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Essential tips for visiting Lake Königssee

When is the best time of day to book a boat across lake Königssee? Is there an audioguide? Can I pre-book tickets online?

Don’t worry! Undiscovered Berchtesgaden has distilled all the essential tips for your visit to lake Königssee. Scroll down to find out more.

A. Lake Königssee (or King’s Lake) is a stunning glacial lake 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) south of Berchtesgaden, Bavaria, next in the community of Schönau am Königssee. At up to 190 meters (620 feet), the lake is also one of Germany’s deepest, with an equally impressive length of 7.7 kilometres (4.8 miles).

A. Surrounded by the only alpine National Park in Germany, the Königssee is home to a fleet of electric boats offering journeys deep into the National Park and opportunities to visit Lake Obersee and the St Bartholomä chapel. A full day of relaxing boat rides, excursions into the mountains, local culinary specialities and a history dating back to the 1100s. Our step by step guide to lake Königssee below gives you the full rundown.

A. If you’re coming from Salzburg to lake Königssee, take Bus 840 from the Salzburg main station (Hauptbahnhof) to the Berchtesgaden main station (a duration of around 50 minutes) and stay on the 840 bus as it makes it’s way to the final stop of lake Königssee (a further 15 minutes).

For those who are already staying in Berchtesgaden, your host should have provided you with a guest card that will give you free travel on busses 840 and 843, both of which will be able to take you to the Königssee bus stop. Up to date timetables for all busses can be found on the RVO bus operator website by entering the required bus number. N.B. Bus timetables are different in summer and winter.

Please note that return busses from lake Königssee from 1600-1800 can be extremely busy in the summer and it may be necessary to take a taxi if you have an unmissable connection or commitment in Berchtesgaden.

A. You can walk or cycle from the main Berchtesgaden train station to lake Königssee thanks to the disused Berchtesgaden-Königssee railway path. This route takes you from the main railway station to lake Königssee over 4km (2.5 miles) of what was once the railway that linked lake Königssee with Berchtesgaden. The route starts behind the DM store over the roundabout in front of the Berchtesgaden main railway station. Our history of lake Königssee tells the full story of the railway link.

A. Lake Königssee is just south of Berchtesgaden and a two-hour drive from Munich on the A8 in good traffic conditions. If you’re driving from Salzburg, it’s only a 40-minute journey. Pop the following address (lake Königssee’s main car park) into your phone or car navigation system:

Jennerbahnstraße 1
83471 Schönau am Königssee

A. There is a good quantity of parking once you reach the lake carpark in Schönau am Königssee and an overflow grass area ensures there’s always space. Pricing is relatively high, although if you’re staying locally your host should have provided you with a guest card that will yield a discount from the parking machine. Alternatively you can also pay using the Parkster app.

A. Tickets for the boats on lake Königssee are available both online and in person. If purchasing online the boat operator’s website is the place to go, alternatively you must queue up to buy paper tickets at the main kiosk down by the lake’s edge. On a nice day in the summer season, unless you are there before 0930, expect a wait for tickets of between 30-80 minutes. The number of tickets per day is finite and is based on the timetable, so be sure to confirm your departure time with the cashier when buying your tickets.

You can either buy a ticket for a trip to the main attraction of the St Bätholoma Chapel and the Obersee lake at the far end of the lake Königssee, or you can buy a return ticket to just the St Bätholoma chapel. More information on the two stops can be found in our step by step guide and history below but we’d always recommend a ticket to explore both stops.

Adult return tickets in 2024 are €22.50 and children are €11.30. Note that one of the ticket desks is cash only and will not accept credit cards. Sometimes return tickets all the way to the other end of the lake (the Obersee / Salet stop) are sold out if you arrive in the afternoon and want to set sail on the same day owing to full capacity on return boats.

Children up to 5 are free and family discounts for 2+ children also are available. The cashiers will ask for ID to verify the age of children for their discount, so ensure you have either their passport or ID card with you to guarantee a smooth transaction.

A. The boats sail on Lake Königssee year-round, although Christmas and thick ice occasionally put a temporary stop to things. A winter timetable runs from mid-October to mid-April each year and sees the boats only going as far as the St Bartholomä peninsula. From mid-April to mid-October a full service runs with around 19 boats sailing every day from as early as 0800 in peak times. Check here for the latest timetable.

