Are you looking for deep dark forests, icy blue glaciers, idyllic valleys, peaceful green pastures, and picturesque lakes all within a breathtaking mountain range? Then you have to add Berchtesgaden, in the Bavarian Alps, to your travel list. Situated in the south of Germany, this is a destination known for active holidaymakers, ones who have a passion for mountains, nature and the great outdoors. Not that adventuresome? No problem, I guarantee you will fall in love with the incredible scenery this area has to offer. This is a recommended stop along the Alpine Road, Germany’s most epic road trip.
Berchtesgaden National Park
The Berchtesgaden National Park is 210 kilometers (or 130 miles) of easy footpaths and steep mountain trails, pretty alpine wildflowers, rustic mountain cabins, and of course, its crystal-clear ravines and lakes.
The establishment of this national park was in 1978 for the primary purpose of protecting the incredible landscape of the Berchtesgaden Alps.
The Watzmann is the highest mountain in the Berchtesgaden Alps at 2,713 meters (or 8,933 feet). Among the serious climbers, it is the East Wall, located in the national park, that is the real highlight. Not only does it offer magnificent panoramic views, it’s also where a water runoff has then created a fascinating system of caves in this former glacier.
Königssee (translated as King’s Sea) is a crystal-clear glacial lake in the middle of Berchtesgaden National Park. It is one of the deepest, cleanest and most stunning lakes in all of Germany. The glacier lake is mesmerizing. Its deep emerald green colour being hugged by the towering mountain peaks of the surrounding Alps gives off its mirror-like reflection. It will render you speechless.
The structure of Königssee is similar to that of a fjord. Its steep mountain range right next to the lake, making it only accessible by a quiet electric boat. Most visitors take this option, otherwise it is a paddle boat. No gas motors are allowed.
There are two stops, St Bartholomew and Salet. Along the way, the boat will slow down and blow a blast on a trumpet and the incredible echoes bounce back from the mountain walls.
St Bartholomew’s Church
St Bartholomew’s Church is a Roman Catholic pilgrimage church that sits in a picture-perfect setting on the edge of Königssee. The church stands out because of its beautiful baroque architecture, with its red onion domes roof and the rugged Alps providing a stunning backdrop. This is the one of two stops the electric boat brings visitors to.
While here you can view the interior of the church, dine at a restaurant adjacent to the church, stroll the easy foot paths or prepare for a long challenging hike at the base of the Alps.
The last stop the electric boat makes across Königssee is Salent. From there you walk a short distance until you come upon one of the most stunning views ever – Obersee (translated as Upper Sea). It is a smaller, but equally pristine lake.
Stay right here at this site, or hike to Röthbach Falls, Germany’s highest waterfall. The trail itself is just under 10 kilometers (or six miles), you’ll need to allow for 3-4 hours for this medium difficulty trail.
A drive along the Rossfeld Panoramastrasse is a definite highlight of any tour of Berchtesgaden. The serpentine road hugs the surrounding alpine cliffs and offers the most incredible views.
This road is available by toll only, but it is worth it, as it allows visitors to get out of their vehicles safely and take in the unbelievable views.
The Kehlsteinhaus (translated as Eagle’s Nest) is a small building on top of Mount Kehlstein at 1,834 meters (or 6,017 feet) provides fantastic panoramic views. The historic building was completed in 1938 as a retreat for Hitler and party officials for government and social gatherings. Although it represents such a dark period in our history, the Bavaria State entrusted it into a foundation in 1960. It now operates as a restaurant and viewing platform where on a clear day you can see up to 200 kilometers (or 125 miles). Interested in joining a tour, click here.
As a holidaymaker…
This is a destination known for those who have a passion for the mountains, nature and the great outdoors. Even for the non-adventurous types, you will be in awe of the incredible scenery. From the towering mountains, the dense forest and emerald green lake – it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.