Visiting Königssee

Reflections at Lake Konigsee
Reflections at Lake Konigsee

By Vicky · Published Jan. 10th, 2024 · Updated Jan. 12th, 2024

Visiting Königssee is one of the top things to do in Germany. It’s a gorgeous lake surrounded by the towering Bavarian Alps with plenty of short hikes and other things to do. You should allow at least one day to explore the lake, relax and go on a couple of walks.

How to Reach Königssee

Königssee from Munich

To get to Lake Königssee from Munich you can either drive or take the train and bus. Alternatively, you can go on a guided tour from Munich* in a comfy van. Taking the train is more relaxing and doesn’t take much longer than driving. The train and bus are included in the German monthly €49 ticket and you miss the hassle of parking.

Königssee from Munich via Car

If you’re driving, it’s takes roughly 2hr30. There’s a large car park by the lake, just next to where the boat leaves. It’s €7 for 3 hours, or €8 for a day ticket. Payment is via coins or with the Parkster App. A few of the payment machines accept cards but these are sometimes out of order.

Königssee from Munich via Train and Bus

It’s 3 hours on a train and bus from Munich to Königssee, all included in the €49 ticket. On the train, you have to change once at Freilassing, and the next train brings you to Berchtesgaden. From here, it’s an easy 10-minute bus ride on Bus 843 to Königssee. The bus stop you want to get off at is called Königssee, Schönau a. Königssee, and it’s where almost everyone gets off.

Königssee from Salzburg

Blue waters, sky and mountains on a visit to Königssee Lake

Salzburg is fairly close to Königssee and it’s easy to reach on public transport with a direct bus. Alternatively, you can go on a tour from Salzburg to Königssee* and be driven via beautiful mountainous scenery.

Königssee from Salzburg via Car

It’s about 40 minutes drive from Salzburg to Lake Königssee. If you’ve rented a car, check that you’re allowed to take it over the border from Austria to Germany. See above for parking details.

Königssee from Salzburg via Bus

It’s just over 1 hour on a direct bus from Salzburg main station to the bus stop at Königssee Lake. The bus to take is Bus 840 and it leaves every hour.

Visiting Königssee Map

Things to do when Visiting Lake Königssee

1. Take a Boat Tour on Lake Königssee

View from a boat tour of Lake Königssee, Bavaria, Germany

If you’re visiting Königssee, taking the boat tour is a must. On the boat trip, you’ll cruise across the beautiful turquoise waters of Konigssee to St. Batholema and perhaps Salet at the end of the lake.

Boat Tour Stops

There are two main and one irregular stop (Kessel) on the boat tour. The main stops are St. Bartholomew’s Church and Salet. It takes 35 minutes to St. Bartholomew’s and another 20 minutes from there to Salet. It’s definitely worth leaving the boat at both these stops to explore. You can go on great short hikes from both stops, for example to the Eiskapelle or to Lake Obersee. See below for more information.

Boat Tour Times

The first boat is at roughly 8am June-Sept, and at roughly 9am Oct-May. Check out the full timetable here. If it’s very busy, for example on summer weekends, boats leave more regularly when they are full. NOTE: the boat only goes as far as St. Bartholomew’s Church in winter, and does not continue to Salet, the stop at the far end.

Boat houses on lake Königssee on a visit from Munich

Boat Tour Prices

It’s €22.50 for a roundtrip and half-price if you’re just going one-way. Children under 5 are free and those 6-17 get a 50% discount. Check out the official price list here, where you can also buy advanced tickets online. In summer it’s best to book these tickets in advance, else you might have to wait in a queue for a long time.

Boat Tour Tips

The ticket booth is just by the boats and opens roughly 30 minutes before the first boat ride of the day. Taking the first boat is a great idea as it can get very crowded later in the day. If you’re early it will be much more peaceful walking around the lakeshore and at the lake viewpoints.

2. Visit St. Bartholomew’s Church

Visiting St. Bartholomew’s Church on Königssee

This unique onion-domed church, called Kirche St. Bartholomä in German, is an icon of Königssee. It’s a stop on the boat tour and it’s definitely worth getting out and wandering around. There’s also a Biergarten here, Gäststätte Sankt Bartholomä, which serves traditional Bavarian food.

3. Hike to the Ice Chapel from St. Bartholomew’s

Walking up to the ice chapel while visiting lake Königssee, Bavaria, Germany

The Ice Chapel, or Eiskapelle, isn’t really a chapel, but a cave-like hole at the bottom of a glacier, the lowest ice field in the German Alps. You can go inside the Ice Chapel, and it’s a really unique experience to be surrounded by a large tunnel of ice. The first part of the hike is easy and well-signed, just follow the signs pointing to ‘Eiskapelle’. After about 45 minutes of walking, the official trail ends and the signs stop. You can see the ice chapel in the distance from here.

