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A re you curious about visiting Germany’s prettiest national park, Berchtesgaden? Well, then you’re in luck! There are seemingly endless things to do for the outdoor enthusiast, foodie, nature-appreciator, culture-connoisseur, or fan of eco-luxury getaways. As a national park, it is increasingly important to visit Berchtesgaden responsibly to protect the beautiful nature for years. This sustainable guide to Berchtesgaden has everything from the most thrilling outdoor adventures, relaxing natural escapes, best restaurants, top accommodation, how to get around, cultural highlights, and of course, it is all done with environmental education and responsible travel tips to help you reduce your impact.
It is no secret that my favorite place in Germany is Berchtesgaden National Park and the Obersalzberg region, located in Bavaria. My husband first took me here several years ago, where he made me hike 30 km so that he could propose in front of a killer view of Königsee.
I was exhausted, but of course, I said yes. However, we underestimated the time the hike would take us. On the way back, we had to put some serious pep in our steps to make a dinner reservation at Michelin-recommended PUR to celebrate our engagement. Thankfully the restaurant was super accommodating when we called from the mountain to tell them we would be late even though they only book 2 two seatings per night and keep a strict schedule. We may or may not have fallen asleep in the middle of the 3rd course and 3rd glass of wine after an intense hike, but that is a story for another day. Yep, we’re classy AF.
We’ve returned over the years to celebrate milestones as a couple and enjoy the beautiful natural region, including hiking, mountain biking, fine dining, luxury eco-hotel stays, WWII history, and just getting some of that Frische Luft (Fresh air), as the Germans would say.
WHAT WE’RE COVERING
- Established as a national park in 1978 and later granted UNESCO biosphere status
- One of Germany’s most extensive natural national parks remaining untouched for 100s of years
- Rich biodiversity including butterflies, birds of prey, orchids, and ibex
- Newly reintroduced bearded vultures expected to help stabilize the European population
- Great for outdoor activities like biking, hiking, nature walks, and via faretta
- Getaway for sustainable mountain luxury with eco lodges and rich traditional culture
Park History and Ecology
Berchtesgaden National Park is the only national park in the German alps. Home to old-functioning and undeveloped alpine ecosystems (a rarity in Germany), it was given national park status in 1973 and later crowned with UNESCO biosphere status. The park is home to beautiful biodiversity and sweeping natural landscapes. It is also a place with a dark WWII history.
The park has had some level of official protection since the early 1900s. Before that, the park was preserved as a lucrative hunting ground for wealthy Bavarians. Several initiatives have been proposed to develop the region, including building more gondolas, increased access for hunting, or large-scale resort development. While this might be good for the economic side of tourism, it is not ideal for the environment or cultural preservation. For example, extensive gondola development decreases biodiversity in mountain ecosystems by reducing ungulates’ herd size and behavior. As a reminder: for tourism to be sustainable, it can not focus on economic gain while degrading the natural and cultural environment. Thankfully, throughout the 1900s, the German government saw more potential in conservation and low-intensity ecotourism in the undeveloped mountains. The reward is we get to visit this beautiful and pristine region but must do so mindfully and responsibly.
The high alpine ecosystem of Berchtesgaden is characterized by jagged cliffs, old-growth forests, glaciers, rivers, lakes, and valleys. The animals in the park include marmots, rare orchids, chamois, ibex, deer, golden eagles, alpine salamanders, hares, foxes, mink, European badgers, 700 butterflies, bats, and loads more!
The geological features of the park include limestone and dolomite cliffs. The mountains were created when the African and European plates converged. This caused the seafloor to rise, forming mountains. Yep, that is right, these mountains were once the underwater crust, so it is not uncommon to find traces of ancient sea creatures fossilized in the rocks.
The return of the bearded vulture!
Bearded vultures are some of the largest flying birds in the world, but there are only about 250 breeding pairs in Europe! They were declared extirpated from Germany (locally extinct), but as of 2021, conservation groups and the government have reintroduced them to Berchtesgaden. Their extirpation from Germany caused a critical population gap between W. and E. European pairs, making it hard for them to interbreed and support a large healthy population. Two females were released in Berchtesgaden named Bavaria and Wally in hopes of closing the population gap. We wish these two ladies all the best in finding suitable mates out in the wild. You can stay up to date on Wally and Bavaria on their webcam.
