A perfect weekend in the alpine town of Bad Reichenhall
From underground brine springs to high up on the summit of the Predigtstuhl: The small town of Bad Reichenhall is located in the Berchtesgaden Alps at the southeasternmost tip of Bavaria and surprises with its own philharmonic orchestra, the oldest large cable car in the world that has been preserved in its original state, the most beautiful fashion house in the republic, and many free wellness options.
The 18.000-inhabitant town lies in the Reichenhall basin on the Saalach river. Its history is closely linked to the extraction of salt from brine is. Local mountains are the Predigtstuhl and the Hochstaufen.
Saturday morning: Nostalgia and breakfast on the mountain
The Predigtstuhl is Bad Reichenhall's local mountain and with its 1584 meters very close to the sky. You can save yourself the three- to four-hour, demanding hike to the top by taking the world's oldest, original, large-cabin cable car – the "Grande Dame". The Predigtstuhlbahn, built in 1928, with its red "saloon cars" in the shape of pavilions, is a nostalgia train straight out of a picture book. It is the only cable car in the world that is a listed monument.
At their commissioning it surpassed all cable cars built up to that time in terms of elegance, speed and boldness and was considered the perfect cable lift. Its entire drive and machinery system has been operating purely mechanically since 1928 and still works flawlessly today. Everything is still in its original state. At a speed of 18 kilometers per hour, it will take you up to the Predigtstuhl in eight and a half minutes, over a 75 percent incline in places. Already during the ride you have a spectacular view of the rugged rocks of the Predigtstuhl and the Chiemgau mountains. Once at the top, breakfast awaits you in a very special ambience: The mountain restaurant was built at the same time as the cable car and exudes the charm of the golden 1920s. On the sun terrace as well as on the hiking trails up to the summit you have a fantastic view far into the Austrian Alps.
The Predigtstuhl cable car is the oldest large cable car in the world preserved in its original form © gallas – stock.adobe.com
Saturday afternoon: shopping in the most beautiful fashion house of the republic
After so much nature it is time for a stroll through the city: while strolling through the historic city center, you will automatically come across the two-kilometer-long pedestrian zone. Here is the department store "Juhasz", voted the most beautiful fashion store in Germany and one of the top 5 in the world (opening hours on Saturday from 9.30 to 17 o'clock). The interior design alone is eye-catching – the interiors have exposed concrete ceilings, oak-paneled walls and a designer screed with etched patterns. The integration of the old city wall of Bad Reichenhall into the modern architecture of the fashion house also contributes to the stylish shopping atmosphere.
In the pedestrian zone of Bad Reichenhall you will find numerous selected and high-quality stores © fottoo – stock.adobe.com
The front of the Old Town Hall is decorated with frescoes of important personalities of Bad Reichenhall © hifografik – stock.adobe.com
Saturday afternoon: Off to the alpine brine!
Heavy legs after the shopping trip? Yes, now comes relaxation! In Bad Reichenhall, this is called Rupertus Therme – after the patron saint of salt mining, St. Rupert of Salzburg – and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. The local remedy, Alpine brine, is pumped directly from the brine springs beneath the town into the thermal baths and distributed among the active pools, the lounging pools and the steam baths. The natural alpine brine cares for the skin, loosens muscles and joints and strengthens the immune system. The 32- to 40-degree indoor and outdoor pools are divided into the "Therme& Wellness" and "Sport& Family" distributed and offer fantastic views of the mountains. In the integrated Laist Salt Center you can also try out treatments with Laist, the mineral-rich alpine brine mud. The natural remedy is said to tighten, drain and stimulate the microcirculation of the skin. Laist also helps with skin irritations. Strengthens the immune system.
Saturday evening: Concert of the Philharmonic Orchestra
Bad Reichenhall has 19.000 inhabitants – and its own philharmonic orchestra with 40 professional musicians. The tradition of the only philharmonic spa orchestra in Germany goes back 150 years. Its high level of playfulness attracts artists from all over the world. Since December 2020, the young American conductor and pianist Daniel Spaw, who enjoys great international acclaim, has been leading the orchestra. Spa concerts take place in the summer months in the concert rotunda. Held in the pavilion in the Royal Spa Garden.
Charming venue of the Philharmonic Orchestra Bad Reichenhall – the concert rotunda in the spa garden © alexpolo – stock.adobe.com
Sunday morning: Marvel at the Old Salt Works
On the trail of white gold: The Alte Reichenhaller Saline is one of the oldest existing inland salt works in Europe, the most important historical building in the town and also an industrial monument. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Here you get a fascinating insight into the millennia-old salt history of the area above and below ground. Guided tours last 45 minutes and take you along a 400-meter-long path with 200 steps through the widely ramified underground tunnel system. There is a constant temperature of twelve degrees all year round. Worth seeing underground are the salt caves. The Karl Theodor Pump. Want to know more about salt? Then check out the attached salt museum and salt store, where you can buy great souvenirs.
City of white gold – Bad Reichenhall's history is also the history of centuries of salt mining © Sina Ettmer – stock.adobe.com
After careful restoration, the Old Royal Spa House shines in new splendor © ErnstPieber – stock.adobe.com
Sunday (after) noon: foot massage and graduation house
In the old salt works you will find also a lovingly designed restaurant, the Salin. Its sun terrace is considered the most beautiful in the city. The ambience combines modernity with history, and even the cuisine blends seemingly opposite poles such as salty and sweet or exotic and familiar. So much pleasure almost calls for the next feeling of well-being. You will discover this during a short walk opposite the Royal Spa Garden. In the Ortenaupark there are namely free foot massages – and on the barefoot path. Take off your shoes and socks and consciously notice the tread on stone, wood or bark mulch.
Also for your lungs is waiting in the spa park a health program: the graduation house. Built in 1912 in the Royal Spa Garden, it is considered the world's largest open-air alpine brine inhalatorium. The 160-meter-long, roofed structure houses around 100.000 bundles of brushwood piled up to a height of 13 meters. About 400 tons of iron trickle over them every day.000 liters of alpine brine, which atomizes on the branches of blackthorn bundles and produces a tiny, respirable aerosol that penetrates to the deepest airways. The inhaled alpine brine air cleanses your respiratory tract, has an anti-inflammatory effect and moistens the bronchial tubes. This reduces the swelling of the respiratory mucous membranes, regenerates them, and stimulates blood circulation. For the best inhalation effect, walk slowly and calmly through your nose for half an hour on the side away from the wind, where the alpine brine does not trickle. The graduation house is closed in winter, from 1.