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Gliding Across Lake Königssee, Germany

Are you looking for some amazing things to do in Bavaria? to Lake Königssee, ride a boat, and wander about. The kids will love it!

The Königssee seemed to be that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but no matter how much we chased it all we’d ever find was rain pouring down. We’d go again and there was a sleet storm.

On another visit to Berchtesgaden we didn’t have time to go and all the people in the hotel were raving about the fine day they had on the lake. At some point, I just felt like giving up. The Königssee wasn’t interested in us and by golly I wasn’t going to be interested in it.

In this about Königssee Lake, you’ll learn about:

St. Bartholomew's Church in Bavaria.
St. Bartholomew’s Church is the Jewel on Lake Koenigssee

BUT, have you seen this iconic Bavarian shot? You know the pretty white and maroon chapel with buxom towers harkening you from the turquoise waters? Living in Bavaria (Grafenwoehr), I would see that picture everywhere I go. It mocked me. I just couldn’t give up. I was going to take that boat ride across Lake Konigsee in Konigsee, Germany.

Boats gliding along the water in Königssee Germany.
Fall is my favorite time, but honestly there is no perfect time of year to visit Koenigssee. It looks great in every season.

Lake Königssee and St. Bartholomew’s Church

Königssee Germany.
Perfectly smooth and silent, the electric boats are the best way to travel on the Koenigssee.

Finally, on one fine fall in Germany, we were in Berchtesgaden exploring the World War II sites, eating sausages and sauerkraut, kicking it up at the Bavarian night and it was time.

We were heading to the Königssee and we were going to ride that electric boat out to St. Bartholomew’s Church. It was going to happen.

It rained on Saturday off and on. The clouds mocked us, “You think you are going to ride the boats tomorrow? Think again!” We were not to be discouraged.

We got up early Sunday morning, because we wanted to get signed up for the boats before the crowds hit. The sky threatened with some clouds, but we were determined!

The expansive skies, the majestic mountains, the emerald green water of Bavaria, Germany.
The expansive skies, the majestic mountains, the emerald green water, Koenigsee is just spectacular!

We brazenly bought our tickets and had just enough time for a coffee before our departure time. We started queuing and the clouds parted, the sun took over the sky, and the clouds were sprinkled about perfectly accentuating the undulating mountains surrounding the lake. The lake is five miles long and more than a mile wide.  

It is over 600 feet deep which makes the color of the water reflect in aquamarine shades from a light cyan to a dark and almost deep olive green.

Amazingly the limestone mountains shoot up from the shores of the lake, towering over the pine and ash trees. It’s a breathtaking sight and it got better with every little turn.

The wooden boathouses lining the northern shore of Koenigssee mark the end of the ride for returning boats.
The wooden boathouses lining the northern shore of Koenigssee mark the end of the ride for returning boats.

When the St. Bartholomä Church came into view, I was ecstatic. I had tried so many times to find the perfect day to see it. The reflections waved in and out with the numbers of boats constantly coming and going.

As you can see by the photo, we were not the only lucky ones to finally pick the best day to go. At the stop, almost everyone exits the boat to wander around the small church and explore a few of the paths along the water, then hop on one of the following boats for the return to the main dock.

Some of the tall mountains and alpine lakes you'll find in Bavaria.
You can still hear the trumpet’s melody echoing off the canyon walls as the boat glides along

There is only one more stop on the trip, at the south end of the lake called Salet. Again many folks jump off, wander and picnic, then hop the next boat back.

It’s a ride full of stunning views, and the driver at one point stops and blows a horn so you can hear the melodious tones echoing off the cliffs.  It’s an hour and thirty minutes where you’re guaranteed to have a magical experience and one well worth the wait.

A boat gliding along Lake Königssee Germany.
You can jump on any boat once you’ve left the main port

Pro Tip! And once a year you can watch the farmers bring their cows home from the high mountains on boats! This usually happens the first weekend in October, but check your dates before you go.

Practical Information about the Boat Ride Across Lake Königssee

General: As with many popular sites, you will want to arrive early at the lake (before 10 AM) before the crowds arrive. You will have to buy your ticket then wait for your departure time, so go to the ticket kiosk immediately.

You can take any boats back, but listen for the last returning boat. There are no overnight accommodations on the lake.

St. Bartholomew's Church on an alpine lake in Bavaria.
I just couldn’t stop taking pictures of St. Bartholomew’s Church!

How to get there: Berchtesgaden is the jumping off point for Lake Königssee. It is only a ten minute ride by bus or car.  Buses go every hour from the main train station, and you want to take the number 841.

Once the bus dumps you off or you park, it is about a seven minute walk to the shore. You can also walk there in about one hour and thirty minutes from Berchtesgaden or, of course, ride your bike.

Costs: Parking for 30, 60, or 90 minutes is available but I recommend  paying for the whole day (6 euros). The boat tickets are 14 – 18 Euros per adult and 7-9 Euros for children depending on how far you want to go. Families (up to four children) can get a family pass ranging from 36-44 Euros which is a significant discount.

A boat with cattle riding along an alpine lake in Bavaria.
Why not time your trip to see the cows coming home across the water?

Refreshments: The walkway down to Lake Königssee is filled with shops, cafes, restaurants, and hotels so there is plenty to eat before or after the boat ride. At St. Bartholomä Church, there is also a place to get refreshments.


Have you been to the Lake Königssee and St. Bartholomä Church in Bavaria? What did you think? Do you have any tips you want to share? Tell us more in the comments below! You may also want to consider visiting Lake Königssee during spring in Germany since I know the area will be beautiful at that time of year.

Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.

Pin Boating Konigssee for later!

Königssee Germany

Sand In My Suitcase

Wednesday 19th of October 2016

How cute is that to see the cows being carted across the water! Happy for you that you finally got to enjoy that Koenigssee boat ride :-).

Corinne Vail

Wednesday 19th of October 2016

Janice, Yes! It took a few years. We loved it.

Rhonda Albom

Tuesday 21st of June 2016

Looks like it was worth the wait. The emerald green water is really striking. Beautiful shots and great tips.

Jim Vail

Friday 24th of June 2016

Rhonda, It was. It was a gorgeous day and we love the ride.