Vultures are keystone (essential) species in ecosystems as their stomach acid levels are so high they can ingest diseased carcasses, like animals that died from rabies without getting hurt. This keeps the dead, diseased animal from decomposing and viruses from entering water sources that other animals we humans drinks. So, they protect other animals and us by eating unsavory leftovers.
Sustainability and Park Rules
Berchtesgaden National Park is a well-preserved ecosystem. The environmental goals of the park blend outdoor recreation, conservation, research, and environmental education. Therefore, enjoying yourself and the great outdoors while respecting and learning about nature is critical.
Tourism as a threat to the park
Berchtesgaden is an increasingly popular destination for Germans and international visitors alike. With a rising number of people visiting, tourism is identified as a significant threat to the natural and geological health of the park, as with many other UNESCO World Heritage sites. Tourism, especially when visitors go off trail, disregard rules, or harm the natural environment, can cause significant negative impacts on our destinations. Therefore it is vital to follow all rules and guidelines of the park and be generally mindful of your actions and surroundings.
During the pandemic, there was a rise in local recreational tourism to the park, where visitors trashed illegal campsites, littered, polluted, and damaged many water sources, geological features, and critical animal habitats. Due to this, some vulnerable zones, like the Königsee Waterfall Pool, had to be closed indefinitely. So, don’t be like the German TikTok youthz and make sure you respect the park guidelines, which are:
- Don’t litter.
- Pack out what you pack in.
- Don’t pick or collect plants – there are several endangered plants in the park.
- If you take your furry friend, keep them on a leash.
- Stay on the marked trails. Going off the path can cause erosion and damage habitat for animals.
- Don’t disturb animals with loud music or harassment – loud music on trails can scare animals, causing them to flee their nests and abandon their young!
- Don’t wild camp on terrain.
- Don’t start an open fire.
- Don’t use drones – they are not allowed! Drones can also cause birds to abandon their young.
Don’t forget to visit the visitor center to learn all about the fantastic nature and how you can do your part to help conservation efforts.
How to Get to Berchtesgaden National Park
The best way to get from Berchtesgaden is either self-guided using a rental car or public transportation or booking a guided tour.
To reduce your impact while traveling, I recommend taking the train.
The train from Munich to Berchtesgaden is about 24 Euros and takes about 2 hours and 47 minutes. Alternatively, you could take a cheap bus from Munich to Salzburg, explore, and then catch an 8-euro train from Salzburg to Berchtesgaden.
You can also drive as part of a slow-travel road trip that includes the German Alpine Road, which starts or ends in Berchtesgaden. You can rent a car in Munich or Salzburg and begin your epic adventure by stopping at the National Park for a few days.
While I recommend staying a couple of days, you can book a guided tour if you are short on time or struggle to navigate public transportation. I recommend finding ones that support small groups as smaller groups have a reduced environmental impact. These suggested tours will help you see the highlights and receive educational content from an English-speaking guide.
Guided Tours From Munich
If you want a more relaxed day, include a bus ride along the German Alpine Road to Obersalzberg and Berchtesgaden. You can customize your day a bit, including utilizing the knowledge of your guide to help you take an extra bus to the Eagle’s Nest.
If you are traveling with a group of up to 8, you can book a private tour that allows you to customize your day by choosing your stops, including the Königsee Ferry.
Guided from Salzberg
To get a great taste of Berchtesgaden, you can book a full-day tour from Salzberg, visiting the Eagle’s Nest, Salt Mine, and Königsee. This is a good deal because the logistics of doing this yourself in one day is a bit much.
If you don’t have a whole day, you can opt for the half-day tour, which allows for time to see the sights without experiencing them – per se.
You can also choose a private tour, again an excellent value for groups up to 8. You can depart from Salzberg to see the valley where the Sound of Music was filmed and then customize your day to immerse yourself in the natural landscape or WWII history.
Or you can choose to customize your day by visiting the Eagle’s Nest in summer and the Königsee or the adorable Ramsau area of Berchtesgaden.
When to Visit Berchtesgaden
Ganesh and I usually visit in the summer or autumn for hiking, mountain biking, and drinking Aperol on terraces around the town. But, there is plenty to do in the winter, like skiing, sledding, and enjoying the spa. In fact, Berchtesgaden has a robust year-round tourism season, with spring and fall being great times to visit.
