The Königssee is the highlight in the Berchtesgadener region offers you emerald green, clear water and lies like a fjord embedded in the surrounding mountain landscape. The Königssee is one of the top sights in Germany and the idyllic alpine lake is visited by many hundreds of thousands of guests every year. The Königssee in Berchtesgaden is listed as the most beautiful lake in Germany and really offers you a dreamlike backdrop and beautiful nature highlights.
Here we tell you everything you need to know and important tips for your day trip to Königssee in the Berchtesgadener Land National Park: where to park, the best viewpoints and what the ominous Inifinity Pool at Königssee is all about.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
The Königssee in Berchtesgaden
Königssee is a mountain lake in the municipality of Schönau am Königsee and is located in the Berchtesgadener Land National Park. Situated at an altitude of 600 meters, the lake is the place of interest in Berchtesgadener Land and one of the most beautiful natural highlights in Germany. The Königssee is often called the fjord of the Alps because of its shape and the mountain walls rising steeply on its shores.
We can share this view without hesitation, we have seen numerous fjords on our Norway trip and can say with a clear conscience that the Königsee does not have to hide in comparison. In addition, the Königssee is one of the cleanest lakes in Germany. One reason for this may be that the lake may only be navigated with electric boats or rowing boats. And this has been the case since the time of the emperor.
The lake is almost 8 kilometers long and is nestled between the high rock faces of the Watzmann, a 2,713 meter high mountain in the Berchtesgaden Alps, and the Hagen Mountains. Lake Königssee in Berchtesgaden is a real tourist hotspot. Almost 750,000 guests come there every year and most of them in the summer months of July and August. Especially on the boats or at the queues at the ticket booths you notice this rush.
Königssee – Things To Do
There are numerous sights at and around the Königssee, as you can see on the map above. We would like to briefly introduce the most important ones to you here.
Travel by Boat across the Königssee
This is certainly the main attraction at the Königssee in the Berchtesgadener Land. The vast majority of tourists from all over the world come here to sail across the lake by electrically powered ship, marveling at the surrounding landscape. The ships travel via the stopover in St. Bartholomä to the terminus at Salet.
If you plan to do the same, you should be there early to catch the first boat well before 10 am. You should still expect long queues. The boats are also popular because there is no other way to reach the other end of the lake. During the trip, the captain of the ship blows a flugelhorn and you can listen to the echo being reflected back several times from the surrounding mountains.
Prices of the Königssee ships
Currently, a round trip to Salet (i.e. across the entire lake) costs just under 20 €. If you only want to go to St. Bartholomä you have to pay about 17 €. You can find the exact prices here: Price table Königssee boat trip.
If you want to save yourself the long queue at the ticket office, then buy your tickets online. 20% of the day’s allotment is sold online:
Buy tickets for the Königssee ships online
Boat sailing times on the Königssee
During the main season (end of July to beginning of September) the boats run from 8 am to 5:40 pm approx. every 30 minutes. Attention: In the current COVID pandemic, longer waiting times may occur due to greater distances on the ships.
Here you can have a look at the current timetable Timetable Königssee boat trip The journey time from Schönau to St. Bartholomä takes just under 35 minutes. If you want to continue to Salet, it takes another 25 minutes.
By rowing boat across the Königssee
The only other way to travel across the lake is by wooden rowboat. This is a super experience as it allows you to enjoy the lake in complete peace and seclusion.
- Two-person boats cost 49€ per day or 7€ per hour
- Four-person boats cost 59€ per day (10€ per hour)
- 50€ deposit is required and only cash is accepted
- Also for the rowing boats you should be there before 10am to avoid long queues
St. Bartholomä is the first (and only) stop on the crossing of the Königssee. You should definitely get off here (but it’s best to do so on the way back) and take a look at the pilgrimage church. The pilgrimage church of St. Bartholomä, built in 1134, is located in the middle of Lake Königssee on the Hirschau peninsula. For more than a hundred years, this church has been open for the public to visit. For the visit of St. Bartholomä you should plan about 1.5 hours.
This is a popular place to stop at the other end of Lake Königsee in Salet. Here you will find a limited selection of food and drinks and you can fortify yourself for the hike to Obersee. Right next to the Alm is also a famous Instagram hotspot: the idyllic boathouse, which is surrounded by the waters of Lake Königsee. At weddings, you’ll also have to wait in line for a photo here.
The upper lake
After about 20 minutes of hiking from Salet, you’ll come to the idyllic Obersee. This lake has only existed since 1172, as it was separated from Lake Königssee by a landslide in that year.
The Röthbach waterfall is the highest waterfall in Germany with its drop height of 470 meters. And even though it doesn’t carry much water, it’s still a worthwhile excursion destination at Königssee. The waterfall can only be reached by boat from Schönau and then by a hike of about 3 kilometers from Obersee. By the way, the second highest waterfall in Germany is also right next door: the Landtalfall.
Infinity Pool (natural pool) at Königssee
You can also reach the well-known natural pool (infinity pool) at Königssee without a boat trip. You can get to this natural pool via the Malerwinkel hiking trail, but this is not entirely without danger. Even if the hike there is harmless in the beginning, it becomes quite risky later on. Also, while swimming in the pool is popular for Instagram photos, it should be avoided for safety reasons.
Several people have already drowned in the pool or fallen during the strenuous hike there. The national park administration is also currently considering closing the path there completely. Currently (September 2020) it is still possible to walk the path. How to get there we have described in our Travelogue for the Malerwinkel Circuit described.
