By Karen

Updated May 11, 2023.

Lake Königssee

Germany's Most Beautiful Alpine Lake

Lake Königssee (or just Königssee, "See" meaning lake) lies just a couple of miles south of the town of Berchtesgaden and is Germany's deepest and cleanest lake.

St. Bartholomä Church, Lake KönigsseeSt. Bartholomä Church, Lake Königssee

This area has been used for outdoor recreation for centuries; Bavarian royalty and the local rulers of Berchtesgaden and Salzburg hunted here, Hitler went boating on the lake, and Eva Braun liked to sunbathe on the shore.

Eva Braun sunbathing at Lake Konigssee, Germany
Eva Braun on beach at Lake Konigssee, Germany

Eva Braun sunbathing at the Königssee

The photos below were taken by Captain Harry Long, 14th Armored Division, U.S. Army, in June 1945.

Konigssee boathouse in June 1945Königssee in June 1945
Lake Konigssee and American soldiers 1945American soldiers in Königssee

The Königssee is a wonderful example of a crystal-clear alpine lake. It's easy to get to from Berchtesgaden, just inside the Berchtesgaden National Park, and doesn't require any strenuous hiking.

A short bus ride from town takes you to the parking lot; then it's a 10 minute walk to the lake and the boat dock.

Boat Dock at KönigsseeBoat Dock at Königssee

Visitors can glide along the length of the lake in an quiet electric boat, right past vertical mountain walls to the much-photographed baroque church of Sankt Bartholomä, and further on to the dock at Salet at the southern end.

Along the way, the boatman blows a blast on his trumpet and the echoes bounce back from the mountain walls.

Inside the Electric Boat on the KönigsseeInside the Electric Boat

There are only two stops: St. Bartholomä and Salet. The mountain walls are so sheer, there is no path around the lake, so the boat is the only way to explore the Königssee.

The lake is about 5 miles (8 km) long and rather narrow, like a fjord (it was carved by glaciers). About two-thirds of the way out, roughly 30 minutes, is the church of Sankt Bartholomä.

You can get there off and explore, hike a bit along the edge of the lake (or climb 6 km up to the Ice Chapel), and eat at the restaurant in the former hunting lodge next to the church.

During the summer, they serve fresh and smoked trout and whitefish, pulled from right the lake. No other fishing is allowed on the water.

Restaurant near St. Bartholomae, KonigsseeThe Hunting Lodge, now Restaurant

St. Bartholomä church was originally built in the 12th century, then remodeled in the 16th century using a domed style influenced by Ottoman architecture.

After stopping at the church, the boat continues for another 30 minutes to the southern end of the Königssee, at Salet.

If you have time, I recommend you also ride out to Salet and do the 15 minute walk to a smaller lake, the Obersee, and enjoy gorgeous views of the mountains reflected in the mirror-like surface, and the tall Röthbach waterfall.

German soldiers hiking at Lake KönigsseeGerman Soldiers, Ready for a Hike

Suggestions for the Boat Trip

This is a very popular excursion, so expect crowds, especially during beautiful weather. 

My advice: go early and leave well before the last hour that the boats are running, so you don't stand in the long lines at St. Bartholomä waiting to get on the last boats back to town. Ditto for avoiding the long lines to get on the bus back to Berchtesgaden.

But don't let the crowds discourage you! This place is so beautiful and peaceful, in spite the people; once you are out sailing and walking around, it doesn't feel crowded. And the silence is magical.

Alpine house and mountains at Lake KonigsseeAlpine House, Königssee

Taking the Electric Boats

The boats run every day except December 24, unless the weather is bad (in storms, heavy fog, or when the lake is frozen). They only go out to Salet April through October.

Check for the current boating hours.

Prices: Roundtrip to St.Bartholomä: Euro 22.
Roundtrip to Salet (not in winter): a little more. Children 6-17 are half-price.

Rowboat Rentals

If you want to go out on the lake yourself, you can rent a rowboat (at the second boathouse after the toilets). Available if the weather is good, 11-5. 2-4 people.

How to get to the Königssee

From Berchtesgaden:

Several buses stop at the Königssee: #'s 839, 841 and 843; they run hourly.

Where: you can catch it from the bus stop in front of the Berchtesgaden Hauptbahnhof, or in town at the stop on Maximillianstrasse near the Kurhaus.

From Salzburg:

By bus: Bus #840 (The Watzmann Express) leaves from the Salzburg Hauptbahnhof and the Salzburg Rathaus, and takes you to the Berchtesgaden Hauptbahnhof, a 45 minute ride.

By train: Depart from the Salzburg Hauptbahnhof, change at Freilassing, and arrive at the main station in Berchtesgaden in about one hour and 15 minutes. 

From the Berchtesgaden Hauptbahnhof, take bus #839, 841 or 843 to the Königssee parking lot.

Map of Lakes Königssee and Obersee

Map of Lake Konigssee, Salet, and Lake Obersee, near Berchtesgaden, Germany

Map data (c) OpenStreetMap and contributors, CC-BY-SA

Lake Königssee Dock Area

Map of dock area at Lake Konigssee, near Berchtesgaden, with bus stop and Jennerbahn Station

Map data (c) OpenStreetMap and contributors, CC-BY-SA

Cable Car up to the Jenner Mountain

A five minute walk from the Königssee parking lot brings you to the Jennerbahn, a small cable car that will take you to the top of Jenner mountain.

In winter it's a ski run, but in summer there are wonderful views of the lake and mountains (as good as the one from the Eagle's Nest!)

For the energetic and fit, there are hiking paths down to the lake from the half-way station.

Roundtrip to the top costs Euro 38. 

 See Jennerbahn for more info, booking and photos.

More to explore...

Traveling in Germany

The last remaining Covid restrictions in Germany, in terms of vaccination and masking requirements, ended April 7, 2023.

See current Covid rules for more information.

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