My top tip is to avoid school holidays in Germany which change yearly – so your best bet is to Google “German school holidays.” Schools typically have a 1.5-month summer break sometime in July-September, 1 week off for Easter, 2 weeks for Christmas, and a 1-week autumn holiday break. This is when Berchtesgaden can be packed with families on holiday.
If you visit in the winter, pack your winter snow gear like a warm jacket, hats, gloves, and boots. If you want to ski, then bring your ski or snowboard gear.
In summer, pack your hiking and athletic gear for warmer weather. Thunderstorms can frequently happen, so pack some waterproofs.
No matter the season, bring your swimsuit and a set of clothing for a nice dinner.
Where to Stay in Berchtesgaden
The best hotels in Berchtesgaden are sustainable mountain resorts immersed in nature and local culture. But, of course, there are plenty of great traditional and authentic alpine huts and even a budget hostel.
Kempinski Berchtesgaden – high-end eco mountain escape
We only ever stay at one hotel when we visit Berchtesgaden, the luxurious and sustainable – Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden. It is the hotel we first stayed at when Ganesh proposed to me and the place we return to time and time again for anniversaries and special celebrations.
Tucked away in the lower mountains of Obersalzberg, the view from this hotel is fantastic! Not only that, but you have access to mountain biking, walking, and hiking trails right from your back door. The grass roof is full of pollinator-friendly native wildflowers. An adventure concierge is on hand to help you plan and book adventures catered to your taste and ability. You will be truly pampered with a fantastic pool and outdoor lounge areas. Enjoy their fancy breakfast spread and fine or casual dining in restaurants featuring local and seasonal cuisine. Their commitment to luxury, service and sustainability makes this a win-win-win in my book. Splurging and using the Kempinski as a home base will ensure you leave Berchtesgaden with memories to last a lifetime.
Salzbergalm Berchtesgaden – great mid-level rustic apartment style accommodation
For a quaint mountain hut experience near Berchtesgaden village, then the Salzbergalm is a good option. This apartment-style accommodation is ideal for those who like to cook their meals or are planning on staying longer. Ganesh and I always love staying in this accommodation when we travel throughout the alps. The iconic style mountain hut is just picture-perfect.
Haus Vogl – rustic budget-ish in a traditional mountain hut
Haus Vogl is a quaint hut with lots of alpine personality without the frills for those on a budget. You can’t go wrong here with excellent ratings and a good location.
Hostel Berchtesgaden – hostel budget accommodation
Finally, if you are on a very tight budget, you might consider looking into the Berchtesgaden hostel. This simple accommodation is located on top of the train station and is a good option for backpackers arriving on the train.
Best Restaurants in Berchtesgaden
Gourmet Restaurant PUR – located in the Kempinski hotel, is our go-to for special occasions and anniversary dinners. You can sit on the terrace for an excellent view to pair with your wine and meal. This proper fine dining experience offers 4-7 courses and wine pairings with regional wine. If you are vegetarian, you must notify them a day or so in advance, so they can accommodate your dietary requirements. We had their vegetarian course, and it was delightful!
Another fine dining option is the Esszimmer. This family-owned restaurant is located in a cozy fire-lit room. Choose from an a la carte menu or 5-7 courses paired with wine. They do have a grun or green course for vegetarians.
Perhaps the best view award goes to the restaurant Panorama in the Hotel Edelweiss. Their outdoor terrace offers sweeping mountain views in the summer. Most of the food here is regional and seasonal, making it a great sustainable option. Go for the more casual flammkuchen, or go all out for a fancy date night course menu. They have vegetarian options.
Lower to Mid-Range Options
One of my favorite places for pizza, pasta, and gourmet burgers is Restaurant EinKehr, a mid-level Italian restaurant that pours excellent wine. With a great location, in the summer, you can sit on the terrace and drink Apérol and enjoy the buzz of downtown Berchtesgaden. In winter, grab a warm blanket and hot drink.
Another favorite of mine is the Bauchgfui, a healthy option that includes bowls, salads, and sandwiches. They have the best (and maybe only) selection for vegans. The price is excellent, and the staff are all lovely people.
For tasty Greek food, try the Akropolis Berchtesgaden. This place has a surprisingly good view of the Watzmann peak without all the fuss of fine dining. There are a few vegetarian options like the traditional grilled greek peppers, Greek salad, and mezze dishes.
