clear lake with mountains
Germany

Exploring Berchtesgaden National Park

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. Here is everything you need to know including top things to do in Berchtesgaden National Park.

Where is Berchtesgaden

Berchtesgaden is an alpine town in southern Germany, very close to the border of Austria. It is located in the municipalities of Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden and Schönau am Königsee. This is a recommended stop along the German Alpine Road – a 450km road spanning east to west in southern Germany. 

Popular driving distances:

  • Munich to Berchtesgaden is 154-km or 2-hours
  • Salzburg to Berchtesgaden is 26-km or 30-minutes

Information about Berchtesgaden

If you want to know a bit more Berchtesgaden Germany, here are some interesting facts and information about this area:

  • How to pronounce Berchtesgaden – burk·tuhs·gaa·dn
  • The Berchtesgaden meaning is the site of the fortified mountain retreat of Adolf Hitler during World War II
  • There are nine mountain ranges in the Berchtesgaden Alps
  • The tallest is Watzmann mountain at 2,713 m (or 9,000 feet) and features three peaks called Hocheck, Mittelspitze and Südspitze
  • Berchtesgaden is shaped by the salt from the mountains, as such, salt mines have existed since 1571 in the Berchtesgaden area
  • The establishment of this national park was in 1978 for the primary purpose of protecting the incredible landscape of the Berchtesgaden Alps
  • The national park is home to typical alpine animals like chamois, marmot, red deer, and ibex, as well as, different species of birds, wildlife, and fish
  • Click here for the visitor information center in Berchtesgaden National Park or here for the Berchtesgaden area

Things to Do in Berchtesgaden National Park

There are only two ways to see Berchtesgaden National Park – on foot or by electric boat in order to protect the environment. The most popular option is by boat, especially if you are only spending a day or two in the park. 

KONIGSSEE

Königssee, or King’s Sea, is the main lake where you’ll start your boat tour. It’s a crystal-clear glacial lake and known as one of the deepest, cleanest and most stunning lakes in all of Germany.  Lake Königssee is mesmerizing with its deep emerald green colour. The structure of Königssee is similar to that of a fjord with a steep mountain range right next to the lake. It will render you speechless.

emerald green lake with mountains

Between two stops, St Bartholomew and Salet, 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. 

mountains on lake with white church and red dome roof

While here you can view the interior of the church, dine at the restaurant adjacent to the church, stroll the easy foot paths or prepare for a long challenging hike at the base of the Alps.

OBERSEE

The last stop the electric boat makes across Königssee is Salent. From the boat launch, walk a short distance until you come upon one of the most stunning views ever – Obersee, or Upper Sea. It is a smaller, but equally pristine lake. 

You can admire this calm lake with its mirror-reflection 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 to 4 hours for this medium difficulty trail.

HIKING AND ROCK CLIMBING

Berchtesgaden National Park offers 210 km (or 130 miles) of easy footpaths to steep mountain trails aimed at all levels- from beginner to family-friendly to expert. The park features free guided hikes, with a purchase of a guest card. For the serious climbers, it is the East Wall of the Watzmann that is main draw. 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.

Things to Do in Berchtesgaden

ROSSFELD PANORAMASTRASSE

A drive along the Rossfeld Panoramastrasse is a must  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. 

Exploring Berchtesgaden National Park in Germany | www.DreamPlanExperience.com

EAGLES NEST

restaurant perched on mountain

The Kehlsteinhaus, or Eagles Nest, is a small building on top of Mount Kehlstein at 1,834 m (or 6,017 f) providing an incredible panoramic view. The historic building was completed in 1938 as a retreat for Hitler and third reich 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

OLD TOWN BERCHTSGADEN

alpine town in Germany

The pretty alpine town of Berchtesgaden is located about 10-kms from the national park. The centre of town was formed around St Peter and St Paul churches built in 1102. Due to the boom of salt mining in this area, this town quickly expanded in the 1500s, and hasn’t changed much since. A top thing to do in this old town is to look at the murals, or Lüftlmalere, on the side of their historic buildings. Visit Bräustüberl, Berchtesgaden’s oldest beer hall, dating back to 1645. 

