THINGS TO DO at LAKE KONIGSSEE, GERMANY
This post will cover the best things to do in Lake Konigssee, Germany.
It was one of our absolute favourite places that we visited as we motorhomed through Germany.
Nature’s exquisite scenery abounds here, and as long as you heed the warnings of avoiding peak tourist times and follow some of our top tips for visiting Konigssee, then you will enjoy both its scenic beauty and its serenity.
Lake Königssee, part of the Berchtesgaden National Park, is in the southeast corner of Germany at the foot of the Berchtesgaden Alps. It is the Bayern district, which is also known as Bavaria (Bayern being the German word for Bavaria).
Konigssee Lake is the crown jewel of its small town, Schönau am Konigssee, and one of the most impressive scenic areas in Germany.
QUICK OVERVIEW OF THINGS TO DO AT LAKE KONIGSSEE
- Stroll the Konigssee lakeside harbour
- Take a Konigssee boat ride
- Visit the pilgrimage church of St. Bartholomew
- Take in the magnificence of Lake Konigssee
- Climb the mountainside for a birdseye view of the Lake
- Take a walk to St. Johann and Paul Chapel
- Hike to the Eiskapelle (Ice Chapel)
- Walk to Obersee Lake and hike a little further to Rothbach waterfall, (Germany’s highest falls)
- Walk to the Malerwinkel Viewpoint (Painter’s Corner)
- Watch the annual Almabtrieb
ABOUT LAKE KONIGSSEE
Konigssee Lake (sometimes spelt Koenigssee), is the cleanest in Germany because, since 1909, only pedal, rowing or electric boats have been allowed on it.
The lake was originally carved by glaciers thousands of years ago, during the ice age.
Konigssee Lake is 7.7 km in length and 1.7 km at its widest point. At its deepest point, it is 190 metres, but on average it’s about 100 metres deep, making it the 3rd deepest lake in Germany.
The Watzmann Mountain to the east reaches almost 9000 feet above the lake’s shimmering green ripples. The scenery around Konigssee Lake reminded us of Norway’s fjords.
MAP: LAKE KONIGSSEE – Things to Do
HOW TO USE THIS LAKE KONIGSSEE MAP
To use this map, expand it using the square symbol on the top right-hand side and you will find the key on the left-hand side.
THE TOP THINGS TO DO AT LAKE KONIGSSEE
1. STROLL LAKE KONIGSSEE HARBOUR
The cutesie village around the harbour is full of classic Bavarian-style buildings with plenty of restaurants for refreshments and gift shops to browse.
Near the car park, you’ll find the tourist information office and there are a couple of nice walks accessible from behind the boathouses.
2. TAKE A KONIGSSEE BOAT RIDE
If you are visiting Lake Konigssee, then taking a trip on an electric boat to the further reaches of the lake is a must. There aren’t any paths around the lake, so unless you are up for serious mountain climbing and hiking then the boat is your only option.
We recommend booking your ticket a day in advance because, as we mentioned earlier, Konigssee Lake is one of the top places to visit in Germany and can become extremely busy.
We arrived at Konigssee the night before and bought a ticket for the first boat, at 8 am the next day. However, you can also order your Konigssee boat ticket online a day before.
Tickets are collected from the kiosk at the lakeside, where it is also possible to hire a rowing boat.
The boats normally run every 30 minutes with times changing depending on the season.
Konigssee’s 19 electric boats run year-round unless the lake freezes. They leave from the pier at Konigssee (see map, ‘Seelände Königssee’) and can take you to three stops.
- Kessel: this stop is by request only, (usually only used by hikers)
- St. Bartholomew Church and the farthest stop,
- Salet. (Note – the boats don’t go to Salet in the winter season)
These eco-friendly boats carry about 80/90 passengers so although the boat itself is quiet, if the passengers are chatty you might not get the serene experience that you might expect.
There aren’t any toilets on board so make sure you have taken care of business beforehand — watching all that water and ‘needing to go’ don’t make for a good mix.
The first stop at St. Batholomew church is about a 35-minute trip and onwards to Salet takes another 20 minutes.
Note: Bayerische Seenschifffahrt, the company that runs the Konigssee boat tours, advises that when it is busy, to take the boat trip to St. Bartholomä before 10.30 a.m. and return from St. Bartholomä by 2.30 pm at the latest.
THE FLUGELHORN ECHO
A special part of the Konigssee boat ride is the flugelhorn echo. At a certain point on the boat trip, the captain will stop the boat and play the traditional flugelhorn (a type of trumpet). The sound of the horn echoes back from the steep rockfaces and creates a mesmerising experience.
You can check the boat times, prices and buy tickets online here.
Note: Dogs can be taken on the boats, but they must wear a muzzle.
3. VISIT ST BARTHOLOMEW CHURCH
St. Bartholomew Church (Kirche St. Bartholomä), is an attractive red domed Baroque style building, named after the patron Saint of alpine farmers and dairymen.
A church was originally built here in the 12th century but it was remodelled in the Baroque style in the 16th century.
The church, on what is now called St Bartholomew Peninsula, overlooks Konigssee Lake, so it’s easy to spot its red and white facade as you approach.
It’s close to the pier where you disembark, and right next to it is what was once the summer residence of Bavarian kings, the old Hunting Lodge, now a restaurant offering local delicacies.
St.Bartholomew Church is a pilgrimage church and an annual pilgrimage still occurs in August.
4. TAKE IN THE MAGNIFICENCE OF LAKE KONIGSSEE
Along the side of the lake, just past the church, is a paved path that gives you magnificent views across the lake.
