Lake Königssee & Obersee: Guide to Two Beautiful Lakes in Bavaria, Germany

March 21, 2024

Lake Königssee and Lake Obersee are two lakes in the southeastern part of Germany, in the Bavarian Alps, near the town of Berchtesgaden. The area, also known as Berchtesgaden National Park, is one of Germany’s most visited destinations, with many tourists, especially in summer.

The larger, more famous, and more easily accessible lake is the Lake Königssee. Lake Königssee is 7.7 km long, with a maximum width of 1.7 km and a depth that can reach up to 190 meters, making it one of the deepest lakes in the Alps. In addition, Königssee is the cleanest lake in Germany.

Close to the Königssee is the Obersee, which is slightly more difficult to reach. It’s a much smaller lake, only 1.3 km long, 420 meters wide, and a maximum depth of 51 meters. However, as the Obersee is also a very picturesque destination, we would always mention both lakes together.

Lake Königssee, Bavaria, Germany

It’s worth noting that since “see” means “lake” in German, we generally omit the “Lake” designation.

Their crystal-clear waters are surrounded by rocky mountains like the Watzmann and lush forests, the Königssee and the Obersee offer a tranquil retreat for nature and outdoor enthusiasts.

In this article, we provide detailed information about the Königssee and Obersee lakes, including how to get there, the best times to visit, and activities to do at the lakes. We also give tips on other wonderful sights in the Bavarian Alps surrounding the lakes if you plan for a longer visit to the area.

So, let’s see what you need to know about the beautiful two lakes in the Berchtesgaden National Park: the Königssee and the Obersee.

Lake Obersee, Bavaria, Germany

What to know before visiting Königssee and Obersee

Are Königssee and Obersee worth a visit?

During a trip to Bavaria or Salzburg, we think it would be a shame to miss out on the Königssee and Obersee lakes. Personally, the Bavarian Alps are our favorite place in all of Germany, where we return almost every year, so we must say it’s absolutely worth it!

The area offers relatively easy and enjoyable hikes in the stunning Bavarian Alps. Whether you enjoy hiking in nature, spending time by the waterfront, or searching for breathtaking photo spots, the area around Königssee has a lot to offer. Plus, everything is well-equipped and in a pleasant environment.

Where are these two lakes located

The lakes Königssee and Obersee are located next to Schönau am Königssee, in the vicinity of the town of Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps, Germany, close to the German-Austrian border. Salzburg is also nearby, making it worthwhile to visit the two lakes from there.

How to get to Schönau am Königssee

You can reach Schönau am Königssee from other parts of Bavaria, as well as from Salzburg in Austria. We’ll show you how to get there from Munich and Salzburg, as these are the two most common starting points:

From Munich

By car

By car, Schönau am Königssee is quickly accessible from Munich, with just over 1 hour of driving time.

The route is as follows: From Munich, take the A8 highway all the way through Austria to Salzburg, where you’ll exit onto the A10 towards Villach at the first highway junction called Knoten Salzburg.

After a few kilometers, take the exit for Salzburg-Süd, then follow the Austrian 160, and after crossing the border again into Germany, follow the 305 road to Berchtesgaden.

Upon arriving in the town, take the left exit at the large roundabout in front of the main train station, from where the 20 road leads to Schönau. At the end of the 20 road, you’ll find the parking lots for the Königssee.

By public transport

Using public transportation, it takes much longer to reach the lakes, with travel times typically between 3–4 hours.

The route is as follows: From Munich, trains depart to Salzburg from several train stations. In Salzburg, you’ll need to transfer to a bus at the train station, which is the 840 bus. This bus takes you to Schönau.

From Salzburg

From Salzburg, the lakes are much more easily accessible. Just follow the above route description starting from Salzburg. So:

By car

From Salzburg, the drive takes about 35 minutes. No matter where you start in the city, you need to reach the 160 road, which leads to the German border. After crossing the German border, continue on this road, which is numbered 305 there. Upon reaching Berchtesgaden, at the roundabout, take the left (maybe 4th) exit onto the 20 road, which leads to Schönau.

By public transport

From Salzburg, the 840 bus provides direct service to Schönau with multiple boarding options, with a travel time of approximately one hour.

Parking at the Königssee

Close to the northern shore of Königssee, you will find a large parking lot where you should leave your car. Pay with cash at the machines or with the Parkster app. We recommend using the app, as you won’t have to worry about an expired parking ticket. There are several electric charging points in the car park.

