Königssee Lake Ferry Boat Tour:
Location: Kings Lake Berchtesgaden (Königssee)
Cost: Free, Self-Guided (Boat and lift costs below)
Style: Do-It-Yourself Walking Tour (Self Guided)
Start: Königssee Village & Boat Dock
Time Required: The full round-trip boat ride without getting off will take 2 hours (35 minutes to the church, 20 minutes to the end, and back). If you are getting out to explore then expect an average of 4-5 hours total.
Seasonality: In July-September, arrive before 10am and return by 2pm to avoid long lines. In the Winter the ferry still runs daily, but only goes as far as Saint Bartholomew’s Church and back as a half tour. Many mountain hikes will also be closed in the Winter, but the ferry journey is great year round.
Fun Scale: 9.5 out of 10
The King’s Lake (Königssee) is one of the most majestic places in Europe. It is an angelic emerald fjord lined by powerful Alpine mountains that never fails to wow its visitors. Nestled in a valley between the Jenner, Hagen, and Watzmann Mountains, Königssee is Bavaria’s deepest lake at 630 feet deep. Rare species of fish swim in the 5 mile long lake’s crystal clear waters and the local restaurants serve them up fresh.
Tours on the lake take place on vintage electric passenger ferries which quietly glide past lazy boathouses, roaring waterfalls, and lofty mountain faces. The red onion domes of Saint Bartholomä Church are breath-taking and the Obersee at the end of the lake is on of the most beautiful place in the Alps. Every minute of the journey is picturesque and very relaxing. We also love to take the cable car up nearby Jenner Mountain after taking the King’s Lake ferry boat tour.
Getting To Königssee From Berchtesgaden:
The easiest way to get to the King’s Lake from the Berchtesgaden Train Station is Bus 841 (Timetable Summer – Timetable Winter) which goes directly to Königssee in just 10-15 minutes twice an hour. Taxis are often available 24 hours a day from the station as well and the quick journey to the lake is only a couple Euros. If you choose to hike instead it will take around 1.5 hours down the former Königssee train tracks which are now an excellent trail which used to be a railroad line.
Königssee Ferry Boat Information:
Ferry Boat Overview: The Lake Königssee Ferry Line has used only electric boats since 1909 to both reduce polution but also to keep the lake quite for the local wildlife. Today there are 19 boats continuously shuttle visitors down the long fiord-like lake and service runs 365 days a year (shorten in Winter). Each boat can hold 93 passengers but only 80 tickets are sold for each to leave room for strollers, wheelchairs, and backpacks.
Hours Of Operation: Ferries depart year round at least once an hour from and are increased to every 15 minutes in peak season. During the Winter they only go halfway down the lake to Saint Bartholomä Church and cut out the Salet/Obersee stop at the end. Check the current schedule for departure times. In the peak Summer months, boats usually depart from 8am-5pm, in the Fall 9am-4pm, and in the Winter half tours run with shorter hours. It’s very rare and only once every ten years that the lake freezes enough in Winter to shut down the ferries for a few days, however, in 2006 the ice lasted 29 days.
Trip Length: The full ferry route to the end of the lake and back takes 2 hours round trip. The route takes 35 minutes to reach Saint Bartholomä Church and another 20 to reach Obersee then follows the same route back. You can get out at either stop and jump right back on any of the other return ferries, just make note on the time of the last return trip so you don’t miss it. There is NO footpath to get you all the way back you really must make the last ferry. In the Winter the ferry only does half of the tour, going just to Saint Bartholomä Church and back.
Peak Summer Months: In the peak months of July through September the lines in the afternoon can get long so go early in the day. Boats run every 15-30 minutes in these peak months leaving the main dock from 8am to 5pm (current schedule). We recommend starting your journey as early as possible and no later than 10:30am to avoid a long wait. If you plan on hiking around Obersee at the end of King’s Lake we suggest riding all the way through to it at the start and then on the way back get out at Saint Bartholomä Church. This way you can have Obersee to yourself while it is quite and peaceful.
Round Trip Ferry Cost: Adults 16.90€; Children 8.50€; Kids 5 and under Free; Family (2 Adults & up to 4 kids) 42.30€; Dog 3€. Fare is cheaper if you do the half tour only to St. Bartholomä and skip the Salet/Obersee Stop. Online Advance Ferry Ticket: (Here).
