Hiking Untersberg (by public transportation)
A great hike in the Alps
September 22, 2018
I just got home from a great trip to Bavaria and Salzburg in Austria. I had been planning a trip to Germany for a few years, and part of the reason I chose Bavaria was to see the Alps. I didn't want to rent a car or drive on the trip, that sounded like a lot of potential stress. I was worried we wouldn't be able to get to an Alp using public transportation, but Untersberg was incredibly easy to get to, a great hike, and one of my favorite parts of the trip.
The Mountain - Untersberg
Untersberg mountain on the border of Germany and Austria, just 10 miles away from Salzburg (and close to Berchtesgaden too). The elevation at the top is 6,470 feet, which may seem low compared to the high elevations of the Rocky Mountains, but you have to remember Salzburg below sits at about 1,400 feet, making Untersberg almost a mile high above the city, the mountain is impressively steep.
There is a cable car to the "top", and a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. The views from the cable car building are amazing and Salzburg seems so tiny down below. There are some great hiking trails accessible from the cable car building/restaurant too.
Getting there by Public Transport
Bus 25 runs between the main Salzburg Train Station (Salzburg Hauptbahnhof) and Untersbergbahn. The base of Untersbergbahn has cable-car access to the top. I have attached a recent Bus 25 timetable below. There are many stops around Salzburg, and they are well marked on Google Maps and at the bus stops themselves. Getting a bus ticket is easy. They can be bought at Tobacco Shops or from the bus drivers themselves. This is explained in detail on Salzburg's website. Once you are there, you can either hike to the top or take the cable-car.
Bus 25 Timetable PDF
Getting there from Munich will take longer. You'll need to take a Deutsche Bahn train to Salzburg (about an hour and a half). Then follow the instructions from Salzburg, above.
Bus 840 goes between Berchtesgaden and Salzburg, and stops at Untersbergbahn. Timetable is here.
Hiking on the Mountain
Once you get off the cable car at the top, you have some hiking trails available. The most well-traveled trail will take you to the peak. It is an easy-moderate hike that took us about 45 minutes each way. You will gain some elevation and get great views of the surrounding area. We were also in a cloud for a little while on the trail, obscuring our view. There were no particularly dangerous cliffs to worry about, though you don't want to go off the trail, because the mountain is incredibly steep, and you aren't supposed to step on the grass growing alongside the trail.
If you are strong, you could hike up and down the mountain without the cable car. We some hard-core trail runners doing this, but it would be very difficult for an average person. There are other hikes in the area as well, this post by The Marmot Post describes a two day trip hiking on the Untersberg.
Restaurant on Top
There is a good place to eat on top by the cable car station. I don't know what it was called, but it was simple inexpensive German/Austrian food. We had bratwurst, sauerkraut, fries, and apfelstrudel. It was very good, and the views from the restaurant were great. You can sit indoors or outdoors.
Overall, hiking on the Untersberg was a highlight of my trip. I would definitely do it again if I ever go back. Another hike I would like to do in the area is Almbach Gorge, described here at tripsget.com and here at Thrify Travel Mama and accessible from Bus 840.