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By Karen

Updated August 25, 2023

Beautiful Berchtesgaden

Alpine Jewel with a Fascinating History

Things to do and see in Berchtesgaden and the surrounding area, Berchtesgadener Land.

Explore this charming little mountain town, along with the remains of the Nazi stronghold on the Obersalzberg, the Eagle's Nest and Hitler's Berghof.

Sail on the Königssee, hike the alpine meadows, tour the salt mine and visit the local hofbräuhaus. 

The town lies in an area known as the Berchtesgadener Land, a little peninsula of Germany inserted into the Austrian alps near Salzburg.

This remote southeastern tip of Germany has been a separate country for most of its history, ruled by a church-provost and later a prince, and was added to the kingdom of Bavaria in the 19th century.

Jump to tours of the area. Explore Hitler's Eagle's Nest, the salt mine, and Lake Königssee with a guide, or head over to nearby Salzburg to see the town and castle, and maybe do a Sound of Music tour.

Things to do in Berchtesgaden

In the town...

Berchtesgarden Markt with fountainBerchtesgaden Markt

The town of Berchtesgaden sits in one of the most spectacular natural settings in the world. The narrow, winding streets are lined with pastel houses in the alpine style, and locals entertain the visitors with Bavarian music and dance.

If you can only visit one German alpine town, pick this one!

For more things to see and do in the town, see Berchtesgaden.

Tour the salt mine. This is really fun. You can put on a miner's outfit and tour the salt mine that brought prosperity to medieval Berchtesgaden. Go deep into the mine and be ferried across an underground lake. Very cool.

For more info and how to get there, see salt mine tours.

Children folk-dancing in Bavarian Tracht, BerchtesgadenFolk Dancing in Berchtesgaden

Staying in Berchtesgaden

There are lots of hotels, pensions and B&B's to choose from; this has been a tourist town since the medieval pilgrims came this way.

Here are a few Berchtesgaden hotels that I recommend.

My favorite is the Hotel zum Türken, a wartime survivor with a charmingly old-fashioned atmosphere and a fascinating history. Not open at the moment; hopefully will be at some point.

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Day Trips from Berchtesgaden

Map of the Berchtesgaden Area

Map of attractions in the Berchtesgaden area

Map data (c) OpenStreetMap and contributors, CC-BY-SA

Lake Königssee

For an enchanting alpine lake experience, go sailing on the magnificent Königssee, Germany's deepest and cleanest lake, in the Berchtesgaden National Park, just 5 miles south of the town.

St. Batholomae, Lake KönigsseeSt. Bartholomä Church, Lake Königssee

The Eagle's Nest

Hitler's mountaintop eyrie is now a restaurant sitting above the clouds, with incredible views of the Bavarian and Austrian Alps.

View of Lake Konigssee and the Alps from Hitler's Eagles NestView from the Eagle's Nest

Get tips for visiting the Eagle's Nest and info about the history of the Eagle's Nest.

The Obersalzberg

Explore the former southern headquarters of the Third Reich, up on the Obersalzberg, a hill just above the town.

The Documentation Center is an interesting museum about the National Socialist period and you can climb around in two of the WW2 bunkers open to the public- pretty spooky (reopens September 28, 2023).

The ruins of Hitler's Berghof are next door to the Hotel zum Türken, one of the few original buildings remaining. Read about the history of the Obersalzberg.

Hotel zum Turken on the ObersalzbergHotel zum Türken, Obersalzberg

Berchtesgaden Hiking and Skiing

Hiking: this is a superb area for walking; the Germans love to wander in the out-of-doors, so there are well-marked trails for every level of fitness and duration, and the alpine scenery can't be beat.

Check in with the Tourist Office across from the Hauptbahnhof for trail maps.

Alpine house under the mountains near Berchtesgaden and HinterseeAlpine scene near Hintersee

David Harper's Guide to Berchtesgaden has a great selection of recommend hikes with maps.

You can order one from him at Eagle's Nest Historical Tours or on Amazon, or stop in and get one at their office in the Tourist Center.

Ramsau & Hintersee

Suggested hike: take bus #846 from in front of the Berchtesgaden train station to Ramsau, famous for it's pretty and much-photographed Baroque church.

Walk from Ramsau to the Hintersee, an alpine lake with a level path all the way around it. Absolutely gorgeous! Takes three hours and the way is well-marked; follow the stream that goes by the church.

