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The picturesque Königssee is nestled in the southeast of Bavaria, within the charming municipality of Schönau am Königssee in the Berchtesgaden region. Situated at the eastern base of the Watzmann, it is replenished by the waters of the Obersee.

Tips for the Königssee and Top Activities

Picturesque water and mountain panorama in Salet at Königssee

In this comprehensive post, you will receive tips for activities and learn everything you need to know about the dreamlike Königssee in Berchtesgaden National Park.

How long should you stay at Königssee?

Depending on how much you want to see, anywhere between two days and a week makes sense. You should definitely plan for two full days, but you can also easily fill an entire week or more.

Note: Even if you can’t see everything in one day, there are also day trips from places like Munich or Salzburg to explore Königssee.

When is the best time to visit?

The question of the best time to visit Königssee should be relatively easy to answer. Depending on how the German summer turns out, it is definitely possible to come from May to September. I believe the absolute best time to visit is from June to August.

5 Facts about Königssee

  • Königssee is 7.3 km long and covers an area of 1.5 km².
  • Its deepest point is 190 meters.
  • Königssee experiences temperatures between 15°C and 20°C during the peak travel season.
  • Königssee is home to the tallest waterfall in Germany. With a total drop of 470 meters, it is also one of the highest waterfalls in the Alps.
  • For those who prefer a relaxed beach vacation, this is not the right place as there are hardly any proper beaches or places to bath. For those who prefer a more active vacation with hiking, boating, exploring waterfalls, etc., Königssee is the perfect destination.

What should you have done when visiting Königssee?

Activities at Königssee: 5 Tips

1. Boat trip across Königssee to St. Bartholomä and Salet

This to-do is so extensive that it can actually be considered as two activities. You should definitely plan for a full day, and due to the boat schedule, you won’t be back much later than 7.00 PM.

From the town of Königssee, which is located at the northern tip of the lake and is probably the best choice for accommodations (whether it’s camping, a hotel, or an apartment), electric boats depart daily across Lake Königssee to the docks of St. Bartholomew’s Church and Salet, as well as all the way back. To ride these boats, you need to get a ticket in the morning. You do this at the large square by the lake, which you reach when you walk all the way down Seestraße.

The dock/pier in Schönau at Königssee
The dock in Schönau at Königssee

It’s best to arrive early here because the line for tickets can quickly become very long. Personally, I was there around 10.15 AM and had to wait in line for about 1 hour. So, I would recommend being there early in the morning to get one of the first boats. This way, you also have more time to spend at St. Bartholomew’s Church and in Salet (see below).

The first boat’s departure time depends on the season:
  • April 25th – May 15th → 9.00 AM
  • May 16th – June 19th → 8.30 AM
  • June 20th – September 7th → 8.00 AM
  • September 8th – October 4th → 8.30 AM
  • October 5th – October 18th → 9.00 AM

The prices per person are not very cheap but, in my opinion, they are worth it if you’re already at Königssee. In August 2020, a ticket for an adult to Salet and St. Bartholomew’s Church (round trip included) cost around €20.

The trip to St. Bartholomew’s takes about half an hour, and it often happens that the ship’s captain stops at the halfway point, for example, to demonstrate the echo with a trumpet. It’s quite impressive.

St. Bartholomew’s Church (St. Bartholomä)

St. Bartholomew’s Church is located approximately halfway across the lake and is primarily known for the Pilgrimage Church. Next to the chapel is the former hunting lodge, which is now a restaurant. There’s also a souvenir stand, an information office of the Berchtesgaden National Park (formerly a lumberjack hut), the Watzmann-Ostwandlager (camp for Watzmann hikers), the Königssee Fisheries, and several other buildings.

View of St. Bartholomew's Church on Lake Königssee
View of St. Bartholomew’s Church

St. Bartholomew’s can only be reached on foot via multi-hour hikes, involving significant elevation changes. A path leads from Schönau or the village of Königssee, initially along the bobsled and toboggan run, then up the Klingersteig trail to Kührointalm (1420 m), further to the Archenkanzel viewpoint, and back down via the Rinnkendlsteig trail. The walking time is approximately four to five hours.

From St. Bartholomew’s Church, the boats continue for another 20 minutes to Salet. Those who disembark here have various options.


From the Salet stop, you can now hike to the tallest waterfall in Germany. Admire the Obersee, swim in it, have something to eat or drink in one of the alpine huts, or simply wander through nature.

Boat on Lake Königssee in Salet

The path to the Röthbachfall (Germany’s tallest waterfall) is about 50% shaded and runs along the Obersee for a long stretch. You can also swim in it, but be cautious: from my own experience, I can tell you that the Obersee is even colder than Lake Königssee. Nevertheless, it’s very nice to cool off in this idyllic lake surrounded by mountains.

