If you could fit in only one daytrip on a visit to Berchtesgadener Land, in the south of Bavaria, it would have to be to the spectacularly beautiful Königssee. Located in the heart of the Berchtesgaden National Park and surrounded by the Bavarian Alps, this 7.7km long and narrow fjord-like lake will leave you in awe.
Germany’s deepest lake
With a maximum depth of 190m, the Königssee is Germany’s deepest lake and was formed by glaciers during the last ice age. It boasts crystal-clear mountain water which has a beautiful emerald-green colour in the sunlight due to the presence of limestone particles in the water.
The Königssee is very easy to reach by public transport from the small town of Berchtesgaden, which is only a few kilometres away; or from Salzburg, which lies across the border in Austria, about 30km away.
You will arrive at the small town of Schönau am Königssee from where you can enjoy a quiet electric-powered boat trip to the other side of the lake. Gliding quietly across the waters while being surrounded by very steep mountains that rise up to 2 000m above the lake level is an experience out of this world.
St Bartholomä peninsula
There are only two stops on this boat trip: St Bartholomä and Salet. Both of these can only be reached by boat as the mountains are simply too steep to allow for a path around the lake.
The St Bartholomä peninsula is famous for its historic church, which makes for a great photo opportunity and is, indeed, the star on many of the Königssee postcards. Named after Bartholomew the Apostle, the patron of alpine farmers and dairymen, the church was first built in 1134 and then rebuilt in 1697 in its present Baroque style. A good tip is to sit on the right-hand side of the boat on your way to St Bartholomä – this way you will be guaranteed a perfect view of the peninsula and church as you are approaching.
The Königssee echo
A lovely treat awaits you about halfway to St Bartholomä: the boat stops in the middle of the lake and the captain plays a tune on his flügelhorn or trumpet to demonstrate the Königssee’s famously clear echo, which bounces back from the sheer mountain walls. It is said that the echo can be heard to reverberate up to seven times! The boatsman plays along with the returning sounds – making for a stunning ensemble with Nature.
Once you arrive and embark at St Bartholomä, you can enjoy a stroll along the edge of the lake, hike along the circular trail in the small piece of forest, grab a bite to eat at the restaurant, which is based at the old hunting lodge next to the St Bartholomä church, or simply sit on a bench and take in all the natural beauty that surrounds you.
Start your day early
After stopping at the church, the boat continues for another 15 minutes to the southern end of the Königssee, at Salet, from where you can take a 10-minute walk to a smaller lake, called the Obersee, and marvel at the Röthbachfall, Germany’s highest waterfall.
A visit to Königssee is not something you want to rush, so make sure you leave yourself at least half a day to explore the beautiful surroundings – excluding your time to travel there! In summer, it can get quite busy and you might have to queue for boat tickets, so it’s a smart idea to start your day early!
The boats run every day except the 24th of December, unless the weather is bad or when the lake is frozen. The boats only go out to Salet from April through October. More info about the boat schedule and ticket prices is available here.
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