If it's good enough for a Bavarian King, it's good enough for me …
Königsee is one of Germany’s most stunning natural sights. Translating to the King’s lake, you can find this gem in the south eastern region of Germany in Berchtesgaden National Park. Some of Germany’s most stunning alpine landscape can be found surrounding this iconic lake, including the country’s second highest mountain.
There really isn’t much information about getting here via public transport online, believe me I've checked. So, I hope that this will help you find your way to this magical spot!
From Salzburg get the #840 Bus heading to Berchtesgaden. The bus will transport you across the border, no passport needed, but it won’t hurt to have it with you, just in case. The travel time sits at about 45 minutes, with the service running hourly from the Salzburg Hbf (main station).
At Berchtesgaden station, change buses to the #841 Bus going towards Königsee/Jennerbahn (or #842 for the express bus). This journey should only take 10-15 minutes with the lake sitting a short five-minute walk from the bus station.
Purchase tickets on board the bus. It may work out best to buy a day travel card but just tell the driver where you're going and they will advise you of the best option.
The current 2017-2018 schedules can be found here:
Check here for the latest bus timetables
For the return journey, its exactly the same but in reverse:
#841 back to Berchtesgaden (or #842) and then switch to the #840 back across the border to Salzburg, Austria.
What to See & Do
The best way to explore the Königsee region is without a doubt, by boat. Although the lake is not that large, you can get some of the best views from the water itself. Jump on the boat all the way to Salet at the southern end of the lake. The boat will stop at St Bartholomä on the way, but it is better to stay on and go all the way to Salet first.
At the Salet terminal you can go for a short walk to another smaller lake, Obsersee, which with the right weather has the most stunning mirror-like reflection. On the return journey get off and explore the St Bartholomä area, before making your way back to the Königsee terminal.
Along the journey, you will be gobsmacked by the incredible beauty of the region. Königsee is known for being the purest and deepest lake within Germany, and as such, no fuel-powered boats are permitted, rather zillen (paddleboats) are used. The boat crew will also showcase the famous echo, by playing a Flugelhorn or trumpet at just the right spot along the cruise.
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Note: During the winter period the boat only travels as far as St Bartholomä. The service to Salet runs between mid-April and mid-October.
Monastery of St Bartholomä
One of the most photographed icons of Berchtesgaden is the St Bartholomä monastery. Its just about on all the postcards! Known for its iconic wine-red domes, this pilgrim church can only be reached by boat. As well as sitting along the lake shore of the country’s deepest lake, this traditional church also sits in front of Germany’s second highest mountain, Mt Waltzman.
If you only do one thing in Berchtesgaden, make sure it is a visit to Obsersee. I visited Berchtesgaden on a whim, without doing any research and was I beyond happy when I found this incredible lake. The only way visit Obersee is via boat. Travel all the way to Salet, don’t get off at St Bartholomä, as most people do. The boat dock at Salet doesn’t look like much but follow the trail away from Konigsee and after a 10-15 minute stroll you will find one of the most beautiful alpine sights! With the right weather the lake has the most incredible reflection! Aside from being an incredible scenic location, Obsersee is also home to Germany’s highest waterfall, Röthbach.
Being a national park, you have plenty of hiking options. You can choose hiking routes from the bus terminal or catch the boat halfway across the lake for further routes. Some of the most popular routes include Malerwinkel, the Ice Chapel, Gotzenalm, Königsbachalm and Kahlersberg.
Malerwinkel circuit – painter’s viewpoint
No boat journey required, the route starts from the northern shore of Königsee.
Found at the base of the eastern face of Mt Waltzman, the ice chapel is considered as one of Bavaria’s top 100 geotypes. The trail starts from St Bartholomä and hikers are recommended to wear solid shoes for the 3 hour return journey.
Note: Do not enter the chapel, especially in summer due to the ice melting, which could result in the collapse of the dome.
If you have more time in the region, make sure you visit the Eagle’s Nest. Historically famous as Hitler’s former residence and a significant site of the Nazi regime. It’s hard to comprehend that such horrific and life-changing decisions during the second world war were made right here. The well persevered building gives an insight to the history whilst also offering up magnificent, panoramic views of the surrounding area. On a clear day you can see across Germany and Austria and even spot Salzburg.
Unfortunately, I, myself, am yet to visit this infamous sight yet, due to its closure over the winter period. The Eagle’s Nest is open from mid-May to October.
Although parts of the Berchtesgaden region can be quite busy with influxes of tourists at times, parts are still relatively untouched. Why not make this your next adventure and discover a new area of this wonderful world we live in? Before everyone else realises what they’re missing out on!