Top 10 Things To Do In Berchtesgaden:
The wonderful village of Berchtesgaden is often overlooked by tourists from nearby Salzburg, but it has a ton to offer. Below we have come up with our highlights for beautiful Berchtesgaden to help bring you on a whirlwind tour of all the best things to see and top things to do. There is a very wide range of attractions in Berchtesgaden from historic World War 2 sites, amazing hikes, breath-taking views, and peaceful hideaways to fill up an entire vacation. We hope that knowing the best sights and top ten things to do in Berchtesgaden helps in your travel planning!
Related Article: Suggested Itineraries For Berchtesgaden.
Top 10 Things To Do In Berchtesgaden:
1. Hitler’s Eagles Nest (Kehlsteinhaus):
About The Eagles Nest: With the best panoramic views in Germany, the Eagles Nest (Kehlsteinhaus) is by far the top attraction in Berchtesgaden. Perched almost 3,000 feet above the surrounding valley floor, on a clear day you will able to see up to an unbelievable 120 miles away! The entire Eagles Nest project from the mountain road to the Alpine chalet at the top was meant to be a gift for Hitler’s 50th birthday in 1939. It was no small feat as the tortuous road required 3000 workers to labor in dangerous conditions around the clock. While it took 13 months to build the 4-mile-long road, the chalet on top was actually completed a year earlier in 1938. The interior of the chalet was lavishly decorated including a fireplace that was a gift from Italian dictator Mussolini. As amazing as the chalet was, however, Hitler only made 14 official visits up to the Eagles Nest and most were in the first year. That’s pretty odd seeing how he spent almost 1/3 of his time as ruler at the nearby Obersalzberg Complex.
The Eagles Nest was spared by WW2 bombs and turned into a restaurant in 1952. To visit you must take a special bus from the Nazi Documentation Center up the mountain road. At the entrance of the Eagles Nest, you get to use the same long tunnel that Hitler used to access the high-speed elevator. After a slick 407-foot journey straight up you arrive at the chalet. Once at the hop though make sure to take the gradual hike up 300 feet above the chalet to the summit of the peak marked by the Mountain Cross. It is here at the Mountain Cross where you will be able to take the iconic photos back toward the Eagles Nest with the valley below. You will also be able to see cement platforms from two of the four 3.7cm guns that protected the chalet from air attacks.
Read More: Hitler’s Eagles Nest Tour Guide.
2. King’s Lake Ferry Boat (Königssee):
About King’s Lake: The King’s Lake (Königssee) is an angelic emerald fjord lined by powerful Alpine mountains that never fails to wow its visitors. Nestled in a valley between the Jenner, Hagen, and Watzmann Mountains, Königssee is Bavaria’s deepest lake at 630 feet deep. Rare species of fish swim in the 5 mile long lake’s crystal clear waters and the local restaurants serve them up fresh. The purity of the water is partly because gas motors have been banned at the lake since 1909. Tours on the lake take place on vintage looking electric passenger ferries which quietly glide past lazy boathouses, roaring waterfalls, and lofty mountain faces. Every minute of the journey is picturesque and very relaxing.
On your journey, you’ll come to the quaint white Church of St. Bartholomä with its red onion domes which is the most photographed attraction on Königssee Lake. The church was first built in 1134 AD before being rebuilt in the current style in 1697. After Berchtesgaden joined Bavaria in 1810, the St. Bartholomä Church quickly became a hunting lodge for the Bavarian Kings. A long hike above the church also leads you to the Ice Chapel, which is a year-round glacier with a natural cave. Heading further down the lake the boat’s horn will echo off the mountains as you sail to Obersee. This part of the lake is extremely beautiful with untouched clear waters, a cattle pasture, and large waterfall.
Read More: King’s Lake Ferry Boat Tour.
3. Salt Mine Tour (Salzbergwerk):
About The Salt Mine: While this historic salt mine was opened all the way back in 1517, salt mining has been going on in Berchtesgaden since 1194! In the Middle Ages, this white gold helped Berchtesgaden rise to economic power along with other regional salt powerhouses Salzburg, 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 jumpsuit 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 major salt mine in the region that stays open year round for tours.
Read More: Berchtesgaden Salt Mine Tour.
4. Berchtesgaden’s Festivals:
About Berchtesgaden’s Festivals: Like many small towns in Germany and Austria Berchtesgaden is well known for its fun and prideful festivals. Of course, they have some festivals you would expect like Oktoberfest and May Day, but they always seem to put their own twist on everything. As an example, their Christmas celebrations include the Krampus like other parts of Medieval Europe, but they add in the running of the Butt Mandl. The Buttmandls are men dress in demon masks and straw suits who run around town to scare away the darkness of the Winter Solstice to bring in Spring. Outsiders are surprised when they see the Buttmandls being led by Saint Nick who is celebrated with his own holiday on December 6th.