Another popular place is Zum Fassl, for massive burgers and plates of fries. They do have some veggie options as well.
Finally, all of the Gasthauses will have restaurants. A favorite is the Berggasthof Oberkalberstein, located near places like Haus Vogl and away from the downtown area. But you can’t go wrong with any Gasthaus for traditional German food.
Grab Food on the Go
Suppose you want to just grab a meal while exploring. In that case, you can grab simple but tasty food at Spiesberger Alpenküche, located inside the Berchtesgaden visitor center (House of the Mountains). Here you can get German staples like the vegetarian knödel or traditional schnitzel. Don’t miss their gourmet chocolates – shaped like a mountain!
A mountain restaurant serving traditional German cuisine is at the top of the Eagle’s Nest. It is not a great place for vegetarians, but I love grabbing a beer with a view.
Outdoor Things to do in Berchtesgaden
Berchtesgaden is a National Park; the best way to spend your time is out in nature. There are many options, from extreme mountain biking trails to leisurely walking trails through the forest. No matter what level of adventure you are looking for, I’ll suggest some great options.
This list is meant to be used as a starting point only and is not exhaustive. You should talk to your host, hotel, or visitor center to get a map and plan precise hiking or adventure route suited to your needs, expectations, and skill level.
If you are missing any gear for your outdoor adventures, then stop by Intersport for rentals and purchases.
There are hundreds of hiking trails in Berchtesgaden and the surrounding area. The map below shows some possible routes, along with the difficulty legend. While the red trails are designated medium, they can be very long hikes altogether, making them what I would consider challenging hikes. For example, a few red walks cover a 25-30km distance. Not all the trails I suggest are on this map, but it helps provide a point of reference.
Wimbachtal is an easy mountain path through a ravine following the Wimbach River. This scenic hike includes waterfalls, wooden boardwalks, staircases, slot canyons, and brief moments of mountain views. You can hike as long or as little as you want, turning back at any point. On the above map, the trail starts at the Wimbachbrücke parking/bus stop. From there, it follows the blue path to hut 18. Hut 18 is the Wimbachschloss, which should take about 2 hours to reach with a slight increase in elevation.
If you wish to continue to hut 17, Wimbachgrieshütte, you’ll be clocking in a total of 17kms.
Kempinski Circut: If you made the excellent choice to stay at the Kempinski hotel, there is a lovely circular route that takes you from the hotel through the Obersalzberg forest and even past the Obersalzberg documentation center – which is worth visiting.
The route is only about 4km and only about 120m of elevation gain, making this an effortless and lovely walk even for those not staying at the hotel.
Steinerne Agnes – This was one of our favorite hikes during our 3rd anniversary trip to Berchtesgaden. The trail takes you to one of Bavaria’s most beautiful geological formations, The Stone Agnes or Steinerne Agnes. There is a legend that the rock formation was a dairy girl turned to stone to avoid unwanted advances from the devil. The lengths we women will go to just not be harassed – I’d rather be stone, to be honest.
In reality, the formation is dolomite with different layers prone to wind erosion, making it a unique mushroom shape. The hike here is a moderate walk starting at the Hallthurm Car Park in Bischofswisen. The trail zig-zags up a forested mountain before a traverse. Getting up to the Stone Formation is difficult with loose gravel and a steep climb. Don’t feel ashamed of just viewing it from the trail and moving onward. The last part of the hike is a lovely walk through pastures and forest trails.
Gotzenalm / Feuerpalfen – This was the hike with the view that Ganesh proposed to me. Several ways to do this hike can make it either a medium or hard difficulty. The most popular way to do this route is by taking the Königsee ferry to the Kessel boat launch. The ferry does not automatically stop here; you must request the stop. From there, you hike up to Gotzenalm, a steep and long zip-zagging trail – like it is no joke. You can take a slight detour to the Feuerpalfen, which is the viewpoint he proposed! Your return is a primarily downhill descent following signs for Schönau am Königssee which will also take you back to the original ferry terminal.
This is about 23 km and 8+ hours. On the map above, you can find Kessel on the lake, a red and blue route going to hut 10, and then a blue route back to Königsee.
