A Day at Berchtesgaden Salt Mine

Salt mine with winding tower.
Salt mine with winding tower.

A Day at Berchtesgaden Salt Mine

by Anna Leigh Bagiackas
Stripes Europe

Do you ever play the “What if” game? “What if we lived in Europe or Germany? Where would we live or where would we vacation in the summertime?” My answer to the last question would undoubtedly be Berchtesgaden, Germany.

While you could spend a weekend, a week or many weeks exploring the city and surrounding area of Berchtesgaden, you can also get a taste of this Bavarian city in just a day. For a particularly unique experience, head to Berchtesgaden Salt Mine, an underground world that has been mining salt, or “white gold,” for over 500 years. While it is a worthy destination any time, this is a great option for a rainy day if the hike in the Alps you had planned is no longer in the cards.

The Berchtesgaden Salt Mine was officially founded in 1517 and has only been under the rule of Bavaria in 1816. Having celebrated its 500thanniversary in 2017, the mine continues to be active today and utilizes the same “wet mining” method it has been using since its founding.

This is truly a tour unlike any other, and because photography and filming are prohibited, it will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The tour begins with a lovely view of the salt mine’s full operation and the landscape of Berchtesgaden. From there you will take a train 650 meters into the mountain. You will then encounter the first of two slides (with a non-slide option), to travel 34 meters down into the Salt Cathedral, built over 250 years ago.

From there you will discover the beautiful Salt Grotto, built in honor of King Ludwig II. From there you will get your brief lesson in salt and an illustration of how the current mine functions. See the blind elevator shaft used by workers today, imagining what it would be like traveling underground each day for work. You will also get to view the tunnels, impressive machinery used in the mining process and a light-show that teaches the importance of salt in our daily life. Go down the second slide and into one of the deepest points of the mine—Mirror Lake. Experience this wondrous place deep in the mountain before seeing the 14-ton bronze pump used for 110 years in the mine. When you finally make your way back up to ground level, all the places you just visited may feel rather otherworldly.

Once you experience the beauty of the Alps, the turquoise blue lakes and rivers, the charming Bavarian old town and the wondrous world of the Berchtesgaden Salt Mine maybe you will have the same answer as I do to the “What if” game.

Things to Know

Visitors are given protective overalls to protect their clothing and stay warm in the mine, which is consistently at 12°C. Tickets are 21 euro for adults and 10.90 euro for children, with discounted deals on families and groups. You can also purchase a combination ticket with the Old Salt Works attraction in Bad Reichenhall. All tickets should be purchased online, in order to choose a time for the guided tour and ensure capacity. The Bergschänke Restaurant on-site provides tasty Bavarian cuisine in the mine’s old engine house, as well as an outdoor terrace. You can also get your fill of salt, seasonings and other salt-related gifts at the Salt Shop.

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