It’s best to depart before 1030 and return before 1430 to avoid the crowds in summer and on public holidays, or if you can, head to lake Königssee in May or September for a much more intimate experience. It’s best to visit as a one-day trip, but at a push you can combine a visit to the nearby Eagle’s Nest or Berchtesgaden Salt Mine if you start early enough.

Plan to spend the whole day touring the lake. The earliest boats guarantee a prompt getaway and there are two stops with dining and walking opportunities to enjoy, not to mention the chance to go for a swim or make the hike to Germany’s tallest waterfall (see our step by step guide below). If you’re pushed for time 4-5 hours may suffice but you won’t be able to explore the two stops (Salet and St Bartholomä) in much detail.

A. Dogs are welcome on board the boats but must wear a muzzle at all times – no exceptions are made. A dog ticket priced at €5.00 is also necessary.

A. For the trumpet playing at the echo wall (see the step by step guide of lake Königssee below) and their predominantly German commentary, the boat’s crew will send a hat around for tips once their performance is complete. This is not mandatory but a small donation of loose change will help keep this tradition alive for future generations.

A. The boat crew will provide a commentary but it is almost entirely in German. Some highlights are translated into English, but on the whole it’s a distinctly authentic German experience. As of early 2024, no English audio guide yet exists. Your best bet is to navigate to our multilingual self guided tour of lake Königssee.

A. See the weather live at this lake Königssee Webcam link.

If it’s raining you can still enjoy the trip as the boats are covered and both the stops on lake Königssee offer indoor dining options and walking routes lined with trees for some cover.

A. As with any trip into the mountains, take plenty of layers and make sure one of them is waterproof. Regardless of the season, alpine weather can change quickly and it’s best to not be caught off guard.

We strongly recommend you wear hiking shoes since it can be extremely slippery underfoot, especially around lake Obersee at the Salet stop.

It’s worth bringing swimming clothing if it’s a hot day as there are excellent opportunities to paddle or take a dip in the cool refreshing waters of lake Königssee at the St Bartholomä stop. Follow the path south from the main boat pier at St Bartholomä along the lake’s edge until you reach the pebble beach (around 15 minutes’ walk) to escape the crowds.

A. Navigate to the multilingual self guided tour for detailed photo opportunity guides.

A. Navigate to the multilingual self guided tour for dining recommendations. Vegetarians and vegans should note that local specialities are oftentimes not compatible with these diets. We recommend you bring some good snacks with you, just in case.

A. Yes. Under 5’s travel free and 5-17 year olds (with ID) can sail for roughly half the adult price.

Prams/buggies/strollers can be taken on-board free of charge and the boat crew can deploy a ramp to help with boarding. Please note that children’s bicycles are not permitted on board.

There is a children’s play area behind the chapel and restaurant at the St Bartholomä stop – great if kids need to let off steam whilst you have lunch.

All three stops (St Bartholomä, Salet and the main pier at Schönau am Königssee) have accessible WCs/restrooms with baby change facilities.

A. There are step free and baby change facilities along with regular toilets at the main ticket office at the boat piers in Schönau am Königssee.

At the Salet stop (for lake Obersee) there are limited WC facilities at the main guesthouse (Gaststätte Saletalm) and at the Mooskaser. The only accessible WC at the Salet stop is found at the waiting shelter and ticket office complex, directly opposite the main boat pier. This building also offers a baby changing facility.

At the St Bartholomä stop there are limited WC facilities at the large timber ticket office and waiting room building next to the main boat pier. The only accessible WC at this stop is found in the main restaurant inside the old hunting lodge. It is accessible using a key from the bar. The WCs at the ticket office and waiting room also offer a baby changing facility.

A. All boats are wheelchair accessible and boat crew will happily deploy ramps to help you aboard. At both stops there are step-free walks and access to restaurants.

Electric wheelchairs are, however, not permitted on board. Mechanical wheelchairs can be borrowed from the main ticket office at the boat piers in Schönau am Königssee free of charge.

A. Don’t forget the obligatory gift shops (!). At all three stops there are kiosks selling everything from beer steins to aprons. Useful items like maps and umbrellas are also available.

A. The main pier at Schönau am Königssee has free Wi-Fi, simply look for the “Bayern WLAN” network. There is no phone signal, cellular data or Wi-Fi for most of the boat ride and network coverage at St Bartholomä and Salet are very limited.