Berchtesgaden Old Town Walking Tour:
Location: Old Town Berchtesgaden
Cost: Free, Self-Guided (Museum and sight costs below)
Style: Do-It-Yourself Walking Tour (Self Guided)
Start: Market Square (Marktplatz)
End: Hofbrau House Beer Hall
Walking Distance: 2.4 miles
Time: 60 minutes for walk (with sights 4-5 hours)
Fun Scale: 8.5 out of 10
Old town Berchtesgaden got it start in 1102AD when the Augustaner Monks built a small church here. By the end of the century the chapel was expanded into a full on church and monastery. Through the Middle Ages the beauty of Berchtesgaden wealth from its salt trade helped the village grow. This walking tour centers around Market Square where you can see evidence of the Medieval commercial power of Berchtesgaden. It is such a beautiful city that it is no wonder the Bavarian Royal Family built a residence and it was later frequented by Nazi leaders. Today Old Town is still chalk full of great sights to fill up an enjoyable half day stroll with our easy to follow walking tour map.
Old Town Berchtesgaden Walking Tour:
*The heart of Old Town Berchtesgaden beats from…
1. Market Square (Marktplatz): The centrally located Market Square has been the center of commerce and social events in Berchtesgaden since village’s founding in 1102. While Berchtesgaden got rich early on from the salt trade, Old Town saw a boom starting in the 1500s when it was upgraded to a Prince-
The most striking feature of Market Square is the iconic tower of the Deer House (Hirschenhaus). The lodge-style building was originally built by merchant and publisher Georg Labermair in 1594. We love the murals on the facade showing Maximilian Henry of Bavaria upgraded the fountain in 1677 who upgraded the fountain and Georg Labermair who built the home. Later on this walking tour you’ll see even better murals on the back of the building. Make sure not to miss the Marker Square’s large Neuhaus Restaurant (website) which is a beer hall built in 1576 by Prince Provost James II.
Every Friday from 8am-Noon there is a large local Farmers Market set up in the square because you can’t be called Market square without a market! The local stalls sell numerous culinary delights, regional, farm products, fresh fruit and vegetables, smoked fish products and crafts. On Monday nights from June through September, the square has traditional Oompah band concerts at 6pm. Some of the biggest festivals of the year also take place in the square including Marketfest (website) the first Saturday of August, Oktoberfest in late September, and the Advent Christmas Town (website) in December. Any of these festivals are amazing, but the celebrations around Christmas are the most magical as the area around Market Square through Royal Palace Square is turned a storybook wonderland.
*From Market Square flows a narrow shopping lane called…
2. Market Street (MarktStraße): In this pedestrian only shopping area you won’t find chain stores, it is local authentic shops only. As you wander the lane, stop by one of our favorite businesses called Franz Stangassinger Lederhosen (website) which specializes in hand-making traditional Bavarian outfits. Another great venue is Bier Adam (website) which is the oldest beer hall in town dating back to 1546. At the end of the street is the unique Well Ducats Fountain which has a donkey spitting and peeing water at the same time.
*Next to Bier Adam take the path up to the…
3. Brine Line Cliff Walk (Soleleitungssteg): Clinging to the cliff side on Cavles Hill (Kälberstein) is a wooden walkway called Soleleitungssteg which has been offering the best views of old town since the 1800s. The walkway is part of the 5km Brine Line Path that goes from the Berchtesgaden Salt Mine to Ramsau. The route is a popular evening stroll for locals and you need to check it out at least for a quick peak just for the amazing views. On this section of the Brine Line above Berchtesgaden you can visit a great castle-like home and a Free Manson Temple with the seeing eye looking down on the village.
*Another great square in Berchtesgaden is…
4. Christmas Shooters Square (Weihnachtsschützenplatz): The wide open Christmas Shooters Square is named after the local Christmas Guard, also known as the Christmas Shooters. Since Medieval times the shooters have rung in Christmas by lining up in traditional clothing and firing their black powder guns (Handböller) with a series of booms into the sky. The are 17 regional clubs with over 1,000 active members that still carry on the tradition today. Fore more info, see our page on the best festivals in Berchtesgaden.
