Just over the German border, and still just 30 minutes away from Salzburg, is Berchtesgaden. This charming, postcard-perfect town is beautiful in its own right, and its backdrop is made up of stunning mountain peaks and salt mines. These salt grottoes look like they are made from diamonds, not to mention the surreal subterranean lake. However, what makes Berchtesgaden so popular is that it houses the Eagle’s Nest, or Kehlsteinhaus. From this vantage point, you can admire spectacular vistas, and it was created as a gift for Adolf Hitler. Even after the end of World War II, Kehlsteinhaus was preserved. It is, today, a poignant reminder of the past.
Southeast of Salzburg is Hallstatt, a small town that overlooks the gorgeous blue waters of Lake Hallstatt. The history of this town dates back for more than 4,000 years, with the region being used primarily because of its available salt mines. Today, most visitors arrive for the picturesque views and the charming town itself. During the summer, cars aren’t allowed in Hallstatt, making it a completely pedestrian-friendly spot to explore on foot. You can tour the original salt mines, if you wish, or you could explore a very unusual attraction called the Beinhaus. The Beinhaus, or Bone House, is where the stacked bones of previous residents are dried and stacked because of limited burial space in the town.
Less than 30 km (20 miles) east of Salzburg is Wolfgangsee, a lake in the resort region known as Salzkammergut. On the banks of the Wolfgangsee, there are lots of charming restaurants and small towns with a rich, historic appeal. One such town, St. Gilgen, boasts so-called “chocolate box houses” with visible exterior timbers and a classic Austrian style. The Wolfgangsee is a place for outdoor adventure, and pastimes like hiking and boating are a big draw to the area. Don’t leave without trying the local culinary specialty, Steckerlfisch, which is a local fish grilled on a skewer over an open flame.
Direct train links connect Salzburg and Munich, making the Bavarian capital a great day trip destination for visitors. Munich is an incredible city with lots to see. In the city center, or Altstadt, you will definitely want to check out the New City Hall built on the Marienplatz. Listen for the sounds of the Glockenspiel, which goes off regularly all day. There are dozens of museums to explore in Munich, so pick the subject that appeals to you most: BMW cars, antiques, Bavarian history and so much more. Even if you’re not in Munich during Oktoberfest, join the crowds of tourists at beer halls like Hofbräuhaus for a pint.
5. Eisriesenwelt Cave
Also in the town of Werfen are the Eisriesenwelt Ice Caves. These are naturally formed ice and limestone caves in the Hochkogel Mountain. Eisriesenwelt, which translates into English as World of the Ice Giants, is considered to be the largest ice cave in the entire world. The cave is only open from May to October each year, but don’t let the summer climate aboveground fool you. In the cave, temperatures are often below freezing. Some of the top attractions on a tour of the cave include Alexander von Mörk Cathedral, which is the largest room in the cave, and the enormous stalactite called Posselt Tower.