The Königssee (literally: “King’s Lake”) is a beautiful lake in Southeastern Bavaria, not too far away from the Austrian border. During my trip to the region, I luckily managed to squeeze in a boat trip over the lake before I headed to the Rennbobtaxi, the sommer bob ride on the Bobsleigh World Cup track at Königssee. Here are my impressions from a lovely summer day trip in July 2020.
Königsee Boat Cruise – Locations & Prices
The typical starting point for your cruise, Königssee Seelände, is located at the Northern tip of the lake, not too far away from Berchtesgaden. You may use a bus to get here, but most people arrive by car and make use of the massive central parking lot. The boat trip is very popular, but others also go for the cable car to have a hike up the mountains. Daily parking at Schönau am Königssee, which is the city where it is located, is 5 Euro. If you are staying at a nearby hotel and have the visitor card, you solely pay 2.50 Euro per day.
The ticket price of course depends on the distance you are travelling. The return ticket (adult) to Salet, which is the full cruise (see below) was 20.20 at my visit. The one-way is half of the price. If you have a ticket to Salet, you may interrupt your trip on one way at St. Bartholomä. The schedule slightly differs by season: the daily trips at off-peak start at 9:00 at Königssee Seelände and 9:55 at Salet Obersee. The last trips are scheduled for 16:15/17:10. In high season, boats start one hour earlier and operate until half an hour later.
Königsee Boat Cruise – Route Map & Ships
The cruises on Königsee are having four stops (please note that in the map below, the North is at the bottom of the map): as said above, you typically will start your trip at Seelände. The total cruise time to the final stop Salet is roughly 55 minutes. St. Bartholomä is very popular for hiking, but also the old monastry and a beer garden. Cruise time from Seelände is roughly 35 minutes, the stop will be serviced each way. On demand, boats also allow passengers to disembark and embark from Kessel, which has hardly any infrastructure, but can be a waypoint for hiking. Kessel to Seelände is about 25 minutes.
Bayerische Seenschifffahrt (“Bavarian Lake Ship Cruises”, the drive of the Königssee and other lake transfer ships in Bavaria) operates up to 19 ships in parallel. The are driven electric, also due to ecologic restrictions. The boats are similar, but not equivalent. The differ in the seat layout, some have special roof features and the way you open the windows alters (which may be important for photography). On the way from the main port, Königssee Seelände, you are assigned to a boat already so that you cannot choose. When you embark a ship at other harbors, you may theoretically wait and opt for certain models. Apart from Salet, however, boats will likely already be quite crowded.
Especially on my noon trip Southbound, the boat felt comparably packed, even though masks are compulsory during Covid-19 times. The boats do not feature sanitary facilities – they are, however, available at all stops but Kessel. There was no registration of passengers at my visit.
Königsee Boat Cruise – The Trip
Right after leaving Schönau, I of course looked to the right and watched the bobsleigh track, looking forward to the bob experience. The lake gets significantly more narrow thereafter, passing a small island. The boat crew consisted of two people, one steering the boat and the other one explaining the sights and telling stories. This is done in German only – and to be fair, the “guide” we had on our trip spoke a quite heavy local / Bavarian accent – so even if you do speak German somehow well, you might run into trouble. The quality of the stories was good, even though you could feel a certain routine – or boredom – in them.
The boat stopped at a certain point on the lake, where there is a very impressive echo and the sound of a trumped can be heard up to seven times.
The key mountain of the area, the Watzmann, becomes visible and the boat is also heading towards St. Bartholomä, which is not just the starting point for Watzmann hikes, but also a beautiful spot by itself.
The trip to Salet was comparably short afterwards. The route stayed very picturesque cruising on the lake between the mountains. There are a lot of hikes from that point as well – in addition, there is a biergarden close to the harbor.
Same route – No Commentary: The Way Back
Due to timing, I could not really profit from unboarding the ship. I just had a short break and took the next boat back to Schönau. The key difference of the return trip is that there is no commentary. I really enjoyed the lovely summer day and the views from the boat.
Königsee Boat Cruise – Services
The key services are at the harbor stations / villages. The boats do neither feature internet connection nor sanitary equipment. Only Seelände features public WiFi. Kessel is not serviced at all. In case you need a boat trip, you have to turn a large sign to the desired direction of travel.
Königsee Boat Cruise – My View
The scenery at Königssee is just lovely. Under normal circumstances, there is no doubt that you should go for this boat trip. However, under Covid-19 times, you just have to mention that the social distancing measures are very limited. You are exposed to your very close neighbors for 55 minutes plus boarding if you go for the full trip and there is average ventilation. On other boat trips I took during this period, there was so much more distance between the seats that the Königssee performance is somehow confusing.
Kölnigssee Cruise map taken from Bayerische Seenschiffahrt Website.
Ships & Water Travel
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