However, we chose to skip the ferry, but our hike was still very long and very hard :-P. We started our day at the Hinterbrand Parkplatz and followed trail signs for the Gotzentalalm and Gotzenalm – you can choose to stay on a medium blue trail the whole way, making this a proper long medium. However, you can take a red difficult side trail that winds through the forest and traverses a steep cliff, which is what we decided to do. The gist of this hike follows the blue path connecting huts 4, 8, and 10 with options for detours.
We finished this hike bagging almost 30km, which took us about 9+ hours.
Watzmann: While hiking on the eastern side of Königsee with views OF the Watzmann peak is enjoyable, some may want to hike the Watzmann. Usually, to hike Watzmann, you would need technical mountaineering skills, but there is an alternative to the Watzmannhaus just below the peak, in which you will bag about 15km and 1,100m ascent.
You don’t need to be a big hiker to enjoy the natural beauty of Berchtesgaden. In fact, there are many lovely walks in the area that will get you out enjoying the fresh air without a lot of elevation or off-roading.
If you drive or catch a bus to Piding, there is a lovely cultural and historical circular walking route. One of the best ways to learn about Berchtesgaden’s culture and natural history, the trail starts at Staufeneck Castle. The walking circuit has educational signs along the way, teaching you about local history, flora, and fauna.
Another easy option near Piding is the 1.2km bee trail. This very flat and easy trail takes you on a short walk to learn about the importance of bees and other pollinators.
Zauberwald, or the magic forest in Ramsau, is a lovely and easy walking trail along a Klamm or gorge. This scenic route can get quite popular, so I can recommend visiting early in the morning for a quiet and relaxing nature stroll.
Finally, along the Ramsauer river, a lovely stroll will take you past the iconic Ramsau Kirche or church.
If you’re unsure what Klettersteig is, you’re in for an authentic Alpine adventure. You traverse steep rocky mountain faces and gorges using harnesses and metal rungs. This adventure is also sometimes known as Via Faretta. Depending on the technicality, you need experience and the proper gear. Via Faretta trails are designated A for beginners to D for advanced mountain climbing.
Since Klettersteig involves technical abilities and equipment, your best bet is to book a guided tour with the Outdoor Center Baumgarten. With a guided tour, you can learn the ropes (quite literally) and enjoy one of Berchtesgaden’s iconic Via Faretta trails, the Schützensteig. You can also do this hike independently if you are experienced and have your own gear.
E Mountain Biking
Again, one of our favorite things about staying at the Kempinski Hotel is that you can rent Ebikes directly from their adventure concierge. Ganesh and I usually stick to hiking when we visit, but on the latest trip, we decided to try E-Mountain Bikes for the first time – and we had a blast! E-Bikes make mountain biking accessible for most people that are comfortable riding a bike for long periods.
Since we were new to the sport, we started with an intermediate trail called the Salzwand Rundweg. This circular route starts and ends at Kempinski and covers about 25km through forest trails and gravel roads and includes several chances for stops at mountain huts for a beer. It should take 3-4 hours with an elevation gain of about 700 meters.
For the more experienced riders, the Gotzenalm is a great full-day ride. You can refer to the hiking section by the same name and see that you can essentially do the entire route on a mountain bike. This is a great way to get the scenic views of Watzmann without expending yourself on a very long hike. The ride is about 44km and should take close to 7 hours with a climb of 1700 meters. You can start this from many spots, including the Kempinski, the Documentation Museum, or the Obersalzbergbahn, heading for the Gotzenalm and back.
The map included in the above hiking section includes mountain biking trails in blue and white for more ideas.
Canyoning and Rafting
If you want to get wet on a wild adventure, the surrounding area has plenty of canyoneering and rafting adventures. If you’ve never done either of these activities – have no fear; Outdoor Center Baumgarten can help you learn how to boss waterfalls and ride rapids.
For an introductory session to canyoneering in Berchtesgaden, you can book the beginning canyoneering tour that helps you build confidence and skills. The guided tour offers excellent views of Saalachsee and the lush nature of the national park.
If you have been canyoneering before then, there is a more extended, more advanced canyoneering tour. On this tour, you are encouraged to brave the heights with plenty of epic jumps into crystal clear pools in a slot canyon.
If you prefer to sit and ride the rapids, check out the white water rafting excursion in Berchtesgaden that includes a safety tutorial and even stops for the chance to jump into a natural pool.
