Berchtesgaden has a storied past and had a strong Nazi past. Hitler had vacationed in Berchtesgaden starting in 1920 and later he purchased land and built his Berghof in the mountains about Berchtesgaden. Hitler’s Berghof was one of his headquarters and many top level Nazis went there. Along with his Berghof, the Kehlsteinhaus also known as the Eagle’s Nest, which was a retreat on top of the Kehlstein mountain, is in the Berchtesgaden area. Even though it has a storied past, Berchtesgaden is a beautiful place to visit. Less than 20 miles from Salzburg and 120 miles from Munich, Berchtesgaden makes a great day trip from either of those places, although Salzburg is a lot easier.
The best thing to do when exploring Bercgtesgaden is take a stroll around the town. The town is very cute with pastel buildings and Luftmalerei painted buildings. Luftmalerei buildings are famous in this area of Baveria, mostly in Oberammergau and Mittenwald. These frescoes were ways for people to show their wealth in the 18th century.
There are several churches to explore in Berchtesgaden. Most are Catholic as Bavaria is a very Catholic area, but there is a beautiful Lutheran Church in Berchtesgaden. Stiftkirche, a catholic church, which was built in the 12th century and is attached to the pink royal residence of the Wittelsbach family, who ruled the Berchtesgadener Land for many centuries. Just behind the church is a mural reflecting the tragedy of war. The other beautiful church is the church of St. Andrew which is a Romanesque church.
Around the Central Square
The area around the central square is a great place to walk around and do some shopping. The views are amazing as well. There are great places to eat, places to get traditional Bavarian clothes as this still is worn by people there. Berchtesgaden is a traditional mining area and in many stores, there are different gems and rocks that you can purchase. They are not expensive and I bought a beautiful necklace in one of the stores. If you are there on a weekend you might also be lucky to hear a concert and and see special markets.
Lake Königssee is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Very close to Berchtesgaden, it is a must see. Lake Königssee is in Berchtesgaden National Park which has great hiking and many winter sports. When entering the Lake Königssee you will walk through a resort area with many shops and head to the lake area and take one of the electric boats to the St Bartholomew’s Church. This electric boat is a slow boat that makes little noise. This is a beautiful boat ride. They stop on the way and demonstrate the echo here with a trumpet. Once you get to the church, walk around, there is a restaurant and a small gift shop here. Make sure that you take the time to do this, it is a well worth trip.
A poorly filmed video I took of the echo
Besides these sights, you can also go up to the Eagle Nest in the summer, see the Nazi bunker museum and go to the salt mines. But make sure that you take the time to see town and lake first.