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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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:
- Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden: 5-star resort with restaurants, indoor and outdoor pool with incredible setting
- 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)
- Alpinhotel Berchtesgaden: small family-run hotel that offers a ski school and climbing lessons. Every Alpine-style room has mountain views
- 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.
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