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 National Park, in the Bavarian Alps, to your travel list.
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’s everything you need to know about visiting Berchtesgaden National Park in Germany.
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Where is Berchtesgaden Germany
Berchtesgaden is in southern Germany, very close to the border of Austria. Berchtesgaden National Park and the alpine town of the same name are located in the municipalities of Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden and Schönau am Königsee.
This incredibly scenic area of Germany is a recommended stop along the German Alpine Road – a 450km road spanning east to west in southern Germany. Munich to Berchtesgaden is 154 km or 2 hours and Salzburg to Berchtesgaden is 26 km or 30 minutes.
Things to Do in Berchtesgaden National Park
Berchtesgaden National Park was established in 1978 to protect the landscapes of the Berchtesgaden Alps. 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 in the park.
1. Take a Boat Tour of Kongissee
Königssee, or King’s Sea, is the main lake where you’ll start your boat tour. It’s a crystal-clear glacial lake 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.
Electric Boat Information
- Boat departures run at least every 30 minutes and in the peak season every 15 minutes roughly from 9 am to 5 pm daily
- Ticket prices are up to €19 return per adult and up to €9.50 return per child (6 to 17 years) – depending on the stops you make
- The journey time from Konigssee Seelande to St. Bartholomew’s Church is 35 minutes, and the journey time from Konigssee Seelande to Salet via St. Bartholoma’s Church is 55 minutes
- Rowboat rentals are €9 per hour for a 2-person boat
2. Tour 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 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 footpaths or prepare for a long challenging hike at the base of the Alps.
3. Explore 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’s a smaller, but equally pristine lake. You can admire this calm lake with its mirror reflection, or hike to Röthbach Falls.
4. Hike to Röthbach Falls
Start your hike to Röthbach Falls, Germany’s highest waterfall, from the Salent stop. The trail itself is just under 10 km. You’ll need to allow for 3 to 4 hours for this medium-difficulty trail.
5. Go Hiking in Berchtesgaden National Park
Berchtesgaden National Park offers 210 km of easy footpaths to steep mountain trails aimed at all levels- from beginner to family-friendly to expert. Of all the Berchtesgaden things to do hiking is the most popular.
The park features free guided Berchtesgaden hikes, with a purchase of a guest card. For serious climbers, it’s the East Wall of the Watzmann that is the main draw. Not only does it offer magnificent panoramic views, but it’s also where a water runoff has then created a fascinating system of caves in this former glacier.
6. Take the JennerBahn Cable Car
Take a ride on the Jennerbahn cable car to have the best bird’s eye view of Berchtesgaden National Park. 10-person gondolas take visitors to the top of Jenner Mountain, a peak of 1,874 m, where the incredible panoramic views will leave you speechless. At the summit, you will have breathtaking views over Lake Königssee.
7. Eat at Berchtesgaden National Park Restaurants
At the main boat launch by Konigssee Seelande, there are a couple of traditional German restaurants as well as Jennerkaser, a rustic restaurant at the foot of the mountain and a smaller one at the very peak.
8. Take a Guided Tour
These are the most popular, and top-rated tours for Berctesgaden.
- From Salzburg: Eagle’s Nest and Berchtesgaden Tour 1/2 day, click here for more information
- Berchtesgaden Salt Mines and Underground Boat Ride from Salzburg, click here for more information
- Day Tour to Berchtesgaden Foothills & Obersalzberg full day tour, click here to read more
9. Camping in Berchtesgaden
Berchtesgaden is a popular place for campers! Your camping holiday in Berchtesgaden allows you to enjoy quality time in some of the best scenery in Germany. Families will enjoy all of the activities that will kids can enjoy.
10. Enjoy Activities nearby Berchtesgaden National Park
- Rosssfeld Panoramastrasse (Scenic Road) is a scenic road of the surrounding alpine cliffs, toll charges will be applied
- Kehlsteinhaus (Eagles Nest) is a small building on top of Mount Kehlstein at 1,834 m. The former retreat for Hitler and Third Reich party officials during WWII offers panoramic views of Berchtesgaden National Park
- The pretty alpine town of Berchtesgaden has a charming Old Town filled with cozy cafes and shops
Fun and interesting facts about Berchtesgaden
- 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
Where to Stay nearby Berchtesgaden National Park
Beyond camping in Berchtesgaden, these vacation rental properties close to the national park will allow you to have all the comforts of home.
- Alpine Address: 3 bedroom, sleeps 6 alpine chalet with sauna in the Austrian highlands
- Oak Hills: 2 bedroom sleeps 6 alpine chalet close to ski slopes in Austria
- Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden: 5-star resort with restaurants, indoor and outdoor pool with an 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)
- Alpinhotel Berchtesgaden: a small family-run hotel that offers a ski school and climbing lessons
- Or, start your own search here
How to get to Berchtesgaden National Park
Getting to Berchtesgaden National Park is reached by vehicle (note parking fees are based on a 1-hour, 3-hour, or day ticket), by bus from the town of Berchtesgaden (via the RVO bus 839, 841 or 843) or by group tour from Salzburg or Munich.
What are the operating hours for Berchtesgaden National Park?
The operating hours for Berchtesgaden National Park are 9 am to 5 pm for the educational centre, restaurants, and boat tours.
What is the entrance fee to Berchtesgaden National Park?
There is no entrance fee to Berchtesgaden National Park, only a parking fee and fees for the electric boat ride apply.
Is Berchtesgaden National Park open in the winter?
Berchtesgaden National Park is almost fully accessible from late April to late October. When snowfall comes, only the footpaths at the lower elevations, like the circular path near St. Bartholomew Church, are accessible.
Travel Resources for Germany
Want more travel inspiration for Germany? Be sure to check out these other articles to help with your travel planning.
- Munich Guide
- Road trip on the Alpine Road through the German Alps
- Guide to visiting Garmisch Partenkirchen
- Guide to Lake Constance
- Guide to visiting the fairy tale town of Monschau
- Best UNESCO World Heritage sites in Germany
- Austria: Salzburg in One Day, what to see and do
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As a holidaymaker
Berchtesgaden National Park 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 the emerald green lake – it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.