If you enjoy getting wet without the extreme adventure aspect, you should visit the lovely naturbad or natural outdoor swimming pool in the Berchtesgaden region. Enjoy a refreshing dip surrounded by nature. Before or after your swim, enjoy a relaxing walk through the Märchenpfad or fairy tale walk. This nature path is full of fun carvings representing different fairy tales.
Of course, as I mentioned, there is plenty to do in winter. In fact, I recommend visiting in the winter – outside of school holidays as summer activities in the region can be pretty crowded.
Fulfill your dream of ice skating on an outdoor pond. With the right temperature and conditions, you can ice skate or play curling at Thumsee or Hintersee. If the conditions aren’t great for ice, you can always head inside for a skate at the Berchtesgaden Ice Rink.
If you didn’t book a hotel with a nice thermal spa, you could visit the Watzmann Thermal Spa for a winter spa experience.
One of my favorite things about the German Alps is they know how to do epic sledding with traditional wooden toboggans. The sledding hills at Hirscheckblitz and Obersalzberg even provide lifts to take you up, so you don’t have to hike.
There are 6 ski regions in Berchtesgaden. You can purchase a 3 or 6-day pass to access all 6 regions. The areas are Jenner, Götschen, Rossfeld, Gutshof Obersalzberg, Hochschwarzeck, and Zinken. The ski areas range from small resorts to just hills with a simple T-bar lift.
More Things to do in Berchtesgaden
While Berchtesgaden is ideal for outdoor activities and adventure enthusiasts, there are plenty of activities for the history buff, culture connoisseur, or nature appreciator.
Ride the Königsee Ferry to Obersee
Perhaps the most popular and iconic thing to do in Berchtesgaden National Park is to ride the Königsee ferry across the stunningly blue glacier lake. The ferry can take you all the way to Salet, which from there is just a short walk to Obersee, a more secluded lake surrounded by mountains. If you continue past the lake, you’ll find Germany’s tallest waterfall, Röthbachfall.
The best way to optimize your experience on the ferry is to buy a round-trip ticket to Salet, which is 25 euros. Explore Obersee before making your way back to Schönau am Königsee. Make sure you stop at St. Bartholomew’s church on the way or back and enter the church for free. St. Batholomew’s place of pilgrimage was founded in the 1100s, but the church was built in the late 1600s.
You can buy tickets online, but their ticketing page is in German. Unless you know what you need, I recommend you buy them in person from the ticking office at the Schifffahart Königsee at the boat dock.
Take the Jennerbahn
If you want amazing views without the strenuous hike, I suggest you ride the Jennerbahn. This is a gondola that departs from Königsee. The best way to experience the gondola is to buy the full mountain round trip ticket (Ganze Berg und Talfahrt). This will get you to the top of the mountain and back. Once you reach the end of the gondola ride, it is about a 15-minute leisurely walk to Jenner Peak, where you can expect amazing views of the Königsee and Berchtesgaden National Park.
House of the Mountains
The house of the Mountains is the Berchtesgaden visitor center and museum. It is often an overlooked destination in Berchtesgaden, but in my opinion, a must-visit for environmental education and sustainable tourism. There is a permanent exhibit called the Vertical Wilderness, which takes you through all the different ecosystems of the national park with plenty of educational and engaging aspects. There is also a cinema, cafe, rotating exhibits, and more.
Entry is 2 euros for kids and 4 euros for adults. Budget 1-2 hours to get the whole experience.
Visit Schloss Berchtesgaden
The Berchtesgaden Castle has one of the best views of the Watzmann peak. To get it, you’ll embark on a 1 hour guided tour of the castle, exploring many of the rooms in detail. There are 3 tours: general, special, advent, and evening. Inside the castle, there is a deer museum. While the deer exhibit focuses on the history of hunting in the region, it is now used for scientific research. The castle is still occupied, so only some areas are accessible.
Tickets are 15 Euro for adults, with the deer museum an additional 5 Euros. Closed on Saturdays.
Explore the Salt Mines
Salzberg and the Berchtesgaden area – Obersalzberg get their name from Salt (salz). These areas were in a powerful position to mine and distribute salt throughout Europe. Many of the mountains were rich with salt deposits because, as I mentioned before, the tectonic plates caused the seafloor to form the mountains – the sea floor = lots of salt! You can tour these old mines independently or with exciting tours.
