Berchtesgaden National Park in the Bavarian Alps is a real paradise for nature lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts. It has majestic mountains, deep valleys, alpine huts, crystal-clear lakes and a great diversity in animal population and plant species. This region of Germany still remains unspoiled! Bavaria offers numerous outdoor activities, plenty of walking tracks and steep mountain trails. From easy to challenging hikes, including a via ferrata. In fact, Berchtesgaden National Park has a network of 260 km well-marked walking tracks. In this blog post, I’m going to share with you some of the best outdoor activities in Bavaria!
Lake Königssee is simply stunning! This fjord-like lake is surrounded by high cliffs and wild torrents, has over 7 km in length, and reaches a maximum depth of 192 m. It’s also the cleanest lake in Germany, nestled at the foot of the eastern wall of Mount Watzmann (2713 m), the second-highest mountain in this country. There are a couple of lakes in Bavaria, but Lake Königssee is one of nature’s true masterpieces. A total must see in this region, and the reason why it ranks so high on my list of the best outdoor activities in Bavaria.
Electric boats run on Lake Königssee, so you can experience its beauty up close. Boats depart from Königssee Seelände according to the timetable and stop at the following boat docks: Königssee Seelände – Kessel (upon request, only for hikers starting the hike) – St. Bartholomä – Salet – St. Bartholomä – Kessel (upon request, only for hikers finishing the hike) – Königssee Seelände. You can get off the boat at each stop or continue to the next dock. It’s up to you. Just make sure to plan ahead.
Boat tours are offered on Lake Königssee all year round, except when the lake is frozen. Make sure to check the time of the first and the last boat before arrival, as this may vary depending on the month. The ticket for an adult is 20.20€ for the following journey: Königssee Seelände – Salet – St. Bartholomä – Königssee Seelände. If you don’t want to do the full tour, you can purchase a ticket to a specific boat dock only. Departures are scheduled every 15-20 minutes in summer. The ticket office is at Königssee Seelände.
If you want to stop at each dock, it’s best to start the trip early in the morning. I highly recommend getting off at Salet first and then at St. Bartholomä. Be mindful of the current timetable and check the time of the last boat towards Königssee Seelände. Most tourists wait until the last minute to return and this generates a huge queue before the last departure. I was standing in the line for about an hour, and still didn’t catch the last scheduled boat. Fortunately, on that day, additional boats were sent to collect the remaining tourists.
The bout tour is undoubtedly an amazing experience, but there is even more than that. How about exploring the neighborhood at each dock? After getting off at Salet, take a 20-minute walk to Lake Obersee. This lake is smaller than Lake Königssee, but equally beautiful. Continue on the same walking track for about an hour, until you reach Fischunkelalm mountain pasture. From there, you will get a marvellous view of Röthbachfall, Germany’s highest waterfall (400 m). Good news is this walking trail is suitable for everyone.
The second stop is St. Bartholomä, with one of the most popular landmarks of Lake Königssee, the beautiful St. Bartholomew’s Church. It’s a Baroque style chapel with two onion domes and a red domed roof. Interestingly enough, another walking track starts exactly there. It will take you to Eiskapelle, a permanent ice field lying at the east face of Mount Watzmann. The walking track is not difficult, but definitely more challenging than the one going to Röthbachfall. Allow two hours to accomplish this hike.
Painters Corner (ger. Malerwinkel) is another place worth a visit near Lake Königssee. It takes only 20 minutes to get there from Königssee Seelände, so you can definitely take this walk once you finish the boat tour. This place is popular for its spectacular view across the lake with high mountains in the background, as well as… the eternal silence. No surprise that this view inspired many landscape artists to paint a picture. I didn’t stay there long enough to watch the sunset, but I do think that this could be a great idea. Enjoy!
The Berchtesgaden Alps have numerous walking tracks and steep mountain trails. From easy walks to challenging hikes, including a “via ferrata”. I highly recommend choosing Mount Jenner (1874 m). It’s a moderate hike, offering some gorgeous views from the top. There are a few ways to do it. You can start at the foot of the mountain or take a cable car ride and set out a little higher. You can also take a cable car ride directly to the top of the mountain, but let’s be honest here. This doesn’t have too much to do with hiking.
