Lake Königssee is a large lake in the south of Bavaria near the lovely village of Berchtesgaden. The surroundings of Lake Königssee are overwhelming because it is located on the second-highest mountain in Germany, the Watzmann. Visiting Lake Königssee is one of the best things you can do when you are in Bavaria. This is because it is so beautiful. This makes Lake Königssee one of the most popular destinations to visit in Berchtesgaden National Park. Lake Königssee is easy to visit from different places on a day trip!
In this article, you read about things to do in Lake Königssee, if you should visit it independently or with a tour, how to get there, and more useful tips. We share personal tips so that you will have a great experience at Lake Königssee.
Why Lake Königssee is fun to visit?
First of all, because of the environment, it is located in a beautiful area. You are surrounded by high mountains that rise steeply from the edges of the lake, making them impressive. In addition, you can make some great hikes and visit authentic sights. When you are in Bavaria it is awesome to do every day something completely different. The advantage of visiting Lake Königssee is that you can make your visit as short or long as you want. Whether you want to go for a few hours or all day, there are plenty of options for everyone. You will discover this in this article.
Please note that Lake Königssee is a popular place to visit so we recommended visiting Lake Königssee as early as possible. Despite its popularity, it is still worth a visit! There are not that many places in Europe that are so beautiful.
Things to do in Lake Königssee?
At Lake Königssee, everyone can do something they like. There are various possibilities. You can combine a visit to the lake with a hike or take it easier by enjoying the surroundings and the peace on a bench. Read below the best things you can do at Lake Königssee.
Tip: use the map below to see where the best things in Lake Königssee can be found. Click on the top right corner to enlarge the map. If you click on the star symbol next to the title you can save this map in your Google Maps account. On the map, you can show or hide different categories. You can then use this map to navigate when you are at Lake Königssee.
#1 Boat trip on the lake
The best thing is to take a boat trip to the lake. During the boat trip, you have a different perspective on the environment. Because all boats are electric, no dirt gets into the water, making it crystal clear. This allows you to see the reflection of the mountains in the water, which is beautiful. You can compare the boat trip on Lake Königssee with the Fjords of Norway, it is that beautiful. When you start sailing early in the morning, the boat stops in the middle of the lake and the captain plays a melody with a trumpet. This sound is reflected a couple of times by the rocks, which is strange to hear.
There are several possibilities to sail to, namely to St. Bartholomä, Salet, and Kessel. When you buy tickets you can indicate where you want to go. To see the different places around the lake you have to use the boat, you can walk to this in theory, but it will take you several days which is not possible for many people. Tickets cost €20 ($21) to sail to St. Bartholomä and €25 ($26) to sail to Salet.
#1.1 Boat trip to St. Bartholomä
The most popular stop most travelers head to is St. Bartholomä. The church is beautiful to see because the red towers can be seen from afar when you sail towards it. Also because of the environment, this is one of the most unique churches to see. Next to the church is a café located with a terrace where you can eat and drink something.
When you arrive in St. Bartholomä you can walk around and sit by the water or you can do a hike. We did the hike to the Eiskapelle. You can also hike to a lookout point (Aussichtspunkt Archenkanzel). You can read more about this at activity #2.1 hike Eiskapelle and #2.2 hike Aussichtspunkt Archenkanzel.
#1.2 Boat trip to Salet
Next to Lake Königssee is a small lake called Obersee. This lake is a lot smaller and therefore more romantic. The big advantage of visiting this lake is that is not visited by a lot of people which makes it a lot quieter. To get to Obersee you have to take the boat to Salet. When you arrive here you have to walk for about 10 minutes towards Obersee. The special thing about Obersee is that there is a small wooden hut in the water where you can take beautiful pictures. This is a favorite place for photographers to visit. From this place, you can walk to a waterfall at Obersee. You can read more information about this at #2.3 hike Obersee.
