The Königssee lake is known as the most beautiful lake in Germany with its emerald shine and mountains surrounding the lake.
I have put together this guide on how to get the most out of your trip to the Königssee.
The Königssee is located in Berchtesgaden in Bavaria South Germany.
The lake and the area are a protected natural reserve, surrounded by mountains and touching on all sides of the Austria alps.
The lake can be easily accessed from Münich in Germany and Salzburg in Austria.
Königssee is German and means translated King’s lake.
🌄 Schönau am Königssee
Schönau is the first village everyone gets to at the beginning of the journey as it is directly located on the banks of the Königssee lake.
The village is not really a typical village inhabited by locals but more like a little tourist spot for visitors from around the world.
Cars and buses are parked on the massive open-air car parking space near the lake.
You will need to walk about 8 minutes from the car park to the lake shores.
In Schönau itself, you get to stroll about, enjoy authentic regional food in a restaurant, buy a boat tour ticket, or n summer you can go for a swim too.
You can also take the cable car, the Jennerbahn, up the mountain in Schönau (located near the car park).
🚢 Boat tours
The boat tours are organized by the Bayerische Seenschifffahrt Königssee and tickets can be bought next to the port in the various ticket counters.
There are two types of ticket tours that you can get.
The first is a shorter tour and cheaper ferry ride option to St.Bartholomä.
The second is a longer tour, and a little more pricey option, to Salet and the lake Obersee (a small mountain lake on top of the Königssee).
Most people take the St.Bartholomä tour because the ride is shorter too.
I would suggest that you take the Salet tour if you want fewer crowds, you have time and you want to go hiking or trekking in the mountains.
The boat ride itself is very idyllic, especially because the crew members explain the history and facts of the area.
In fact, they even play a piece on the trumpet which is an out-of-the-world experience and something that Paul enjoyed the most on this trip.
Complete ticket rates for adults, children and dogs can be viewed and purchased on the official boat tour website.
St.Bartholomä is a former village that is part of the natural reserve and which was turned into a tourist spot with original regional buildings.
You can only get there by boat because the lake is not round but super elongated.
The boat ride to get there takes about 30 minutes and you can hang out as long as you want on St.Bartholomä as long as you don’t forget to take the last ferry ride back to Schönau.
Ferry rides back to Schönau are frequent especially in the busy summer months, so you don’t have to wait too long.
You can visit the Baroque church in St.Bartholomä, visit the national park information points, take a relaxing walk on the banks of the lake and through the forest, or go for a swim.
Word of caution if you want to go for a swim.
The water is ice cold and you better know how to swim because there is no lifeguard.
Besides, the stones to get into the water are slippery and poky in some areas.
Another idea is to hike up the trail to the Eiskapelle, which is a chapel in ice (even in summer, although climate change is at work).
The hike to the Eiskapelle can take somewhere between 1 to 1 1/2 hours to get there and you get a lovely view.
🌅 Salet and Lake Obersee
The Salet stop is great for all those who want to go hiking or those who want a more quiet but hypernatural environment.
The Obersee is a small mountain lake situated on top of the majestic Königssee.
You can access the Obersee by walking there which takes about 15 minutes.
This is a great place to be with the family too to explore and get to know the German alps.
🚶 Walking around and other Ferry Stops
Ask at the ticket counter if you can be dropped at other places such as at Kessel.
Kessel is the starting point for trekking tours into the mountains to get to famous alms such as the Götzenalm.
You can also just get a ticket to St.Bartholomä and walk to Salet.
Get informed at the ticket counter.
🥘 What to eat there?
You have to try some of the local foods when you are at konigsee lake!
Some of the specialties are very bavarian and others are quite Austrian.
- Weißwurst with sweet mustard sauce and Semmel bread. (white sausage from Munich)
- Obatzda – Bavarian beer garden cheese dip. Great with radi (radish)
- Sauerkraut, Sausage or pork roast with bread dumplings or potato dumplings.
