Located in Berchtesgaden National Park in the southeast of the German state of Bavaria, Königssee is a beautiful, crystal-clear freshwater lake that stretches almost eight kilometres and lies within a spectacular alpine region. With a maximum depth of 190 metres, it’s one of Germany’s deepest lakes and is a must-visit location for anyone who appreciates spending time in areas of outstanding natural beauty.
From Bavaria’s capital, Munich, you can easily travel by bus to Schönau am Königssee, a municipality located near the northern end of the lake. Fares vary and can be as low as six euros. The journey takes around three to three and a half hours.
If you happen to be in the city of Salzburg in Austria, you’re even closer to Königssee than Munich is. It’s just a quick trip across the Austria-Germany border border. Take the 840 bus from Salzburg to Berchtesgaden and then bus 843 to Königssee. The whole journey takes around an hour. If you’re making it a day trip, you can get a return ticket for under 20 euros.
What to Do
Make the most of your time at Königssee; there’s a lot to enjoy, from the natural beauty of the lake, mountains, trees, plants and wildlife to the traditional and modern attractions in nearby Schönau am Königssee.
Boat Trips on the Lake
Boat trips on the lake are well worth it for the stupendous views and excellent photo opportunities. Königssee’s waters are famed for their clarity and are protected to the extent that the only motorised boats permitted to travel on the lake are ferry boats with electric-powered motors. These boats can be boarded at Schönau am Königssee and can transport passengers to various landing points along the length of the lake shores. There are some very interesting stop-off points that can be visited along the perimeter of the lake such as St. Bartholomew’s Church, a famous and picturesque 17th century church on the western shore of the lake. Note that in winter the ferry service is restricted due to portions of the lake freezing over.
Hiking is a major attraction in this area, and there are some excellent trails that can be accessed at some of the stop off points. Summer is the best time for hiking because of the extended hours of daylight. Hiking isn’t recommended in winter due to some trails becoming inaccessible due to heavy snowfall, shorter daylight hours and changeable weather conditions. Keep in mind, too, that even in the best possible weather conditions, hiking requires appropriate clothing and common sense. Never hike alone without informing someone of the route you’re taking.
Königssee + Obersee Hiking Trail
This is an easy, 25 kilometre hiking trail that presents the ideal introduction to alpine hiking. Reaching an elevation of almost 1,500 metres, the trail, which conveniently loops back to the starting point, takes around six hours to complete. It takes in Konigssee’s neighbouring lake – the small but beautiful Obersee.
Vom Königssee zur Wasser-Alm Hiking Trail
Some other trails are far more demanding and the Vom Königssee zur Wasser-Alm hiking trail is a good example of one. The trail is around 24 kilometres but reaches an elevation of around 1,800 metres and takes around eight hours or more to complete.
Schönau am Königssee
Whether you’re visiting the lake on a day trip or staying longer, the municipality of Schönau am Königssee has lots to offer. Enjoy some activities at Das Schornbad – a well-equipped family-friendly sports and recreation centre, followed by a well-earned spell in one of Schönau am Königssee’s excellent beer gardens, with a Bavarian delicacy such as Obatzder, a delicious cream cheese. It’s an interesting area and worth exploring.
While it’s practical to visit Königssee on a day trip from nearby cities such as Munich or Salzburg, many visitors, understandably, want to stay in this stunningly beautiful environment longer. It’s not a problem as the municipality and town of Schönau am Königssee at the north end of the lake have a good range of accommodation available. Hotels range from comfortable and modestly-priced hotels such as Stoll’s Sporthotel at around 40 euros per night to more upmarket hotels such as the Alm- & Wellnesshotel Alpenhof with room rates for around 120 euros per night.
Food and Drink
Food and drink in Schönau am Königssee is plentiful and there’s a good variety of dishes available. There are restaurants offering a range of local and international food and beverages, and the Unterstein Guesthouse is especially well known for its excellent range of delicious Bavarian cuisine. Look out for Schweinshaxe, (roasted ham hock), Weisswurst (white sausage), and many other delicacies that Bavarians are justifiably proud of. There are also refreshment areas at various ferry landing points around the lake.
In short, you can have fantastic days and nights in and around Königssee and, thanks to Bavarian hospitality, you will be made to feel welcome for as long as you care to stay.