To visit independently, you can drive or take public transportation from Freilassing. I suggest you buy tickets online in advance. You do need to put on protective or traditional miner’s clothing, and the underground area is relatively cool, so bring layers. The cost is 21 Euro for adults with a children’s discount.
These are great options if you want a guided experience from Salzberg.
Take a full-day tour that includes a trip from Salzberg to the Berchtesgaden salt mines, the epic slide to get down, and a boat through the subterranean lake. It doesn’t stop there as we return to Austria to visit hidden gems like St. Gilgen and St. Wolfgang. Ganesh and I have been camping in this area and just love the region – I highly recommend visiting.
For the Sound of Music lover, you can combine a Salzberg Sound of Music Tour with a tour of the salt mines.
If you just want a quick half-day trip to the mines, including a stop in Berchtesgaden to explore, consider this half-day tour from Salzberg.
Drive the Panorama Strasse
If you are on a road trip as part of the German Alpine Strasse, you will want to drive the Panorama Strasse or Road. Ganesh and I drove this road, and we squabbled over who had to drive because the views were just out of this world! The route starts in Obersalzberg, and you just follow the 999 highway called Rosfeldstrasse. Expect swepping mountain views, crossing the border into Austria, and tight mountain turns.
Eagle Conservation Center
Eagles are culturally significant to both Austria and Germany. They are powerful predators in the alpine region. There is a conservation center for eagles and reptiles called the Adlergehege Obersalzberg. This is more than just a zoo as they care for injured species with the intent to release them back into the wild. Stop by to see lovely birds of prey and learn about their conservation efforts.
Take in the View from Lockstein
If you want an exceptional and off-the-beaten-track view of Berchtesgaden National Park, then make sure you drive up Am Lockstein for a panoramic view!
Learn from WWII History
Berchtesgaden is a beautiful and well-preserved natural landscape, but it does have a dark history. Hitler had a mountain retreat high in the mountains where members of the Nazi party met. Hitler had a soft spot for this mountain region, and there are plenty of things to do to educate yourself on this dark history and horrific events at the hands of the Nazi regime.
The Dokumentation Museum is a place of learning and remembrance regarding the events of WWII, the Nazi Party, and the broader impacts of the National Socialist Regime. The museum has a permanent exhibit, special events, lectures, and rotating features.
NOTE: The museum is closed until 2023 for renovations.
Kampfhäusl is the remains of a small hut near the Dokumentation Museum. The remains were once a simple mountain hut where Hitler spent some time. Most notably, this is where he wrote the second half of his book Mein Kampf. Nearby is also the Berghof, which was Hitler’s summer residence.
Finally, most people visit Berchtesgaden for the Eagle’s Nest or known locally as the Kehlsteinhaus. This mountain retreat was infrequently visited by Hitler and notable members of the Nazi party. The area is only accessible by a designated bus that departs from the Kehlstein parking lot, which you can reach by personal car, public transportation from Berchtesgaden, or via trains and busses from both Munich and Salzberg.
Once you arrive at the Kehlstein parking lot, you can ride the bus up the mountain; from there, you can hike up or take the elevator. At the top, eat, drink, enter the house, which now acts like a museum, and hike around to stretch your legs. This costs about 28 euros for a round-trip excursion.
Of course, you can also book a guided tour to help with the hassle of navigating here on your own. You can book a fast and furious 4-hour tour from Salzberg to experience the Eagle’s Nest.
There is also a private tour for a more personal experience to learn about the Eagle’s Nest from your guide on a 5-hour, 5-star tour from Salzberg.
If you are coming from Munich, there is a 12-hour day tour that takes you to the Eagle’s Nest and allows for some time to visit the Documentation Center. This also includes an epic drive along the scenic alpine road.
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I hope that by using this responsible guide to Berchtesgaden National Park, including all the best things to do and see, where to eat, where to stay, and sustainability reminders for the park, you can fall in love with the region as much as Ganesh and I have over the years. Berchtesgaden and the surrounding Obersalzberg region are great for active outdoor enthusiasts, nature appreciators, or those just looking to disconnect with fresh mountain air. Always be a responsible tourist when visiting the park so it can be preserved for many generations, including increasing biodiversity.
Make sure you save this responsible and detailed travel guide for Berchtesgaden National Park, so you can see Germany’s pretties national park for all its beauty and you can experience it like a local!
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