After becoming German chancellor in 1933, Adolf Hitler sought a mountain retreat. He landed on Obersalzberg, the mountainside of a small Bavarian town, Berchtesgaden.
Hitler influenced a compound of 80 buildings and an extensive bunker system to be created in this area of Bavaria, with the most famous being the lodge known as Eagle’s Nest. Eagle’s Nest was completed in 1938 and served as a way to entertain those important to the Nazi Party. Today, Eagles Nest, also known as Kehlsteinhaus, has been converted into a small restaurant where guests can enjoy food, a beer garden, panoramic views, and hiking trails.
With Eagles Nest standing at the top of Obersalzberg, an extensive road was required to be built, and with that came limitations as construction crews moved further up the mountain. Because of the environmental constraints, Chief State Engineer Hans Haupner designed a 126-meter (413 ft) tunnel that leads to a 131-meter (430 ft) high elevator shaft to access the mountaintop.
To visit Eagle’s Nest today, a bus is required to take visitors up the mountain to the entrance of the tunnel, as the road has been deemed too dangerous for visitors to drive themselves. Once at the entrance of the tunnel, a short walk-through brings you to an intricate brass elevator and tall marble ceilings that magnifies the power Hitler once had. Although horrific plans of mass murder and war were erected here, visitors can appreciate the historical significance of this area that was untouched by the WWII bombings. It truly makes you feel small in the world, especially as you emerge from the elevator at the top of Kehlstein peak, overlooking miles of mountain ranges.
When the site was used by the Nazi Party, there were 2 elevators, one for Hitler and the high ranks, and another for his workers. The brass elevator would bring Hitler and his guests to the first floor of Kehlsteinhaus, whereas the butler’s elevator would arrive in the basement. The butler’s elevator has not been in use since the Nazi era.
In April 1945, Britain’s Royal Air Force bombed the Obersalzberg compound, destroying most of what Hitler had built. Seven years later, the Bavarian government destroyed what survived to ensure no Nazi draw to the area. The government completely missed Eagle’s Nest along with large portions of the bunker system, though.
Visiting Eagle’s Nest
Do I need a guided tour?
A visit to Eagle’s Nest does not require a guided tour, but you will need to purchase a bus ticket unless you want to hike the steep path up. There is no entrance fee to Eagle’s Nest, only the cost of the bus ticket which includes access to the elevator. Do note that any tour you purchase is third-party.
Where do I purchase bus tickets?
Bus tickets can be purchased from the Documentation Center at Salzbergstraße 45, 83471 Berchtesgaden. Round-trip ticket prices are 28 € for adults and 14.50 € for children. If you hold a Berchtesgaden-Königssee, Bad Reichenhall, or Rupertiwinkl Guest Card, you will receive a discount. The office also has family and group packages available.
Can I hike to Eagle’s Nest?
Yes, you can skip the ROV bus if you are up for a grueling hike. Kehlsteinhaus (The Eagle’s Nest) is 9.6 miles with an elevation gain of 3,257 ft (993 m).
How to get from Berchtesgaden to the Documentation Center?
For a few dollars, you can take Bus 838 from Berchtesgaden Hbf to the Documentation Center or take a taxi for about 18 €. The ride takes less than 10 minutes.
How often do ROV buses run?
Buses run every 25-minutes from 8:30 am – 4:00 pm. You will take the ROV bus to the tunnel entrance of Eagle’s Nest.
How long should I plan to spend at Eagle’s Nest?
Plan to spend a half day at Eagle’s nest, taking into account the 838 bus from Berchtesgaden, purchasing tickets at the Documentation Center, and taking the Eagle’s Nest bus from the ticket counter to the entrance of the tunnel.
Is Eagle’s Nest wheelchair friendly?
Buses are equipped with ramps but the only room that can be accessed at Eagle’s Nest is the dining room. Wheelchair users will still be able to enjoy the panoramic mountain views and the restaurant.
How can I get to Berchtesgaden?
Berchtesgaden is a 2-hour 15-minute drive from Munich, Germany or 30-minutes from Salzburg, Austria. A train is also available from Munich and Salzburg to Berchtesgaden. If traveling from Austria, a rental car is most likely not allowed across the Austrian border. Bus 840, a 50-minutes journey time, is the quickest option if you do not have a car and departs from Salzburg Hbf. The round-trip ticket cost 12 €.
Where to stay in Berchtesgaden?
Gästehaus Achental is only a few minutes walk from Berchtesgaden Hbf and was a fantastic stay for me. One night in October cost 79 € and included breakfast for two.
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