One of the many highlights of our time in Bavaria was a walk in Berchtesgaden National Park, Germany in winter. We took a boat across misty Königssee lake to St. Bartholomew and hiked to the ice chapel or Eiskapelle. I have to tell you, that Berchtesgaden in winter is an amazing place.
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Berchtesgaden Things To Do
There is a lot to do in Berchtesgaden in winter. Keep reading for details on the bulleted points in this list.
- Lake Konigsee boat tour
- Hike to the Ice Chapel
- Have a beer and trout at Fischerei St. Bartholoma
- Check out the Visitor Center (Haus der Berge)
There are more things to do in Berchtesgaden National Park, but this is what we did in one day.
What To Do In Berchtesgaden National Park In Winter
Berchtesgaden Park (Nationalparkverwaltung Berchtesgaden) is the only alpine national park in Germany. Although it is not very high in elevation, the change in altitude from Königssee (King Lake) to the top of Watzmann Peak (2,110 meters/6,923 feet) is dramatic.
From Schönau (near the bus stop) took the ferry across Königsee, the gorgeous lake at the center of the park. Königsee is said to be the cleanest lake in Germany, thanks to the environmental protection afforded it by being in Nationalpark Berchtesgaden. I love that there is a Lake Konigsee winter cruise to experience it.
While the park is lovely in all seasons, I am sure, there is something magical about a Berchtesgaden winter.
Tip: At the ferry dock, download the park audio guide and map, aptly named “Königsee.” The ferry tour is in German, but if you have ear buds you can listen to the same thing in English. You can also pick up a tour brochure in several languages and read as you go.
Visit the Berchtesgaden website and use your translator if you don’t read German.
Cruise Konigsee In Winter
It was misty along the lake, so we couldn’t see much of the steep mountains that give this emerald lake a fjord-like feel. Along the way, the boatman blew his flugelhorn, a type of trumpet, toward the rock walls and we listened to the notes bounce back to us from Echo Canyon. Then he walked through the boat with his hat out, requesting tips. That was a little weird, but everyone’s got to make a living.
From this perspective, you could almost call it Konigsee National Park, given the lake’s importance.
After about 30 minutes, the much-photographed baroque church of St. Bartholomä Germany appeared and it was time for us to disembark. In summer, the boat continues 30 minutes to another dock, Salet, where there are additional trails, including a short walk to a smaller lake, Obersee. Unfortunately, there is no way to experience a Lake Obersee winter without a long walk.
Hiking to the Ice Chapel (Eiskapelle)
From the ferry dock, we bypassed the church and restaurants and followed the signs to the Eiskapelle. It’s about a six-kilometer walk (round trip) and starts off on an easy, wide path.
Here was got amazing views of the gray and white striped Mount Watzmann and back at misty Königsee. Seeing this view is worth the ferry trip in itself. After the big meadow, the trail crosses a bridge, passes a small chapel (not the Ice Chapel) and starts to climb up the canyon. If it was clear before, we were now enraptured by the Berchtesgaden National Park winter.
We popped out into a boulder field below the mountain and watched snow tumble down Watzmann in loud snowfalls. You should watch the video for this.
After sliding across the snow-covered boulder field in our running shoes (oops!), we finally arrived at the Ice Chapel. And it was amazing.
In spring, snow from small avalanches piles up in the corner of the valley from the east face of Watzmann. Then some of the snow melts from the bottom, a small creek forms, and you have an ice cave. I don’t know why it’s called an Eiskapelle, but maybe someone thought it looked like a chapel.
Anders and I arrived first and walked through the cave. It was smooth and shiny in places, scalloped in others, and an otherworldly blue light shone through the ice. A small creek ran through the middle and water dripped in places. We couldn’t get enough, it was beautiful.
After a standing picnic of bread and cheese, we walked back to St. Bartholomä. Everyone was in a good mood by then. Downhill walks tend to inspire happiness, or at least relief, in our youngest hiker.
Eating in St. Bartholomä
We stopped at the squat, wooden building with a small restaurant (Fischerei St. Bartholoma) before boarding the ferry. There are two options for food: small smoked trout with bread, served on a wooden board or large smoked trout with bread served on a wooden board. In the summer, there is also a fresh trout option. The fish come from Königsee and no other fishing is allowed on the lake. We ordered beers and Sprite, but were too late for the fish, lest we miss the last ferry back. We loved the atmosphere in this tiny place with communal seating, even if we didn’t get the traditional fish. It’s the perfect place to wind up a day of Berchtesgaden hiking.
The restaurant in a former hunting lodge, Jadgschloss, is much larger. In summer, when the courtyard is open, it has 600 seats with views of the fantastic mountain panorama. In winter, you’ll have to sit inside. There you can order fish—trout and char, and local wild deer, among other dishes.
House of the Mountains (Haus der Berge)
This beautiful new visitor center is both an informational and educational resource. We stopped by after visiting the national park on a different day since that’s how the timing worked out for us. It’s located in the town of Berchtesgaden, not the park, so if you are taking the bus or train, it is a separate trip.
Plan Your Own Winter Trip to Berchtesgaden National Park
Drive: There is a large parking area near the end of Königssee.
From Berchtesgaden to Königssee
By Bus: Several buses stop at the Königssee: 839, 841, and 843; they run hourly. You can catch it from the bus stop in front of the Berchtesgaden Hauptbahnhof, or in town at the stop on Maximillianstrasse near the Kurhaus.
