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.
Table of Contents
The Königssee is located in the Berchtesgaden national park near the city of Berchtesgaden in Bavaria, Southern Germany, Europe.
The green lake and the area are a protected natural reserve, surrounded by mountains and touching on all sides of the Austria and Bavarian Alps. The lake is elongated and beneath the mount Watzmann.
The lake can be easily accessed from Munich in Germany and Salzburg in Austria. Königssee is German and means translated King’s lake.
✨ Highlights and Lake Map
Here are some of the most important highlights why you might want to visit the Königssee area:
- Schönau am Königssee – the boat docking village.
- Malerwinkel – the picturesque painter’s corner next to Schönau
- St.Bartholomä – the first stop with the boat across the lake.
- Salet – the second station at the other end of the lake.
- Jenner mountain top – Take the Jenner cable car stations to the observation deck.
🌄 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 in the massive open-air car parking space near the lake, which is an 8-minute walk to Schönau am Königssee and the lake shores.
In Schönau itself, you get to stroll about, enjoy authentic regional food in a restaurant, buy a boat tour ticket, or in summer, you can go for a swim too.
I recommend walking along the lake after the boating buildings to the Malerwinkel forest, which is known as one of the most beautiful places on the kings lake.
🚢 Boat tours
The boat tours are organized by the Bayerische Seenschifffahrt Königssee with electric boats that can take up to 40 persons.
Tickets can be bought next to the boat dock at one of the three ticket booths in Schönau am Königssee.
There are two types of boat trip 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 while on the lake, so that boat visitors get to experience the echoes. It is an out-of-the-world experience and something that I enjoyed the most on this trip.
Note: Toilets can be found in Schönau, on St.Bartholomä and Salet but not on the boats.
Here are the prices valid from 1.January onwards for the year 2023.
Kids younger than 5 years get a free ride, and they have special prices for families with more than one child (€1 per aditional kid).
With a disabled pass, you can get a free ride across the lake. Ask for it at the ticket booth.
|Price per Adult||Price per Child||Duration|
|Schönau to St. Bartholomä boat round trip||€22||€11||total 70 minutes|
|Schönau to Salet boat round trip||€27.50||€13.80||total 120 minutes|
|Schönau to St. Bartholomä boat one way (or St. Bartholomä to Schönau)||€11||€5.50||35 minutes|
|Schönau to Salet boat one way (or Salet to Schönau)||€13.80||€6.90||60 minutes|
Boat Tour Hours
The time for the first boat to go out and the last boat to come are fixed as per the tables below.
Note that if you miss the last boat from St.Bartholomä or Salet, you will have to be picked up by the lake guard, which can cost you somewhere between €200 and €540.
You can’t stay overnight in St.Bartholomä or Salet as it is a nature reserve and camping is prohibited. There is no way to get back to Schönau walking.
You can jump on a boat ride as soon as you have a ticket, the boat tickets are not fixed to a particular line and time in the day. You can rest as long as you want during the day in St.Bartholomä or Salet.
The Peak Season runs from 24.06 to 11.09. 2023, the Mid Season is from 18.05. to 23.06.23 and 12.09 to 03.10.2023 and the Low Season is from 29.04 to 17.05 and 4.10 to 15.10.2023.
|Summer Hours||Peak Season||Mid-Season||Low Season|
|Schönau to Bartholomä and Salet||First Boat at 8:00 am|
Last Boat at 4:45 pm
|First Boat at 8:30 am|
Last Boat at 4:45 pm
|First Boat at 9:00 am|
Last Boat at 4:15 pm
|Salet to Schönau||First Boat at 8:55 am|
Last Boat at 5:40 pm
|First Boat at 9:25 am|
Last Boat at 5:40 pm
|First Boat at 9:55 am|
Last Boat at 5:10 pm
|St.Bartholomä to Schönau||First Boat at 9:15 am|
Last Boat at 6:00 pm
|First Boat at 9:45 am|
Last Boat at 6:00 pm
|First Boat at 1015 am|
Last Boat at 5:30 pm
The winter hours will be released at the end of the summer season.
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 of St.Bartholomä, eat in the restaurant and former hunting lodge next to the church, 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 ice chapel can take somewhere between 1 and 1 1/2 hours to get there, and you get a lovely view from there.
🌅 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 natural environment.
It’s less crowded here, as people tend to just visit St.Bartholomä, so you will be escaping groups of people by visiting Salet foremost.
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.
I also recommend that you hike up to the highest waterfall in Germany, the Röthbach waterfall, which is another 90 minutes from lake Obersee to the falls.
This is a great place to be with the family too to explore and get to know the German alps.
🚶 More Things to Know
Ask at the ticket counter if you can be dropped with the boat 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. The ticket counter can provide additional information.
