The picturesquely beautiful Königssee with its emerald green water, embedded like a fjord in the surrounding mountain landscape, is one of the most popular sights in Germany. But many tourists who visit the idyllic alpine lake from all over the world know this as well.
But they still exist, the hidden, rather unknown corners of the Königssee. And in this article I will tell you some of them and show you which Königssee sights you must not miss during a visit.
Lake Königssee is located in the very southeast of Germany in the Berchtesgadener Land National Park near Schönau. It is one of the most beautiful lakes in Germany. Since only electric boats are allowed to sail here, it is also one of the cleanest. The water has drinking water quality. From Schönau to the north shore of the lake, from where the boats also leave for the south side, it is about 1 km.
Despite its idyll, the region around the Königssee is a tourist hotspot. Approximately 750,000 guests came to visit here in 2017 – most of them in the summer months of July and August (source: Berchtesgadener-land.com). Already when you arrive at the parking lot, you realize how touristy the idyllic alpine lake actually is. There are overpriced souvenir stands and food stalls everywhere. Moreover, parking is not cheap with 4€ for 3 hours.
As a side note:
- The German spelling of the lake is Königssee
- Without the “Umlaut” it is spelled Koenigssee
- In English often the spelling Konigssee or Konigsee is used, even though this is not correct. You will not find that spelling in Germany.
How long to stay at Königssee?
I would therefore recommend you not to spend only one day here, because that’s what most tourists do. If you stay 2-3 days or more, you will have enough time to see the more difficult to reach but less crowded spots. If you have more time, there are also numerous day hikes to the surrounding mountains.
Attention: In the whole National Park Berchtesgaden it is prohibited to fly with the drone. Do not try it at all. There are high fines and a report threatening.
All tips can also be found here on the map:
Map in full screen.
Accommodation at Königssee
To really enjoy the Königssee, you should spend at least 2-3 full days there. The ideal place for this is an accommodation as close to the shore as possible.
I myself stayed in a private apartment directly at the Königssee. I can recommend this, because from there you can start directly to the most beautiful highlights on foot without having to get into the car somewhere.
I can recommend the airbnb from Daniela, Dagmar & Michael. From the balcony of the attic apartment you have a great view over the village and the mountains.
If you prefer to stay in a hotel with a daily fresh breakfast buffet, the Hotel Bergheimat might be something for you. The hotel is only a few minutes walk from the Königssee-Ufer.
But you can also search for hotels directly in Schönau.
1. Take the boat to the Salet Alm and hike to the Obersee
An absolute must at Königssee is a crossing with one of the electric boats. There is no other way to reach the other end of the lake (except long walks through the mountains). Therefore most tourists use the boats and there are often long queues at the jetties.
A return ticket to the Salet Alm costs 18,50 €. With this ticket you can also get off and on at all other stations. During the trip the boat also stops in the middle of the lake and a staff member blows the flugelhorn. On good days you can hear the echo several times in a row – a highlight.
From the footbridge of the Salet Alm you can walk to the fantastic Obersee. This takes about 20 to 30 minutes. Even further it goes up to Germany’s highest waterfall – the Röthbach waterfall.
My tip for a day trip:
- Get up as early as possible before the first coaches arrive and take the first boat (9:15 or 9:45 depending on the month).
- Then drive the complete route along the lake to the Salet Alm. So do not get off at St. Bartholomew’s Church, even if many other passengers do.
- Then hike from the Salet Alm to the Obersee.
- Do not wait at the first hut at the lake, but hike around the lake. Don’t stop for photos but walk quickly to the other end of the lake.
- At the Fischunkelalm you have the best view and can then take the best photos without many people in the picture. Especially from the idyllic boathouse.
- Then go for a swim and order a snack at the hut afterwards. On the way back you can take as much time as you like.
2. Explore the Hirschau peninsula
A stopover on the way to the Salet Alm is the pilgrimage church St. Bartholomä on the Hirschau peninsula. Typical are its red domed roof and the two onion domes. In the background is the east wall of the Watzmann, Germany’s third highest mountain.
On the peninsula you can visit the hermitage and take a relaxing walk along the shore and through the forest.
