WARNING, some of the following photos may cause big pangs of wanderlust. And you may have involuntary urges to book the next flight out to Germany.
Last weekend, I spent 3 amazing days and nights in the south east of Germany. As it was the bank holiday in London, I wanted to make the most of the long weekend. My partner and I had been invited out to Munich for a weekend of outdoorsy fun and hiking. I can’t say Munich has ever been on my “top places to go” but after this weekend, my attitude towards this part of Germany has changed.
I’m very much a mountains or beach kind of girl. I’ve hiked Machu Picchu, spent entire ski seasons in Utah and Colorado, skied the slopes in Whistler, but these mountains in Germany were something else. We were headed for the Berchtesgaden national park region, which was almost on the border of Austria. What unfolded was simply breath taking, and this trip will go down as the best hiking adventure to date.
The plan was to stay one night at our friends house in Germany then head up to the mountains for 2 days of hiking, then return late Sunday night for one more evening in Munich. Here’s how you can do the same.
You will want to book return flights in and out of Munich. This is the closest airport to the Berchtesgaden National Park area and Munich is also a super cool city to go exploring.
To get to the Berchtesgaden national park, it will take you about a 2 hour drive from the centre of Munich. The best option is to rent a car from the airport and make sure your nav man speaks english! If driving isn’t an option, an alternative is to get the train/bus.
Your night before and after the hike in Munich is up to you. We stayed at our friends house just outside the centre of Munich which was lovely. If I was to book a hotel, my pick would be the Anna Hotel or you could opt for airbnb.
The key element of the plan is to remember to book your night in the mountains! There aren’t many guests houses up in the mountains so it is imperative to book your space at the Schneibstein Haus. Now don’t expect white robes and room service here. Schneibstein haus is a very rustic guest house ideally for hikers to rest, shower and recuperate before heading on with their journeys. You can pick from 2, 4 or 10 person sleeping dorm rooms. There is bedding provided, but it’s best to bring a sleeping bag or a bed sheet. Your overnight stay includes dinner and breakfast for 40 euro per person. Bargain.
THE PACKING LIST
The biggest tip I can give you here is don’t pack much for your 2 day hike. You have to carry everything the whole way so the lighter the better. And trust me, what might not seem that heavy at the start of trip, feels five times heavier after 2 hours of hiking. Just take the essentials: water, some snacks, camera and a change of clothes for the next day. Minimise toiletries as they can be heavy and remember to pack a jacket for the evening as it gets chilly. There’s not much phone reception but I still managed to drain my phone taking photos and videos. Lucky there is electricity at the guest house but a portable phone could be a good idea too.
THE MUST SEE PLACES
There are numerous hiking trails and places to see when visiting Berchtesgaden. Giving you my exact itinerary of what trails we hiked would take all of the fun out of your adventure. I will however give you my highlights of the hike so you can add them onto your itinerary:
1. Pit Stop Beer or Apfelschorle
After the first 2 hours of the hike in 33 degree heat, I was very much in need of a drink. I’m not a beer drinker at all, but I’m very much a “when in Rome” kinda girl. So when in Germany, you drink beer. It was probably the most coldest, tastiest beer I’ve ever had. It was the only beer I had on the trip, the rest of the time I stuck to apfelschorle which is half apple juice, half sparkling water. Just as refreshing sans alcohol.
2. Hike up to the Cross
Once you drop your bag off at the Schneibstein Haus, you can hike up to a very cool lookout area which has a huge cross right up the top. I’m a little scared of heights but still managed to crawl to the edge and dangled our feet over while we ate our packed lunch. You can see the Konigsee lake from up here and the energy is very peaceful. Ask for directions from the team at Schneibstein Haus.
3. Dinner at Schneibstein Haus
After your long day of hiking, there is nothing better than refuelling with a yummy meal. Germany is renowned for it’s heavy comfort food, but I managed to get a nice big vegetarian plate made up for me. It came complete with sauerkraut, red cabbage, vegetables and a german dumpling. All you need to do is ask.
4. Swim at Kessel
After your rest at the guest house, you take a 3 hour hike down to the Konigsee lake. There’s a few up and down hills but most of it’s a downhill slope to the bottom. My advice is stretch your calves after this portion of the hike. At the bottom, you are rewarded with a quiet swimming spot to cool off from the summer heat. Take a dip in the absolutely clearest water I’ve ever seen. It was super refreshing. From here, you can catch a boat to St Batholomew.
5. Lunch at St Batholomew
After a short ride from Kessel, you arrive at St Batholomew. It’s a scene straight out of the Sound of Music and the hills were definitely alive with the sound of music! We had come on a Sunday and there was a live band, dancing and lots of drinking. Everyone was wearing the traditional German attire of lederhosen and dirndl and really getting into the spirit of celebrating. We enjoyed a delicious meal at the restaurant here as we soaked up the glorious view of the mountains. While you are here, you can also check out the St Batholomew church which is perched on the western shore. You can’t miss it with it’s rich red roof and Baroque style design.
6. Organic, raw butter, buttermilk & bread from the Farm House
The last part of our hike we arrived at a small family-run farm house. All they serve here is beer, bread and buttermilk. I’m not one to indulge in these 3 B’s, but it’s all organically produced right there on the farm. No additives, preservatives or chemicals go into the food and the result: simply delicious. I’m not sure what they put in the bread and butter but I died! It’s also your last chance for a swim before heading back to your car.
The mountains and the views that I experienced on this trip were the most gorgeous scenery I have ever laid my eyes on. I had lots of “pinch me” types of moments at ALL of the places we visited. These are moments that I seek out on my travels. I will be planning trips back to Germany to explore more of these mountains and surrounding areas. It is now my mountain happy place!
Need to know any more info to plan your trip to Germany? Comment below and I’ll answer your questions