Lower Saxony may be pretty, but I gotta say – the mountains are mere mole hills. Moving to central Germany from Switzerland is like having your parents replace your Halloween candy with broccoli; it’s harder to enjoy the other stuff after feasting on a steady diet of world-class alpine sports. The good news for us is that we switched from snowboarding to skiing when we moved to Europe, so we’re still beginners. As soon as fresh powder hit the slopes in January, we followed a friend’s recommendation and headed to Skizentrum Sankt Andreasberg, a small ski area in central Germany. Skiing in the Harz Mountains is a great option for newbs and budget-savvy shoppers. And as we quickly discovered, it’s easier to learn to ski when the mountains are mere mole hills!
Where is Skizentrum Sankt Andreasberg located?
The Harz Mountains are the most northerly mountains in Germany. They lie between the cities of Hanover and Leipzig within the districts of Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia.
The Harz region is undoubtedly most known for the Harz National Park and it’s highest peak, the Brocken. Many people mistakenly assume you’re talking about the national park anytime you mention the Harz. The park is actually quite small though, covering just 247 sq km (95 sq mi) in the northwestern corner of the greater Harz, which covers a total area of 2,226 sq km (859 sq mi). The Sankt Andreasberg Ski Center is just outside the southern boundary of the national park but still within the Harz region.
By car, the ski area is:
less than an hour on the B27 from Goettingen.
45 minutes on the B243 from Nordhausen.
an hour and 45 minutes on the A7 and B27 from Hanover.
an hour and 45 minutes on the A36 and B4 from Magdeburg.
One of the perks of this ski area is that it seems to be known mostly only to locals, so it sees far fewer visitors than the national park.
While that’s a great thing for anyone who prefers lesser known places with fewer crowds, the slopes can still get busy, especially with fresh snow.
It also means it’s more difficult finding information about the attraction before visiting. In fact, in a seemingly apparent attempt to confuse non-locals, the ski area goes by both Skizentrum Matthias-Schmidt Berg and Skizentrum Sankt Andreasberg. The latter is not to be confused with the Sankt Andreasberg Sonnenberg ski area just up the road.
What kinds of runs does Skizentrum Sankt Andreasberg have?
This is a small ski area with limited runs, only 3.5-7 total km depending on which website you believe. It’s ideal if you’re learning to ski or snowboard since most are designated for beginners. More skilled skiers will likely find the runs lacking in length and difficulty.
Where can you park?
Parking is available for free on site, but come early on weekends: spots fill up fast.
If the upper lot next to the highway is full, turn right off the main highway and continue past the upper lot. Curve right downhill to a second parking area. The lot there is bigger and also free.
How much does it cost to ski at Sankt Andreasberg?
Even though the ski center is small, they offer gear rental. In fact, if you have your own skis or boots, plan to rent the entire package from them anyway as they don’t rent the gear separately. Or at least they refused to do so for us when we brought our own skis, so that’s a bummer.
During our visit, the gear rental prices for the day were as follows:
Downhill skis -€20
Cross-country skis – €15
Snowboards – €25
The prices includes poles and boots. Helmets and goggles cost extra.
As of the 2021 winter season, a single adult lift ticket for the day is €29, or €17 for kids aged 5-15 years old. The prices are too high in my opinion, considering the modest facilities.
However, you can also purchase lift tickets for individual downhill runs for just €3 apiece, which is what we opted to do. It’s pretty ideal for beginners who might only want to do a few runs. When you’re learning, it can take awhile to get down the slope just once!
Students receive a small discount so remember to bring your ID. They also offer cheaper lift ticket options if you just want to go for two hours (€20), three hours (€22), or four hours (€24). A lift ticket for night skiing is €17.
When is the ski area open?
Before you plan a visit to the Skizentrum Sankt Andreasberg, or any ski area in the Harz, we highly recommend checking to make sure they’re even open. The elevation for many of the ski areas is fairly low, meaning some winters see very little snow.
Regular opening times for the ski area are Monday through Sunday, from 9:00 am to 4:15 pm.
Night skiing is typically available Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 6:00-9:00 pm.
Sankt Andreasberg is in Germany, which means bratwurst, pommes frites, and sweet hot mulled wine are not only a possibility. They’re pretty much mandatory after a “tough” day skiing!
A small beer garden and cafe on site offer up warm beverages and snacks to guests. You can enjoy them in the cozy, warm restaurant or outside at a picnic table surrounded by piles of snow. We thought piping hot French fries and sweet spiced Glühwein were the perfect ending to a day on the slopes.