Last Updated on 15/09/2022
Chiemsee Lake is the largest lake in Bavaria and the third largest in Germany. It is called also Bavarian Sea. It is known mainly for the palace of Ludwig 2 of Bavaria, located on the island of Herren, and the monastery on the island of Frauen.
But do not forget that here you can spend a full vacation, inexpensive and varied. Within 30-90 minutes drive you can find cultural attractions, historical cities, museums, and natural attractions – mountains, lakes. On one side of the Autobahn to Salzburg there is a large network of cycling routes, on the other side of the Autobahn there are mountain hiking trails.
How to get to Chiemsee
The vast majority of settlements on the lake do not have a railway connection. The Salzburg – Munich railway line runs along the southern shore of the lake and a little along the western one, however, without approaching the lake at a distance of closer than two or three kilometers.
The center of the region is Prien am Chiemsee. The city center and the station are located a couple of kilometers from the lake shore and are separated from it by small hills.
There is a bus from the station to the pier, free for those who stayed overnight in the city itself and have a resort card. The bus runs very rarely. It is indicated on the sign at the bus station as Ortsverkehr, although it has a specific number 9424 in all flyers.
On the other side of the platforms there is the end stop of the narrow-gauge railway, which also goes to the lake. The narrow-gauge railway timetable matches to the trains and ships. But it comes only in the summer season.
From the pier of Prien, ships operate all year round on the route Prien – Herren Island – Frauen Island – Gstadt – Frauen Island – Herren Island – Prien. In the summer, routes are added to other towns on the lake. There is not always time to buy a ticket at the ticket office at the pier. But you can easily buy it both on board and at the box office of a narrow-gauge railway.
In summer, a tourist bus runs from Prien around the lake, which can also take a number of bicycles.
Also, a small train goes from the Prien station to the nearest mountains with a cable car – the town of Aschau.
Prien itself is a very diffuse city: houses here – a field – houses there – a hill. It is better to rent an apartment in the area between the train station and the pier.
The observation point, marked on the city map between the station and the coast, does not give any view, only a view of the nearest mountains (on the photo).
It makes sense to walk around the city only to the pier and back. It was not possible to walk along the shore.
From additional entertainment (except for a trip on the lake and visiting the islands), the city offers a very decent and uncrowded thermal pool and a rope park near the pier.
The Chiemsee lake
The two main islands on the lake are Fraueninsel and Herreninsel. You can buy a day ticket on the ship, which allows you to move around the islands and the coast without restrictions within one day.
Most tourists do just that. First, they go on an excursion to the palace. Then they go to Fraueninsel, where they dine in a restaurant. Then they quickly look into Gstaad or immediately return to Prien.
Herreninsel with Herrenchiemsee Palace
King Ludwig II of Bavaria bought the Herreninsel in 1873 to build a new Versailles here. During his trips to Paris, he studied the architecture of the era of Louis 14, which he imitated. But the king could not fully implement his plan, so the palace remained not fully furnished. He lived in the palace for only a few days in 1885. Only 2 years after his death, tourists began to be allowed here.
To the palace from the pier you need to walk at least 20 minutes. However, you can buy a ticket only on the pier – you cannot buy it from the palace. Tourists are united in groups and taken around the palace with a guide (about 35 minutes). You can not make a photos.
There is a special tour for children (in German). Recommended – very good and best suited for children.
They show the ceremonial apartments, which they managed to make during the king’s life: the main staircase, the guardroom, reception rooms, the front bedroom, the council hall, the king’s bedroom, drawing rooms, an office. All this is richly decorated with gilding, huge chandeliers and candelabra, Meissen porcelain.
Not forgotten, of course, is the famous Hall of Mirrors in Versailles. Along the facade of the building there is a similar one, with mirrors and gilded candelabra. As in Linderhof, there is a lifting mechanism for transporting the table with food to the dining room. But it was too laborious to use it. As well as filling a huge pool-bath – this was done only once.
Ludwig sought to reproduce Versailles as closely as possible to the original. Therefore, a park similar to Versailles had to be laid out around. Only a garden in front of the palace with a canal and several fountains was completed. The fountains are turned on twice an hour.
In addition to the palace, there is also a Augustinian monastery on the island, thanks to which, in fact, the island is called the Herren (“Male”). The first monastery on the island was founded in the 8th century. The modern building dates back to the 17th century in the baroque style. Now there are a museum of monastery and two galleries of modern art – Julius Exeter and Painters on Chiemsee. They represent the work of artists who worked in these places.
The Fraueninsel is opposite the Herreninsel.
Artists, writers and musicians loved to spend time on this island. Some settled here permanently. The island is very small, but with a long history. In the 8th century a nunnery was founded here. The monastery still functions today: about 30 nuns live in it, and access to its territory is closed. In many ways, it has retained its original appearance, in contrast to the male monastery.
Thus, there is a building with a gate of approx. 860, called the Carolingian Gate Hall and frescoes from the same period in the chapel of St. Michael.
In the church of the monastery (12th century) there are the relics of St. Irmgardy. Judging by the numerous thanksgiving photographs and images of children, it is believed that the saint helps in childbirth.
This building opposite the church is also partially medieval.
To my surprise, the island turned out to be a decent-sized village. Actually, with the exception of the monastery and a meadow with a thousand-year-old linden tree in the center of the island, the rest of the space is so densely built up with houses, in which about 300 people live all year round.
In addition to visiting the church, other entertainments will be: walking around the island, eating at local restaurants and visiting creative workshops and shops. Without eating you need about 1,5 hour for Fraueninsel.