Also in the Winter Berchtesgaden puts their own twist on New Years with traditional holiday shooters who fire black powder guns out over the city. The most famous celebration, however, is the Holiday Market which goes a step further turning all of Old Town into an Advent Town. Our favorite overall may be their Trachtenfest as the local Blacksmith will challenge you to a drink by sticking his red-hot iron into your beer. Not only will it warm your drink, but also creates a cloud of steam before you quick chug the entire giant beer. Make sure yo get here for a festival!!!
Read More: Berchtesgaden’s Best Festivals.
5. Old Town Walking Tour:
About Old Town Berchtesgaden: Old town Berchtesgaden was formed around 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 church was later expanded into a royal palace which grew to have 214 rooms! The quaint village saw a building boom in Old Town start in the 1500s starting with a remodeled Market Square (Marktplatz). Market Square became the center of commerce and social life in Berchtesgaden and many of the colorful buildings still survive today. 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!
While we like the fountain in Market Square, the most striking feature of the 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. 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 every day like instead of religious scenes.
Read More: Berchtesgaden Walking Tour.
6. Bräeustüeberl Beer Hall (Hofbräuhaus):
About Bräeustüeberl Beer Hall: The most fun dining 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 Schuhplattler.
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 blacksmith will 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 from the beer hall whose wooden grinding wheel is still turned by the river.
Featured on: Old Town Berchtesgaden Walking Tour.
7. Jenner Mountain:
About Jenner Mountain: At 6,100 feet in elevation, the views from the top of Jennerbahn Mountain are truly best anywhere around Königssee. You’ll feel like you are hovering above the lake below you, see hang-gliders flying by you, and can take in miles upon miles of Alpine beauty in every direction. In the Summer months the mountain has unbelievable mountain hiking trails, and in the Winter there are a ton of thrilling skiing opportunities.
Make sure to stop by the Berggaststätte Jennerbann which is one of the highest rated restaurants in all of Germany and has a great public terrace overlooking the sea. The very best views of Königssee are at the main platform just a short 400-yard walk down from the restaurant. Another popular spot on the mountain is the spring feed Lake on the Mount which doesn’t freeze in Winter and provides a great photo of the reflecting mountain tops.
Read More: King’s Lake Ferry Boat Tour.
8. Summer Luge Slide (Sommerrdelbahn):
About The Luge Slide: Family fun awaits at Sommerrdelbann’s 2,000-foot-long metal Luge which speeds down the mountain. After whizzing down the mountain the track automatically shuttles you back up to the top for more fun. It is probably impossible to only to one trip on the Luge as it is so fun you’ll want to do it at least 2 or 3 times. The Maltan Family that runs the Luge also runs a beautiful hotel and beer garden nearby if you are looking for Berchtesgaden accommodations.
Read More: Eagles Nest Area Tour.
9. Watzmann Mountain Hiking:
About Watzmann Mountain: Legend has it that the cruel King Watzmann and his family were turned into stone after being unjust to the people. He sits as the tallest peak, his wife as the 2nd tallest, and their 7 kids as the smaller peaks between them.
The iconic Watzmann Mountain dominates Berchtesgaden from almost every angle you can think of and offers amazing hiking. The mountain’s large dual peaks poke up like horns around a center dimple almost like someone took a big bite right off the top of the summit. At 8,900 feet Watzmann is the 3rd tallest peak in Germany (behind Hochwanner & Zugspitze), but it is the overall tallest mountain to be located completely on German soil as the others are on the Austrian border.
Sitting at the about halfway up the the Alpine face is a large 200 person guest house called the Watzmann Haus (website). Built in 1888, this hostel is one of the highest hotels in Europe at 6332 feet above sea level. The average room is 28€ a night.
Watzmann is considered the center of the Berchtesgaden National Park and the area provides great rock climbing and unbeatable Alpine hiking. During your hike, you feel like you are in Switzerland the entire time and the views are that good. You have to be in pretty good shape to do the hiking and should dedicate a full day to visiting the Watzmann if you plan on doing so.
Read More: King’s Lake Area Sights.
10. Wimbachklamm Waterfalls:
About Wimbachklamm Waterfalls: The Wimbach River is a small tributary to the Ramsau and runs down a narrow gorge cut into Watzmann Mountain. About a half mile down the Wimbach River it a weeping wall covered with a series of finger-like waterfalls in a tight canyon setting. The well maintained wooden footpaths and the unique setting will make you feel you are on the set of Lord of the Rings. It is truly a hidden gem in a region of wonders.
Read More: King’s Lake Area Sights.