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Bavaria's largest lake: leisure tips and places of interest at Lake Chiemsee

Der Chiemsee, Foto: Priener Tourismus GmbH/Paul Mayall
Foto: Priener Tourismus GmbH/Paul Mayall

What you can do at Lake Chiemsee

Lake Chiemsee is Bavaria's largest lake and is located about 70 kilometers from Munich. The lake in Chiemgau is a vacation region with many recreational opportunities for families.

Lake Chiemsee at a glance

  • Location: About 70 kilometers southeast of Munich in the Chiemgau region.
  • Activities on and around the lake: swimming, boating, biking, sailing, hiking, climbing, golfing, horseback riding, skateboarding, ice skating, cross-country skiing, tobogganing
  • Islands: Herreninsel (238 ha), Fraueninsel (15.5 ha), Krautinsel (3.5 ha), Schalch (22m²).
  • Sights: Herrenchiemsee Castle and Monastery, Frauenwörth Monastery
  • Towns at the lake: Prien, Bernau, Gstadt, Übersee, Chieming, Breitbrunn

Directions from Munich to Lake Chiemsee

By train: From Munich main station take the regional trains in the direction of Salzburg to Prien am Chiemsee (57 min, also IC stop), Bernau (1:02h) or Übersee (1:08h).

By car: From Munich about 87 kilometers via the A8 Munich-Salzburg to the exit Bernau/Prien, travel time about 1 hour.

Water fun in Lake Chiemsee: swimming and sailing

Badespaß am Chiemsee, Foto: www.chiemsee-alpenland.de
Foto: www.chiemsee-alpenland.de

The crystal clear waters of the "Bavarian Sea" attract many water rats: sailing, surfing, rafting or kayaking, paddling and of course swimming. If you want to swim from island to island, you will need strength and experience. The longest route leads from Fraueninsel to the eastern shore of Lake Chiemsee. Athletes have to cover a full eight kilometers.

Bathing is more relaxed. The widest areas of the shore are freely accessible. Visitors can sunbathe and relax undisturbed in small bays and at the beach resorts. Nudist bathing is possible, for example, at Feldwieser Winkel. The beach is chargeable and offers a large lawn for sunbathing as well as a volleyball field, toilets and showers.

Those who like boating should know that only rowing boats, pedal boats, electric boats and sailboats are allowed on Lake Chiemsee.

Activities around Lake Chiemsee in summer and winter

Radeln am Chiemsee, Foto: www.chiemsee-alpenland.de
Foto: www.chiemsee-alpenland.de

At Lake Chiemsee, exercise enthusiasts take advantage of varied activities in nature - from horseback riding, skateboarding, hiking, climbing and golfing to cycling. On the approximately 60-kilometer route around the lake, cyclists enjoy unobstructed views of the mountains and the Chiemgau region. In many towns, bicycle rentals offer their services, so you can confidently leave your own bike at home for a tour of Lake Chiemsee.

If you like it more comfortable, you can change to a carriage or covered wagon. In Bernau and Gstadt, there are various options for a nostalgic ride.

A day trip to Prien is worthwhile for the whole family. There, many are drawn to the Prienavera. The adventure pool rewards with relaxing indoor and outdoor areas among tropical plants and underwater sounds.

In winter, visitors to Lake Chiemsee enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating or tobogganing.

Herreninsel: In the footsteps of the fairy-tale king Ludwig II.

Schloss Herrenchiemsee, Foto: Priener Tourismus GmbH/Paul Mayall
Foto: Priener Tourismus GmbH/Paul Mayall

One of the most attractive tourist magnets on Lake Chiemsee is the island of Herrenchiemsee - also known as Herreninsel. It was owned by the Herrenchiemsee monastery for several centuries until secularization. In 1873, King Ludwig II bought it for 350,000 gulden and saved it from being cut down by loggers from Baden-Württemberg.

The fleet of the Chiemsee-Schifffahrt (Lake Chiemsee shipping company) calls at Herreninsel all year round from Gstadt and Prien, in the summer season also from other places. The best way to get around the car-free island is by carriage.

Places of interest: Herrenchiemsee Castle and Monastery

Schloss Herrenchiemsee, Foto: Priener Tourismus GmbH/Paul Mayall
Foto: Priener Tourismus GmbH/Paul Mayall

The main attraction on Herreninsel is the unfinished Herrenchiemsee Palace. It was modeled on Versailles Palace. Visitors stroll through Ludwig II's state rooms, the park with water features, the picture gallery and the beer garden of the castle hotel.

Known as "Altes Schloss Herrenchiemsee," the former canons' monastery (Herrenchiemsee Monastery) made history in 1948. The Constitutional Convention met here and drew up a first draft of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany for the Parliamentary Council.

Fraueninsel: place of pilgrimage with monastery and artists' colony

Kloster Frauenwörth auf der Fraueninsel - Luftaufnahme

The much smaller island of Frauenchiemsee, densely populated with about 300 inhabitants, is popularly known as Fraueninsel. It, too, is visited all year round. The Frauenwörth Monastery, founded in 782 by Duke Tassilo III, invites visitors for an excursion. It was the place of pilgrimage of Blessed Irmengard of Chiemsee, the patron saint of Chiemgau.

Nuns still live here today. They sell homemade marzipan and liqueurs in the monastery store. Their residence, the Inselmünster, was built on Carolingian foundations. The free-standing bell tower is one of the landmarks of Chiemgau.

Another highlight on Frauenchiemsee is the monastery's Carolingian gatehouse. It dates from the early period and consists of a rectangular building made of tuff. It houses a museum and gallery dedicated to the Chiemsee painters. Those who want to discover more about the artists who lived and worked in the Chiemsee artists' colony, founded in 1820, will find what they are looking for here.

Geography: The largest lake in Bavaria with about 80 square kilometers

Morgenstimmung am Chiemsee, Foto: www.chiemsee-alpenland.de/Makrohaus
Foto: www.chiemsee-alpenland.de/Makrohaus

The largest lake in Bavaria is an important refuge for endangered waterfowl and wading bird species. For this reason, it has been protected as a nature reserve since 1954. Its size of around 80 square kilometers earned the Chiemsee the nickname "Bayerisches Meer" (Bavarian Sea). Another reason for this is the change of tides, which one experiences here as if at the sea.

The lake measures 63.96 kilometers in circumference. In addition, there are the islands of Herrenchiemsee, Frauenchiemsee, Krautinsel and the municipality-free island of Schalch. The latter has an area of just 22 square meters and was artificially created. With a depth of 73.4 meters, Lake Chiemsee attracts visitors in summer with crystal-clear water and temperatures between 20 and 23 degrees.

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