop by here without hesitation: with the obligatory pot of coffee (yes, it still exists!) you can treat yourself to freshly baked waffles with hot cherries and lots of cream!

Where to stay in Bad Frankenhausen

I stayed at the Hotel garni Anger* for my trip. Situated in the middle of the village, modernly renovated and the perfect starting point for all hikes around the Kyffhäuser.

Hiking solo in the Harz mountains

I would never have thought that I would like hiking so much! More than 40 kilometers came together on my long weekend. And all the worries I had before! Did I bring the right equipment, does the backpack fit, do I have the right shoes? For me, as a novice hiker, I was utterly overwhelmed with the choice of my equipment alone. But in the end, it was no problem at all.

I also had no problems with the many meters of altitude, I was probably much slower than experienced hikers, but the whole thing wasn’t a competition. And I’ve acquired a taste for hiking longer distances – who knows what’s to come in the future!

Are you experienced hikers? Do you have any tips for beginners? Or is that not for you at all? Feel free to tell me about it in the comments!

Many thanks to the Harzer Tourismusverband e.V. for inviting me on this trip!

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