With its glassy blue waters framed by jagged mountains and lush alpine meadows, King’s Lake (Königssee) is one of Bavaria’s most beautiful. The natural wonder lies within Berchtesgaden National Park, offering a majestic backdrop for hiking and cruises.
Most day-trippers beeline for the lakeside village of Schönau am Königssee, from where cruises set sail across the lake. The most popular destination is the monastery of St. Bartholomew, a striking baroque church that stands in a prime spot along the waterfront. It’s possible to visit on a day trip from either Munich, Germany, or Salzburg, Austria, and most tours combine a cruise on King’s Lake with a scenic drive through the Bavarian Alps and a stop in Berchtesgaden village.
Additional side trips include a tour of the Berchtesgaden Salt Mines; a Jennerbahn cable car ride to the top of Mt. Jenner; or a visit to Eagle’s Nest (Kehlsteinhaus), Hitler’s notorious country retreat.
Things to Know Before You Go
Lake swimming is possible, so bring your swimsuit and a towel.
Boat tours typically last an hour, and only electric boats are allowed on the lake.
Some cruises are wheelchair accessible, but it’s best to check in advance.
How to Get There
King’s Lake is located south of Salzburg across the German border in the Bavarian Alps and southeast of Munich. The easiest way to reach King’s Lake is by car or joining a guided tour. To arrive by public transport, head to Berchtesgaden first—trains operate from Munich and Salzburg, with one change. From Berchtesgaden train station, regular buses also run the short distance to Schönau am Königssee.
When to Get There
Lakes and surrounding mountains are a summer haven for walkers, cyclists, and climbers. Tours and accommodation can book up quickly in July and August. Cruises only operate from April to October, but the lake is just as beautiful in winter, with a soft mantle of snow covering the mountains and opportunities for skiing at the nearby Berchtesgaden Ski Area.
Berchtesgaden National Park
A wide variety of wildlife and fauna, including marmots, red deer, golden eagles, and colorful wild orchids, make their home in Berchtesgaden National Park. There are more than 155 miles (250 kilometers) of hiking trails to explore, including Wimbach Gorge, Watzmann and Jenner mountains, and the circular trail around St. Bartholomew. Outdoor enthusiasts can also ride the cable car up Mt. Jenner, where hang gliding and paragliding are popular activities or go rock climbing around Mt. Watzmann.