Plunging deep into Austria and framed by six high-rise mountain ranges, the Berchtesgadener Land is a drop-dead-gorgeous corner of Bavaria steeped in myths and legends. Local lore has it that angels given the task of distributing the earth’s wonders were startled by God’s order to get a shift on and dropped them all here by accident. These most definitely included the Watzmann (2713m), Germany’s second-highest mountain, and the pristine Königssee, perhaps Germany’s most photogenic body of water.
Much of the area is protected by law within the Berchtesgaden National Park, which was declared a biosphere reserve by Unesco in 1990. The village of Berchtesgaden is the obvious base for hiking circuits into the park.
Away from the trails, the area has a more sinister aspect – the mountaintop Eagle’s Nest was a lodge built for Hitler and is now a major dark-tourism destination while the Dokumentation Obersalzberg chronicles the region’s Nazi past.