To most people the region of “Bavaria” will conjure up images of Neuschwanstein and King Ludwig’s famous “Disney Castle” or the Olympic center of Garmisch. Beautiful and wonderful to see yes, however, Bavaria is so much more. That’s why I am going to share several places BEYOND GARMISCH, worthy of your time, wonder and exploration for authentic German travel. I hope you like this series as I investigate the whole Bavarian region.
Next up Berchtesgaden
We stumbled upon Berchtesgaden over twenty years ago on a family vacation as we were heading to Garmisch. Recently, I had the pleasure of making Berchtesgaden a pit-stop on the way to Slovenia, twice! Traveling from Stuttgart, it is a half way stop on the way to Lake Bled and well, I am a “journey-gal,” more than a destination traveler.
Where to stay
I tend to stay a little off-the-beaten path when visiting a very popular town or city because I have a heart-beat for the local “Mom and Pop” places. My Mom was an entrepreneur and small business owner, I am also and I support “local” wherever I go in the world.
The first time we “popped” into Berchtesgaden for an overnight this year, we stayed just outside the city limits in the small town of Schonau am Königsee. I tend to look for 3*** or 3.5*** accommodations these hotels/B&Bs try really hard and typically have great service, food and are affordable. Such was our stay at Stoll’s Sportshotel. We had a perfect location, walking distance to great restaurants, unforgettable views of the Alps, comfortable beds, great parking and an incredible breakfast. Who could ask for anything more, right?
The second time, just a few weeks later, we stayed in the small town of Oberau. Our overnight accommodations at the Alpenhotel Denninglehen in Oberau had unparalleled views and a wonderful STEAK dinner, yes, steak and they served with mashed or fried potatoes!
Our patio room with large windows overlooked the hills and I could tell if I had booked a more expensive room we would have had a balcony. The staff were exceptional, this family-run (the König family) gasthaus was superb! And when we arrived late they were able to “hurry” and get us in for dinner before the kitchen closed, I’m so glad, it was very delicious.
What to do
Eagle’s Nest on Kehlstein is the famous retreat and center where Hitler worked with several different top officials of the Third Reich regime. The original history is entrenched in World War II but the views and idyllic setting are a breathtaking part of Bavaria, an absolute “must-see.”
When you park at the parking lot below be sure to have small coins. It wasn’t much but I needed a few €2 coins to cover our time. The tickets to the park are sold at the office down below and during the spring and summer have a frequent schedule with a bus going every 30 minutes or so.
With restaurants at the top you can enjoy a beer or bratwurst or other regional favorites on the patio or inside the gasthaus.
There is also a walking museum that is enclosed that marks the history and origins of Kehlstein and the Eagle’s Nest.
Salzbergwerk – Salt Mines Berchtesgaden
The Salt Mine Caves were a BLAST! I was able to pre-purchase our tickets on-line for the tour, once we arrived we were dressed up in proper (miners) clothing to enter the salt caves.
No pictures are allowed to be taken once we started our trolley ride, however they take commercial photos of you, that you can purchase for a few Euros at the end. The slides were fun and very unique in concept for getting down to the different parts of the caves. Not what we were thinking, but a LOT of fun. It’s quite chilly and lots of walking so may not be great for little ones.
Our tour guide, John, was great, his part-time job during this spring season, he was a salt miner full-time in the winter months. We enjoyed chatting with him after he caught up with us – (we traipsed off on our own because the signage was so great.) We thought it was self-guided, its not…OOPS! Out of breathe he ran to collect (us) the lost tourists to complete the tour. HA!
King’s Castle – Berchtesgaden
Although we didn’t make it to the castle at Berchtesgaden, this is one of the newest castles built in the Bavarian region. Therefore it has a lot still in tact. The Royal Palace of Berchtesgaden is one I am told absolutely worth seeing, however is only available for tours, so you must do this prior to visiting.
Go hiking ~ when I stay in Bavaria I wake up early (well, 7 a.m.) and head out for an hour walk. The air is fantastic for you and the elevation, morning pictures are stunning. See here ~
The National Park in Berchtesgaden has some of the most beautiful trails in all Bavaria. Their resource and national center will help equip you as you get on your way to hit the mountains.
The food in Bavaria is known throughout the world. The schnitzel and bratwurst from this area of Germany is what people have come to know as German cuisine. We were so lucky on our first short visit to find an amazing local restaurant Gasthof Bodner. I was able to find a table for seven without a reservation. I wouldn’t recommend doing this during peak season, even for a table of two.
When to go
Normally I would recommend visiting this part of Bavaria during the swing seasons of fall and spring like the rest of Europe, however, this destination is a YEAR-ROUND delight. One of my absolute favorite times to visit is during the summer. Yes, it’s a tad-bit more crowded but it’s also incredible weather. Cool nights, lush green meadows and trees, and the mountains still have a little snow caps making it absolutely picturesque.
So my recommendations would be GO ANYTIME!