Tip: Salet can be reached from mid-May to October due to the weather. You can visit St. Bartholomä and Kessel all year round.
#1.3 Boat trip to Kessel
The boat trip to Kessel is not as special as the other two stops. The reason people get off at Kessel is to hike into the mountains. if you want to get off at Kessel, you have to say this to the captain. You can go hiking to the Jenner mountain station or the Gotzenalm inn. We recommend that you discover Lake Königssee one day and visit Jenner another day. If you want to make a multi-day hike where you arrive at Gotzenalm the boat trip to Kessel is recommended.
If you do not want to hike from Lake Königssee to Jenner or if you want to go on a multi-day hike, it is not necessary to get off at Kessel.
#2 Hiking at Lake Königssee
In addition to the boat trip, you can do some hikes in the surrounding Lake Königssee. You can start hikes from the village of Schönau am Königssee where you get on the boat or at the various stops at the lake. Below you can read our favorite hikes that you can do.
#2.1 Hike Eiskapelle
This is one of the best hikes you can do in the area. You walk to a cave that is completely covered with ice inside. The hike starts at St. Bartholomä. When you are here, the hike is marked with signs.
The walk is easy in the beginning, you walk through the forest on flat terrain to St. Johann und Paul Kapelle. This is a little church along the river. When crossing the bridge you have to walk uphill for 20 minutes. At the top, all you have to do is follow the river and you will arrive at the cave. Even in summer, you can see snow here which is unique.
Tip: if you travel in periods when there is still a lot of snow, it is not recommended to do this hike. Because the last part of the hike is in a valley, temperatures are lower here, so there can still be a lot of snow. If this is the case, you better turn around. We tried to reach the cave when there was a lot of snow, but only when Cynthia sank to her armpits in the snow did it become dangerous. Normally you can do this hike without any problems but if there is a lot of snow it is better to turn around. As a guideline, mid-May to October are excellent months to do this hike.
- Distance: 15.8 km / 9.8 miles
- Duration: 3-4 hours
- Ascent/descent: 250 m / 820 feet
- Start and end point: pier at St. Bartholomä
#2.2 Hike Aussichtspunkt Archenkanzel
If you don’t want to hike that far you can walk from St. Bartholomä to a lookout point. As the name of the hike indicates when doing this hike you arrive at a lookout point from where you have a breathtaking view of the lake. We did not do this hike because with did hike #2.4 Malerwinkel (also a lookout point). The only difference is that the Archenkanzel lookout point is in the middle of the lake, allowing you to see more of the area.
- Distance: 6 km / 3.7 miles
- Duration: 2-3 hours
- Ascent/descent: 881 m / 2890 feet
- Departure and end point: pier at St. Bartholoma
#2.3 Hike Obersee
An easy hike around Obersee where you visit a waterfall next to the lake itself. This walk is suitable for everyone because of the beauty of Obersee, the small scale and it is a lot less touristy here making Obersee a top place for walking.
You can walk to the waterfall and back in one hour. When you arrive early at Obersee you can have a view of the area from the west side of the lake where there is a hut in the lake. If you want to do a nice hike, where you don’t have to share it with a lot of others, where you also visit a waterfall the hike at Obersee is recommended to do.
- Distance: 6.5 km / 4 miles
- Duration: 2 hours
- Ascent/days: 500 m / 1640 feet
- Departure and end point: pier at Salet
#2.4 Hike Malerwinkel
From the village of Schönau am Königssee you can start the hike to viewpoint Malerwinkel. The hike is easy and can be combined with your visit to Lake Königssee. From this viewpoint, you have an awesome view of the lake. When the weather is good you can also walk to the waterfall Königsbachfall. From the viewpoint Malerwinkel, you can walk up the mountains to get back to the village or if you have less time you can also walk back via the path you came.
- Distance: 8 km / 5 miles
- Duration: 2 hours
- Ascent/descent: 340 m
- Departure and end point: Schönau am Königssee
Where to eat at Lake Königssee?
