Private cars are not allowed on the Kehlsteinstraße, and the public route to the house is served by an efficient and frequent bus service operated by the RVO (Regional Vekehrs Oberbayern), which runs from the Hintereck, a terminus located partway up the Obersalzberg. The Kehlsteinhaus buses were at time decked out in a distinctive Kehlsteinhaus livery, but today the regular red local buses are used – far more efficient as the buses can of course be used elsewhere, but far less photogenic. The service between Hintereck and the Kehlsteinhaus has the route designation 849.
Getting to the Hintereck
There are a number of different ways to reach the Hintereck using both private and public transport, or a combination of both. If you travelling by car, there is a spacious parking area close to the bus terminus, with a charge of €2,50 for cars and €1,50 for motorcycles – though with the Berchtesgaden-Königsee Gästekarte these prices are reduced to €1,50 and €1,- respectively.
To reach the Hintereck by road, head north on the B305 out of Berchtesgaden in the direction Salzburg/Maria Gern – the Hauptbahnhof should be on your left. Keep right at the fork following Roßfeldstraße/Kehlstein, continuing on the B305 (now Bergwerkstraße) with the river to your right. After around three-hundred metres you will reach the junction with the B319 (Salzbergstraße) to the right. Having turned onto the Salzbergstraße, keeping going and just enjoy the gentle climb – you will soon see the signs for the Kehlsteinhaus and eventually those for the Hintereck car park. You should park in one of the two main parking zones, P1 or P2.
Of the public transport options available, the cheapest is the route 838 bus from the Post Office (Postamt) in Berchtesgaden town centre, with a single ticket costing €3,- for adults and €1,50 for children between the ages of six and fourteen (as at 01/2014). A far more exciting – if slightly pricier – alternative is the bright red cable car (Obersalzbergbahn), which begins at the Talstation located at the junction between the B305 (Bergwerkstraße) and B319 (Salzbergstraße).
Of course, for the more hardy adventurer there is the option of the mountain walk, along clearly marked paths. On a pleasant day a bracing mountain hike – taking in the clean forest air – is something of a magical experience. There are two recommended paths – a one and half to two hour hike from the Ofneralm, and a longer two and a half to three hour trek from the Scharitzkehl parking area lower down the mountain.
At the Hintereck
Compared to even ten years ago, the Hintereck is more than just a bus terminal: there are a number of small souvenir shops and a small museum and documentation centre that provides a history of the area, as well as a decently-sized restaurant serving traditional Bavarian fare, the Berggasthof Obersalzberg (www.berggasthofobersalzberg.de). Part of the current restaurant is attached to what was once the “skyline room”, a section of what was at one time the Hotel Platterhof and subsequently the General Walker Hotel; before the Second World War the Hotel Platterhof had been a popular meeting point for the local SS hierarchy, as well as being a comfortable retreat for Nazi party officials.
Further down the Hintereck is the Hotel zum Türken, one of the very few pre-war buildings still standing. Having been seized by the Nazis as part of their takeover of the Obersalzberg, the hotel would be used as the headquarters for the local SS guard unit; after the war the building would eventually be returned to its former owners, and was once again opened to the public (www.hotel-zum-tuerken.com). Part of the underground bunker and air raid shelter network still exists under the hotel, and it is possible for guests to visit them. Did You Know?A night or two at the 'zum Türken' is most recommended - you won't get any of the modern amenities like WiFi or widescreen satellite television, but you will get a genuine experience of what it would have been like living there in the 1930s. If you are a history buff, this is the place for you... If however you more are like Hermann Göring and want a jacuzzi and cocktails, there is a new five-star hotel a short walk up the road!
The underground shelters at the Hotel zum Türken are one of the few wartime structures on the Obersalzberg that still remain; since the return of the site to the Bavarian government by the US military authorities in 1995, nearly all of the remaining wartime ruins have been pulled down and cleared over. Nothing remains of Hitler’s Berghof or the extensive SS Kaserne Complex, and on the site of what once the property of Hermann Göring a new five-star luxury hotel has been built – fittingly ironic, given that the pampered Reichsmarschall had a particular penchant for luxury accommodation.
The Bus Journey
Buses from the Hintereck to the Kehlsteinhaus run in convoys (usually four or five) every twenty-five minutes until the late afternoon, and it is advisable that you arrive at the departure point in good time to ensure that you don’t have to wait too long after purchasing your ticket. If you arrive too late in the afternoon, you may well find that you may have to wait an hour or more for the next available bus, meaning that you will have little time at the house with the final return journey taking place at 16:50.
Of course, you can always take the walk back down – though this would be not much fun if you do not have the correct footwear or if the weather takes a turn for the worse. You will also find that there is a slight difference in air temperature once you reach the summit, and even in summer it is advisable to a take light jacket, cagoule or fleece.
Before the summer of 2004 tickets for the twenty-five minute bus journey to the Kehlsteinhaus would have been purchased from a rather rustic, ramshackle-looking kiosk labelled “Eagle’s Nest” – clearly set up for the benefit of the many English-speaking visitors – but since then there has been a larger and more modern ticket office and bus terminus, built on the site of what had once been the Platterhof Hotel garage building.
Costing €16,- for adults and €9.50 for children between six and fourteen, the ticket price includes the bus journey, the elevator ride up to the house from the Parkplatz and the return trip back to the Hintereck. With a Berchtesgaden-Königssee Gästekarte, the prices are reduced to €14,50 and €9,- respectively.
Tickets are grouped – for example if two people are travelling together one ticket would be issued with the total price, as in the example below which indicates the total cost for two adults at standard price. (We were leaving Berchtesgaden on the day we visited the Kehlsteinhaus, and had given our Gästekarten back that morning!)
The half-hour drive along the six and half kilometre long Kehlsteinstraße itself is something of a home moviemaker’s delight, and there is helpful on-board commentary in German, English, French and Japanese providing a brief history of the road and its creation. The views are stunning, and the bus moves slowly enough so there are plenty of opportunities to take decent photographs of the surrounding mountains and the valley below. As the route cuts through the mountain and switches back on itself, you will never end up sitting on the “wrong” side of the bus.
The Kehlsteinstraße measures at around four metres across at its widest point, and there is strict management of the route to ensure maximum safety: buses going downhill will often pull into one of the special sidings, allowing the one approaching uphill from the opposite direction to pass. Did You Know?The Kehlsteinstraße was closed to public vehicles in 1952, and since then there has not been a single accident on the road.
On arrival at the Kehlsteinhaus Parkplatz, you should immediately pre-book the time for your return journey at the little booth located near the entrance to the tunnel – in the example ticket above, you can see “15:10” stamped on the ticket next to Rückfahrt (“return journey”).
If your German language skills are good enough, you can obtain further information on the bus service from the RVO web site, but the timetable below should provide all of the information you need about the departure times both for the outbound and return journeys. This copy is from the summer of 2011, but the times remain the same. In October, the first outbound bus leaves the Hintereck at 09:20.
The first bus to the Kehlsteinhaus Parkplatz departs from the Hintereck at 07:40 and runs every twenty-five minutes until 16:00, with the final return journey from the Kehlsteinhaus parking lot departing at 16:50. A stay of two to three hours should be sufficient for most visitors, but this should be extended to a good four or five if you want to take in the walk around the mountain followed by a healthy serving of traditional Bavarian fare accompanied by a half-litre of well chilled (and well-earned, if you have traversed the paths around the mountain!) Weizen at the excellent and reasonably-priced restaurant.
Contact Telephone Numbers
Hintereck Ticket Office: +49 (0) 8652 2029
Kehlsteinhaus +49 (0) 8652 2969