Look out for the Romy Schneider exhibition at the entrance of Schönau near the parking lot. The late actress played the empress Sissi in a popular movie series.
You will find a Tourist Information desk right next to the parking lot, and they can give you great hiking trail ideas.
You can also take the Jennerbahn cable car, up the Jenner Observation deck for the most beautiful scenery outlook. The cable car is located at the end of the main Schönau parking lot.
🥘 What to eat there?
You have to try the local foods when you are at konigsee lake!
Some specialties are very Bavarian and others are quite Austrian.
- Weißwurst (white sausage) 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 Sauerkraut with bread dumplings or potato dumplings.
- Classic Wiener Schnitzel – 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 freezing in winter, so dress accordingly.
On the other hand, in summer it can get 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 30 degrees Celsius.
Please keep in mind 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.
Summer is the peak season and that mainly includes July and August because that’s when the school holidays start. September is a bit less busy, and it’s perhaps the best time to visit, but temperatures can be tricky in this month.
You can go swimming in the lake, which is definitely a great activity when you have such a gorgeous backdrop and spotless 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.
I recommend visiting by mid-October because that’s when the foliage has turned bright yellow, orange and red.
Snow-covered mountains and perhaps a completely 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 Christmastime is a charming and memorable experience for the whole family.
Blooming trees, singing birds, and a new season for the national park, which surrounds the lake.
Spring is a romantic time of the year to visit Königssee, and it’s a quiet time for most travelers.
The temperatures in April can still dip to 50 Fahrenheit (ca. 10 °C) in the day, so dress appropriately.
We visited lately again at the end of June, and it was already rather hot for the time of the year, so dress accordingly because the weather can change fast in the mountains.
🚗 How to get there?
You can get from the direction of Salzburg, Munich, 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 Munich to visit the mighty king’s lake.
If you make Berchtesgaden your base, you can travel by bus to the Königssee. Take the 841 or the 842 lines and get out at Schönau am Königssee.
From Salzburg (Austria)
Take the B305 to Berchtesgaden from Salzburg.
The drive is about 40–50 minutes long.
You can also book a guided day trip from Salzburg to Königssee.
From Münich (Germany)
From Munich city take the highway direction Salzburg and then the B305 in Salzburg to Berchtesgaden. The drive is almost 2 hours long.
You can also book a convenient day trip tour from Munich to the Königssee.
From Innsbruck (Austria)
From Innsbruck take the highway and get out at Wörgl, and proceed to take the E178 direction St.Johann in Tirol/Lofer. Continue after Lofer and Unken to cross the border to Germany.
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 near Schneizelreuth.
🏰 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.
- Go to Ramsau and the picture-perfect St.Sebastian Church.
- Hike the Wimbachklamm Gorge.
- Visit the Zaubersee lake.
- 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.
Can I bring my dog on the boat and to Salet or St.Bartholomä?
Yes, you can bring your dog but it has to be on the leash and a muzzle is compulsory during the boat ride. The dog boat ticket is €5.
Can I use my drone at the Königssee?
No, the usage of drones is not allowed on the Königssee and around the lake.
What does Königssee mean?
Königssee means, the king’s lake.
What is special about the Königssee lake?
The Königssee lake, together with the Eibsee near Garmisch, is considered the most beautiful lake in Germany. Crystal clear mountain glacier waters and the fact that it’s the deepest lake in Germany, make it special.
Can you swim in the Königsee lake?
Yes, you will find designated swiming beach areas at Schönau, St. Bartholomä and in Salet.
How deep is the Königssee?
The deepest point of this magnificent lake is 620 feet (ca. 189 meters) making it the deepest lake in Germany.
What is the closest airport to lake Königssee?
The closest airport to lake Königsee and the Berchtesgaden area is Salzburg. The international airport in Salzburg caters to Berchtesgaden in Germany. The next airport, which is much bigger with more frequent flight connections, is Munich airport.
What are the parking charges?
Parking at the Königssee doesn’t come cheap, but that’s the only parking lot in the vicinity. You have to buy a parking ticket at the ticketing machine. You will find a few spread out in the parking lot. Parking for 1 hour is €3, 3 hours is €7, a day ticket €8. If you have a guest card (you get that when you book a room in the region and pay tourist tax), it will be reduced by €1 to €2. The machine takes only coins, and you have to place the ticket visible on your car dashboard facing the front window in your car. They do offer an app ticketing model, but we haven’t used it, so we can’t tell you if it’s very reliable. Parking is free of charge from 7 pm to 7 am (at night).
👁️ Other travel attractions nearby
- Salzburg City (Austria)
- Hohe Tauern High Altitude Pass (Austria)
- St.Johann in Tirol and Kitzbühel ski resort (Austria)
- Oktoberfest Munich and a trip to discover attractions in Munich.