When you visit St. Bartholomä and/or Kessel by boat, you can eat something there or you eat at the village of Schönau am Königssee. We recommended eating at St. Bartholomä or Kessel because the restaurants are located next to the lake.
We had lunch at Gaststätte St. Bartholomä where you can sit outside in the beer garden. You can order various dishes based on fish or meat. We ordered the currywurst. Together with a blond beer, it cost €18.20 ($19.20) per person.
At Kessel you can eat at Gaststätte Saletalm and Mooskaser Saletalm. Gaststätte Saletalm is comparable to Gaststätte St. Bartholomä. Mooskaser Saletalm is a bit smaller, so the atmosphere is cozy. The menu is less extensive, which does not mean that the food is not that good.
All three places are more than fine to eat. So eat at the place that is most practical in terms of time at the moment. When you are for example during lunchtime at Gaststätte St. Bartholomä go sit here.
Visit Lake Königssee independently or with a tour?
It depends. Our advice is when you are near Lake Königssee, doing it independently is more suitable. When you travel from Munich to Lake Königssee or from Salzburg to Lake Königssee we recommend doing it with a tour. During a tour you do not lose a lot of time, it is cheaper and there is a guide who can give you information about the area. Check actual prices and availability for the tour from Munich or Salzburg here.
If you prefer to do everything independently, this is also possible, below you can read how to get to Lake Königssee.
How do you get to Lake Königssee?
Lake Königssee can be easily reached by public transport or by car. Lake Königssee is close to Berchtesgaden, you can travel here by public transport and take a bus from Berchtesgaden to Lake Königssee. Most travelers travel from Munich, Salzburg, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Füssen or Berchtesgaden.
If you travel by plane to Germany and are looking for a rental car, you can rent it via Rentalcars. We use Rentalcars when we want to travel by car to discover a new destination. They are very easy to use and book, you get a clear overview from which to choose.
Public transport to Lake Königssee: for this, you first have to travel to Berchtesgaden and from there take several buses (lines 841, 842, 843, and 846) to Lake Königssee (village of Schönau am Königssee). See the overview below for the most common places from which people leave for Berchtesgaden. The best places to get to Berchtesgaden are Munich and Salzburg.
- From Munich to Berchtesgaden: use the train, check the actual train schedule here | €34 ($36) one way | 2 hours 45 minutes travel time
- Salzburg to Berchtesgaden: use bus 840 | €6 ($6.30) one way | 50 minutes travel time
- Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Berchtesgaden: travel from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Munich and from Munich to Berchtesgaden. This route is very cumbersome and is not recommended. Check the train schedule for the best way to travel, tickets start at €34 ($36) one way and the travel time is 4 hours and 30 minutes.
- Füssen to Berchtesgaden: from Füssen it is not recommended to travel directly to Berchtesgaden. Here too you have to travel to Munich first. Check the actual train schedule. Tickets start at €34 ($36) for one way and the travel time is 5 hours and 40 minutes.
Car to Lake Königssee: when driving to Lake Königssee you have to drive first to Berchtesgaden and then to Lake Königssee. When you arrive at Lake Königssee you find a huge parking lot where you can park your car for €8 ($8.50) a day. Travel times by car from the most common places are:
- Munich to Berchtesgaden: 1 hour 50 minutes | 155 km / 96 miles
- Salzburg to Berchtesgaden: 35 minutes | 26 km / 16 miles
- Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Berchtesgaden: 2 hours 30 minutes | 190 km / 118 miles
- Füssen to Berchtesgaden: 3 hours 10 minutes | 220 km / 136 miles
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How much time do you need for Lake Königssee?
You need a whole day to visit Lake Königssee regardless of whether you visit it on a tour or independently. Our main tip is to get on board the first boat. The advantage of this is that you arrive first at the various stops and when you start hiking there are only a handful of people. When you take the boat later in the morning, it can be a lot busier. We recommend the following timetable divided over the three seasons (this is an estimation, you don’t have to follow it minute by minute!).