I recommend sturdy shoes for the hike to Röthbachfall, and you should plan for at least 3 hours for the round trip to the waterfall. If you want to explore the waterfall a bit more, have a meal at one of the alpine huts along the way, or take a dip in the Obersee, you should plan for 4-5 hours instead.

View of the lake at Salet

While Röthbachfall is indeed the tallest waterfall in Germany, in my opinion, it’s not the most spectacular. Nonetheless, it is very impressive, and if you not only have sturdy footwear but are also a bit adventurous, you can climb a bit higher, which I personally found a lot of fun.

During this excursion, make sure to check the schedule for the last boat back. Personal pick-up from one of the stops costs €225, and it would be a shame to reduce your travel budget in this way, wouldn’t it?

2. Exploring Lake Königssee with a Rowboat

This is a considerably smaller activity, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be just as enjoyable. When you’re at the large square where you can also buy tickets for the boat ride, turn eastward (away from the toboggan and bobsled track) and walk about 100 meters along the lakeside path.

There is a rowboat rental open from 10.00 AM to 6.00 PM. They charge by the hour, but if you’re out for more than 5 hours, you’ll pay the daily rate of €45 (please note that an additional €50 deposit is required).

Rowing on Lake Königssee in Bavaria, Germany

If you’re skilled in rowing, you can even make your way to St. Bartholomä (approximately 11 km round trip). If you prefer not to row that far, you have the option to simply enjoy a leisurely ride on the lake (which is really fun) or head to one of the gravel beaches on the east side of the lake. These are much closer and equally beautiful.

If you’re feeling adventurous, I recommend keeping an eye out on the east side of the lake. There are two ropes hanging from trees that you can grab onto and swing over the lake. If you like, you can let go of the rope and plunge into the water. Otherwise, you can simply swing back and forth, which I found to be a lot of fun.

If you want to reach one of the ropes without renting a rowboat or if you haven’t spotted them from the boat, you can also reach them on foot. But be cautious: good footwear is definitely necessary. The path is anything but easy, but more on that in the next point.

3. Explore Königsbachfall

The third activity is also a half-day adventure. Of course, you can take more time, but in principle, it’s enough to plan 3-5 hours for this “hike”. I put “hike” in quotes because the trails themselves aren’t very long, but the paths are often not very well maintained and sometimes just narrow footpaths.

Königsbachfall is also located on the eastern side of the lake and is primarily known for its natural pools. This is probably the right moment to mention that at least one of the natural pools is planned to be officially closed in the future (the “Instagram Pool”), as two young men lost their lives there in April 2019. So, the spot is not entirely safe, especially in the spring when the creek carries a lot of meltwater or in the fall when it rains a lot. I visited in July and personally found the situation relatively safe. However, this is just my personal assessment, and of course, hiking and swimming in the pool are at your own risk.

I personally visited two natural pools and will describe the way to both. However, it’s important to briefly discuss the differences beforehand. The first location was not quite as beautiful in terms of nature and the pool itself as the second, but I was completely alone here. The second location was incredibly crowded with people, and everyone wanted to capture “that one picture” in the pool (admittedly, the picture with Königssee in the background is pretty cool). The path to both is not easy, and here too, you should bring sturdy footwear and a generous dose of adventurous spirit.

But now, finally, to the directions:

Initially, the path to both pools is the same: You walk from the main square towards the rowboat rental, but you pass it on the right and follow the Malerwinkelweg into the forest. On the right side, there is a fork leading to the Café Malerwinkel, but you keep left. Now you follow the path until it splits. At this point, the directions also diverge:

Pool 1 (not quite as beautiful but more secluded)

View of Lake Königssee

To reach the more secluded but not quite as spectacular pool, you now keep to the right. You pass by the Malerwinkel viewpoint and continue following the path. You walk relatively close to Lake Königssee, and at times, you may even have to take off your shoes and wade through shallow water.

By the shallow waters of Lake Königssee

Eventually, you’ll come to a point where you navigate along a wall using a steel cable, and shortly after, the first rope for swinging will appear on the right side. From now on, you have about 15-20 minutes left on your journey. You continue following the path until you reach the Königsbachfall (don’t worry, if you think you’re lost: you can’t take a wrong turn).

When you reach Königsbachfall, you have more or less already reached your destination. However, there will likely still be some people here, and you are also quite close to the lake. If you want to go to the natural pool where there are no people, you must now climb vertically up the Königsbachfall: Stay on the side of the stream from which you came (so don’t cross over) and go a few meters upstream.

Here, a small beaten path begins, which you can reach by climbing up a rocky outcrop. You follow this beaten path for about 100 meters until you come to the natural pool on the right side, through rocky terrain. Congratulations, you made it!