At the National Park Information Center St. Bartholomä you can learn a lot about the dynamics of nature. There is also a beach on the southern shore of the peninsula.
3. Eat real Königssee fish
The Königssee area is designed for mass tourism. The restaurants are the same. If you want to have freshly prepared food, you should drive to Berchtesgaden. The fish in the restaurants at Königssee does not come directly from Königssee. This is not possible with so many tourists.
An exception is the fish sale next to the St. Bartholomew’s church directly on the shore. In the Fischerstüberl the smell of freshly smoked trout, whitefish and char will get into your nose. Thomas Amort manages the St. Bartholomä fishery in the third generation and is the only professional fisherman on the lake.
4. Admire the Königssee from above
With the Jennerbahn you can ride up to the 1874 meter high Jenner.
The whole ascent or descent is not really cheap with 32 €, but you can expect a fantastic view into the valley and to the Königssee. There are also many fantastic hiking trails.
5. Swim one round in Königssee
If you are already at the Königssee, then you should jump into the water at least once. This is possible all along the shore. But one of the most beautiful spots is the flat beach at the Königsbach waterfall. There is also a landing stage from which you can jump into the cool water.
Speaking of cool: The water in the lake is quite cold. But especially on warm days it’s great for refreshment. On the way to the beach you will also find a rope with which you can jump into the water.
6. Explore the lake by rowing boat
Unfortunately it is not possible to explore the Königssee by kayak. But you can rent rowing boats on the spot.
- Boats for two people cost 49 € per day (or 7 € per hour).
- Four person boats cost 59 € per day (10 € per hour)
- A deposit of 50 € is required for all loans. The rental company only accepts cash.
The lake is almost 8 km long. So you’ll probably not be able to row to the end of the lake in one day, watch something and be back in time. Instead, explore the northern part of the lake by rowing boat and stop in the middle of the lake to enjoy the peace and quiet away from the crowds. At some places on the shore you can also anchor and get out, for example at the landing stage at the Königsbach waterfalls.
7. Admire the panoramic view along the Malerwinkel tour
One of the easiest hikes at Königssee is the Malerwinkel-Rundgang. It is also great for families and leads you through the dense forest on the shore of the lake. Along the way you will always come across fantastic viewpoints, which offer you a breathtaking panorama of the whole lake and the alpine mountain scenery.
8. Drink a coffee at the Malerwinkel
The Malerwinkel Café is a great address for a short stop along the Malerwinkel tour. Here you can enjoy your coffee in peace and quiet with a view of the hustle and bustle on the landing stage.
9. Walk to the ice chapel
From the pilgrimage church of St. Bartolomä, past the chapel of St. John and Paul, an approximately 2-hour walk leads to the famous ice chapel. This is a permanent ice field with a large cavity inside.
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10. Make an excursion to Hintersee
Only 20 minutes by car from Königssee is the Hintersee. It is another one of these idyllic alpine lakes. What I especially liked: Only a small part of the shore is covered with buildings and you can walk around the whole lake.
Walking once around the lake takes about 45 minutes. On the way there are smaller cafés and insanely great viewpoints for ingenious shots of the magnificent Alpine scenery with a view of the Schärtenspitze and Steinberg.
Further Königssee sights
Besides all these highlights you will find the following sights at Königssee and its surroundings in the Berchtesgadener Land, which are especially great for families with small children:
- Wimmbachklamm: A narrow gorge through which an adventurous 200 meter long hiking trail leads (entrance fee: 2,50 €).
- Salt Mine Berchtesgaden: Here you can learn a lot about salt mining in the region in a one-hour guided tour. The mine is also a good idea in bad weather.
- Visit the Eagles Nest (Kehlsteinhaus) which was used by Hitler during Germanies occupation by the Nazis.
If you have enough time to hike around the area, you should take a look at these hikes to lookout points:
- Viewpoint Archenkanzel
- Feuerpalfen lookout point
- Malerwinkel Viewpoint
By the way, the fantastic Mozart city of Salzburg is only about 40 minutes by car from the Königssee. A day trip is worthwhile. You can find tips on the best sights in the following article:
And there is also a bonus tip at the end: Enjoy the wonderful view over the mountains and keep an eye out for the sleeping witch.
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