TALSTATION – MITTELSTATION
The lower station of Jennerbahn is located at 630 m (Talstation). The trail to Mount Jenner begins nearby. If you start there, you will most likely struggle to finish the hike before it gets dark. If you want to avoid unnecessary rush, take a cable car ride to Mittelstation at 1185 m. This will save some of your time. Fun fact, I set out from Mittelstation and the hike took me the whole day anyway. Mostly because I took a break at every mountain hut and chose a trail that goes around the mountain rather than straight to the summit.
MITTELSTATION – CARL VON STAHL-HAUS
Dr. Hugo Beck Haus is the first mountain hut on your way from Mittelstation to Mount Jenner. Follow the trail that goes around the mountain until you get to the next hut at 1240 m. It’s called Königsbachalm. Further on, continue uphill towards another mountain hut – Schneibsteinhaus at 1670 m. From there, you can go straight up to the Mount Jenner summit or you can take a little detour, cross the Austrian border, and visit one more mountain hut. Carl von Stahl-Haus at 1736 m is beautifully situated around high cliffs.
CARL VON STAHL-HAUS – JENNER
If you decide to visit Carl von Stahl-Haus, you will have to take a few steps back to return to the trail to Mount Jenner. Jennerhaus (1802 m) is the last mountain hut before the actual summit. There is also the upper station of Jennerbahn, Bergstation (1800 m). Once you reach the top of Mount Jenner, take a deep breath and enjoy the views. Lake Königssee looks incredibly beautiful from up there! Be sure to get back to Mittelstation before the last cable car departure. Otherwise, you will have to hike back to the carpark.
JENNER – TALSTATION
It takes around 2 hours to return from the summit to Mittelstation, and it’s best to continue the hike around the mountain so that you are not going back the same way. There will be many more huts along the way, including Mitterkaseralm at 1534 m. The current timetable of Jennerbahn can be found on their website. The ticket for an adult is 38€ (Talstation – Mittelstation – Bergstation – Mittelstation – Talstation). You can’t purchase a ticket to Mittelstation only. If you want to get off at Mittelstation, the price remains the same.
Kehlsteinhaus, also known as the Eagle’s Nest, is a former property of Adolf Hitler located in the Berchtesgaden Alps, atop Mount Kehlstein (1834 m). It was built in 1937, and used by Nazi for government and social meetings. According to historical records, Hitler didn’t like this place. He felt unwell here, and complained about the weather that tends to be unstable. Currently, Kehlsteinhaus serves as a mountain restaurant and historical information centre. It also provides visitors with a breathtaking panoramic view.
HOW TO GET THERE?
It’s not possible to get to Kehlsteinhaus by car as the road is closed to private traffic. You can get there by bus or on foot. The second option may be a challenging though. It will probably take you around 2 hours one way. Buses depart from the station at Documentation Center, Obersalzberg. There is also a parking area where you can leave your car. The bus will take you up to a viewing platform at 1710 m. Then walk through a tunnel that has a brass elevator at the end, and take the ride up the final 124 m to Kehlsteinhaus.
Make sure to check the bus timetable before arrival as it may vary depending on the month. The ticket for an adult for a bus ride (both ways) and an elevator ride to Kehlsteinhaus is 16.60€. Buses depart from the bus station every 20 minutes in high season (usually 4 – 5 in convoys). The place gets quite busy, especially in summer. So it’s much better to arrive in the morning to avoid long waiting times to the ticket office, bus and elevator. Take your time to enjoy the place and admire the views from the top. They are spectacular!
Bavaria offers a variety of outdoor activities. Another place well-worth a visit is Almbachklamm. This beautiful gorge is located in Marktschellenberg with the main entrance at Kugelmühle. The walking track has 3 km one way, and goes up through the deeply cut gorge, along the Almbach River, next to thundering waterfalls and crystal-clear pools. Almbachklamm Gorge is open from the beginning of May till October. The ticket for an adult is 6€. Don’t forget to wear sturdy shoes as the walking track is rocky, and may be slippery.
The walking track starts at Kugelmühle, and goes all the way through Almbachklamm Gorge. It’s definitely not a tough hike. The total elevation is 220 m, and it shouldn’t take you more than 3 hours to do it (Kugelmühle – Theresienklause – Kugelmühle). There are heaps of bridges and overpasses, all of them are numbered, so it’s easier to follow the map. Theresienklause, the old dam, formerly used to flush timber downstream, is the last stop. Once you reach this point, turn back, and return the same way to Kugelmühle.
That’s all about outdoor activities in Bavaria. What place would you like to visit the most? Let me know by leaving a comment below!
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