As the Allies rushed through Western Europe following the German defeat on D-Day, one of the grand prizes to be taken was the infamous Eagle’s Nest. This estate, which sat 6,000 feet high in the Alps, had actually been given to Hitler as a 50th birthday present. It is now a family friendly restaurant and bar, with minimal reference to its previous owner.
We visited the famous landmark during our European Road trip with a then, 6 month old baby George. Accessible through long windy roads, with the stunning Alps as a back drop. It is situated atop the Obersalzberg mountains in one of the most beautiful parts of Bavaria, overlooking the small town of Berchtesgaden.
The famous gold plated elevator is now covered with brass and the building itself is very ‘minimal’ in terms of its decor. But let’s face it, you are going there to see the view and it really is a view! Birds soar past you, you can see daredevils paragliding from the top of the peaks and snow capped mountains. And despite all the hustle and bustle of tourists wanting to get the best ‘picture’, it is strangely tranquil and peaceful.
BOOKING YOUR TRIP
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The Eagle’s nest is fast becoming one of Germany’s top attractions, not necessarily for its history but the for the incredible 360 degree views of Germany and Austria. Board a breathtaking bus journey up the Kehlstein road and a luxurious brass elevator up through the mountain into Kehlsteinhaus, known in English as the Eagle’s Nest. Enjoy its impressive views and its excellent cuisine. The site combines a unique example of historic architecture and a stunning alpine setting.
Popular during the months of summer, due to the school holidays. We recommend visiting between May – June. Anyone can visit the nest, you can walk (2 hours up a very steep hill) or catch one of four special buses that run every 15-20 minutes. We visited in the early afternoon in June and found a small but manageable queue. First thing in the morning or last thing at night will be quieter and present stunning views.
BY CAR: Take the A8 and exit at Bad Reichenhall or at Salzburg Süd to Berchtesgaden and from there the Obersalzberg road to the Hintereck parking area at Obersalzberg.
- Catch a bus from Hintereck parking area to the Eagle’s Nest car park.
- Or hike from Ofneralm up to the Eagle’s Nest parking area (approx. 1½ to 2 hours)
- Or hike from Scharitzkehl parking area to the Eagle’s Nest parking area on a trail that offers beautiful panoramic views. (approx. 2 ½ to 3 hours)
The Eagles Nest is open from the middle of May to mid October, from 9am. To purchase tickets, many tourists make their way to the Documentation Centre, but you cannot purchase tickets for the nest from there. The centre is an educational facility recounting the history and terror of Hitler’s Third Reich. It costs €3 per person (children under 3 go free) but, if you just want the view then skip it.
Purchase your tickets for the Nest from the centre at to the bus stop. Once you’ve parked, walk up the hill and past the building on your left. For two (babies are free) adults it cost € 33.20. You will see a big map on a board and down the little hill is where the bus stops are (they are not signposted). Tickets for the tour and for the bus ride up can be purchased from one of several booths at the bus stop. Each bus has one area for a stroller and there are 5 or 6 buses that go up at the same time. The road is only wide enough for one vehicle, so the buses go up together and then wait at the landing platform to bring tourists down.
You can book a tour, which allows you to learn more about the history of the building. Discounts are available for group bookings (must be 20 people+) and you will find numerous half day tours on TripAdvisor, that provide in-depth information about the design and construction of the Kehlsteinhaus. To book for the group, visit eventbrite, prices start from €25.50 per person, incl. VAT. Or another popular tour, is run daily at 1.15pm and costs €55 pp. The four-hour educational tour emphasises the historical significance of the whole mountain, not just the Eagle’s Nest. You will be shown how Obersalzberg served as the cradle of the party and became a stage, on which world history was enacted. For more information, click here.
A large car park can be found a short walk from the Documentation Centre and the bus stop (where you purchase your tickets for the Nest). Parking cost € 3 for the day and you will need the exact change! You can get change from the Documentation Centre which can be found via a path in the top right corner of the car park.
Once at the top, you can eat inside or out. Most people want to eat outside and soak in the views. However, the food in my opinion is over-priced and not that great. We ordered what stated was a ‘ham sandwich’ and were served up one slice of un-buttered bread, a few slices of onion, lettuce and tomato and one slice of ham…Instead, grab a seat and a beer! You can take your own food and drink (non-alcoholic) with you. Once past the restaurant, there is a set of stairs leading you to a viewpoint, including benches and a grass area for you to sit down and enjoy the view.
NAPPY CHANGE FACILITIES
Toilets can be found in the Documentation centre and again at the bus stop (ticket purchase area). There was no nappy change at the bus stop toilets, but a change mat can be found in the Documentation centre. Once at the top., the restaurant has nappy change within the ladies toilets. There is also a toilet at the landing station (where the bus drops you off) and this does have baby change station (in the middle of the toilets in an awkward position).
You can take your stroller on the bus to the top of the Nest. There is one stroller space per bus, and 5-6 buses running every 20 minutes. From the landing platform, you walk through a tunnel and into the gold (now brass) plated elevator. The elevator is wide and spacious and always occupied by a member of staff. At the top, the walkways are wide enough for strollers and you can leave you stroller to one side, if you wish to walk to the highest point.
- Have the exact change on you for the car park.
- If you just want to go to the top of the Eagle’s Nest, follow the blue flags up the hill to the ticket station (a lot of people make the mistake of going to the documentation centre for tickets).
- Take you own food and drink with you.
- You must book your place on the bus for the drive down the hill before getting on the bus – use your ticket at the ticket booth at the arrival landing.
Located next to the car park, the centre gets very busy, especially during peak season (summer holidays). All the exhibits are in German only so you must purchase the audio guide if you wish to learn more about the history of the build. The building itself was once a guest house for some of Hitler’s visitors. Completely refurbished, the exhibition outlines the path Germany took to the rise of National Socialism. However, the center also gives an interesting description of life in Obersalzberg from the 20’s to the 50’s. From here, you can tour a small section of the massive bunker system that was built on the site and the steps the Nazi regime took to protect itself. A visit costs €6 for adults and €3 for students and children, children under 2 go free.
Expect to queue in peak times – from purchasing your ticket to getting on the bus to getting a spot in the elevator. There are plenty of benches and seating areas at every point of your journey, and toilets. Check the weather, on a clear day you can see all the way to Salzburg in Austria, (read more about our visit to the home of the Sound of Music). The 20 minute bus ride up the long and windy hill provides great views, yet can be a little scary at times. You are right on the edge of the cliff and the drivers can gather quite a lot of speed going up and down! From the landing platform you can reach the peak by walking up a steep incline, lasting around 20 minutes. Or take the famous gold plated (now brass) elevator.
Before descending to the top, I recommend booking your return seat on a bus, via the glass booth on your right (opposite the entrance to the tunnel). You might want to spend around two hours at the top. The buses can get very full and the last thing you want to do is queue! Simply request your time slot, show the man your ticket (he will take a note of your ticket number) and book you in. Do not worry if you miss your allocated slot, you can re-book your return seat (we missed our time slot) once at the landing platform. However we visited off peak and it wasn’t too busy, therefore it wasn’t an issue.
The views from the top are incredible! We parked our stroller with another couple, and took the path to the highest point. The staff at the restaurant are friendly, speak good English and are very attentive. You can walk inside the restaurant, which used to be Hitlers dining room for free and take pictures. And there is a small section with photographs and a brief history of the design and construction of the building on a side corridor (free of charge). Despite the amount of people there, it is strangely peaceful. Birds fly past you, colourful para-gliders can be spotted on the horizons and the views are breath-taking. Baby friendly and well set up for tourists, this is a must for any travellers.