Salzburg is by no means a smoky metropolis, but the opportunity to spend a few days up in the mountains that I admire from a distance everyday, and appreciate the silence, night time darkness and fresh air of the Alps, is a real treat. My family’s visit was a perfect opportunity to get familiar with the mountains, as I hadn’t really made the most of my opportunities to get hiking thus far, and having a car to hand made everything a whole lot easier as well!
Our main hike of the trip was up to the Kehlsteinhaus, better known as Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest, a chalet nestled on the Kehlstein, a sub-peak of the Hoher Göll, and the man’s rather grand 50th birthday present.
Rumour has it, a fear of heights put him off visiting, and he hardly spent much time there at all; thankfully, the building today is by no means a ‘museum’, and access to the historically-significant lower rooms is somewhat restricted. I even read, albeit on Wikipedia, that Hitler’s former study now serves as a cafeteria store room.
Primarily it just serves as a restaurant with a knock-out view and a fascinating past, though it’s still a huge tourist attraction; they really do flock here in droves. The main problem with visiting the Kehlsteinhaus is its accessibility, as the road up to the house, blasted out of solid rock in 1938 and considered a true feat of engineering, can only be used by buses, leaving from the Hintereck parking area at Obersalzberg, and costing €16.10 per adult return. Alternatively, you can hike up there, and those are your options!
Hiking it was, and easy on the legs it was not, though I must say that the route was extremely well sign-posted and paved, so no map is needed, and running trainers are fine for the job. This meant that it was not a difficult hike by any means, but there’s little protection from the sun, and the route really is up up up with almost no flat parts. You’ve been warned.
The recommended hike time from the Hintereck car park was four hours; we powered and did it in two, spent an hour at the top, and took about an hour and a half to reach the car park again. Very few people had bothered to hike, pretty much all reaching the top by bus, which is understandable; tourist groups are on a tight schedule, and you don’t really want to be dragging your young kids or elderly grandparents up to 1834m on foot. However, I am pretty sure that the view from the top is far far better if you’ve busted your gut to get up there, and are able to look down from the top to see the switchback paths you trod and your car parked in the distance.
As for the view from the top, it really is as good as it gets; a 360 panorama of German/Austrian peaks near and far, the city of Salzburg, Festung and all, in the distance, and the Königssee lake (which is just behind my head in the photo!) On a beautifully clear day, there is no view to better it.
As far as adventurous day trips from Salzburg are concerned, this will go down as one of my favourites!