Click on the link for parking fees, but only available in German.

If you’re traveling with a caravan, there’s also a caravan park on the other side of the road.

How to get to Königssee

A few hundred meters walk from the car park is the lake. Walk along the Seestrasse, where you’ll find local shops and restaurants along the way.

At the end of the street, you’ll find the Königssee, and along its shore are the boat docks.

How to get to Obersee

To reach the Obersee, you’ll need to board a boat, about which you can read more below. The boat will take you to the other side of Königssee, specifically to the Salet dock, where you’ll disembark and continue on foot. From Salet, there’s an easy hiking trail of about 1 km leading to the Obersee.

Best time to visit the two lakes

Königssee can be visited all year round, but is at its most beautiful from spring to autumn. We recommend late spring (May) and early autumn (September) as the best time to visit. This is when everything is open, but you can avoid the summer crowds.

The Obersee is usually only accessible from the end of April to mid-October, as this is the only time the boats run to Salet.

How much time is needed to visit Königssee and Obersee

The first time, we only spent a few hours at Königssee, which wasn’t enough. So, a few weeks later, we traveled back just to thoroughly explore the area around Königssee and Obersee.

Based on our own experience, it’s worth dedicating almost a whole day, or even more. The boats go very slowly, the crowd slows things down even more, and if you want to comfortably explore the area, the distances also take up a lot of time.

So feel free to plan a full-day itinerary, starting in the morning and possibly lasting until late afternoon.

If you still have time for other attractions in the area, we recommend places to visit at the bottom of this article.

Where to stay at Lake Königssee

Near the Königssee, you’ll find several hotels and apartments. Here are some of the most recommended ones:

  • Hotel Brunneck: A three-star hotel in Schönau, within walking distance from the lake, offering one of the most affordable options.
  • Hotel AlpinaRos: A well-rated hotel in Berchtesgaden, also in the affordable price range.
  • Hotel EDELWEISS Berchtesgaden Superior: A four-star, well-equipped hotel in Berchtesgaden, in a higher price range but with very good reviews.
  • Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden: A five-star hotel a bit farther from the lake, featuring pools, restaurants, and magnificent views.

Best things to do at Königssee and Obersee

The Königssee and the Obersee both offer excellent recreational opportunities from spring to autumn if you want to spend half or a whole day in nature.

The best activities at these two beautiful alpine lakes include:

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Boat trip on the Königssee

Undoubtedly, the most popular activity in the area is boating on the Königssee.

For a long time now, only electric boats have been used on the lake, which contributes to preserving the cleanliness of the water.

Boats depart from the northern side of the lake approximately every 30 minutes. You can find the exact schedule on the operator’s website by clicking on the link.

The one-way journey takes about 55 minutes, so you’ll spend nearly 2 hours on the boat for a round trip if you complete the full boat ride. However, it’s worth considering additional stops, such as the tour to the Obersee, and it’s also worth stopping at the famous Saint Bartholomew’s (or St. Bartholomä) Church by the lake.

Along the way (usually on the outbound journey), the boats typically make a brief stop in the middle of the lake, where the boat crew performs an interesting trumpet show to demonstrate the famous echo of the lake. The trumpet sound echoes multiple times due to the steep cliffs surrounding the lake, which is a truly unique experience.

Pro tip: Start your day with a boat tour, even on one of the first boats, because the crowds can be huge during the day, especially in peak season and on weekends. During these times, getting onto the boats (or even getting a ticket) can be a real challenge. That’s why it’s worth buying your ticket online in advance!

Visiting Saint Bartholomew’s Church

The Saint Bartholomew’s Church is located on the western shore of the Königssee and is an iconic landmark in the area. The church was built in the 12th century and was beautifully renovated in Baroque style in the 17th century. The building is white with a unique red onion dome, set against the backdrop of the mountains, which offers a breathtaking view.

You can only reach the church by boat, so it’s worth getting off the boat at the dock next to the church and taking a stroll around the area.

If you’re feeling hungry, you can dine at one of the restaurants near the church, such as Gaststätte St. Bartholomä or Fischerei St. Bartholomä, and try some local dishes. Among them, you’ll find traditional Bavarian cuisine as well as dishes made from fish caught in the lake.

Is it worth the hike to the Ice Chapel?

Several mentions are made of the Ice Chapel near Königssee, also known by its German name, Eiskapelle. It’s a glacier cave in the Watzmann mountain. It’s about a 3.5 km hike uphill from the church, with an elevation gain of about 400 meters.