Pool 2 (more impressive and crowded)

At the Instagram Pool of Lake Königssee in Bavaria
The famous “Instagram Pool” with a view of Lake Königssee

The path to the second “Gumpe” (this is the so-called “Instagram Pool”) is a bit further than the first one, but in my opinion, it’s definitely worth it. At the fork, you now go left instead of right, so that you “miss” the Malerwinkel viewpoint (don’t worry, there are still good viewpoints on this path, and if you don’t want to miss it, you can briefly go right to the viewpoint. It’s only a few meters).

So, if you’ve gone up the mountain to the left at the fork, you follow the path further and always keep to the right from now on (not entirely true, there is one exception, but I’ll talk about that in a moment). The path will not have any branches for a while, but when there are any, keep to the right. At some point (after about 25-30 minutes), a path goes off to the right at a 90-degree angle, and here too, you keep to the right, so you go into this path.

From now on, it gets a bit rocky, but be prepared for even worse terrain. You now follow this rocky path to the Rabenwand viewpoint. Here, you must make sure that you really follow the path and do NOT go right into the terrain. There are some places where you might think you have to go into the forest to the right. But follow the path here.

When you arrive at the Rabenwand viewpoint platform, you know you’re on the right track, and you can take a short break. From here, the path gets really bad and is actually nothing more than a narrow trail. So, you continue (you may have to climb over the occasional tree trunk, etc.) and follow this narrow trail until you reach the famous pool. Be careful not to slip here! The terrain is not very safe, and it goes relatively steeply downhill.

Congratulations, you have reached the ultimate Instagram hotspot in Bavaria, and you can now take photos to your heart’s content. Please don’t forget to also enjoy the view without the camera.

Notice (current information): Please be sure to note that the National Park administration has decided to finally close off the so-called “Instagram Pool” and the surrounding area extensively. This is monitored by rangers, and the penalties are not light. Currently, it is NOT possible to access the pool!

4. Ride the Jennerbahn to Mount Jenner

This is a very flexible activity, and you can easily fill a whole day or just a few hours with it.

The Jennerbahn at Königssee with a view of Schönau am Königssee

You ride the Jenner cable car to Mount Jenner. Decide beforehand whether you want to go all the way to the top or just to the middle station. Also, decide whether you want to take the cable car back down or if you’d prefer to hike. You can buy tickets later, but that costs more than booking a ticket to the top from the beginning. And if, for example, you decide to hike down, you don’t need to buy a ticket from the start to take you back down. You can essentially buy a one-way ticket. The tickets are not very cheap, but the view from the top is definitely worth it.

View from Jenner to Königssee, St. Bartholomä, and Schönau am Königssee View from Jenner to Königssee, St. Bartholomä, and Schönau am Königssee

I personally went up, enjoyed the view once, then took the cable car back to the middle, and hiked down from the middle station. From the very top, the hiking trail was too far for me, and I would also recommend you bring enough food and motivation if you want to walk from the very top to the valley station. Of course, you could still decide to take the cable car down at the middle station, but as I mentioned, that costs extra.

From the middle station, there are various paths downwards. It’s best to check the map and find out which one is the best for you. I took Trail 6 and found it to be very beautiful in terms of nature. However, I think all the paths are beautiful.

Once back in the valley, I can recommend the restaurant Pizzeria Lago. You will more or less pass by it if you go to the large parking lot or the tourist information or the pedestrian street. They make pretty good pizza, and the pasta and salad tasted good as well. Nothing extraordinary, but a solid Italian restaurant.

5. A Trip to Salzburg

For this activity, you should plan a whole day again, but of course, you can determine how much time you want to spend in Salzburg. Salzburg is quite easy to reach from Königssee (40 minutes by car, 1.5 hours by bike, 1.5 hours by bus and train), and in my opinion, you should definitely visit the city if you’re in the vicinity.

Guest author Joshua

About the Author

Joshua has loved traveling for as long as he can remember and is already very familiar with Europe and India. He especially enjoys warm seaside destinations but also likes to explore new places he hasn’t been to before.

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More hotel recommendations for the Königssee:

Königssee Tips: Tours and Tickets

Do you prefer to travel with a guide who knows the area very well? Then we recommend a guided tour with a local. This way you can get to know the Königssee in a completely different way. GetYourGuide offers a wide selection of exciting tours for the Königssee.

Have you ever been to Königssee and done one or more of the described activities? Do you have tips and tricks for other travelers?

Photos: Photo 6 (Rowing): Murat Can Kirmizigul/shutterstock.com – Photo 10 (Jennerbahn): Animaflora PicsStock/shutterstock.com – Photo 11 (View): Jiri Foltyn/shutterstock.com