From Salzburg to Königssee
By bus: 840 (The Watzmann Express) leaves from the Salzburg Hauptbahnhof and the Salzburg Rathaus, and takes you to the Berchtesgaden Hauptbahnhof, a 45-minute ride.
By train: Depart from the Salzburg Hauptbahnhof, change at Freilassing, and arrive at the main station in Berchtesgaden in about one hour and 15 minutes.
From the Berchtesgaden Hauptbahnhof, take bus 839, 841, or 843 to the Königssee parking lot.
Get the DB Navigator app to figure out bus and train schedules.
From the parking lot or bus stop, there is a short, cobblestone street lined with restaurants, sporting goods stores, coffee shops, and souvenir stands that leads directly to the ferry dock in Schönau.
Take a Tour
Sign up for one of the tours to Berchtesgaden from Munich or Salzburg and let someone else deal with the details.
Konigsee Ferry Tickets
The boats run every day except December 24, unless the weather is bad (in storms, heavy fog, or when the lake is frozen). They only go out to Salet April through October.
Check ferry times and current prices here.
In summer, it’s best to get there early to avoid some of the crowds. Even in winter, we had to wait for one ferry in both directions.
There are plenty of places to stay in the town of Berchtesgaden. Check Trip Advisor for the best deals on hotels in Berchtesgaden, Bavaria.
Or you could get a hotel in Salzburg, Austria and make a day trip out of it.
For information on Berchtesgaden National Park summer see the park’s website.
Are you ready for a Nationalpark Berchtesgaden winter? I know I can’t wait to go back!
Other Germany and Austria Posts
- Berchtesgaden National Park in Winter
- Hiking in the Alps: Predigtstuhl near Bad Reichenhall
- Things To Do in Munich
- Salzburg City Tour
- Visiting the Silent Night Chapel
- Favorite Hikes in Europe
- Day Trips from Budapest (Vienna)
32 thoughts on “Berchtesgaden National Park in Winter”
Such an amazing photos, Mel. I am very glad yu had such a great time.
Thank you! We liked it so much we are planning on hiking there this summer!
This place looks amazing!!! Your photos are so pretty, I really need a winter getaway!
This are is so perfect for a winter getaway- thermal pools, skiing, winter hiking, sight seeing, Christmas Markets, and great food and beer.
Gorgeous pictures!! And that ice cave looks like phenomenal!
It was amazing! We didn’t think it would be much of a big deal as we approached it, but we were wrong!
I visited Berchtesgaden in the summer and can’t believe how different it looks in the winter. What a winter wonderland. I would love to go back and visit the ice cave.
We loved it so much, we are planning on going back in the summer!
The Ice Chapel is indeed amazing, I mean from the photos you have its a mind-blower. It should be on my bucket list this next year.
It was a nice surprise. We didn’t really know what we were hiking to!
Berchtesgaden sounds like the perfect getaway for a family! Your photos are amazing- it totally looks like a winter wonderland. Loved your video too!
We were blown away by how pretty it is. The whole time we were there we kept repeating “I can’t believe how gorgeous this place is!”
What a stunning national park! For winter, ski resorts are the common choice for travelers. But exploring national parks as beautiful as this would be a great idea!
PS – great job with your photos!!
Thanks! There is a ski resort near by, actually just a couple minutes walk from the bus drop off, but we like to hike!
Wow, your photos are beautiful and that ice cave is awesome. What a great family adventure. Love your vid too!
Thanks for the kind words. It really was a fun little adventure!
Oh wow I’ve been wanting to go to Bavaria for a long time, looks absolutely stunning in winter! All that snow is pristine, can imagine it was pretty cold though.
You will not be disappointed! Of the places we have visited in the last four months, this one is tops!
One of my favorites posts by you Mel, absolutely loved it. The video is ace and the photography is breathtaking. Beautifully composed – video and photos – and it’s so amazing watching the family enjoy the adventure together. The scenery, the boat ride, the ice chapel, everything is amazing and so well documented. Thanks
Thank you! It was such a beautiful and special place — I am glad that came across. My husband is responsible for the filmmaking and he always does a great job!
What a beautiful park! I love Germany but have only been in the warmer months. The scenery looks so beautiful with all the snow upon it. It also looks very family friendly.
The snow definitely dresses the place up! I bet it is really pretty in summer, too.
This easy hike looks like a lovely way to take in the Winter scenery! The Ice Chapel does look really cool – love how it’s just Mother Nature creating art!
Everything about this park is beautiful!
The cleanest lake in Germany is an impressive title! I like to visit unique lakes and this title makes Königsee pretty unique! You got a pretty good reflection picture of the church, the clouds obviously lifted. The ice cave looks amazing, the kids must have appreciated it too.
We had one kid who LOVED the ice cave and another who wouldn’t go inside due to safety concerns ;).
Gosh, I have some AMAZING memories from there. Would love to go again!
I’d love to go again, too!
Thanks for this post! I’m doing a day trip from Salzburg to Berchtesgaden in February. I’d never heard of the Ice Chapel, but I’m hoping to do the hike if time permits.
I hope you make it! I’d be really interested to see if it look different this year.
Hi Mel – how much time would you say a fairly fit bunch of friends should budget to complete the hike round trip excluding time spent in the cave? Great article btw, very informative!
Hi! I’ve been out of cell service for a few days or I would have gotten back to you sooner! I think the whole walk (minus exploring the cave and the ferry ride) could be done in an hour and a half or two hours. It’s not very far. The ice on the rocks slowed us down a bit, too! Have a great time if you go — it’s such a beautiful spot!