Osterode am Harz can be both the beginning and end of a long journey. It is the official start of a 100 km hiking trail to Thale, but it can be walked both ways. Even a partial stroll will be rewarding.
This long, winding path is the Harzer Hexenstieg, better known as the Witch’s Way. You can walk it alone or with a forest ranger guide. It rolls through the Harz Mountains and the vistas over Osterode are well worth it even though parts of the hike can be challenging.
Looking over the town, you’ll see the sparkling swirls of the Söse River, which flows right through the middle. Upstream is the Sösetalsperre reservoir. It’s about 5km away and a good mini-hike.
You’ll also spot the churches. St. Jacobi’s is not currently in use but you’ll know it by the squat red tower. The St. Aegidien Church has a more pointy profile and stop-worthy interior architecture. You’ll also notice several castle ruins, vestiges of glories past and now good photo stops.
Some of the castles are out in the countryside, but others are right in the main settled areas.
Osterode am Harz has several mini-villages as a part of its political town structure, but you’ll want to look for Dorste and Förste. Just between them is the Burg Lichtenstein, one of the more stately castle stops.
You may also wish to visit the Museum im Ritterhaus, which has one of the most thorough collections of local history going all the way back to the Middle Ages. Nearby is the old granary, one of the largest and most imposing structures in town. It was built in 1719 and its bulk is impressive.
Rather than be torn down after the main agricultural era was over, it was converted into the Town Hall. The old corn market area is now the main square as well. Many of the old features have been preserved even as the buildings were modernized. Even if you don’t like architecture, the ingenuity of the old bones on display here will be memorable.
You can close a day here with a cafe stop near the main square. The contrasting hues of the rooftops and the sunset frame the square area with a warm and relaxing ambiance. With the train station completely redone and modernized in 2004, Osterode am Harz makes it easy for modern road warriors to steal away here for a quick stop to kick back and relax in the midst of historical style. :-)