- Wienerschnitzel – Vienna Schnitzel but pork meat is used in South Germany and West Austria.
- Deer Goulash (not the soup) with Spätzle, Lingonberry Jam, and chanterelle mushrooms. Fall and autumn specialty
- Goulash soup
- Blackforest Cake
- Kaiserschmarrn (Austrian scratch pancakes)
🌨️ Best Time to Visit
Each season has its perks and advantages.
The weather can be rather cool and super cold in winter, so dress accordingly.
On the other hand, in summer it can get 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 30 degrees Celsius.
Don’t forget your sun protection in the summer because the sun is strong in the mountains!
We visited in summer and fall in the past, but not in winter.
However, my hometown is just across the border so I can tell you what winter and spring are like.
You can go swimming in the lake which is definitely a great activity when you have such a gorgeous backdrop and super clean water.
But it’s a mountain lake so be aware that the water can be quite fresh.
This didn’t stop us and we loved taking a swim in the lake when we were in St.Bartholomä.
It can get hot and it’s crowded in summer but there is plenty of space around the lake to find a peaceful spot.
Autumn is such a magical time to visit lake Königssee.
The tree leaves turn alluring bright yellow and red shades.
The mountains are colorful, mirroring in the lake.
Crisp air, fewer crowds, seasonal food specialties, that’s what you get in autumn.
Snow-covered mountains and perhaps a totally frozen lake, that’s what you get in winter.
Yet most probably, if the weather allows it, you will get a chance to use the ferry to go to St.bartholomä or to Salet.
Especially, Advent Christmas time is a charming and memorable experience for the whole family.
Blooming trees, singing birds, and a new season for the national park, which is surrounding the lake.
Spring is a romantic time in the year to visit Königssee and it’s a quiet time for most travelers.
🚗 How to get there?
You can get from the direction of Salzburg, Münich, or Innsbruck to the Königssee by car or bus.
Hire a car, taxi, or get a bus or train ticket to Berchtesgaden to get to Königssee.
Or you can pick a guided tour, with a meeting point in Salzburg or Münich to visit the mighty king’s lake.
From Salzburg (Austria)
Take the B305 to Berchtesgaden from Salzburg.
The drive is about 40-50 minutes long.
You can also plan on doing a guided day trip from Salzburg to Königssee.
From Münich (Germany)
From Münich city take the highway direction Salzburg and then the B305 in Salzburg to Berchtesgaden.
The drive is almost 2 hours long.
From Innsbruck (Austria)
From Innsbruck take the highway to Wörgl, then the E178 to cross the German border
Right after the border at the village of Schneizelreuth, take the B305 direction Berchtesgaden and get out at Schönau.
The drive is about 2 1/2 hours long and there might be road works going on in Schneizelreuth (which is kind of a godforsaken village at the end of the world)
🏰 Day Trips
You can also turn the town of Berchtesgaden into your base to enjoy a few authentic days surrounded by nature.
Here are some of the things that you can do
- Take a hike in the Berchtesgaden National Park
- Visit the Berchtesgaden Salt Mine – Salzbergwerk
- Visit the Obersalzberg in Berchtesgaden on a guided day trip to learn about Hitler’s eagle’s nest
- Take a round on the Rossfeld Panorama road pass to experience the spectacular view
The Area is not that budget-friendly and the cheapest B&B rooms and apartments around Schönau are priced somewhere at 60-70 Euro per night.
The 5 star Kempinski Hotel (Berchtesgarde) is most definitely the best comfortable stay option that you can get in the area!
Kempinski comes with a price tag, however, breakfast is included, a memorable stay and they provide a reliable airport shuttle service.
Hotel Zechmeisterlehen is a 4 star superior located near Schönau am Königssee. It’s another comfortable alternative.
👁️ Other travel attractions
- Hohe Tauern High Altitude Pass (Austria)
- St.Johann in Tirol (Austria)
- Oktoberfest Munich or Herbstfest Rosenheim in fall (Germany)