The sign at the Kehlsteinhaus

The eagle’s nest is located in my favorite area for day trips from Salzburg. Most people visiting the eagle’s nest, stay in Salzburg and do the eagle nest as a day trip. The eagle’s nest is only 30 kilometers from Salzburg and public transport is convenient. You take two public buses and then a shuttle bus takes you up to the Eagle’s nest (Kehlsteinhaus).

In this article I will explain the reasons to hike instead of taking the shuttle bus and how to hike the Eagles Nest (Kehlsteinhaus).

How hard is hiking the eagle’s nest?

The technical difficulty of the hike to the Eagle nest is as easy. The path is a forest road and you would be fine to wear sneakers or whatever you want to wear. However, the hike takes 2-3 hours and you will need the stamina to finish the hike.

The signs at the documentation center state that will take you 4 hours. I believe that’s because they want you to pay for the shuttle bus. The hike would never take you 4 hours. The trail is 4,5 kilometers long and you climb about 800 meters of altitude. The climb is slow but steady. No steep passages. The last time, reaching the eagle’s nest took us 2 hours and we are slow walkers and not fit. The maximum duration would be 3 hours but most likely you will reach Kehlsteinhaus in less than 3 hours.

Can I hike the eagle’s nest in winter?

You can’t hike the eagle’s nest in winter. In recent years the weather was unpredictable. Winter started late and ended late. In 2019 the eagle’s nest was still closed until the end of May but that’s unusual. As a rule, I wouldn’t recommend hiking the eagle’s nest on your own if the shuttle bus is not running. If the shuttle bus is not running, it means that the temparature is already too cold, and that there is snow. The eagle’s nest is on 1834 m above sea level and it would be dangerous to hike up in bad conditions. To find out if the eagles nest is open check the website.

Can you hike the eagles Nest when the weather is bad?

When there is rain in summer, you could still hike the Eagles. I would however not recommend a hike in the rain. Not because it’s uncomfortable but because the hike is not that spectacular and you can’t see anything from the eagle’s nest when the weather is bad. The eagles nest is a restaurant. There is nothing to do except for enjoying the view and eating. In fact the view is the best part of the visit and you won’t have a view in bad weather. Therefore I wouldn’t recommend the eagle’s nest by shuttle bus in the rain either.

How much it costs to go to the eagles nest from Salzburg?

Public transport to the Documentation center of the eagle’s nest on Obersalzberg in Germany is cheap and easy. Your journey comprises three parts. For the first part you buy a bus ticket for bus 840 which is €11,80 and includes bus 840, 841 and 838 so with this day ticket you are good to take the second part of your journey. You would even be good to go to Kingslake with the same ticket.

Not included in the day ticket is the third part of your journey, the bus from the documentation center on Obersalzberg to the eagle’s nest. The price for the shuttle bus is €16,60 for a return ticket, while a one-way ticket down is €11,60. The hike won’t save you a lot of money. 

Let me explain why I would still prefer hiking to Kehlsteinhaus instead of taking the shuttle.

My Reason to hike the eagle’s nest instead of taking the Shuttle Bus

I recommend hiking the eagle’s nest because most people take the shuttle bus. The hike is not spectacular, but its pristine nature and compared to the crowds at the restaurant on top, the hiking trail is off the beaten path.

If you take public transport from Salzburg to Berchtesgaden and the documentation center and then the shuttle bus to the eagle’s nest, you will be in a crowd from the beginning to the end of your journey.

The hike is not spectacular but hiking will offer you an off the beaten path experience. The eagle’s nest gets crowded and most people take the bus. Buses are always full, that’s why you have to reserve your ride an hour in advance. The eagle’s nest is a restaurant nowadays and there is nothing else to see or do. Kehlsteinhaus (eagles nest) is always crowded, which makes sense because it’s beautiful and worth the visit. Your arrival, however, will be different if you hiked up and experienced the empty forest paths and untouched nature before getting to the place where everyone’s at.

I love the two hours of loneliness before joining the crowd at the Kehlsteinhaus.

If you don’t have time, don’t enjoy hiking or if you are not fit enough, the shuttle bus is great. If, however, you consider hiking a possibility, stick with me here and I will guide you every step along the way.

Furthermore, I would hike because you already spend the day in the area. A visit to kingslake the same day would be possible but not without time pressure. So why not make the most out of your eagles nest experience and take the time to hike to the eagles nest and take the Shuttle bus down or hike both ways.

Should you hike up and down?

To take the shuttle bus down instead of both ways only saves you €5,-. If you want to save the entire €16,60, which would make your trip to the eagles nest incredibly cheap (you would in total only pay €11,80 for public bus), you would have to hike up and down. That’s if you have the endurance to hike 4-6 hours. If you enjoy hiking and if the conditions are good enough, go for it but don’t underestimate the required stamina.

How to go from Salzburg, Austria to Berchtesgaden, Germany

This is the first part of a three part journey to the eagles nest. This is where you cross the border from Salzburg in Austria to Berchtesgaden in Germany.

Beware that you cross the German border and need to bring your passport. The city of Salzburg borders Germany and from the eagle’s nest, you can even see the Salzburg fortress in the distance.