As you circle the square, it is highlighted by the muraled Dollinger Tracht store and the castle-like Cafe Forester (website). The cafe, which opened in 1873, has some really good food, especially their desserts and tortes. Next to the cafe is the huge Hotel Edelweiss (website) which has luxury room and roof-top dining. The small park in front of the hotel is also where Berchtesgaden’s May Pole is raised each Spring.
*Sitting behind Hotel Edelweiss is the unique…
5. Monkey Facade & Bucket Fountain: The best murals in Berchtesgaden is on the back side of the Deer House called the Monkey Facade. The mural was painted in 1610 and is considered the oldest Lüftlmalere mural in Bavaria. Unlike other murals from the area, this style shows aspects of everyday like instead of religious scenes. It’s said that when the client refused to finish paying the artist the human faces were turns into monkeys as payback. Sitting below the mural is the Mother & Child Fountain (Mutter-Kind-Brunnen) which shows a mother pouring a bucket of water out with her son while a jumping fish at the other end spits water. The Bucket Fountain was originally built in the 1980s and was moved to its current location in 2012.
*Next to Market Square is the modest…
6. Royal Palace & Collegiate Church: The roots and settlement of Berchtesgaden truly begin at the grounds of the Royal Palace. The first sections of the Collegiate Church of St Peter and St Paul were built in 1102, which is 54 years before they even started mining salt here. The complex was expanded in 1180 with a monastery for the Augustiner Monks and an inner Romanesque Cloister which still survive in part today. When touring the grounds the cloister leads to a Gothic Hall from the 1300’s which has a ton of sculptures dating back to the 1500 and 1600’s. The Bavarian Royal Family started using the complex in 1810, but it was in 1923 that it got a huge facelift when Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria turned the grounds into a regular residence for his family. With is love for hunting the Prince not only set up multiple room filled with huge hunting trophies and Deer Museum, but also set up rooms of opulence filled with tapestries and porcelain. While it is a shell of its former self, the palace still has interesting exhibits and small rose garden. A guided tour takes you through 30 of the Palace’s 214 rooms.
Even if you don’t time to tour the Palace you should still walk through the vast Royal Palace Square (Schlossplatz) which is free to visit. With the huge space and church backdrop, it’s no wonder that the Palace Square is the center of the Advent Christmas Town Celebration (website) in December. Almost every inch of the Square gets filled with merchant stalls, nativity scenes and Christmas cheer.
Palace Hours: Courtyard is always open, interior of the Palace is only available by guided tour. Often closed for 2 weeks in August with the Wittelsbach family visits. Guided Tours: Last 50 minutes and covers 30 of the 214 rooms. May 16th-October 15th Sunday-Friday 10am-1pm & 2-5pm, closed Saturdays. October 16th-May 15th Monday-Friday 11am & 2pm, closed Saturdays & Sundays. Tour Cost: Adults 9.50€, Kids 4€. Combo tickets available to include the Adelsheim Museum. Special themed Advent Tour at 4pm on Sundays over the holidays is 12€. Website: here
*Heading up the hill in the middle of town, everything quickly opens up to a large wine field where you will find the…
7. Wine Field Chapel: The very small Wine Field Chapel sitting at the base of Lockstein Hill offers an awesome countryside vantage point for taking photos of Watzmann Mountain. To get the best frame for your photos stand behind the Chapel capture is as it looks out over the wine field toward the huge mountain which at 8,900 feet is the third highest mountain in Germany.
*Straight up the hill from the Chapel is the perfect patio at the…
8. Cafe Lockstein: This cafe has some of the best views any where in town and even has a huge panoramic patio looking out in all directions. Consider getting food while you take in the view to give yourself a little base if you plan on having a strong Bavarian Beer or two at the Hofbräuhaus coming up soon.