Where to Stay in Berchtesgaden

Here are some recommended places to stay Berchtesgaden National Park:

  1. Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden: 5-star resort with restaurants, indoor and outdoor pool with incredible setting 
  2. Alpenraum Apartments: 1 or 2-bedroom units in modern alpine décor that sleep up to 4 guests. Close to Salt Mine Berchtesgaden (5-km) and Obersalzberg (5-km)  
  3. Alpinhotel Berchtesgaden: small family-run hotel that offers a ski school and climbing lessons. Every Alpine-style room has mountain views 
  4. Click here to do your own search

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. 

lake with mountain

Disclosure:  As an Affiliate Associate of Booking.com if you click on the link contained in this post, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you decide to book. 

57 Comments

  • JoJo Hall

    My goodness, just look at all that stunning scenery! Love exploring national parks and seeing the natural beauty of the area. Definitely have to visit this national park if and when I make it back to Germany.

  • Subhashish Roy

    Berchtesgaden is such a scenic holiday destination to explore. History is always fascinating and hence found the fact about being a retreat site of Adolf Hitler interesting. The sights of the Bavarian Alps is so overwhelming. Sadly am yet to visit this part of Germany and around.

  • Antoine and Marielle

    What a stunning place. Kind of reminds us of the region we lived in the French Alps with those jagged mountain tops and lush sceneries. Personally we haven’t heard of Berchtesgaden National Park but we’re so glad to have stumbled on your article. A trip to south germany / bavaria and this park is definitely in order with our campervan.

  • Emma

    The history nut in me had my interest piqued after reading about the WWII connection, but more than that this just looks like an utterly beautiful spot. What gorgeous scenery, somewhere I’ll have to go one day

  • Josy

    Oooh Renee this area looks incredible! The mountains, those hikes…and you know any road called Panoramastrasse is going to be a drive I’d enjoy! Berchtesgaden National Park looks fabulous!

  • Lasma

    Wow! i never heard about this place before! it really reminded me Dolomites in Italy! the landscapes are just breathtaking and the nature is just so beautiful it’s impossible not to fall in love with this place! I really need to travel the south of Germany! 😍

  • Carolin

    oh my! Your first picture looks incredible and I have to confess I clicked on your link and thought this would be somewhere in Canada but it is actually just a couple of hours away from me. I remember visiting the area as a kid. Did you try the echo in Koengissee? It was THE thing to do as a kid and it actually worked! The area down there is super pretty but you need to be an outdoorsy person, lots of hiking, boat trips and traditional houses/architecture.

  • Pam

    I’ve always wanted to explore Bavaria- it looks so idyllic and unlike other parts of Germany. A boat tour sounds like a peaceful way to see the area.

  • Agnes

    I’m ashamed to admit, but I haven’t heard of Berchtesgaden National Park before. It looks incredible and offers so many attractions. On my next visit to Salzburg, I will go to this place. An electric boat trip seems like a great idea to explore the area. There are also so many beautiful trails in this area that it is worth staying a few days there—great tips for visiting this park.

  • Barry

    The minute I saw Berchtesgaden I knew it was associated with Hitlers Berghof alpine retreat’ and I wondered where the article was going. I knew it was an area of outstanding natural beauty but didn’t realise that it is now a National Park.
    The photos really do convey a mountain-air beauty. I’ve never been to this part of Europe and I never realised the Bavarian Apls were so tall and huge, almost on a par with Switzerland. What a scene to have a mountainous bachdrop like that when you are walking down the main street in the town of Berchtesgaden.
    Interesting post with great info

  • Linda (LD Holland)

    You keep adding reasons for me to move Germany higher on our travel plans. We have a lot of city sights planned. But we will definitely have to include Berchtesgaden National Park on our plans. It would be great to explore by electric boat and see the mountains from the water level. I do love the look of the mountain towns like Berchtesgaden and would look to this to be a base for a few days.

  • Ambica Gulati

    The moment I read deep dark forests, I knew it would be a lovely place. And your pictures really show the beauty. Sometimes, I find it difficult to decide which mountains are the most beautiful in the world..Himalayas or Alps. Even the churches in Indian mountains are beautiful but the Roman Catholic church here looks amazing.

  • Nicole

    Germany never ceases to amaze me. I wanted to visit Berchtesgaden when I did my interrail trip but it was just too far out of the way compared to our other spots. You’ve just reminded how much I wanted to go here and almost forgot about it. I’d love to hike and camp around here, your pictures are just stunning.

  • Umiko

    The rock formations in this park reminded me of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado. It looks quiet and the water is very clear. I wonder how cold is the water in this glacial lake.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      It’s one of Germany’s deepest lakes so definitely it might be a cooler water temperature.

