Have you ever been somewhere that you just KNEW was going to be amazing, and you thought you were totally prepared for it and adequately excited, but THEN when you actually arrived it was approximately one million times better than you ever imagined?
If not, I’ve got a quick solution for you: Lake Königssee.
Seriously, this place blew my mind.
I visited Lake Königssee at the tail end of my whirlwind trip through Germany. I had already spent some time soaking up the city vibes in Munich, staring slack-jawed at the regal beauty of Neuschwanstein, and falling in love with adorable and charming alpine towns like Fussen, Garmisch, and Ettal.
And during my time in each and every city and town, I remember thinking “Wow, this is even cooler than the last place! This is awesome! This is totally the BEST part of my trip.”
Oh, how naive I was.
My trip through Germany was a road trip (it was also my first time renting a car…overseas…solo…eek!) and I could feel the beginning of something special as I sped along the Autobahn towards Berchtesgaden past tiny towns and rolling green fields speckled with fat brown dairy cows.
As I drove eastward, the mountains grew taller, the roads grew steeper, the rivers grew wider, the towns grew sparser and smaller, and the trees grew greener.
When I finally arrived in Berchtesgaden, I knew that I was on the brink of something amazing, but I still wasn’t fully prepared. I was totally enthralled by Berchtesgaden, falling in love with its hilly town center, its rushing aquamarine river, and, of course, the scenic mountain views possible from literally every last angle.
I was totally hooked on this little mountain town, and I was so excited for my trip to Lake Königssee the following day.
But, not nearly as excited as I should have been.
Due to the terrain surrounding Lake Königssee, the only possible way to explore and hike the regions around the lake is to hop on an electric boat at the main pier near town, and get off at one of the stops further out across the lake (there are only two main stops, but by special request you can stop at other locations).
You cannot walk, hike or drive to these stops, and they do not offer accommodation. If you want to explore Königssee, you are 100% dependent on the schedule of the electric boats.
I caught the 8:30am boat per the suggestion of my guidebook (if you’ve ever visited Europe during peak season in the summer, this reasoning shouldn’t even require an explanation).
The morning air was refreshingly chilly–a welcome change from the uncharacteristically hot weather I had just experienced in Munich (it was 95 degrees during my entire stay in the city!)–and the sun wasn’t high enough in the sky to provide any additional warmth.
As the boat set off across the lake, the wind picked up and I sat shivering and staring out the window…and to be honest, I wasn’t totally blown away. The lake was pretty, as I been assured it would be, but because the sun wasn’t yet stretching over the mountains surrounding the lake, the water was so dark it almost looked black. Not the gorgeous clear blue-green color I had expected. And with the added wind chill, I was pretty uncomfortable, even with my layered clothing.
And again…I was so naive.
As we made our way across the lake and the sun began to rise, the water began to shimmer, and shifted from black, to dark blue, to sapphire. The town shore disappeared, and we found ourselves completely surrounded by mountains and cliffs so high that it looked more like we were in a fjord in Scandinavia rather than a mountain lake in Germany.
And then we arrived to the final and farthest stop, Salet.
As we rounded that final corner, sunlight was streaming down into the shallow waters, illuminating it so that it reflected a bright, emerald-green color. A waterfall ran down the face of a cliff directly opposite the boat stop across the lake, splashing into the deep waters below. And in every direction, towering rocky peaks, grassy hills and wildflowers were abundant.
Okay, this was not real.
This HAD to be a movie set, right? Something left over from that time they filmed The Sound of Music in the national park nearby? Right? RIGHT?!
I was so excited, I was actually giddy.
I was captivated, I was enchanted, I was delighted.
I was PUMPED.
This was f*cking awesome.
I spent the next several hours frolicking around, snapping pictures of literally everything, remembering to take a moment to look around and say “damn” every ten minutes or so, and generally not accepting the fact that this was real life.
Everything was SO beautiful, it felt surreal.
And, since I had arrived so early, the place wasn’t completely packed with other tourists yet. I’m not really into solo hiking (I NEED that other person to motivate me…and to carry extra snacks) so I was ultra pleased to find that I didn’t even need to go venturing off into the hills on some trail to get away from it all…I already was away from it all.
Even if you’re not into hiking, this is the kind of place where you could totally walk a few paces off the main path, throw down a blanket and nom on some picnic foods while you read your Kindle. Actually, that sounds amazing and I’m a little peeved I didn’t think of that while I was there!
If you are into hiking, then you’re in for a treat! Although I didn’t do any hiking along Lake Königssee, I’m going to go ahead and vouch for the trails there. I mean, the views from the ground were already killer, so I can only imagine the views from up high! Even just looking at them I was tempted to go running off into the wilderness à la Maria von Trapp.
Either way, make sure to follow the signs along the main path to Lake Obersee–it’s only about a 10 minute walk and if I could do it in a dress, anyone can do it. Promise.
Also, if you’re interested in having THE freshest milk of your life, make your way to the little dairy farm near the Königssee lakeshore (you’ll see signs for “frisch alpenmilch“). For 2 euros you can purchase a glass of fresh milk, and for 2.50 you can purchase fresh buttermilk.
Now, being the farm n00b that I am, I had no idea what buttermilk was so I decided to purchase a big mug of it. I mean, it sounds delicious in theory, right?
I actually never drink milk–it really grosses me out, so I usually opt for almond milk if I’m in need of it. But, I’m all about living in the moment, and drinking a big ‘ole glass of sweet and creamy buttermilk on a dairy farm in the Alps was the definition of living in the moment, right?
There was no one else visiting the little farm but me, so I took my mug of milk and sat down in the shade at one of the picnic tables outside, with a perfect view of the lake and the mountains.
Well, turns out buttermilk is a type of fermented milk that can be left unrefrigerated for a while without turning bad. Thus, it was served warm. And, it was SO SOUR. And really, really, really thick.
Live and learn, right?
I took one sip and was so overwhelmed by the taste and consistency that I actually had to stop myself from spitting it back into my mug.
To put it bluntly, it was one of THE worst things I have literally ever tasted. Ever. EVER. And this is coming from the girl who ate bugs in Bangkok.
Unfortunately, I also had a HUGE mug of the stuff to finish off.
I was terrified of the owners of the farm thinking I was rude for not drinking it, so I sneakily poured 3/4 of the mug out into the grass and sat for 30 minutes or so just enjoying the view, sans buttermilk. Then I dropped my mug off at a table near the counter where you place your order and thanked the owner, explaining that “it was SO good, but I’m SO full.”
Hey, what a person doesn’t know can’t hurt them, right?
Anyways, if you happen to be a person who likes milk or (*shudder*) buttermilk, I totally recommend checking this place out because their stuff is fresh.
…Or, you know, they also sell beer. Prost!
Have you ever visited Lake Königssee? Have you ever been somewhere MORE magical than Königssee? Because if so, I totally need to hear about it ASAP!