King’s Lake Lake Tour Attractions:
1. Königssee Ferry Boat Dock:
About The Boat Dock: Whether you are arriving by bus, car, or taxi the boat dock is only a short walk down from the Königssee parking lot. On our first visit to the lake we were just expecting a boat dock, but it’s actually a beautiful little village. There are tons of cute little shops leading the way to the lake and the iconic half-timber lodge called Hotel Schiffmeister (website) sitting at the water’s edge. If you were to work your way back toward Berchtesgaden by foot you’ll find even more shops and an excellent hiking trail of the former train tracks that once connected the train station to Schönau am Königssee.
The boat dock is impossible to miss as you reach the King’s Lake. We love watching the graceful and silent electric ferry boats pull into the dock on the lake’s crystal clear water. If you have time to kill between ferries, consider grabbing a drink at the tree-lined outdoor Franzinkaner Beer Garden next to the ticket booth.
Getting To The Boat Dock: From central Berchtesgaden, take Bus 841 to the Königssee parking lot and take a short walk. 360 Degree Photo: (From Above). Ferry Company Website: (Here). Online Advance Ticket: (Here).
2. Christlieger Island & Boat Houses:
About Christlieger Island: As you pull out of the ferry boat dock you quickly pass Christlieger Island, the only island in King’s Lake. The small tree-covered island has a grotto and marble statue from 1711 of Saint John of Nepomuk (Patron Saint of Sailors). From there Königssee begins to open up and the views get better and better along the way.
To the left of the island are a collection of covered ferry boat houses lining the lake’s Eastern shore. These historic wooden houses are where the fleet of electric ferry boats are stored and recharged overnight. When fully charged the boats can glide on the calm waters for a full 12-14 hours at a time. In total there are 17 electric boats which can carry 80 passengers at a time plus one smaller 25-person boat. When the boats were first put into operation in 1909 they were electric from the start as Prince Regent Luitpold was afraid that motor noise would scare away the deer in his favorite Royal hunting grounds. The result is a quiet relaxing ride, but the lack of pollution has also helped to maintain the purity of the water in Bavaria’s deepest lake making it the cleanest lake in Germany.
3. Falcon Stone Memorial (Falkenstein):
About The Falcon Stone Memorial: Since as early as 1635 religious visitors have made the mountain pilgrimage on foot every August from Maria Alm in Austria, over the Sea Of Rock Mountain Range (Steinerness) behind Watzmann, and down Kings Lake to Saint Bartholomä Church. On August 23rd, 1688, a boat carrying 100 of these travelers capsized and 70 pilgrims drown before they could reach the shore. The large red cross in the rock face of Falcon Stone Wall honors the 70 that died and a wreath is laid near it every August during the annual pilgrimage.
Research has shown that the real location of the crash wasn’t at Falcon Stone, but instead at the rock wall near the Reitl Ditch on the shore opposite of Saint Bartholomä Church. The water here is only 6-10 feet deep compared to up to 630 feet in deepest part of the center of the lake. In 1913, the Falcon Stone Wall almost had a giant Assyrian lion carved into, but thankful that idea was left untouched.
Sitting across the lake from the cross is the popular Painters’ Viewpoint (Malerwinkel) which can be reached by foot with 10 minutes of the main ferry boat docks. The viewpoint is very popular with painters as you can see far down the King’s Lake with a view of Saint Bartholomä Church. More an even more breathtaking perspective, you can hike an additional 30 minutes up a switchback trail to Raven Wall (Rabenwand). From its elevated perch 130 meters above the water, Rabenwand has one of the most beautiful views in Germany. You’ll not only be able to see the church over 2.5 miles away but will also be able to see the end of the angelic King’s Lake 4.5 miles to the South. This hiking trail stays open even in Winter as the path is cleared of snow.
4. Echo Chamber (Echowand):
About The Echo Chamber: As your ferry boat rounds the only bend in the King’s Lake, you will enter it famous Echo Chamber. The sheer rock wall of the fjord creates a natural echo surface that bounces even small sounds back at the boat. Your boat captain will provide an excellent demonstration of the world-famous echo chamber by sounding his trumpet to show off a reverberating tune. When the ferry boats first started in 1909 the phenomenon was demonstrated by firing off a loud Böllerschuss powder gun echo up to seven times. Due to safety and fire concerns, the guns were traded out for flugelhorn trumpets in the 1930s and the echo seems to sound just a little different each time they are played.