  • Karthika

    This looks like such a stunning place to visit. Your photos are amazing. Can you also camp here like how we can in the national parks in the States?

  • Candy

    I always think of the US when it comes to National Parks, so it’s nice to see a National Park in a different country and one I have never heard of.I’d love to explore Salent. I don’t mind that it’s smaller, in fact, I like places that are smaller and that lake is SO beautiful.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you for your comment. Salat is indeed beautiful, yet smaller. It really does look like a fjord with the water right against the rock.

  • Yukti Agrawal

    I have been to Bavarian Alps and was amazed by its beauty. Never knew about Berchtesgaden, in the Bavarian Alps, and I would surely add this to in my next travel to Germany. As this destination known for active holidaymakers, then I am for it and also to see those mountains and lakes must be a splendid view here.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      It’s too bad you were not able to visit here, but that area of Germany is so vast that it is worth seeing again and again. Thanks for your comment.

  • Jay Artale

    That has to be the cutest little church I’ve ever seen .. it belongs in a fairy tale! I bet the air is so fresh and clean in this national park, I’m so pleased that over the past five decades people are becoming more aware of the importance of trees.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Yes, this was one of the cleanest parks I’ve been to, just think no pollution anywhere near it. So the sights and sounds are as natural as you would imagine them to be. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  • Georgina

    Wow! such an amazing place! Don’t think I will ever want to leave, St Bartholomew is a lovely little gem! You have certainly inspired me to add this to my list, so pinning the post.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Georgina for taking the time to comment. I am so happy that this area of Germany inspired you to see more of it. Hopefully you will get there one day soon.

  • Sue

    You had me hooked at the first sentence! It sound amazing & I can feel how fresh the air is here by looking at your photos. It looks a beautiful area in Germany to explore & with some spectacular hikes. Love your photos, really bring the area to life!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you for your kind comment Sue, appreciate it greatly. I am so glad that you were inspired to maybe on day visit here.

  • Jan

    Truly a feast for the eyes! Berchtesgaden National Park reminds me of the stunning scenery in the Canadian Rockies on one hand, and Norwegian fjords and tall mountains on the other! I have never visited Germany and your blog has inspired me to add Bavarian Alps area to my bucket list. Your pictures are simply amazing! 🙂

  • Angela

    Germany isn’t a place I have really visited however several of the lakes in your post are places I am aware of and would like to explore. Obersee is top of my list, it reminds me of a place I went in Tasmania with its little boat hut. Magical.

  • Smita

    Absolutely love the Alps – while I’ve spent a lot of time in the Swiss Alps, the Bavarian Alps have eluded me so far! I really really need to get to them soon! Königssee does look like a fjord – so darn pretty!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Smita for visiting my site and commenting. Yes, it sounds like you need to add this to your list.

  • Ann

    Hi Renee 🙂
    What a beautiful place, the nature feels a bit surreal, almost like its a movieset for a film like Sound of music.Your beautiful images kept pulling me away from your article 🙂

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Anne for your comment and stopping by. You’re right, it is unreal to see it in person. So much spectacular views.

    • Puloma Bhattacharya

      Berchtesgaden looks like a scenic holiday destination to explore and spend some quality time. Great to learn about it’s historic significance as a retreat site of Adolf Hitler. The stunning backdrop with some iconic spots the Eagle’s nest, st. Bartholomew’s church and the pristine Oversee lake certainly brings Berchtesgaden national park to the forefront.

  • Eric Gamble

    We love exploring Bavaria from Hungary to Austria and definitely into Germany! Though we have played around in southern parts of Germany, I have never explored the Berchtesgaden National Park. So I definitely have a reason to go back. I love backpacking so hitting the Bavarian Alps in summer time would be epic especially with views like the ones of Watzmann & the Glacial lakes throughout the Berchtesgaden area. I love that whole St. Bartholomew area. Definitely would take a Pilgrimage stop there.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Eric for your comment. This indeed is a great spot for you to visit then with your love of mountains and nature.

  • Natalie

    Simply stunning – I would love to visit this part of the world. I love how you can feel like the only person in the world in parks like this. 🙂

  • Ketki

    I am sold to visiting Berchtesgaden National Park! It looks absolutely breathtaking with the views it offers. The bountiful nature is soul-soothing even in photographs. Added to my travel list!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.