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.

DSC_0118This was the view as we approached the church – it was stunning. There were lots of oohs and ahhs from everyone on the boat.

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.

DSC_0126So we made do with a hike through the woods with lots of lovely silver birch trees lining the way to the icy stream.

St. BartholomewHaving worked up a thirst, we enjoyed a drink in the Wirtshaus next door to the church before heading back on the boat to a very rainy Schönau.

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:

DSC_0141Maybe you can try one of the ones I mentioned above, or if you have any good experiences of your own, do let me know!

The next day we awoke to a beautiful morning in the Alps:

DSC_0148 DSC_0144We decided to visit the Eagle’s Nest. This is also easier said than done, if you’re using public transport.

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!

Kehlsteinhaus, Bavaria

Eagle's Nest, BavariaIt was good to head into the Alps to breathe the fresh air though, and the views were remarkable – but, all achieved with by sweating and hiking up there yourself!

Categories Not in Munich


I'm Rachel, the author behind Arts in Munich. I moved to Munich in the summer of 2008, and work as an editor in the city. I also do freelance work for the BBC, MONOCLE, Singapore Airlines and Kaltblut, among others, and previously wrote for the Huffington Post and Electronic Beats.

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