Mar 23 – May 20 & Oct 4 – Oct 16
- Take boat: 09:00 am
- Hike Obersee: 10:00 am
- Boat to St. Bartholomä: 12:00 pm
- Eat at Gaststätte St. Bartholomä: 12:30 pm
- Hike Eiskappele: 1:30 pm
- Boat back: 5:00 pm
May 21 – June 24 & Sept 13 – Oct 3
- Take boat: 08:30 am
- Hike Obersee: 09:30 am
- Boat to St. Bartholomä: 11:30 am
- Eat at Gaststätte St. Bartholomä: 12:00 pm
- Hike Eiskappele: 1:30 pm
- Boat back: 5:30 pm
June 25 – Sept 12
- Take boat: 08:00 am
- Hike Obersee: 09:00 am
- Boat to St. Bartholomä: 11:30 am
- Eat at Gaststätte St. Bartholomä: 12:00 pm
- Hike Eiskappele: 1:30 pm
- Boat back: 5:30 pm
From Jan 1 – Mar 22 & Oct 17 – Dec 31: During this period you can only take the boat to St. Bartholomä. In this case, you take the boat at 09:15 am and you can walk to the Eiskapelle and Malerwinkel.
Where to stay in Lake Königssee?
We recommend staying in Berchtesgaden and visiting Lake Königssee from this authentic village. Berchtesgaden is a nice village that is excellent for visiting various places in the area. This makes Berchtesgaden a popular place, so there are plenty of accommodations to find. The only problem is that the locals also like to travel to Berchtesgaden and because of this it is fully booked quickly. It is therefore important that you make your reservation on time.
Our personal favorite:
We stayed in Hotel Krone and recommend it 100%! For us, this was the best accommodation we stayed at during our trip through Bavaria. The rooms are neat, breakfast is super good, the owners are nice, it is quietly located, within walking distance of the center and the best thing is that you have a private balcony from which you have a lovely view over the region. We enjoyed our stay at Hotel Krone and rate it a 10.
Location, price and view:
Alpenhotel Kronprinz is similar to Hotel Krone, only this hotel is slightly bigger and therefore they can offer more luxury. This hotel is highly recommended for travelers seeking this. Like Hotel Krone, you can enjoy the Bavarian culture here.
If you are looking for a resort, Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden a the place for you to stay.
What is the best period to visit Lake Königssee?
Lake Königssee can be visited all year round. The best period is from March 23 to October 16, because then you can visit Obersee. This is not possible outside this period.
In terms of temperature, summer is the best period, because it is then on average 21°C / 69.8°F. During the spring and autumn period, the average temperature is 15°C / 59°F. In addition, it is important to know that if you want to walk to the Eiskapelle, this is only possible from mid-May to the end of October, outside this period there is too much snow so you cannot reach the Eiskapelle.
Want to see more of Germany and Bavaria?
Hopefully, our article has helped you to give a clear picture of what you can do at Lake Königssee.
Besides Lake Königssee you can see many other great things in Germany and Bavaria. For example, close to Lake Königssee you find Berchtesgaden. From Berchtesgaden, you can visit other sights like the Eagle’s Nest. We made a Bavaria itinerary that you can use as inspiration to make your route.
You can also travel from Lake Königssee to Munich, Füssen, or Salzburg. Munich is the city to get to know the culture of Bavaria. In Füssen you can visit the world-famous Neuschwanstein Castle. You can also visit Salzburg, a small city where you can get to know Austrian hospitality.
What do you think of Lake Königssee? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Disclaimer: the prices mentioned in this article may differ from the current situation. We regularly update our articles. Would you like to help us to provide to best possible insights to help other travelers leave a comment with the latest information. Thanks!
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