The Königssee Valley lies in the Bavarian Alps and its lake forms part of the Berchtesgaden National Park. At five miles (7.5 km) long and just 1.5 miles (1.7 km) wide wide, the serene, crystal-clear waters of the lake are the deepest in Germany. Königssee is encircled by lush Alpine valleys and snow-capped mountains – the highest of these is Mount Watzmann, which towers over the lake at 5,900 feet (1,800 meters).
The picture-perfect Alpine village of Schönau am Königssee sits at the head of the lake and in summer hundreds of day trippers pour in daily. The lake is popular for swimming in the pristine Alpine waters or pottering around in electric boats. The most popular lake tour is to the squat, rotund pilgrimage chapel of St Bartholomew, topped with dark-red onion domes and standing on a little promontory lapped by water. Next-door is the former hunting lodge of the Bavarian kings, now the quality restaurant Fischerstüberl and a lovely spot for eating lunch looking over the lake.
The mountains surrounding the lake are a summer haven for walkers, cyclists and climbers but Königssee is just as beautiful in winter with a soft mantle of snow covering the mountains bordering the lake.
Side trips from Königssee include tours of the Berchtesgaden salt mines and Hitler’s infamous country retreat of Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle’s Nest), which perches high on a rocky outcrop overlooking swathes of Alpine valley at Obersalzberg. The unusual painted façades of the houses in Berchtesgaden village are also worth a peek.
The Königssee is an hour’s drive south of Salzburg across the German border in the Bavarian Alps. Lake tours are available May through October.