BRAUNLAGE sits at the foot of the Wurmberg (971m), the Harz's second-highest peak, where the regular snow has made the town a small ski centre. The Wurmberg is a reasonable ski hill – and boasts the longest cable-car in Germany – though its base can get slushy and off-puttingly busy at peak time, when a better option is to repair to the excellent network of cross-country skiing trails on the rolling hills about town, or to mess around on a toboggan – and there are good runs both on the Wurmberg and in town for this – look for signs to the Rodelbahn. Gear for all these winter activities is readily available in town: expect to pay around 20 for a ski or snowboard setup.
Braunlage is also a popular summer base for hikers and bikers, and the tourist office publishes useful free brochures on the local trail network.
Braunlage is connected by direct bus from Bad Harzburg, with passengers dropped on Herzog-Wilhelm-Strasse, the main road, from which it's a five-minute walk over the stream and up the hill along the other main road Elbingröder Strasse to the tourist office at no. 17 (Mon– Fri 9am–12.30pm & 2–5pm, Sat 9.30am–12.30pm; Tel:05520/930 70, Web: www.braunlage.de ). They will make accommodation bookings for you, including at a good stock of inexpensive private rooms. However the cheapest beds are in sparklingly clean DJH hostel, Von-Langen-Strasse 28 (Tel:05520/22 38; dorms from 18.30), at the edge of town in an attractive wooded area on a network of hiking and skiing trails. In town, another budget option is the cluttered but friendly Pension Parkblick, Elbingeröde Strasse 13 (Tel:05520/12 37; Price: 41-60), while Hotel Harz-Wald, Karl-Röhrig-Strasse 5a (Tel:05520/80 70, Web: www.relexa-hotel.de ; Price: 81-100), has extensive fitness facilities, including swimming pool, sauna, steam room and mountain-bike rental – the latter available to non guests too. Best for an afternoon slice of cake is the old-fashioned Omas Kaffeestube, Elbingröder Strasse 2, whose specialities are various fortified coffees that go down a treat in winter. For a quick sandwich try Puppe Brotzeit, Am Brunnen 2, which uses local ingredients and will pack things up for your hiking trip or picnic, as well as having space to eat in. For a fuller sit-down meal try Rialto, Herzog-Wilhelm-Strasse 27, for good Italian standards.