Although tucked away in Germany’s remote south-eastern corner, Berchtesgaden is easily accessible by both road and rail from Munich and Salzburg. The town is a two hour drive from Munich Airport, though the most convenient point of arrival by air is Salzburg’s compact Flughafen W. A. Mozart which is just half an hour away from Berchtesgaden by car and less than an hour away by train or bus.
As motorway drives go, most are pretty mundane, at times even boring. This cannot be said of the drive south towards Berchtesgaden, which is defined by the spectacular view of the imposing alpine panorama that dominates the horizon.
Taking the Autobahn A8 heading south towards Salzburg, the route passes both the city of Rosenheim, the Chiemsee (itself a recommended destination, both for the lake scenery and King Ludwig II’s wonderful island palace of Herrenchiemsee) and the town of Traunstein.
If you have a Vignette allowing you to use the tolled motorways in Austria, continue on the A8 across the border – where it will turn into the Austrian Autobahn A1. Keep right to join the A10/E55 towards Villach/Salzburg Süd and then exit at Junction 8, joining the southbound Bundesstraße B160 at Grödig. The B160 will be redesignated as the B305 after you cross the border into Germany, and after a pleasant drive through the lushly forested Schellenberger Land and the market town of Marktschellenberg you will arrive in Berchtesgaden.
If you do not have a Vignette and intend to make use of the Austrian motorway network, they are available at a number of service stations on the German side of the border – a ten-day permit costs just €8.30. If you do not have a Vignette and do not intend to travel in Austria, exit the A8 at junction 115 before the border crossing, and head south towards Bad Reichenhall on the B21.
Just after you exit the town you will see signs for the B20 towards Bischofswiesen/Berchtesgaden. NoticeMost 'recommended' routes on satellite navigation devices will automatically direct you to continue your motorway journey into Austria: if you do not have a valid Vignette correctly attached to the inside of your windscreen, you could end up paying an on the spot fine of €120 or more.
Take the southbound B150/160 out of the city, which becomes the B305 after passing the small town of Grödig and crossing the border. You will pass through the Schellenberger Land and the market town of Marktschellenberg before arriving in Berchtesgaden. Alternatively, you can take the Autobahn A1 out of Salzburg and join the A10 in the direction Villach/Salzburg Süd before exiting at Junction 8/Grödig. If you are driving an Austrian registered hire car it should already have a motorway toll Vignette attached to the inside of the windscreen.
Berchtesgaden is easy to reach by rail on the fast and efficient services offered by both the German and Austrian national rail networks, Deutsche Bahn (DB) and Österreichische Bundesbahnen (ÖBB).
There are no direct rail services connecting Munich and Berchtesgaden. You will need to take the Salzburg train either from München-Ostbahnhof or München Hauptbahnhof, changing onto the Berchtesgaden branch line at Freilassing. Allowing for the changeover time between trains, the journey usually takes between two and three hours.
If you are arriving at Munich’s Franz Josef Strauß Airport, you will need to take either the S1 or S8 suburban rail service. Both lines connect the airport with the two main railway stations.
The 39km journey to Berchtesgaden from Salzburg Hauptbahnhof is considerably easier and takes just over an hour, with a direct service and trains every hour or so throughout the day.
If you are arriving at Salzburg Airport, you will need to take the local bus number 2 to the main bus terminus at the Hauptbahnhof first – there is no direct public transport connection between the airport and Berchtesgaden.
It is also possible to travel between Salzburg and Berchtesgaden main stations by bus using the hourly route 840 jointly operated by the RVO (Regional Verkehr Oberbayern) and SVV (Salzburger Vekehrsverbund), also known as the “Watzmann Express”. The journey takes around forty-five minutes, and costs just €5,10.
Should you wish to take a taxi to Berchtesgaden from Salzburg Airport, the one-way trip costs on average between thirty and fifty Euros. Having used them before the author of this site recommends the locally-based Taxi Angerer, which offers an efficient and friendly service at a very reasonable rate of €39,-. (Tel. +49 (0)8652 / 96 49 00)