The following day I finally made Koenigsee. On planet Earth this rates as a very special place. When I first looked it up in a travel book it was rated not only as one of the ten most scenic places in Germany, but in Europe as well.
It is approximately 8 kilometres long by one kilometre wide. The up to 18 launches that run on the surface are all battery powered so no noise permeates the atmosphere. Thus it is even more dramatic when, in the middle of the lake, our guide blows a trumpet that echoes off the sheer rock faces.
Set beneath the highest peak entirely in Germany, Mount Watzmann, on one side, and the Austrian Alps on the other this place is paradise for photographers and painters.
The boat cruise takes you to St. Bartholomew’s, set on a small peninsula, arguably one of Germany’s most photographed churches; such is the beauty of its setting.
Where lies the church you can also get something to eat, most notably fish caught in the lake and served by staff whose charisma was notably absent. I guess having to put up with hundreds of tourists each day coming in waves by the boatload would do that for you.
It is from here that you can walk to the ice cave, but not in winter as we found out. The trail is initially flat before it starts to rise and you pass an improbable and beautiful small chapel called St. John and St. Paul just after crossing a stream.
Then the trail climbs ever upward to the base of Watzmann. Its massive size is never more evident than here and its overpowering presence I found spellbinding. By this time we had trudged into ever deepening snow and the track petered out. This is more of a summer experience as the ice cave is not achievable in winter.
We returned to the wharf and caught the boat back to the embarkation point and then commenced the Malerwinkel trail. This is the painters walk I missed from the previous year.
Your ascent takes you to three lookouts, all of which feature memorable jaw dropping vistas down the lake. It truly is superb and no wonder the men of the brushes used to spend hours here.
The whole walk is on a well defined hour long trail and does a loop back under the chair lift that takes you to Jenner.
In a town where just walking around the city offers special views, in three trips I have barely even scratched the surface of what the place has to offer. What I can tell you is that it doesn’t matter what time of year you go, there will be ample opportunities to do lots of walking…….walking in paradise.
Accommodation is easy in Berchtesgaden; there are heaps of B&Bs, hotels and farm stays and it’s less than an hour from Salzburg should you want to stay there.
The town is frequently accessed by both train and bus.
Berchtesgaden is also where the Eagle’s Nest, the famous retreat built for Hitler, is located but tours are only available in spring and summer. It’s also the starting point for Germany’s most scenic drive.
Here are some pictures from my trip: