Memories of Childhood Holidays
Berchtesgaden and the fjordlike Königsee with the extraordinary and unique St Bartolomew’s church have always held a special spot in my heart. Having spent several family holidays there during my childhood, I had long wanted to return with my boys. Stories of vast tourist crowds accompanied by lengthy waiting times and extortionate accommodation prices had generally put me off returning to show my family this stunning, but very popular, corner of Germany.
Travel in the Times of COVID 19
The times of Covid-19 have brought many tribulations and trials to all over the past months, but I can say we have been rather lucky under these unusual circumstances. The family temporarily relocated to Germany at the last minute before the London lockdown period started. Luckily we had that option, and with hindsight it gave us much more space and freedom, and clearly the German medical system was outstanding. The pandemic has also meant that the chance to journey anywhere abroad has proved difficult with very limited options for travel. Once case numbers dwindled and travel restrictions in Germany eased we were luckily able to book a 7-day trip to Berchtesgaden with my parents, instead of our original planned travel to Taiwan.
Berchtesgaden Will Delight Any Traveller
The area in and around Berchtesgaden, Schönau and the Königsee brims with sights and hiking options. There are choices for everyone, from young to old, casual walkers and serious hikers will equally find delight in this area of outstanding beauty. To aid your decision on must see places, where to go and what to do during a stay in this remote part of Germany I wanted to share a detailed itinerary of our recent Summer excursion.
Ramsau, Zauberwald and Hintersee
Easing our legs back into hiking, we began our Berchtesgaden trip with a walk from the famous Ramsau church below the towering and legendary watch of the Watzmann Mountain. This scenic village was the first to receive the title “mountaineering village” and has a long-standing reputation for nature lovers as a starting point to many thrilling hikes, including the popular wooden walkway along the Wimbachklamm. Leaving the idyllic village behind we took the meandering path through the magical Zauberwald (Enchanted Forest) where nature created mesmerizing tree and rock formations – a popular day out for families. At the far end of the forest we reached the alluring Hintersee, our picnic stop, before taking the route back to along the Ramsauer Ache and on past the heavenly Kunterweg Church.
Circular Hike around Maria Gern Church
Maria Gern, another landmark church in the Berchtesgaden Area was the starting point for our second hike. Initially we followed the tarmac road uphill, through lush meadows and past many quaint farmhouses. Once we reached the highest point of the round tour we turned onto a narrow path through the shady canopy of forests and pastures, offering sweeping views of the Bavarian Alps, including the majestic Watzmann Mountain. The last few kilometres led us through the Gerner Klamm (gorge), which turned out to be a rather disappointing addition to the circular route before reaching the stairs of the sorbet pink, Maria Gern Church again.
Kleine Reibn Hike: Jenner Hochstation, Schneibstein Peak to Seeleinsee Lake and Onwards to Schönau
Knowing full well upon setting out to hike from the top of Jenner Cable Station to the Schneibstein Mountain and on to the photogenic Seeleinsee that the hike would be a tour de force, we were rewarded with incredible weather and vistas throughout. At the outset we took a little detour to the Jennerpeak to gain the breathtaking view down to Königsee, followed by the tedious, climb to the top of the Schneibstein Mountain. Surrounded by a magnificent panorama of the Austrian and Bavarian Alps we enjoyed a brief picnic before advancing along the winding track through fields of snow and besides the herds of alpine ibex to the serene Seeleinsee Lake. From there on, although downhill, the entire remainder of the walk the hike turned out to be more strenuous than anticipated, we missed the last ride down on the cable car from Jenner Mittelstation and had to descend all the way down to the lakeside village of Schönau. A long but worthwhile hike.
Boatride across Königsee to Salet and Obersee
An absolute must for anyone travelling to Berchtesgaden is a boat ride across the calm, emerald waters of the Königsee to Salet Alm, Obersee with a break to admire the unique architecture of St Bartholomew’s Church. After gliding to Salet at the far corner of the enclosed Königsee, we hiked alongside the peaceful Obersee to the impressive cascades at Röthbachwasserfall. After a cool drink at the whimsical Fischunkelalm we enjoyed a refreshing swim in the clear waters of Obersee. Catching one of the last boats, we sadly missed our chance to disembark the boat at St Bartholomew’s church on our return to Schönau.
Circular Hike to Halsalm and Hintersee
The Hintersee Klausenbach House, a tourist information centre, with interactive displays on local life, animals and plants was our entry point to the hike to Halsalm. From there we ascended ahead on a forestry track in the cool woods to the cow pastures of Halsalm. In the grass we spotted a young adder to the fright of other passing hikers before descending to the shores of Hintersee, where we took a very brief dip in the freezing, emerald water, followed by an afternoon treat of Apfelstrudel in Ramsau.
Circular Hike from Taubensee to Moosenalm and Mordaualm
Departing from wildly overgrown Taubensee Lake we hiked up a narrow trail between pine trees and rugged rock formations to a high plateau. Besides the path grew an abundance of wild strawberries, picking handfuls of the tiny red berries we filled our mouths with the sweet aroma of this rare fruit. Passing herds of milk cows at Moosenalm we clambered down a steep track to the organic farms at Mordaualm for a piece of homemade cake and herbal lemonade.
Stroll Through the Spectacular Wimbachklamm
This thrilling walk through the Wimbachklamm, on an elevated walkway through a spectacular gorge was the perfect end to our weeklong trip to Berchtesgaden and Königsee. The wooden gallery led us above the tossing waters of the ravine and past mesmerizing cascades, before reaching the wider riverbed leading to the Blaueis glacier and deep into the Ramsauer Dolomites, maybe a hike for another trip…
Detailed Posts to Follow
Over the next few posts I will be writing more in depth and detailed accounts of each hike and excursion, plus a guide on everything you need to know before booking a trip to Berchtesgaden and Königsee. As travel reopens in this difficult time, perhaps it will tempt you to plan a trip.
Recommended Places to Stay in the Berchtesgaden Area
Treat yourself to a luxury stay at this 5 star resort in Berchtesgaden. Relax at the in- or outdoor pool or wellness area after a long hike in the surrounding mountainside or enjoy a calming massage in the spa.
This family owned hotel is a more budget friendly option with two swimmingpools and extensive wellness area and treatments.
This small guesthouse offers vegetarian (vegan options are available), organic breakfast buffet and the simple yet beautiful rooms have no TV or wifi. A peaceful retreat for ecological minded travellers.
Stylish apartments offering stunning mountain views and sauna, ideal for a couples.
Families will love this beautiful, well-equipped house with garden, terrace and plenty of space to spread out.