Munich or München isn’t far from nature, so when you’re there, you won’t need to travel far. You can find some pretty spectacular lakes just outside of Munich – and it takes you no more than two hours to get there!
Bavarian lakes are some incredibly beautiful examples of nature, so you’d be foolish if you didn’t visit them. Bavaria boasts some of the best lakes in Germany, many of which are within easy reach of Munich, so the next time you’ve got a free afternoon, pack a picnic cooler and head out to one of these wonders. Many of the lakes are leftover from the Ice Age.
The 7 most beautiful lakes around Munich
PRO TIP: Munich’s lakes can all be accessed with a Bayern ticket, so take advantage of this discount to avoid paying full price. Here’s a little-known tip, you can actually buy them online in advance or on your phone if you download the Bahn.de app.
1. Starnberger See
Of all the “Munich lakes”, Lake Starnberg is probably the most well-known, mainly because it is the closest and easiest to access. It is 30 kilometres (19 mi) southwest of Munich. It is generally viewed as a rich persons lake as many of Munich’s celebrities and pro-athletes have houses there.
The main sites beside the lake are Starnberger Schloss (castle) with the castle garden and St. Joseph’s Church.
Taking the S6 to Starnberg (instead of Starnberg Nord) will allow you to reach Starnberger See from Munich.
You can then take a bus to the next lake on the list or stop along the way at one of my favorite spots, Kloster Andechs. The buses are included in the Bayern ticket.
Protip: Consider staying in Starnberg if you are going to go to Oktoberfest. It is cheaper, quieter and easier to get a reservation.
It is a great place to watch sunsets or have an ice cream cone in the town of Herrsching and is a perfect day trip to combine with a visit to the famous Andechs Monastery (which is known very well around Munich for its tasty beer). Hike up to earn your treat, or simply take the bus!
You can also enjoy cruising across the lake on an old-fashioned paddle wheeler between the towns of Herrsching and Dießen am Ammersee.
How to get from Munich to Ammersee: Take the S8 to Herrsching or the 950 or 951 bus from Starnberg.
You can take a scenic boat ride to Herrenchiemsee New Palace, which is located on an island at Chiemsee. The German Versailles is a must-see opulent experience.
There are three main islands on the lake: Herreninsel (“gentlemen’s island”), the largest, with an area of 590 acres; Frauenchiemsee, 38 acres, also called Fraueninsel (“ladies’ island”); and uninhabited Krautinsel (“cabbage island”), 8.6 acres, called this name because in the Middle Ages it was cultivated with cabbages and other vegetables. Herreninsel has a palace built by King Ludwig II in 1878 called Herrenchiemsee, which was never completed but was meant to be a replica of the Palace of Versailles. Many of its rooms are open to tourists; tours of the palace and its extensive grounds are conducted throughout the summer. Frauenchiemsee, the smaller of the two main islands, houses a Benedictine nunnery, built in 782, as well as a small village. The nuns make a liquor called Klosterlikör (“cloister liquor”) and marzipan both of which should be purchased.
You can read more about it here: https://europeantravel.blog/touring-across-southern-germany/
How to get from Munich to Chiemsee: Take the train to Prien am Chiemsee, which takes about an hour.
The water in this alpine lake is so brilliant and blue that you would think you were in Lake Tahoe. It is strongly recommended that you go hiking in the area… the views are unbelievable.
In World War II In April 1945 the Wehrmacht and officials of the Reichsbank created a plan to store part of the reserves of the German Reichsbank at Einsiedl, a small hamlet on the southwest shore of the lake. Subsequently, the assets were buried in an undisclosed location in the crags above the Obernach power plant. The assets consisted of 365 sacks, each with two gold bars, nine envelopes with gold documents, four crates of gold, two bags of gold coins, six boxes of Danish coins, and 94 sacks of foreign currency. The foreign currency was mainly U.S. dollars and Swiss francs. On 6 June 1945, the treasure was handed over to the Allies. One hundred gold bars and all the U.S. dollars and Swiss francs were missing. Speculation is that there are also other hoards, where valuables such as other currencies or gemstones were hidden so if you have the time to explore the area you may become rich and famous.
How to get from Munich to Walchensee: Take the regional train to Kochel (about an hour). Hop on a Regionalverkehr Oberbayern bus to Walchensee (options include 9608, 9611, and 9612) from Kochel.
In Berchtesgaden National Park, this stunning natural lake is near the Austrian border. Often, it is touted as Germany’s most serene and cleanest lake. It was also a top pick in an Americans in Germany Facebook group I am in. To keep the lake pristine only electric-powered passenger ships, rowing, and pedal boats have been permitted on the lake since 1909.
St. Bartholomä, a famous pilgrimage church with an inn nearby, is located on a peninsula about halfway down the western lakeshore. Christlieger island is located near its northern end. South of the Königssee, separated by the Salet moraine, is the smaller Obersee lake with the 1,540 ft high Röthbach waterfall. Because there is no lakeside path on the steep shore of the Königssee, St. Bartholomä and the southern edge can only be reached by boat, or via hiking trails up the surrounding mountains..
How to get from Munich to Königssee: Take the train to Berchtesgaden (the best way depends on the time of day. There are no direct trains, so you’ll need to change, usually in Freilassing). You can plan the best route by using DB’s website or app. To reach Königssee and Schönau, take the RVO buses from Berchtesgaden (lines 841 and 842) and Berchtesgaden train station (lines 842, 843, 846).
The Zugspitze looms in the background and the Eibsee has bright blue water that glows turquoise in the sun, making it one of the most photogenic lakes near Munich. You can go for a nice (relatively flat) hike around the lake for a bit of chill space or watersports.
Due to its location below the Zugspitze and the clear, green-tinted water, the lake is considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the Bavarian Alps.
You can also get there on e-bikes that you can rent in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It takes me about 45 minutes on a regular bike so on an e-bike you can cut that down in half and enjoy the pastoral countryside.
Read more about Garmisch-Partenkirchen here: https://europeantravel.blog/garmisch-partenkirchen-bavarian-wonderland/
How to get from Munich to Eibsee: By train to Garmish-Partenkirchen and from there, take a blue bus hourly to Eibsee.
Known for its delicious beer, Tegernsee is a must-see if just to grab a cold one at the brewery (conveniently located by the lake). In Munich, Augustiner is the local favorite beer but in Southern Bavaria, Tegernsee is the most popular beer around. On a hot summer day, the water here is beyond gorgeous, and the vibe here is a lot more chill and peaceful than other lakes near Munich.
The former Benedictine Abbey of Tegernsee is open to visitors. The complex is composed of the parish church of Saint Quirinus, the former abbey church, and the adjacent north and south wings surrounding the two courtyards. The north wing hosts the Herzoglich Bayerisches Brauhaus Tegernsee (Ducal Bavarian Brewery of Tegernsee), one of Germany’s oldest and better breweries.
How to get from Munich to Tegernsee: Take the BOB train directly to Tegernsee (it takes about an hour).
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