5. Saint Bartholomä Church:
About The King’s Lake: Just a little more than halfway down the lake you’ll reach your first ferry stop at quaint white Church of Saint Bartholomä. With its red onion domes, the unique church is the most photographed attraction on Königssee Lake. The church was first built in 1134 AD before being rebuilt in the current style in 1697. After Berchtesgaden joined Bavaria in 1810, the St. Bartholomä Church quickly became a hunting lodge for the Bavarian Kings.
Many visitors taking our King’s Lake ferry boat tour get off the boat at the church to check out the grounds then jump back on the next boat which is every 15-30 minutes. There is food, beer garden, and bathrooms available at the church grounds. We highly suggest taking some time to stroll down the lakeside walking path where you can relax in peace at one of the benches. Admission Cost: Free. Website: Here.
6. Ice Chapel Cave & Glacier (Eiskapelle):
About The Ice Chapel Cave: Probably the best hidden gem on the lake is the year-round glacier sitting above Saint Bartholomä Church. The small glacier is set gas the perfect spot to preserve even though the snow much higher up the Watzmann Mountain melts away each Summer. Winds tunnel into the glacier to create a natural ice cave and frozen overhang. About 1/3 of the glaciers ice retreats in the Summer and the cave entrance can grow to be as big as 60 high by 80 feet wide.
The water from the same system that supplies water to the glacier has over time also created the fanning delta which the Saint Bartholomä Church sits on. As you hike up the rift toward the Ice Chapel Cave, you’ll notice how the sand turns to gravel and then from rocks into large boulders. The rugged trail will take you across the Ice Stream (Eisbach) Bridge and the small Chapel of Saint John and Paul. As the trail begins to break up into a field of boulders you’ll be able to see the glacier. Because the Ice Chapel is more of an overhanging ice sheet than a cave they suggest not going inside as it always has a risk of collapse.
Getting Here: It’s a 2 mile, 90-minute hike up from the church. Time Required: Roundtrip it will take you 2.5-3 hours from the church to reach the Ice Chapel. Clothing: Make sure to wear sturdy shoes on the rocky mountain trail, flip-flop sandals won’t get you very far down the trail.
7. Upper Lake (Obersee):
About Obersee: The final ferry boat stop on the lake is called Salet which has restrooms and is close to two cozy restaurant huts called the Gaststätte Saletalm and Mooskaser Saletalm. The ferry dock is only a 10-minute walk from the beautifully secluded Upper Lake (Obersee). The mirror-like Obersee was cut off from the rest of Königssee Lake by a massive landslide in 1172 AD. Because of this natural dam, the cold water in Obersee so unbelievable clear that it makes wooden boats here look like they are almost floating in the air.
Sitting at the peaceful pier on the edge of Obersee will send you into an instant state of relaxation. Some of the photos we have taken near the dock it is almost impossible to tell where the reflecting water ends and the sky begins because the lake is so clear and still. If you are getting off at Obersee make sure to double check what time the next Ferry will come so you don’t miss it.
8. Fischunkelalm Farm & Pasture:
About Fischunkelalm: Hiking the 30 minutes around the shore of the mirror-like Obersee leads to a special treat for any visitor called the Fischunkelalm Farm & Pasture. From mid-May through early-October the farm is fully operational with their doors open for hungry visitors and their cows free roaming the valley. The farm is known for having great organic milk, creamy buttermilk, cold beer, fresh bread with cheese, and a bunch of delicious berry jams. While the name Fischunkelalm in German may lead you to believe it is an Alpine Fish Farm, the name actually slightly Latin-based meaning Narrow Strip Of Alpine Meadow.
At the end of the season, the owners herd all of their cattle onto a barge and float them across the King’s Lake for their Winter pasture. It is a huge celebration in Berchtesgaden known as Queen of the Pastures (Almabtrieb) and includes the parading cows being fitted with flowered collars and floral headdresses.
From the picturesque farm, you can explore the surrounding pasture that takes up most of the rest of the Obersee valley. It takes about 30 minutes to hike all the way to the back rim where you can find the 1,540-foot-tall Röthbach Waterfall. This is the tallest waterfall in Germany! Near the base of the waterfall is the cottage-like Wasser Alm Guesthouse which is very basic but popular with overnight hikers.
Getting Here: 30-minute hike from Obersee to the farm and another 30-minute hike to the back of the valley.
