The Roam Austria Blog is of course about Austria but while Berchtesgaden is located across the border in Bavaria, Germany, Berchtesgaden is one of the best day trips from Salzburg and my personal favorite.
Since we, Austrians, are comfortable with the cultural, dialectal, and dietary similarities in Bavaria, a trip to Germany doesn’t feel like international travel to us but the things to do in Berchtesgaden make a trip to this region of Germany different. That’s what this article is about.
In this article, you will find out what to do in Berchtesgaden, from a visit to Hitler’s Eagles Nest to the salt mines and the boat ride on Lake Königssee. Whether you visit Berchtesgaden on a day trip from Salzburg or you stay in Berchtesgaden for a few nights, there are plenty of things to do.
1. Eagle’s Nest on Foot or by Shuttle bus
Even though Berchtesgaden seems straight out of a fairytale, things to do in Berchtesgaden are not all rainbows and kittens. Berchtesgaden has a dark tourism aspect. The Eagles Nest, a mountain chalet built on 1834 meters above sea level as a gift to Hitler by fellow Nazi-party members for his 50th birthday, towers over the sleepy Bavarian village.
However, there was a lot more to Hitler in Berchtesgaden than meets the eye today. Hitler had his summer residence on Obersalzberg already in 1923, long before the second world war started but most of the rest of his estates were leveled by airstrikes at the end of the war. The Eagles Nest on top of mount Kehlstein survived the war and today, visiting the Eagles Nest is one of the things to do in Berchtesgaden.
If you take a day trip to Berchtesgaden from Salzburg, you take bus 840 from the Salzburg train station or you come from Munich, you take two trains from Munich to Berchtesgaden. Taking Bus 838 from the Berchtesgaden train station will take you to the Eagles Nest Documentation Center from where you can take a shuttle bus to the top of the mountain. Except if you are willing to hike for six hours, the only way to reach the Eagles Nest is that shuttle bus.
Hiking, however, would be highly recommended, if you are up for a 6-hour hike up and down. Here is the Free Walking Tour Salzburg’s guide to hiking the Eagles Nest.
If you arrive by car, you still have to take the shuttle bus since the road leading to the Eagles Nest is private and prohibited for anyone except the shuttle bus.
Here are great guided tours from Munich or Salzburg, if that’s what you are looking for. Having a car or taking a tour is the only way of combining the Eagle’s Nest with Königssee maybe even the salt mines.
- Guided Tour to the Eagles Nest from Munich
- Guided Tour to the Eagles Nest from Salzburg
- Supersaver Tour to the Eagles Nest and Königssee
- Supersaver Tour to the Eagles Nest, Königssee and the Salt Mines
2. Take a Boat Trip on Lake Königssee
Königssee often referred to as the “Bavarian Fjord” has the best water quality in Germany. The crystal clear lake is formed by glacial water from the surrounding mountains that are so close to the lake that they reach right into the lake. That’s why you can’t walk around Lake Königssee but one of the best things to do in Berchtesgaden and the surroundings is taking a boat trip on Königssee.
To get to Königssee from Berchtesgaden, you take bus 841 from the Berchtesgaden train station to Schönau am Königssee. Read this article on the Free Walking Tour Salzburg Blog, if you are coming on a day trip from Salzburg.
When you get to Schönau am Königssee, you walk through the village, you get to the docks in about 5 minutes. At the docks, you buy a ticket for the boat tours or alternatively take a short walk to Malerwinkel That’s where you can get a glance at the lake without riding the boat but the boat is necessary if you really want to explore Kings Lake.
If you are visiting in summer and you have enough time, make sure to take the boat all the way to Salet. In Salet you can start a hike along Obersee to the Fischunkelalm and to Germany’s highest waterfall. The boat ride to the first stop, to St Bartholomä, is already wonderful.
But in Berchtesgaden National Park, it is the second stop at Königssee and the hike along Obersee that reveals the true beauty of the untouched nature.
Here are guided tours from Munich or Salzburg:
- Guided Tour to Lake Königssee from Munich
- Guided Tour to Lake Königssee from Salzburg
3. Take the Cable Car to the Jenner Mountain
Jenner is not Berchtesgaden’s highest peak, but it might be the easiest to reach as well as the one with the most impressive panoramic views. You can reach the peak at 1874 meters by cable car from Schönau am Königsse. Yes, Schönau am Königssee was the previous point on this list of things to do in Berchtesgaden. Therefore, the combination of a boat ride on Lake Königssee with the cable car to Jenner Mountain is a match made in heaven.
