Close to the vibrant city of Salzburg and nestled in the Bavarian Alps is a place called Berchtesgaden, a destination that has all the makings of a charming town. Stunning mountain views, cows grazing on green fields, and streets lined with colorful houses and bustling restaurants are just a few things to expect from this municipality. On your visit, head to Berchtesgaden National Park, a corner of the country where nature and the wildlife both thrive. This is also where you’ll be able to capture a postcard-worthy photo of Obersee Lake, the famous boathouse, and the Alps mountains that border it in just one click. Besides stunning natural sights, the town retains a historic charm while still being up to date on modern fixings like train stations and paved roads. If you want to learn more about the best things to do in Berchtesgaden, Germany, keep reading.
1. Explore the town
Exploring the town is best done on foot. Duck under shaded and arched walkways, stroll around Old Town to admire the colorful Alpine houses, steal a seat on one of the benches to people-watch, or choose one of the lovely restaurants that spill out onto the streets to sample classic German fares. While you’re here, you might even catch sight of locals performing on the busy Market Square.
2. Plan a visit to Lake Königssee
Lake Königssee has been called Germany’s most beautiful lake for a reason. The colors are vibrant and the air fresh - nature fully alive and untouched. Visitors can rent a paddleboat to explore the waters. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can follow three trails in search of a secret spot - Königssee’s waterfall pool, a little pocket on the mountainside where you can enjoy a dip and stand on the edge to get the best view of the lake.
Address: Berchtesgaden National Park, Bavaria
Website: Lake Königssee
3. Tour Obersalzberg
Famous for being the address of Hitler’s mountainside retreat, Obersalzberg sits just above Berchtesgaden. You can take a 10-minute bus ride from the town to Dokumentationszentrum Obersalzberg, a museum that is home to documents and exhibits about Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. Many of the buildings here were destroyed by Allied forces towards the tail end of the war, and more were demolished by the government to keep the place from turning into a Nazi shrine. Those interested in learning more about World War II will enjoy touring this place.
4. Head up to Eagle’s Nest
Eagle’s Nest, also known as Kehlsteinhaus, is perched about 6,017 feet (1,834 meters) above sea level. In the summer, avid hikers and adventure-seekers opt to take the forested road from Berchtesgaden up to Kehlstein, a two-hour hike. This is an option you can take if the weather is good, but if you want a quicker route you can always queue up for the shuttle. As a former Third Reich stronghold, expect to see a crowd of tourists during peak seasons.
Address: Kehlsteinhaus, 83471 Berchtesgaden, Germany
Website: Eagle’s Nest
5. Check out the remains of Hitler's Berghof
Just 980 feet (300 meters) away from Dokumentationszentrum Obersalzberg is a parcel of land that contains the remains of Berghof, Hitler’s home in Obersalzberg, and his second seat of command. Not much is left of it now except stone walls that conceal the doors to former bunkers and trees growing in areas where the house once stood. In its current state, it’s hard to picture this as the place where Hitler plotted against other nations and met with notable characters in history like Italian dictator Mussolini. There are a few signs that guide visitors around the area since it might be confusing to navigate.
6. Take advantage of the natural beauty and go hiking
Berchtesgaden is filled with natural beauty, and both city dwellers and nature enthusiasts will enjoy the many paths that surround this gem in the Bavarian Alps. Whether this is your first time hiking or you’ve hiked trails all over the world, there are many possibilities available to you. An easy but picturesque option is Malerwinkel Loop, which runs for two miles (four kilometers) and takes less than two hours. Experts looking for a challenge can consider Watzmann Via Ferrata inside Berchtesgaden National Park. This hike has an elevation gain of 6,541.9 feet (1,994 meters) and requires an early start as it takes roughly 13 hours to complete.
7. Try the saltwater pool at Watzmann Therme
Kids and adults alike will find something to love about Watzmann Therme. There is a designated pool for those who just want to splash around and one for those who want a more invigorating swim. This establishment is also famous for the brine outdoor pool, which promotes relaxation and is said to have added health benefits. Guests can also make use of one of the many saunas or get a massage treatment.
Address: Bergwerkstraße 54, 83471 Berchtesgaden, Germany
Opening hours: Mon: 10am - 10pm (closed from Tue - Sun)
Website: Watzmann Therme
Price: 12.30 - 18.60 EUR (13.79 - 20.85 USD)
Salzburg is less than an hour away from Berchtesgaden, making it a great option for a day tour. Block off a day to visit the historic center of Austria, which is also famously known as the place where Mozart was born. Some notable attractions include Fortress Hohensalzburg and Salzburg Cathedral. Plan to spend the whole day here, as the city is particularly pretty at dusk when the yellow street lamps switch on, illuminating the stunning Baroque buildings.
Salzburg Historical Walking Tour
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
If the sight of open fields, snow-capped mountains, and edelweiss flowers remind you that “the hills are alive with the sound of music” then you need to know about this fun day tour dedicated to the 1959 musical. You’ll get to see the places in Salzburg where scenes from the film were shot, including the iconic gazebo where fans will recall Liesl Von Trapp and her billowy dress. If you know the songs by heart, you can even sing along to the soundtrack during the tour.
The Original Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg
Duration: 4 hours
10. See some of nature's best at Berchtesgaden National Park
Berchtesgaden National Park is a well-known place of interest in Bavaria. Two beautiful lakes are situated within the park’s boundaries: Königssee and Obersee, and it’s also home to various wildlife. Park visitors come for various reasons, whether it’s to enjoy some of the hiking and biking trails or to see St. Bartholomew’s Church, which sits along the shores of Königssee Lake. There are plenty of natural highlights to capture for your social media - just take note that flying a drone isn’t permitted inside the park.
Berchtesgaden National Park
Address: Berchtesgadener Str. 91, 83486 Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden, Germany
Website: Berchtesgaden National Park
11. Marvel at the ice formations inside Schellenberg Ice Cave
Don’t miss out on the chance to explore the largest ice cave in the country. The guided tour lasts for about an hour and visitors will be taken in to see the stunning ice formations. Since the ice changes, even those who have visited the cave before will get a chance to see something new. Visitors are advised to bring a warm jacket and you will be given a helmet to protect your head from rocks and other debris.
Schellenberg Ice Cave
Address: 83471 Schellenberger Forst, Germany
Website: Schellenberger Eishöhle
Price: 8 EUR (8.97 USD)
12. Get the best mountain views from Rossfeld Panoramastrasse
The smooth, winding roads of Germany’s highest mountain pass make the journey just as enjoyable as seeing the views from the mountainside. This route runs for 9.9 miles (16 kilometers) and is a popular spot for scenic winter drives. Eventually, you’ll come to a part of the road blocked by tall guardrails, which opens out to a stunning view of snow-capped mountains, valleys, and verdant trees. Be sure to take this route on a clear day to get the best sights.
Address: Roßfeldstraße, 83471 Eck, Germany
Website: Rossfeld Panoramastrasse
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
Add this charming Bavarian town to your travel bucket list
Ideally located close to the beautiful city of Salzburg and filled with enviable natural beauty, Berchtesgaden has so much to offer all kinds of travelers. Hikers, nature enthusiasts, and even history buffs will find plenty to love about this municipality. Don’t forget to include it when planning your next trip to Germany.
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