To get to Berchtesgaden, you take bus 840 from the train station or from Mirabell square. Ask the bus driver for a day ticket and you will get the ticket to Berchtesgaden in which the second part of your journey, the bus from Berchtesgaden to the documentation center is included. This ticket would also include the bus from Berchtesgaden to kingslake but more on that at the end of this article.

How to go from Berchtesgaden, Germany to the Documentation center at Obersalzberg?

You get off the bus at the train station in Berchtesgaden. From there you take bus 838 which will take you to the documentation center at Obersalzberg. As mentioned before your day ticket already includes bus 838 so you wait for the next bus and get on. It will take you only 15 minutes to arrive at the Documentation center. 

If you are considering a hike all the way from Berchtesgaden to the eagles nest, I would not recommend it. The way up is not very special and the day ticket already includes bus 838 to the documentation center. If you want to hike more look for alternative hikes instead!

The documentation center at Obersalzberg is a must-see

Before you start your adventure to reach the eagles nest on foot, take a look at the documentation center! It’s behind the parking and only 3 euros. There you will get an idea what the eagles nest was in history. The eagles nest itself is a restaurant nowadays. There is no documentation on top of the mountain.

The documentation center at Obersalzburg

The documentation center is a must because Kehlsteinhaus is only a restaurant.

The Documentation center also includes part of the old bunker. It will give you a sense of the insanity of that time. I also recommend the movie played on the first floor.

Hiking from the Documentation center at Obersalzberg to the Eagles Nest (Kehlsteinhaus)

To find the beginning of the hiking trail, you first continue on the street further in the same direction the shuttle buses go. Away from where you came from. No signs point to the trail for the eagles nest. Again, I believe, because they want you to take the shuttle. Probably it’s another reason why the walk to the eagles nest is not popular.

The shuttle buses to the eagles nest
The beginning of the hike to the Eagles nest

When you follow the street, after about 500 meters you will see a trail leading to the right. That’s the way you follow. You will cross the street a few more times and could also walk along the street in the beginning. You always get back to the hiking path.

The hiking path overcuts with the street to the eagles nest in the beginning

Me and my friend Christian tried, the last time we hiked to the eagles nest, if it would be possible to follow the street. It’s not. It’s forbidden. If you take the bus down from the mountain, you will understand why.

My friend Christian on the road to the Eagles nest
Signs showing that its prohibited to walk along the road to the eagles nest
The ticket office and the tunnel to the Elevator at mount Kehlstein

After the point where walking along the street is forbidden, you will not cross the street anymore. From that point on it is very straight forward. Along the way there is one spot where you could go right or left with no signs. Taking a left seems to be fast but the paths join again soon.

When you reach the platform where the buses stop you will see a tunnel, the ticket counter and a sign pointing to the path to walk another 20 minutes to the Kehlsteinhaus. In case you want to take the bus down, buy your ticket now!

The Eagles Nest in Berchtesgaden

Tickets have to be bought at least an hour before and the buses always fill up. Now you can either take the elevator or keep walking to Kehlsteinhaus. The bus ticket includes the elevator which moves 124 meter in 41 seconds and takes you into the eagles nest. Congratulations! You reached your goal.

Can I take Hitler’s elevator without the bus ticket?

You are not allowed to take the elevator, if you didn’t buy a shuttle bus ticket. However, you can try to sneak in and it will probably work. Just enter the elevator together with the crowd and expect the guy to not check the ticket. That’s what happened to me every time. There are so many people that it would be impossible to check the tickets, so he doesn’t.

And. If someone checks your ticket you pretend you didn’t know and take the 10-minute hike instead. You miss nothing by not taking the elevator. If you get rejected because you don’t have a ticket, you were in the elevator already and therefore saw it. Pictures are not allowed anyway and there is nothing spectacular about the damn thing moving. You won’t even notice.

Should you go to Kingslake after your visit to the Eagles nest?

Kingslake is gorgeous and I would recommend a visit to Kingslake. The day ticket you got on bus 840 from Salzburg to Berchtesgaden includes the bus from Berchtesgaden to Kingslake. 

However, when visiting Kingslake you either have to take a boat to get to the other side or you have to walk for 1 hour to see the lake. You could make it but I would rather take it easy and instead stroll through Berchtesgaden before returning to Salzburg.

Boat at kings lake in Berchtesgaden

You also have to be careful about public transport back to Salzburg. Don’t miss the last bus! People often get stuck in Berchtesgaden and it’s expensive to come back to Salzburg by taxi when the last bus is gone.

Conclusion

If you have the time and the stamina, if the weather is good and you enjoy walking/hiking I recommend walking to the eagles nest. Read these articles for more information on how to get to the eagles nest or what to do in Berchtesgaden.

How about tours to the Eagles Nest?

If you would like to do the eagles nest in half a day, I recommend the tours conducted by Panorama Tours. Panorama tours is the biggest tour company in Salzburg and they are prepared to take you to the eagles nest on a half-day tour. By booking your tour via this affiliate link you, without extra cost, support the free walking tour Salzburg.

If you would like a personal hiking guide for your journey to the eagles nest who provides guidance and insider information, I recommend my good friend Claudio. He is the only one who conducts eagles nest hikes with small groups. He guides people all the way from Salzburg by public transport to the eagles nest on top of the mountain.