Fun facts about the Ramsau church: 

  • Joseph Mohr, the priest who wrote the lyrics to the Christmas carol, Silent Night, served at this church briefly.
  • General Eisenhower was so impressed he did an oil painting of this scene after the war.
Ramsau church and stream, near BerchtesgadenRamsau Church

For a shorter, easier version, take the bus to Ramsau, stop and see the church, then catch the same bus to the Hintersee and walk around it. The path around the lake is level and takes about an hour.

Lake Hintersee and Alps behind it, near BerchtesgadenLake Hintersee

Other things to do in Berchtesgaden

Skiing: the surrounding mountains have a number of popular ski areas. I haven't been here in the winter, but it should be just as charming, and much less crowded (75% of the tourists come in July and August). Some information on Berchtesgaden ski areas.

Swimming: There is a huge swimming complex just down the main road from the town called Watzmann Therme, open to the public. Warm pools, salt pools, water slides, etc., on Highway B305 (Bahnhofstrasse).

Sledding: There are toboggan runs (where you can rent sleds) in winter and metal chutes with rolling sleds to ride on in summer. I haven't tried it, but it looks like fun. More info at: Obersalzberg summer sledding, or winter toboggan run.

Taking buses in Berchtesgaden

The main bus station in Berchtesgaden is just in front of the Hauptbahnhof. 

The buses pull in there at two stops, and the bus schedules are posted at the stops.

From there, you can get buses to the Obersalzberg (#838) where the Eagle's Nest buses leave from, to Lake Königssee (#841 & 842), Ramsau & Hintersee (#846), and the salt mines (#848).

Good to know: you can pick up bus #839 at multiple stops in the town of Berchtesgaden. From there, you can take that bus down to the Hauptbahnhof to catch the other buses.

Map of bus stops in the town of Berchtesgaden

Map data (c) OpenStreetMap and contributors, CC-BY-SA

Each time you get on a bus, you have to buy a ticket; good reason to use one of the passes described below!

Something I found very useful: I purchased the booklet that contains all the local bus schedules.

It's for sale for a small fee at the Tourist Information Center across from the train station. They'll print out individual bus schedules for you for free, but I liked having the whole collection for trip planning.

Tips for getting around the area

The Berchtesgaden area has an excellent network of buses and trains for traveling in the area, plus some handy tickets for saving money.

The three best deals on transportation:

  1. Hotel passes. Most of the hotels in Berchtesgaden will give you a bus pass after you check in that gives you free rides on all the local buses while you're staying at the hotel.
  2. TagesTicket. For 16 Euros, you can get a Day Ticket that gives you unlimited rides on the local buses as well as the bus or train to Salzburg. Plus discounts on lots of local attractions.
  3. Bayern-Ticket. This is a train ticket that covers all trains (except the fast, intercity ICE trains) in Bavaria for the day. Groups of up to 5 people can travel on one ticket. 

See below for details on the tickets...

The Day Ticket, or Tages-Ticket

Tip: if you plan on doing some exploring in Berchtesgaden using buses while you're here (like Königssee, Ramsau, Obersalzberg, etc.) you can save money by getting a Berchtesgaden Day Ticket (aka BRB TagesTicket). BRB is Bayerische Regiobahn, the Bavarian Regional Train system.

The TagesTicket gives you unlimited transport on the local buses (but not the special Eagle's Nest buses), as well as paying for a bus ride to Salzburg. It's 16 Euros per adult ticket, with discounts for children and families.

The ticket also covers travel on trains and buses between Salzburg and Berchtesgaden.

This ticket gives holders 10% discounts on some popular attractions, like the Eagle's Nest bus, Königssee boat cruise, Jennerbahn gondola, and the salt mine tour.

You can purchase the Day Ticket online, on the buses (including the bus #840 in Salzburg), from ticket machines, and at the Berchtesgaden and Salzburg Hauptbahnhofs.

See day tickets for a list of all Bavaria's Tagestickets. The "BGL - day ticket bus & train" ticket is the one that includes both trains and buses ("BGL - Tagesticket Bus & Bahn" auf Deutsch).

Train lines covered by the Tages-Ticket

It's 16 Euros now. 

Map of train lines near Berchtesgaden and Salzburg covered by the Day Ticket

The Bayern-Ticket

The Bayern-Ticket, or Bavaria ticket, allows unlimited train travel through Bavaria. Up to five people can ride on one ticket (the more people, the less per person).