9. Jennerbahn Valley Station (Talstation):
About The Valley Station: The very popular Jenner Mountain got its first cable car system in 1953 which opened the mountain peak to a whole new group of tourists. At 1,874 meters (6,148 ft) tall, Jenner Mountain offers an entirely different perspective on the Kings Lake below to go along with its excellent Alpine hiking and Winter ski runs. In 2016, construction started on an entirely new cable car system with large modern stations at all three levels. Opening in stages from the Fall of 2018 through the Summer of 2019, the project is truly stunning.
The entirely redesigned Valley Station near the Konigssee parking lot is very accessible even for wheelchairs or strollers. This goes along with the cable cars themselves being upgraded from tiny 2-4 person cabins to spacious 10 person cabins. The Winter ski lifts are bumping up from 2-person to 6-person chairs. The elegant Valley Station as a sports shop, storage lockers, a restaurant, a bar, and a large open-air terrace.
Jennerbahn Lift Cost: The full round trip is 27.50€ for Adults or 11€ for Kids. Cable Car Lift Hours: Daily 9-6pm (Spring and late Fall until 5pm). Jennerbahn Lift Website: (Here). Online Advance Tickets: (Here).
10. Jennerbahn Middle Station (Mittelstation):
About The Middle Station: We highly suggest checking out the Middle Station as you ride up the Jenner Mountain Cable Car. The stop has great views of Watzmann Mountain across Königssee Lake, excellent access to barrier-free hiking, and a small spring-fed Alpine pond called Lake On The Mount (Bergsee). You can take some really really great photos at the pond which reflects the mountains and sky like a mirror. The best thing about the pond is that because it is spring fed with warm water it never freezes over in the Winter. This is a very rare quality for an Alpine pond.
This the Middle Station also has a very modern restaurant with indoor and patio seating. We especially love stopping here for a wonderful ice cream dish and beer. If you want to go a little more rustic you will love the really fun Dr. Hugo Beck Haus Beer Hall (website) which doubles as a hotel and has a great patio. Like the reflecting pond, Dr. Hugo’s is basically just a short hike from the Middle Station.
To the West of the Middle Station, it is about a 25 minute hike to the Hinterbrand Parking Lot or an additional 20 minutes to the Bus 838 Stop (Christophorusschule) which can take you to/from the Nazi Documentation Center.
Jennerbahn Lift Cost: The full round trip is 27.50€ for Adults or 11€ for Kids. Cable Car Lift Hours: Daily 9-6pm (Spring and late Fall until 5pm). Dr Hugo Beer Hall Hours: Open in the Spring through Fall Wednesday-Monday 11am-6pm; Closed Tuesdays. Jennerbahn Lift Website: (Here). Online Advance Tickets: (Here).
11. Jennerbahn Mountain Station (Bergstation):
About Jennerbahn Mountain Station: At 6,100 feet in elevation, the top of Jenner Mountain truly has the best view anywhere around Königssee. You’ll feel like you are hovering above the King’s Lake below you, see hang-gliders flying by you, and can take in miles upon miles of Alpine beauty in every direction. In the Summer months the top of Jenner Mountain has unbelievable mountain hiking trails, and in the Winter there are a ton of thrilling skiing opportunities.
With a modern Mountain Station since 2019, a large panoramic restaurant called Jenneralm also opened with stunning outdoor terraces is bound to be a highlight of your visit. The very best views of Königssee are at the main platform just a short 400-yard walk down from the restaurant. If you are feeling a little more adventurous there are a couple guesthouse and the true Mount Jenner summit within an hour’s hike of the Mountain Station. One of the guesthouse sites right on the border of Austria and German.
Jennerbahn Lift Cost: The full round trip is 27.50€ for Adults or 11€ for Kids. Cable Car Lift Hours: Daily 9-6pm (Spring and late Fall until 5pm). Jennerbahn Lift Website: (Here). Online Advance Tickets: (Here).
Other Sites Near Königssee:
12. Bobsled Track Rides:
About The Bobsled Track: You know you are truly in the Alps when one of the attractions lets you ride in an authentic bobsled going 80 miles an hour down a mountain! Each sled is manned by a German, Austrian, or European bobsled champion driver and will truly get your blood pumping. In the Winter you will have the full authentic experience on an ice track, but it is open on a limited basis in the Summer also. In the warmer months, the skates on the sled are switched out for tires and you ride down the bare concrete of the bobsled course.
If you aren’t looking for the full heart-pounding experience you can opt for the Kini-bobberl instead. This bulky version of the bobsled goes at half the speed and is made out of think foam rubber instead of metal. Either option you choose it is a very fun and safe experience behind an expert driver. You must be 18 years old to join and each sled can have up to 3 passengers.