While you have to pass the village of Schönau to get to the Boat Tours at Königssee Lake, you find the Jenner cable car before the village on the left side behind the parking lots. From the top of mount Jenner, you can see not only the Königssee Lake but also the entire Berchtesgaden National Park and more than a hundred peaks, including the Austrian Alps.
4. Visit the Berchtesgaden Salt Mines
Salzbergwerk Berchtesgaden is a historic salt mine situated in Berchtesgaden. It’s one of three salt mines in the surroundings of Salzburg. While the salt mine in Hallein was the source of salt for the independent historically independent church-state of Salzburg, the Hallstatt salt mine was for the Habsburg empire and the salt mine in Berchtesgaden was for the Bavarians.
It doesn’t matter which salt mine you visit. All of them have the same features. All of the salt mines are only accessible by guided tour. Upon entering the salt mine, you will be given traditional miners’ overalls before boarding a mining train that will take you down the mine where you will learn about the mine’s history, slide down a slide, and cross a salt lake on a raft.
When visiting the salt mines in Berchtesgaden on a day trip from Salzburg by public transport, you can hop off bus 840 at the stop called “Salzbergwerk” which is located a few stops before the station in Berchtesgaden. In fact, the Salzbergwerk is 2 kilometers from the center of Berchtesgaden, so if you are staying in Berchtesgaden and/or enjoying any other activities in Berchtesgaden before visiting the salt mine, you could walk there in 20-30 minutes.
- Here is a guided tour from Salzburg to the Salt Mines in Berchtesgaden
5. Walking Tour in the old Town of Berchtesgaden
Berchtesgaden has a number of interesting things to do around it. It’s often used as a hub for day trips to the Eagles Nest or Königssee, but while all the previous locations are worth exploring, you should also take a closer look at Berchtesgaden itself. The town of Berchtesgaden might be the most authentic Bavarian village.
If you could only visit one place in Bavaria, Berchtesgaden might be the place of choice. That’s not only my Austrian opinion but even Germans think the village of Berchtesgaden with its quaint and narrow alleys could be the most beautiful town in all of Germany. You should, therefore, not miss the chance to explore every corner of Berchtesgaden on a self-guided walking tour.
From the Market Square to the Royal Palace and the Collegiate church there are 1000 years of history and authentic Bavarian culture to explore and experience in the town of Berchtesgaden.
More Questions & Answers
Are there more Things to do in Berchtesgaden
Absolutely. This list is by no means comprehensive. Berchtesgaden is surrounded by mountains. You could stay there for weeks and not run out of hiking trails and beautiful corners to explore.
Is Berchtesgaden worth visiting?
Yes, Berchtesgaden is worth visiting for most travelers. Berchtesgaden is considered the most beautiful part of Germany by many Germans, and even though I am Austrian, it is my favorite day trip destination from Salzburg to Berchtesgaden, across the border in Germany. There is everything you could ever want from a day trip destination.
What to do in Berchtesgaden when it rains?
The salt mines are a great thing to do in Berchtesgaden when it rains since the entire experience happens inside. When it rains, you might also still want to visit Königssee. Depending on the conditions, especially in autumn, the rain fits the lake very well. It sometimes makes for an almost mystical atmosphere. If the rain is heavy, the walk at Obersee might be a bit uncomfortable but the mountains at Lake Königssee are so close to the lake, that you can still see them at the shore even in bad weather. In Berchtesgaden, the Eagles Nest and Jenner Mountain are not worth visiting when it rains since you wouldn’t be able to see anything from the top when the peaks are in the clouds.
What to do in Berchtesgaden in Winter?
While there are plenty of things to do in Berchtesgaden in summer, your options in winter are limited. That’s because many of the things to do in Berchtesgaden have to do with remote areas and mountain tops. The Eagles Nest is completely inaccessible from October to May. The boat on Königssee on the other hand is still operating in winter but not going all the way to the second stop, to Obersee. Berchtesgaden is of course still worth visiting in winter, even if the options of things to do in Berchtesgaden are limited.