Nestled in the heart of the Berchtesgaden National Park lies the cleanest lake in Germany – and the country’s third deepest – Lake Königssee. If you have a car, it’s just a two hour journey from Munich. If you’re taking public transport – as I did – it’s a bit longer. And not a trip I’d advise to do in just a day. You catch a train from Munich’s central station to Freilassing, then change to the regional train to Berchtesgaden. And then, you need to take a bus to Königssee itself. By the time I’d reached Berchtesgaden I was fed up, and took a taxi. It’s a long journey.
The lake was formed by glaciers during the last ice age, and it’s located in a Jurassic rift. It’s absolutely beautiful.
I arrived with my mother on a rainy Sunday at our hotel, the Bergheimat (more on that in a bit). We decided to ignore the gloomy weather, and threw on our rain jackets and headed out to catch a boat to the baroque St. Bartholomew’s Church, on the western shore of the lake. In order to preserve the cleanliness of the water, the boats are electric – they’re charged during the night, and run on batteries weighing a tonne each all day long.
We hopped off and had a walk around. Both my mother and I were intruiged by the ice chapel at the Watzmann (Germany’s highest mountain) but neither of us were wearing proper hiking boots and it did sound rather dangerous – the ice could cave in at any point, we were reminded frequently.
Now – our hotel.
I’d booked it after many weeks of deliberating over hotels. I was tempted to stay in the Zechmeisterlehen, a very lovely-looking four star hotel. It was also pretty reasonable. And the Alpenhof also looked delightful, but sadly both were booked out. I considered staying in Berchtesgaden itself, but it was impractical for the lake, and the buses run just once every hour. I briefly considered the Intercontinental for a weekend of pure luxury, but it was too expensive for what we wanted – we wanted a base, from which to discover the area.
And thus we booked the last room available in the Bergheimat, which looked very quaint from the outside. It was perfectly ok – the room was clean, the price was reasonable, and it was a ten minute walk down to the lake. But the food and the restaurant service were so poor. And so while it looks lovely, I cannot recommend it, dear readers. I had the most powerful taste explosion ever with my Zwiebelrostbraten, while dessert was a very uninspiring berry and ice-cream combo. Either the coffee or the cake the next day gave me and my mother stomach ache, and the waitress was a rather brusque lady who made you feel less than welcome. Alas, dear readers, I cannot help you with accommodation tips. It did look nice from the outside though:
The next day we awoke to a beautiful morning in the Alps:
We took a bus to Berchtesgaden, followed by a bus half an hour later to the car park for the Eagle’s Nest, and paid ca. 15 € each for the bus up to the top of the mountain. The views were spectacular. Postcard stuff.
Personally, I preferred the views to the Eagle’s Nest itself. My mother found it interesting, and it was pretty impressive that the road up there had been built in just about a year, but it just wasn’t for me. Our lunch in the restaurant was dire – do skip the restaurant if you head up there! I had cold goulash, and the tablecloths were grubby, and prices were high. We didn’t really have a good dining experience in the area, so if anyone can advise somewhere nice, I’m all ears!