Staying Overnight at Königssee
It makes sense to stay more than one day at the Königssee, because it is simply too beautiful here and there are also too many sights. The hotels directly at the lake are of course much too expensive, so we have chosen a nice hotel in neighboring Berchtesgaden. You can get a double room with breakfast in a cozy farmhouse for 79€ per night and be at Königssee in a few minutes.
The cozy guesthouse Achental in Berchtesgaden*
Hikes at the Königssee
Contrary to what you might think, there aren’t really many hiking trails at or around Königssee in Berchtesgadener Land. Since the Königssee is very tightly enclosed by the surrounding mountains, there is not enough space for many hiking trails.
Therefore, there is no path that leads around the Königssee, for example. However, there is a very famous and also beautiful hiking trail that is very easy to walk and also starts directly in Schönau am Königssee: The Malerwinkel Rundweg. We have written a separate travel report in which we have written down many important tips and information about the Malerwinkel hike.
Travel tips to the Königssee
Parking at Königssee
It is best to park at the large parking lot Königssee (Google Maps Link). There are enough parking spaces within walking distance to the lake until about 10 o’clock in the morning. If you arrive later you have to use the alternative parking lots (they are signposted)
The parking lot costs €5 as a daily fee (or €4 for 3 hours), which we think is pretty fair. You can also pay via the Parkster app and extend your parking time on the go. This works wonderfully and is much more practical than paying with small change at the parking machine.
Can you swim in Königssee?
Yes, swimming is allowed in Königssee in Berchtesgaden and is definitely a very nice thing to do. There is no beach or sunbathing lawn directly at the lake, but especially behind the Malerwinkel viewpoint there are some points where you can go undisturbed into the crystal clear water and thus swim in Königssee. The water can be quite fresh depending on the weather, but in any case it is a great refreshment on hot days. By the way, dogs are also allowed to swim in the Königssee.
Is there a footpath to St. Bartholomä or Salet?
No, since there is no path around the lake, there is no way to get to St. Bartholomä or to Salet on the other side of the lake. You can only go with the boats of the Königssee-Schifffahrt.
Dogs at the Königssee
Dogs are of course allowed at the Königssee. You are allowed to walk with your dog at the lake and you are even allowed to swim with your dog in the Königssee.
Dogs on the Königssee ships
You are also allowed to take your dog on the boats on the Königssee. Here, too, the dogs must wear a muzzle, no matter what breed they are. Fighting dogs are generally not transported. It is also important (and funny) that wet dogs are not transported by the ships on the Königssee. So if you have let your dog bathe in the Königssee before, make sure you dry him off well first.
Dogs in the Jenner cable car
You are allowed to take your dog with you on the cable car to the Jenner, which is located directly next to the Königssee. However, your dog must wear a muzzle at all times. No dog will be allowed on the cable car without a muzzle. At the top of the Jenner, however, dogs no longer have to wear a muzzle.
Drone flying over the Königssee
Unfortunately, it is not allowed to fly over the Königssee with your drone (multicopter). The Königssee is located in the National Park Berchtesgadener Land and in this national park drones are generally prohibited.
Theoretically, flying drones over a part of the lake would be allowed (according to the current laws). But be sure to check beforehand and ask the local tourist office if necessary. Of course, you should also think twice before disturbing the picturesque tranquility above the Königssee with your drone.
Sights of Königssee
Even away from Lake Königssee, there are a few destinations in and around Schönau that you can visit if you have time to spare or want to take a road trip through the Berchtesgadener Land region.
With the Jennerbahn you can ride up to the 1874 m high Jenner within a few minutes. A few years ago, a completely new cable car was also built, which is now much more comfortable and takes you up the Jenner in glass cabins within 20 minutes. To get to the summit cross you have to hike another 20 minutes steeply uphill. But up there, a wonderful view of the surroundings and a whole new perspective on the Königssee await you.
Dogs are also allowed on the tour, but must be on a leash at all times and wear a muzzle. Tickets cost €32 per person for up and down and can be purchased on site or online. Afternoons are usually less busy, by the way. There are numerous hiking trails at the top of the Jenner and you can theoretically hike from the top back to the bottom station without a cable car. An overview of the hiking trails on the Jenner can be found here.
Rossfeld Panorama Road
Germany’s highest panorama road leads you up to 1600 meters above sea level and offers wonderful views of the German and Austrian mountains. The panorama road is open all year and all day and can be driven by car, motorcycle or bicycle. The road is subject to toll and costs € 8.50 once.
Rubber dinghy, canoe, SUP in Königssee
Even if it may sound very tempting, it is unfortunately not allowed to drive with private boats on the Königssee. So you are not allowed to take your own canoe, inflatable boat, SUP (Stand Up Paddle) or similar to go with it on the Königssee. The only possibility to sail with boats on the Königssee are the wooden rowboats, which you can rent in Schönau. And of course the battery-powered boats of the Königssee Schifffahrt.
Our most important tips for a day trip to Lake Königssee
- Be there as early as possible (preferably before 10 a.m.), before the first tour buses arrive and take the first available boat (in high season from 8 a.m.).
- Use the Parkster app for parking or buy directly a day ticket for parking (5 euros)
- If you want to go with the boats:
- Drive directly the complete route to the Salet Alm and do not get off at the St. Bartholomew church. This is what most others do, but continue to Salet
- Once there, hike from the Salet Alm to the Obersee
- At the Fischunkelalm you have a wonderful view of the Königssee and can take great pictures without other tourists on the picture
- If the weather allows it, go for a swim in the Königssee 🙂
- Afterwards you can take your time for the return trip, get off in St. Bartolomä on the way and also go swimming in Königssee.
- The afternoon is a good time to drive up to the Jenner.
Do you have more questions about Königssee or questions about the sights in Berchtesgadener Land? We are happy about a comment!