Berchtesgaden

Overview

Introduction

Berchtesgaden is a rare, historic jewel just 12 mi/20 km from Salzburg (easily reachable by train). Take a walk through the Old Town, which dates from the early 1100s, and see the Royal Villa, Abbey Church and Old Cemetery.

The town was home to Hitler's Alpine retreat. It was destroyed by Allied bombing, but the area is well worth visiting for the Obersalzburg Documentation center, which focuses on exhibitions on the history of the area and the Nazi dictatorship.

One of the main attractions there is Kehlsteinhaus, located 6,016 ft/1,834 m up Kehlstein Mountain. The dramatic bus journey up the narrow road is worth the trip alone. But Kehlsteinhaus is more famous as home to Hitler's former tea house, or "Eagle's Nest." It is now a unique museum and restaurant.

Just below is the fjordlike Konigssee, one of the most spectacular Alpine lakes in the region. The lake was a popular getaway for Bavarian royals, and nowadays there are charming electric-powered boat trips across the lake and back. They run year-round, but in the summer more regularly, at half-hour intervals for most of the day from the little village at the head of the lake. Plan at least a half-day for this trip.

Have a traditional lunch in the Braeustueberl Beer Hall, then take a tour deep into the side of a mountain salt mine called Salzbergwerk, which was the source of Berchtesgaden's prosperity as early as the 1500s. Visitors are given miner's outfits and leather seats for the long slide down a polished wooden ramp (the less adventurous can use the stairs).

Berchtesgaden can be seen on a day trip from Munich or as part of a tour of the Bavarian Alps.

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