As we arrived early, about 8.30 the path wasn’t busy and we had it to ourselves. With the addition of early morning mist, the lake had a magical mystical feel.
5. CLIMB THE MOUNTAINSIDE FOR A BIRDSEYE VIEW OF LAKE KONIGSSEE
If you continue along the paved path past the church on the left you’ll finally come to a trail leading upwards. This hiking trail is quite steep, but it will bring you up to a height where you can look out over the lake and have a stunning birds-eye view of Lake Konigssee.
6. WALK TO ST. JOHANN AND PAUL CHAPEL
About a kilometre from the Bartholomew pier, you will arrive at the most charming little church of St. Johann and Paul, dating from 1620.
The pathway here is an easy walk and great for those who aren’t up for the more difficult hike to the Ice Chapel which is further along the trail.
7. TAKE A HIKE TO THE ICE CHAPEL
The ice chapel (Eiskapelle) sits at the foot of the imposing Watzmann Mountain and although it is nothing like a chapel, the hike to get there is worth it in itself.
The ice chapel is really an ice cave, but the structure is interesting and both the scenery on the way and the view across the mountains from the cave was spectacular.
The Ice Chapel is about a 6km hike from the St. Bartholomew pier and takes about one and a half hours to reach. The trail, after St Johann and Paul Chapel, isn’t suitable for pushchairs and involves some rough ground.
8. WALK TO OBERSEE LAKE AND RÖTHBACH WATERFALL
If you take the boat all the way to Salet, you will be able to walk a short distance to Lake Obersee. The path is easy to walk and takes about 15 minutes.
If you are feeling a little more energetic you can take the trail around the lake and travel a few more kilometres to the opposite end, where you’ll find the highest waterfall in Germany.
The Röthbach Waterfall falls 480 metres but may look a little underwhelming in the summer months.
Due to its out of the way location, it isn’t too busy and you are more likely to find the tranquillity that is perfect to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
9. WALK TO THE MALERWINKEL VIEWPOINT
The Malerwinkel viewpoint is easily reachable from Konigssee Lakeside. The path starts behind the boathouses on the left as you face Konigssee Lake.
Malerwinkel’s viewpoint is otherwise known as ‘Painter’s Corner’. From here you have a stunning view of the lake framed by pine trees.
10. WATCH THE ANNUAL ALMABTRIEB
Each year, at the end of the summer season, the Alpine cattle that are roaming the lush pastures around Salet are brought back down from the hills and taken to their owner’s cow sheds for the winter months.
In Bayern (Bavaria) this event is marked by the tradition called Almabtrieb. The whole village joins in the celebration of the safe return of the herd.
Locals wear their traditional costumes of dirndl and lederhosen and the cows are decorated in elaborate headdresses called Fuikl. The farmers can spend up to 30 hours making these from spruce branches and brightly coloured twigs.
Because there aren’t paths along Konigssee Lake, the only way to get them back to Konigssee is by boat. Special wooden transporter boats called Landauer are used to bring the cows home safely across the lake.
So if you are visiting Konigssee in September, it is worth finding out the date of the Almabtrieb.
Scroll to the bottom of the Bavaria website page for dates
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT LAKE KONIGSSEE?
The peak season in Germany is from July to mid-September, so although the weather may be warmer the crowds will also be larger. Visitor numbers will also swell on public holidays or in good weather.
The main obstacles when visiting Konigssee Lake at busy times will be getting a ticket for a boat ride and increased waiting times for your return Konigssee boat trip.
As mentioned earlier, in busy periods, it is recommended to take the boat trip to St. Bartholomä before 10.30 a.m. and return from St. Bartholomä by 2.30 pm at the latest.
HOW TO GET TO LAKE KONIGSSEE, BAYERN
From Salzburg: Schonau am Konigssee is close to the border of Austria and is only 30 kilometres, about a 40-minute drive, from the cultural city of Salzburg. If you are driving to Konigssee from Salzburg you would take the B150 and B305.
From Berchtesgaden: Lake Konigssee is about a 5-minute drive south of Berchtesgaden in Bayern.
We were in our motorhome and parked in the Lake Konigssee carpark as marked on the above map. It is paid parking and we suggest buying a day ticket; the other options are 1-3 hours, but if you are taking a boat ride you will need the extra time so that you don’t have to rush.
If you don’t have your own transport then the number 841 bus takes about 10 minutes from Berchtesgaden Train station to Konigssee. As it is a relatively short distance, so you could also catch a cab or even walk, which would take about 40 minutes.
The Deutsche Bahn (DB) website provides train and bus times from other points of travel within Germany.
WHERE TO STAY IN LAKE KONIGSSEE
We were motorhoming in Germany and stayed overnight in the Konigssee carpark with other campervans. However, there was uncertainty as to whether we were actually allowed to. There is a ‘proper’ campsite, Grafenlehen campsite to the rear of the car park which looked nice and if you plan to stay for a few days then that looks like a good option.
If you are looking to stay lakeside then these two Konigssee hotels are right by the shore:
- The Schiffmeister Hotel is just a few steps from the lake itself with some rooms including views of the mountain or lake.
- Hotel Konigssee is a family-run, three-star hotel right by the lake and serves hearty Bavarian specialities
ThINGS TO DO AT LAKE KONIGSSEE… THAT’S A WRAP
So there you have it, a list of Konigssee things to do and our top tips for visiting Lake Konigssee.
It is possible to enjoy both its scenic beauty and serenity but that may involve some pre-planning and rising early to beat the boat trip rush.
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