Feedback regarding the attraction is mixed. It’s worth considering that the trail is not easy, requiring basic hiking equipment, and the cave may not always be safe due to melting.

We didn’t visit the Ice Chapel ourselves, but if you’re interested in glaciers and enjoy hiking, consider visiting.

Walking to the Obersee

After boating, walking to the Obersee is the second most popular activity in the area. You can read a description of how to get there earlier in the text.

From the Salet dock, you can reach this lake with a short walk, which, although smaller, is just as stunning as the Königssee. You can also hike along the shore of the Obersee, but be prepared for some challenging sections of the trail along the lake.

On each opposite shore of the lake stands a small wooden hut, which is a favorite among photographers.

Additionally, you’ll find several restaurants around the lake while hiking. Shortly after Salet, on the way there, you’ll find the Gaststätte Saletalm restaurant, and on the other side of the lake is the Fischunkelalm, where you can enjoy simpler dishes such as local “Aufstrich” spreads with various flavors.

Hiking to the Röthbachfall

After Fischunkelalm, the hiking trail continues southeastward, leading to a beautiful waterfall. Its name is Röthbachfall, and with a height of 470 meters, it is Germany’s tallest waterfall, which is remarkable even in the Alps.

If you have more time in the area and enjoy hiking, be sure to visit this as well. The waterfall is visible from afar, from the meadow in front of it, where you can rest, have a picnic, and admire the waterfall.

Taking the Jennerbahn cable car up to the Jenner Viewing Platform

If you’re curious to explore beyond the lakes, take the cable cars up to the Jenner Aussichtsplattform, or Jenner Viewing Platform. This is a popular viewpoint overlooking the Königssee and the surrounding mountains.

At the mountain station of the cable car, you’ll find the stylish Jenneralm, where you can not only enjoy the excellent views but also taste Bavarian cuisine.

Tasting Bavarian food in a local hut

We have already recommended a number of restaurants and huts, but here is a list once again of restaurants in and around Königssee and Obersee:

If you feel like it, you can try Bavarian sausages, Kaiserschmarrn, known all over the Alps and the surrounding area, Käsespetzle, local beers, or wines.

The only downside of the restaurants here is that they don’t really cater for those with food sensitivities, so if you’re on a special diet, you probably won’t be able to enjoy these places.

So these were the activities you can do at Obersee and Königssee. These activities can take up half or even a whole day, providing a truly enjoyable experience at the two stunning Bavarian lakes.

If you want to explore more in the area, as regular visitors to the Bavarian Alps and Austria, we can recommend several other places you must visit when traveling in that direction. You can learn about some of these places below, and additionally, you can find out about more interesting places in the region in our article about the most beautiful places in the Bavarian Alps.

Other attractions in the area

Eagle’s Nest

Known as Kehlsteinhaus in German, this is a historical site situated on a mountain peak near Berchtesgaden. Originally built as a retreat for Adolf Hitler, it is now a popular tourist destination known for its panoramic views of the Bavarian Alps and the Lake Königssee.

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Lake Hintersee

The picturesque lake is also located in the Bavarian Alps. Surrounded by lush forests and towering mountains, Lake Hintersee offers opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, nature photography, boating, and picnicking.

Rossfeld Panorama Road

This mountain panorama road winds through the eastern part of the Bavarian Alps along the Austrian border, offering spectacular views of the surrounding landscapes. Popular among driving enthusiasts and nature lovers alike, this route provides access to some of the most breathtaking views in the region.


A charming city in Austria, famous for its well-preserved baroque architecture, music heritage (including being the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), and beautiful riverside views. If you have more time in the area, consider spending a day or two exploring Salzburg.


The world-famous village situated on the shores of Lake Hallstatt in Austria. Renowned for its stunning fairytale appearance and charming streets filled with traditional Austrian architecture. Hallstatt is a must-visit if you’re in the area, don’t miss it!

So, this was our article introducing Königssee, Obersee, and other attractions around Berchtesgaden.

We hope we’ve provided you with enough information if you’re planning to visit Königssee and Obersee, and that you’ve found inspiration on how to spend your time at these two lakes.

We can only encourage you to explore the most beautiful places in the Bavarian Alps, of which these two gorgeous lakes are undoubtedly a part. Visiting Königssee and Obersee ensures a fulfilling and memorable experience, so don’t miss out on them when you’re in Bavaria!

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