If you want to reach the ice-chapel itself, the final section involves scrambling over rocks and the trail isn’t marked. In winter, and after snowfall, it’s not possible to see the ice chapel as it’s covered in snow. Don’t attempt to walk over the snow or ice here since it can conceal dangerous cracks in the glacier. This section is only recommended for experienced hikers wearing sturdy footwear. The hike takes about 1 hour each way.

4. Go Swimming in the Lake

View of a beach at Lake Königssee

Königssee is perhaps the cleanest lake in Germany since only electric and man-powered boats cross the water. You’re allowed to swim anywhere away from the boats, but it’s always very cold, even in mid-summer. You can also swim in Obersee, which is equally cold. Two good places are at the beach near St. Batholomew’s Church, and at the far end of Lake Obersee.

4. Walk up to Lake Obersee & the Waterfall

Lake Königssee and Lake Obersee in the distance

From Salet, the stop at the far end, you can walk to Obersee, a smaller but equally scenic lake nearby. When you arrive on the boat, take the only footpath leading away from the lake. You’ll soon come to the shores of Lake Obersee. From here it’s roughly 30 minutes around the lake to walk to Fishunkelalm, a picturesque mountain hut that serves food and drink.

From this hut, you can hike further into the mountains to see Röthbach Waterfall, the highest waterfall in Germany. The main trail stops some distance from the base of the waterfall, so you just have a viewpoint from afar. It’s very impressive to see the water streaming over the large cliff. If you want to, you can walk a little nearer but the trail is less defined and it soon becomes rocky. It takes about 45 minutes each way from Fischunkelalm.

5. Hike up to Rabenwand Viewpoint

If you’re visiting Lake Königssee, it’s definitely worth walking up to Rabenwand Viewpoint. It’s a fairly easy, 2 km hike from the ticket booth by the boats to the fantastic viewpoint. When facing the boats, head left behind the boathouses and keep left at the fork onto the smaller track. The path then winds its way up the hillside to the Rabenwand Viewpoint. On the way is another viewpoint called Malerwinkel, so make sure to take a break here. It takes about 45 minutes up and 30 minutes down to reach the top viewpoint.

6. Take the Jennerbahn to the Summit of Mt Jenner

Key Information: It’s €42/32/22 per adult/youth/child for the return trip to the top, or €32/27/18 for a one-way trip. In summer the cable car opens from 08:30 until 5pm. Check the official website for more information.

The Jennerbahn viewpoint is another classic viewpoint of Lake Königssee. It’s a 10-minute easy stroll gently uphill from the top cable car station of Jennerbahn. The Jennerbahn cable car starts just 200 metres from the car park or bus stop by Lake Königssee so it’s very easy to visit both. At the top station there’s also a mountain hut serving food and drink.

If you’re feeling energetic, you can also walk back down from the top station back to the car park at the bottom. This is a fairly easy but long descent on good tracks and trails. It’s 8 km with no uphill but roughly 1100 metres of downhill.

7. Go on a Longer Hike

A mountain hut in the Steinernes Meer in Berchtesgaden National Park

There are plenty of long hikes you can do from Lake Königssee. One example is the fantastic three-day hike across the Steinernes Meer (Stony Sea), a large rocky plateau in the middle of the Alps. There are several mountain huts in the region, but make sure to book in advance, especially on summer weekends.

8. Visit the Eagle’s Nest

The Eagle's Nest on a sunny day

A very popular trip near Königssee is to visit the Eagle’s Nest. It’s 15 minutes drive or 40 minutes on two buses to travel between the two. The Eagle’s Nest is a mountain retreat used by Hitler, where he had several famous meetings with other politicians. Today you take a bus (and elevator) up to the house, now a restaurant. You can wander along the nearby trails and there are great views of the nearby mountains.

Guidebooks to explore more of Germany

For more walking tours and hikes in Germany, see our Germany hiking page.

FAQS for Visiting Königssee

How long should I spend in Königssee?

To explore Königssee you should allow one full day if you want to go on the boat trip, take a few short walks and relax at one of the Biergardens. If you’re not interested in walking at all, then allow half a day.

What’s special about Lake Königssee?

Königssee is definitely a lake worth visiting for its clear, turquoise waters and idyllic setting in the Bavarian Alps. You can take a lovely boat trip across the water and go on many short strolls by the lakeshore.

Can you swim in Königssee?

You can swim anywhere in Königssee, apart from where the boats leave from. There’s a nice beach not far from St. Batholomew’s Church. You can also swim in Obersee, the lake above, with a great launch point for swimming at the far end.

How do I get to Lake Königssee?

The lake is 2hr30 from Munich or 40 minutes drive from Salzburg. You can also take public transport. From Munich take the train to Berchtesgaden train station, and then a short bus ride to the lake. From Salzburg there’s a direct bus to the lake from the main station.

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