If you are traveling to Europe, definitely put this as a stop! It’s a quick train ride from Salzburg, Austria, or easily accessible from Munich, Germany.
Nestled in the Bavarian German-Austrian Alps you will find the quaint village of Berchtesgaden. It is exactly what you envision a little town in the Alps to be. Flanked by the steeply rising Alpine mountains (up to 2000m), you will find yourself lost in its beauty. Berchtesgaden and its surrounding areas have much to offer and make this a perfect getaway for couples and families.
Berchtesgaden and its neighboring town Bad Reichenall are famous for their Salt Mines and still produce table salt as they did in the Middle Ages. The Saltzbergwerk is a popular tourist stop and a must with kids. You’ll ride into the mine on a little train and slide down wooden slides deep into the mountain (don’t worry; there are stairs if you must!). It’s a great educational but fun time for all!
You won’t want to miss the Königsee which is one of the deepest and cleanest crystal clear lakes in all of Germany. Carved out by Glaciers during the last Ice Age, this majestic lake is 7.7 km long and 1.7 km wide at its widest point. Take a paddleboat, rowboat or a guided tour on the electric boats. The Königsee is surrounded by the steep mountains which help to create the famous echo you can hear. In addition to touring the lake itself, you can easily go on a day hike to the Hintersee just behind The Königsee or start a backpacking trip from one of the many trails that lead into the Alps.
Shopping in this picturesque town is full of locally handcrafted artworks and clothing. You will also quickly stumble upon many cafés in which to take in the surrounding beauty with a cup of coffee and pastry, or enjoy the many restaurants which serve traditional regional specialties along with the favorite local beer – Weissbier (Wheat Beer) or Schnapps. You can easily stay at one of the many reasonable bed and breakfast’s you’ll find, but if you feel like being pampered – stay at the Hotel InterContinental Resort Berchtesgaden high above on the Obersaltzberg – the views are spectacular!
Just outside of town, you can visit the Kehlsteinhaus, constructed for Hitler as a gift on his 50th birthday – though he rarely visited it much. It was dubbed The Eagle’s Nest by American soldiers from the famed 101st Airborne Division who took control of it at the end of World War II. The house sits atop Berchtesgaden and has unforgettable views from its 1834 m perch. Today it serves as a restaurant and café.
The Obersalzbergbahn is a small cable car that takes you to Obersalzberg. From there, enjoy the breathtaking views, ski in the winter, and sled down its runs or in the summer, take a run down the summer bobsled run. Near the Königssee, visit the World Class Bobsled run. Take in one of the Bobsled or Skeleton races, or if you are feeling a bit like a daredevil, go down a run with an experienced bobsled pilot and experience the 120 km winds and G-forces for yourself!
Getting around the valley is quite easy, the bus system runs two buses every hour if you didn’t want to rent a car. Berchtesgaden is located just 20 km from Salzburg, Austria and 180 km from Munich. You can easily get there by train from both locations.
No matter what you decide to do, the view alone is well worth the trip. I have been privileged to visit this area numerous times over the last 35 years and the view never changes. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, the locals are true to themselves, the food is fantastic, the shopping is great, and the attractions are not only memorable, but one of a kind. That being said, Berchtesgaden and The Königssee are most of all that kind of place that once you have been there – it touches your heart and you will never forget it!