Did you ever hear the saying “Life’s short, eat dessert first”? My friends, the Upper Bavarian Königssee is like that. It is the dessert of the entire Bavarian experience.
If you think I’m joking — you couldn’t be further from the truth. ;-)
The Königssee is advertised in Germany (and beyond) as the “cleanest lake,” and you know what? It is, because how many other lakes can you just drink from? C’mon, everyone grab a glass — it’s not like we’re going to drain it dry; the lake is some 190 meters deep (at it’s deepest point, it’s not like you’re just gonna fall to the bottom of it stepping from its shoreline).
Where does the Königssee get all its water from? Well, from the eastern part of the lake it’s fed by the Obersee, the Königsbach, and the Ostufer; from the west it gets even more water from the Eisbach and the Schreinbach. That’s a whole lot going in — not too much going out, because it only leaves from the Königssee Ache (that’s part of the Danube River System).
As with most lakes you’ll find a bunch of wildlife living within it. Go ahead, grab a rod & reel to fish the trout and charr. All you need is a lemon, some salt & pepper… oh, that’s a fine dish you’ve got there. Thanks, I’m staying for dinner. ;-)
The electric boats that traverse its crystal waters really help in keeping it clear. You can take one of these small vessels to the St. Bartholomä Pilgrimage Church. I’m pretty sure you’ve seen at least a picture of it. It’s that gorgeous red-dome church under the eyes of the Watzmann (that smashing mountain peak of the Bavarian Alps).
Every year on the Sunday after August 24 (St. Bartholowmew’s Day), you can join the annual pilgrimage to the 12th century church. I know, it doesn’t look very medieval — it underwent a Baroque renovation.
St. Bartholomä is one of the biggest attractions to the Königssee. But, because this small (it’s less than 5.5 kilometers square) it isn’t flanked by a bunch of small towns and villages — really only Schönau am Königssee (the lake technically belongs to the town) and the Berchtesgaden National Park, which is a UNESCO Biosphere area, BTW.
Schöngau am Königssee is a totally awesome town of less than 5,400 people; and has probably that many activities. From here you can see the bobsled/luge/skelton track, go Nordic Walking, Mountain Biking, go paragliding, play tennis, go golfing, try ice skating, go skiing, and hike & cycle ’til the cows come home. And even then you still won’t be done with all the recreational activies. ;-)
If you’ve chosen the hiking option, you should do it in the Berchtesgaden National Park. Keep your wits about you, otherwise you’ll miss seeing the deer, otters, and wolves. And if you can see the vultures and Golden Eagles from the park — you know you’ll be able to see them soaring over the Königssee itself.
One of the most fun parts of the Königssee is a hit or miss kind of thing. About once every 10 years (give or take) an exceptionally cold winter hits Bavaria, freezing the lake. When this happens, everyone’s out there walking across (it’s only 1.7km at its widest point), or ice skating across it.
The “fjord-like” mountains surrounding the lake certainly add to the whole lake-skating experience. These rock walls create an echo effect, and it’s not uncommon to hear horns or the flugelhorn being blown to show everyone the mountain accoustics.
Because of its echo, I’ll only have to yell this once — then everyone will hear me: “The Königssee Is The Dessert Of The Bavarian Experience!” — “Königssee is the dessert of the Bavarian experience.” — “…Dessert of the Bavarian experience…” ;-)