Summer Ride Hours: They have rides available May-June on a limited basis of 3-4 days a month. Winter Hours: The Winter schedule comes out each Summer and is much more frequent than the Summer rides. Cost: In Summer it is 65€ a person and in Winter it’s 90€ a person. Kini-bobberl is 30€ a person. Includes professional driver, insurance, and an award certificate. Website: Here.
13. Greenstone Mountain Climbing (Grünstein Klettersteig):
About Greenstone Mountain Climbing: The most popular peak near Königsee for rock climbers is Greenstone Mountain. The rewarding climb has built-in handholds, metal ladders and an amazing wooden suspension bridge along its route. The summit can also be reached by hiking along the South side of the peak and the top has incredible views of Watzmann Mountain. If you are looking to climb we suggest joining a tour group unless you bring your own rock climbing gear. Full climbing gear is required and children are not allowed to rock climb.
Hiking Time: You can hike to the summit and back in a little of 2 hours. Climbing Time: To rock climb to the summit it takes around 2.5 hours. Mountain Website: (Here).
14. Saint Sebastian Church (Ramsau, Germany):
About Saint Sebastian Church: Photographers will love taking photos at this riverside church in the nearby village of Ramsau. As you approach the church it becomes perfectly framed by lush trees and quaint footbridge completed with the Reiter Alpe Mountain range as a backdrop. The setting is so awesome that you’ll quickly understand why the church ends up being put on so many local postcards. The age of St Sebastion Church is also impressive as it was built in 1512 before being remodeled in 1692 in the baroque style.
Getting to St Sebastian Church: Bus 846 from Berchtesgaden’s Train Station stops right in front of the Church (Ramsau b.Berchtesgaden Kirche). Buses leave a couple times an hour, it is the 9th stop from the train station, and it takes less than 15 minutes. Live Webcam: here.
15. Wimbachklamm Waterfalls (Ramsau, Germany):
About Wimbachklamm Waterfalls: The Wimbach River is a small tributary to the Ramsau and runs down a narrow gorge cut into Watzmann Mountain. About a half mile down the Wimbach River it a weeping wall covered with a series of finger-like waterfalls in a tight canyon setting. The well maintained wooden footpaths and the unique setting will make you feel you are on the set of Lord of the Rings. It is truly a hidden gem in a region of wonders.
Getting to Wimbachklamm: Bus 846 stops right in front of the Church 9 stops from Berchtesgaden’s Main Station (Ramsau b.Berchtesgaden Wimbachbrücke) and 7 minutes from the Church and 8 minutes from Berchtesgaden. From the Bus Stop follow the signs and other tourists a short .5 miles South to the Waterfall. If you skip the bus and walk the whole way, the Waterfall is 1.5 miles from the Church.
16. Watzmann Mountain & Guest House:
About Watzmann Mountain & Guest House: The iconic Watzmann Mountain dominates Berchtesgaden from almost every angle you can think of. At 8,900 feet Watzmann is the 3rd tallest peak in Germany (behind Hochwanner & Zugspitze), but is overall is the tallest mountain to be located completely on German soil as the others are on the Austrian border. The mountain’s main dual peaks poke up like horns around a center dimple almost like someone took a big bite right off the top of the summit. Sitting at the about halfway up the Alpine face is a large 200 person guest house called the Watzmann Haus (website). Built in 1888, this hostel is one of the highest hotels in Europe at 6332 feet above sea level. The average room is only 28€ a night.
Watzmann is considered the center of the Berchtesgaden National Park and the area provides great rock climbing and unbeatable Alpine hiking. During your hike, you feel like you are in Switzerland the entire time and the views are that good. You have to be in pretty good shape to do the hiking and should dedicate a full day to visiting the Watzmann if you plan on doing so.
Legend has it that the highest peak is King Watzmann, the second highest is his wife, and the peaks between them are their seven children. Because the King was a mean tyrant, God turned him and his family into stone.
Hiking Time Required: It takes about 4-4.5 hours to reach Watzman Haus from the valley and another 2.5-3 hours from the Watzmann Haus to the mountain summit. The hike is strenuous and some stretches toward the top are not for the faint of heart. You can do the whole thing round trip in around 12 hours, but we recommend staying at Watzmann Haus or just hiking to the hostel and back if you only have 1 day.