This can save money if you plan to take more than one train trip in a day, as in there-and-back, as well as for larger distances within the area.

See Bayern ticket for more info. There's no need to book this in advance because you're not limited to any particular train or time, just the day you choose.

Online tickets. If you buy the tickets online, you can either print them out or use your mobile phone to show the ticket to the conductor.

Tours of Nearby Attractions

Berchtesgaden plus other attractions...

There are a couple of tours leaving from Salzburg that combine Berchtesgaden with a number of other places of interest.

  • Visit the Eagle's Nest, Berchtesgaden, the salt mines, and Lake Königssee, all in one day. 9 hours. See Eagle's Nest/Salt Mines tour for info and booking.
  • See Berchtesgaden, and Lake Königssee in a half-day tour. 4 hours. Go to Berchtesgaden/Königssee tour for more info and booking.

Eagle's Nest Historical Tours

I highly recommend Eagle's Nest Historical tours to anyone who has an interest in the World War 2 history of this area. I went on this tour years ago and was very impressed with the knowledge that David Harper has about this period.

If you want an articulate expert to show you the sites associated with the Third Reich, as well take you up to the Eagle's Nest, contact David and his wife Christine at Eagle's Nest Historical Tours.

They stop at the Documentation Center, a Third Reich Museum, on the Obersalzberg, go through the bunkers there, and drive to some other interesting historical locations, before going with you up to the Eagle's Nest.

The Documentation Center is scheduled to reopen September 28, 2023, so until then, they substitute the ruins of the Berghof for the Documentation Center.

They also do a much more extensive private historical tour where they cover lots of the sites on the Obersalzberg associated with the Third Reich, including the less-visited ones.

Their office is in the Berchtesgaden Tourism Office across from the train station, and the tours leave from there.

Salzburg Tours

Salzburg, Austria, is only 12 miles from Berchtesgaden. If you haven't been to Salzburg, I strongly suggest fitting it in, since it's so convenient to get to from here.

You can get there yourself easily on the bus without a tour, also. The Watzmann Express, #840, leaves about hourly for Salzburg from the Berchtesgaden Hauptbahnhof.

In Salzburg, there's a 2.5-hour walking tour of the old city, hitting some hot spots like Mozart's birthplace and the do-re-mi stairs from the Sound of Music, as well as the Salzburg cathedral. See Salzburg Historical Tour for more info and booking.

For a real treat, hear a concert of Mozart's music in his own city, in Salzburg's medieval fortress above the town. See Mozart concert in the castle for info and booking.

Sound of Music Tours

If you're one of those who can't get enough of the Sound of Music, there are tours that take you around to most of the locations where the scenes were filmed, while filling you in on the history of the making of the film and some juicy, behind-the-scenes gossip.

Maria singing with the Trapp children on the mountain

The Sound of Music film locations are scattered around Salzburg and the surrounding countryside, so it's not really practical to track them down yourself and figure out how to get there.

I went on a Sound of Music tour years ago and it was great fun!

Most of the Sound of Music tours start in Salzburg, but it's easy to get there from Berchtesgaden (Bus #840 leaves for Salzburg every hour from the main train station in Berchtesgaden).

1. From Salzburg: this highly-rated, four-hour, Sound of Music Tour picks you up in Salzburg and takes you to many of the settings used in the movie. Hear the behind-the-scenes scoop and sing along!

See the Original Sound of Music Tour for more info and booking.

2. Also from Salzburg: do the Original Sound of Music Tour, then add on a three-course meal at the local restaurant frequented by the cast members when filming the movie.

See Sound of Music Tour with Schnitzel & Noodles, for info and booking.

3. Sound of Music, Berchtesgaden & the Salt Mines. If you're staying in Salzburg, you can do the Sound of Music tour, the salt mine tour, and spend some time exploring Berchtesgaden.  See Sound of Music, Salt Mine, & Berchtesgaden tour for info and booking.

(The prices listed in dollars vary with the exchange rate.)

4. From Berchtesgaden: you can also book a Sound of Music tour via Eagle's Nest Tours in Berchtesgaden (this is a private tour with group rates).

More to explore...

Traveling in Germany

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Check the German Rail website (Deutschebahn) for train and bus schedules, prices, and ticket bookings.

The last remaining Covid restrictions in Germany, in terms of vaccination and masking requirements, ended April 7, 2023.

See current Covid rules for more information.