*Walk North through the wooden path surrounding the Cafe and you’ll quickly wind down to…
9. The Views From Lockstein Street: As you wind down the North side of the hill housing Cafe Lockstein, Lockstein Street with gradually bring you back down into the village. The views of Berchtesgaden with Watzmann Mountain looming tall in the background from Lockstein Street are simply amazing. If there ever was a classic vantage point in the city this is it as is have been the inspiration for many painters and artists throughout the years.
*Winding further down the hill, handcraft lovers will enjoy the…
10. Adelsheim Mansion Handcraft Museum: The pink Renaissance Mansion Adelsheim was built in 1614, and is a great location for the Berchtesgaden Handcraft Museum. Started in 1897, the museum was moved into the mansion in 1986. The museum’s exhibitions show typical local crafts such as wood carvings, marble ball grinder, and wooden boxes, but also historical costumes and furniture, as well as numerous testimonies of Berchtesgaden history. Additionally, a sales exhibition in the House the opportunity to purchase authentic native art Berchtesgaden. Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-4pm; Closed Mondays. Cost: 2.50€; Combo tickets available to include the Royal Palace.
*Sitting along the turquoise river is the tourist favorite…
11. Berchtesgarden Salt Mine (Salzbergwerk): While this historic salt mine was opened all the way back in 1517, salt mining has been going on in Berchtesgaden since the 1156! In the Middle Ages this white gold helped Berchtesgaden rise to economic power along with other regional salt powerhouses Salzberg, Hallein, and Hallstatt. The guided tour will teach you a lot about salt mining, brings you to an underground lake, and the highlight of sliding down the old 120 foot long wooden miner slides. All of this is of course done while wearing a miners jump suit and includes a salt train ride to help you get the full effect. One of the best things about the Berchtesgaden Salt Mine is that it is the only one in the region that stays open year round for tours. An extra secret that many people don’t know about is that there is actually a salt mine relaxation spa in another cave right next door. A visit focuses on silent mediation and relaxation for roughly 2 hours and they also have options for overnight stay although it is closed in the winter.
Getting Here: You can take either Bus 837, 840, or 848 from the main train station to the Salzbergwerk Stop. If you walk it from the train station, it takes about 20 minutes. Hours: May-October Daily 9am-5pm, tours leave every 10 minutes; November-April Daily 11am-3pm, tours leave every 25 minutes. Cost: Adults 14.90€, Children 9.50€, Family 41€, for lift to the top add about 3€ per person Time: Tour lasts 1 hour, total time for tickets, tour, and changing into miner’s outfits is up to 2 hours. Ticket Tip: Buy online on their website to save yourself a wait in line, can cut your total time by at least 30-45 minutes during peak hours. Relaxation Spa Wesbite: Here.
*On the way back into Old Town you can find the historic…
12. Bräeustüeberl Beer Hall (Hofbräuhaus): The most fun dinning and drinking experiences in both Germany & Austria happen at the local beer halls. Those of you familiar with Munich’s Hofbräuhaus will love Berchtesgaden’s Bräustüberl which dates back to 1645 and is even part of the Hofbräuhaus chain. In a nutshell an authentic place to grab a 1-liter beer, eat great traditional food, and join in rowdy sing-alongs to live music. On Friday evenings you can even watch the men’s thigh-slapping, heel-whacking, whip-snapping dances called Shuhplattler.
The Bräustüberl really kicks the experience up a notch as the super old building is still designed with hunting lodge decor and you’ll want to take pictures of everything. Even if you forgot your lederhosen you can fit in like a local with a seat at the beer hall’s community style seating. During Trachtenfest each July the on-site black smith with challenge you to a warm bug chug. If you accept, he’ll stick a smoldering blacksmith rod into your beer until it begins to bubble after which you try to chug the entire liter. Warm beer is typically easier to chug and even if you can’t drink much at once the novelty is really worth it. No trip to Bavaria is complete without a stop at your local Hofbräuhaus. Make sure to visit the old Baker’s Mill (Pfistermühle) across the street whose wooden grinding wheel is still turned by the river. Getting Here: You can walk, but Bus 837 stops right out front on its way between the Salt Mine and the Train Station. Buses 848 and 840 also go between the Salt Mine the Train Station with a stop right by the Beer Hall.