Berchtesgaden National Park is a beautiful area in the southeast corner of Germany. Some places are popular and known, while others are quiet and secluded. There are hiking trails that take multiple days to complete and there are shuttles to just sit and enjoy the views .. something for everyone. Here are 8 of my favorite natural places in the park.
*Just FYI: The first 5 places on this list are all accessed by the same main parking lot, right near the tourist information center and Jennerbahn cable car base. They are then all in different directions and places.. at the base, middle, and top of the mountains and lake. The last 3 places on this list are accessed outside of that main lot with their own parking lots.
The biggest/main lake in Berchtesgaden National Park. It is perhaps the most popular and known spot, so it is likely to be packed with tourists, but still 100% worth going to. Before I went I thought there would be trails along the side of the bottom of the lake, but there are not. There are boats you can pay €18.50/person (round-trip) to give you a ride through the valley from one side of the lake to the other (from the main parking lot to Obersee.. there is no way to drive anywhere in the park past this main parking lot). If you do have a vehicle, you can park in this main lot 24 hours a day. It was €5/24 hours (we even slept in our van overnight in this lot). We opted to get up very early and catch the first boat on the lake while it was still quiet. This was the perfect time. Even on a cloudy day in the rain, it was a peaceful ride with stunning views along the way.
There is one stop in the middle of the lake, at Saint Bartholoma Church, where you can hop off and explore.. but I suggest riding all the way to Obersee (see#2 & #3 below) to explore that area before loads of tourists arrive, and then stop at the middle stop on the ride back. If requested, the boat may also drop you off halfway down the lake (where there finally is a trail along the bottom side of the lake). The ride takes about 55 minutes from one side to the other…. 35 minutes from parking to the church, and then 20 minutes from the church to Obersee.
A smaller lake only accessible by the boats mentioned in #1 above. You can also hike along the top of the mountains from the parking lot to get here, but it will take you 12+ hours or more one way to do so (minimum). However, the walk from the tour boat stop to this boathouse is very easy and flat and only takes about 5 to 10 minutes. From the boathouse you can continue walking along the side of Obersee to the highest waterfall in Germany (see #3 on list). It will take about 1 hour to reach the base of the waterfall. The views along here are pretty, and you will pass many free range cows often laying right in the middle of the trail (it’s their home.. so technically its us walking through their home).
Rotchbach is Germany’s highest waterfall at 470 meters high (1540 feet). It is located near lake Obersee. No you cannot drive anywhere near this waterfall. You have to take the Königsee boat mentioned in #1 above or hike 12+ hours to reach it. The hike from the Obersee boathouse (#2 above) to the base of the falls takes about 1 hour and is relatively flat and easy for anyone. However you honestly don’t have a great view of the falls once standing at the base, so we tried to continue hiking up along side of it through the trees. This specific part of the trail was very steep and difficult. The trail becomes kind’ve unclear past the base and definitely wouldn’t recommend it to children.. but I took the photo above after hiking up some of the difficult part. (To be honest, I wasn’t that impressed with this waterfall despite it being the highest one in the country, I saw other falls in Germany that were MUCH more impressive to look at.. but still always cool to see the highest ones).
Probably my favorite spot I made it to in the Berchtesgaden region… mainly because I saw a photo similar to mine online, but it didn’t have the name of the place, and I had to blindly search for this place and I was SO excited I actually found it. But also because it didn’t have crowds of people at it (I like solitude). So I am here to help you tell you exactly how to get there (but hopefully it doesn’t become TOO popular haha because it was so quiet when I got there I was able to skinny dip alone!). Anyway, it is a hike that leads to the top of the Konigsbach waterfall. The hike was only 1 hour long each way, and not difficult. It is a wide and very clear path in the beginning until you reach a popular lookout point (photo below). Continues under photo…
From the Rabenwand lookout point above, continue walking to the left even though the path changes to a much more narrow trail. The path becomes more like stepping over trees roots along the side of a cliff.. but it still remains pretty clear where to go. You will eventually reach the waterfalls from there. The water is absolutely FREEZING so don’t expect warm water.. if you go in the falls, prepare to freeze your buns off. But enjoy!
5. Jenner Mountain
Besides the Königsee boat ride, this is the other “most touristy” place in Berchtesgaden. It is a series of 2 ski lifts that takes you to the top of the mountain for a birds eye view of Königsee and the mountains below. It was under construction when we were there so we did not personally ride it, but here is a link to their website with all the information and photos you need to know about it. Jennerbahn Website As of August 2018 I think they have opened just the first ski lift to the middle of the mountain (Mittelstation). We found a way to the top of the mountains via our van, on a VERY steep and winding road, to hike along the top despite the lift being closed (see #6 below).
6. Trails along the top
As stated in number 5 above, you can take the cable car up the mountain. We opted to rely on Google maps and found a small tiny winding road up instead. We then paid €3/24 hours to park in the Hinterbrand Parkplatz, which is located near the Mittlestation of the Jennerbahn cable car. (use google maps to find it…cheaper than the cable car). From here we could hike for hours on end along the tops of the mountain! The best part? THERE WAS NEXT TO NOBODY UP THERE ON THE TRAILS. So quiet and lovely. Saw wild groundhogs and farm animals and beautiful landscape. You can hike all the way to Obersee up there, but it will take a very long time. We hiked for about 4 hours then turned around, which brought us through mini valleys and farms. There wasn’t views of Konigsee from these trails as one might expect, but considering we saw Konigsee from so many other places, it was a good change of scenery.
A must see!! Absolutely beautiful falls that are not filled with people.. I don’t know why but I am thankful they weren’t. It is a gorge of many waterfalls that all fall into a river below. It only takes 15-20 minutes to walk to them from it’s parking lot and they are based on a €2.50/person donation. Make sure you bring cash and stop and pay the 2.50 about 10 minutes into your walk at the pay machine on the right hand side of the trail (There is no person there collecting your money.. but the machine will give you a token that you use to open the gate into the falls). That trail also connects to many other hiking trails around it as well that allow you to walk for hours or days on end through Berchtesgaden area. But if you just want to see the falls, it’s a quick and easy walk.
I didn’t expect to go to this lake.. it was a last minute decision. But I am glad I did. It was a relaxing walk around the lake with pretty views of the surrounding mountains. You can rent a canoe or paddle boat on the water as well. There are 3 parking lots near it that are all pay and display, but don’t bother parking in them because there is plenty of parking along the side of the road that is allowed and free. (After circling the lake in the car we parked on the right side of the road just before exiting the lake loop).
These are just 8 places and reasons you should get your butt to Berchtesgaden National Park. There are endless trails you can hike for a few days if you enjoy being outdoors. Happy travels 🙂