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Berchtesgaden

Germany

Majestic snow-capped mountains, glittering lakes and a quaint village feel give the municipality of Berchtesgaden in southeastern Germany an alluring charm that’s hard to ignore. Located on the Austrian border about 30km from Salzburg, Berchtesgaden has a fascinating and somewhat bizarre past. (Hint, if you're into World War II history, it's definitely worth visiting).

Nearby ski slopes and the enchanting Lake Königssee are some of the top sites here, as is the interactive Haus de Berge museum. From salt mine tours to historical landmarks and hiking trails, you won’t run out of things to do in Berchtesgaden. Plus, there are loads of hotels and B&B's to choose from in the area.

While you're here, spend some time in the Markt (market square), visit the Dokumentation Obersalzberg museum and breathe in the fresh mountain air. And don't forget to sample some beer at one of the local beer halls!

History

This mountain town in the Bavarian Alps was once an independent principality used as hunting ground for aristocrats from nearby Salzburg. In the 12th century, the salt mining industry took hold here, and salt became the principal source of wealth for the region. Today, visitors can still tour the Salzbergwerk Berchtesgaden (Berchtesgaden Salt Mines), the oldest active salt mine in the country. We highly recommend it, if only for the slide you get to ride down to enter the mine! 

Travel tip: If you get claustrophobic, the mine's narrow tunnels and passageways may not be for you.

In 1810, the town became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria, and an old Augustinian monastery was turned into a palace that the king used as his residence from 1818. But it was World War II that really put Berhchtesgaden on the map. This is because Hitler did much of his military and political planning from the Berghof, a mountain chalet he had built on a hill just above Berchtesgaden. His sprawling mountain retreat eventually extended to include land on top of Mount Kehlstein, where a tea house called the Eagle's Nest was built. 

These days, the Eagle's Nest has been converted into a bizarre but picturesque restaurant and popular tourist destination. The only way to reach the Eagle's Nest is by taking a bus to an elevator shaft set within the mountain and then riding the lift to the top. Try it out - we're pretty sure you'll feel like you've stepped onto the set of a James Bond film.

Unlike the Eagle's Nest, the Berghof was destroyed in 1952 by the Bavarian government. All that’s left are the rear foundations of the house and the garage.

Getting to Berchtesgaden

Berchtesgaden Hauptbahnhof (the train station) is located right in town, and the train from Munich to Berchtesgaden will get you there in about three hours, with a change in Freilassing. If you're travelling from Salzburg though, taking the bus is a better option. The #840 leaves from Salzburg at least once an hour and the journey takes about 45 minutes.

If you'd rather, you can also take a 30-minute taxi ride from Salzburg to Berchtesgaden. Just make sure you agree on a price with the driver before you set off.

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