Tretbootfahren auf dem Grubsee bei Krün
First mountain, then water!

Board, kayak, dinghy or swimming trunks? The lakes and rivers of the foothills of the Alps and the Bavarian Alps invite you to swim, sail, paddle, windsurf or SUP. 15 types of water sports before or after the summit

Reading time: 20 minutes

Bavaria's Rivers and Lakes: 15 Tips

Jetty for boat trips on the Schliersee lake


Original Bavarian: Schliersee

Lake Schliersee is located 50 kilometres southeast of Munich, in the district of Miesbach. The mountains of the Mangfall range provide an alpine flair, with the Brecherspitz towering dominantly in the south. The lake and the town of the same name, known for its urban Bavarian flair, are a popular holiday destination.

You can have fun all day at the lido with its sunbathing lawn and leisure facilities and enjoy a sundowner on the terrace in the evening. The swimming areas on the west and south shores can only be reached on foot. Water experiences of various kinds are offered by the "monte mare Schliersee" with vitality spa.

Water sports enthusiasts can follow their passions at the lake including diving, sailing, windsurfing, SUP boarding or kayaking. The sports equipment can be rented. There is also a sailing school. It is also fun to cross the water in an electric boat, rowing boat or pedal boat. If you prefer to be chauffeured, you can take a round trip on the motorboat "Schliersee III". It departs twice a day from May to September and docks at the small island of Wörth which has a restaurant.

Anglers cast their lures on the lake from May to September. Venison or char served in one of the rustic Schliersee restaurants with a view of the lake.

Reachable by train.

View over the Spitzingsee to the Schliersee mountains


Wildly romantic: Spitzingsee

About five kilometres south of Lake Schliersee lies Lake Spitzingsee at an altitude of almost 1,100 metres. With an area equivalent to forty football fields, it is the largest high-mountain lake in Bavaria. It is surrounded by wildly romantic dark mountain forests and the peaks of the Mangfall Mountains. But the lake is also a wonderful place to linger.

In summer, you can swim in the cool, clean water. The meadow in front of the Arabella Alpenhotel is a great place to swim. Or you can take a one-hour walk along the shore around the lake. The three-kilometre path is well-maintained and suitable for prams. Water lily fields and horsetail meadows as well as ducks and coots can be seen on the water.

You can enjoy the wonderful scenery with an ice cream sundae, cappuccino or a snack at the lakeside promenade in the village of Spitzingsee with its cafés and restaurants. Children can let off steam at the playground. On the southern shore, a boat rental service provides pedal boats, rowing boats, electric boats and SUP boards. Parking spaces for mobile homes are also available. From May to November, anglers can indulge in their hobby.

Reachable by train and bus. (only in German)

Tegernsee: View of the town directly on the lakeshore


Prominent: Tegernsee

Fed by clear mountain streams, Lake Tegernsee is considered one of the cleanest lakes in Germany. The 6.5 kilometre long and 1.5 kilometre wide lake lies in a picturesque landscape 50 kilometres south of Munich. Its shore is accessible almost everywhere and thanks to its surroundings it is a much-visited holiday destination. It is also considered a popular retreat for the wealthy and celebrities.

In the 8th century, Benedictines founded a monastery on the lake. A visit to the baroque former monastery church of St. Quirinius and the rustic Bräustüberl next to it is a must. A boat trip across the lake with stops at a total of eleven landing stages is also recommended. Funny: a "Überführer" rows guests from the village of Tegernsee to Rottach-Egern and vice versa at the narrowest point of the lake.

Pleasant water temperatures prevail in July and August, swimming pools and bathing spots can be found around the lake. Water sports enthusiasts can let off steam as they please. There are also plenty of rental facilities and schools for sailing, boating, windsurfing, stand up paddeling, diving and more. Three beach volleyball courts are available near the lake. And those who shy away from the wet element can go forest bathing with a forest health trainer on the shores.

Reachable by train.

Der Sylvensteinstausee mit der Isar


Fjord flair: Lake Sylvenstein

Like a fjord, the elongated, turquoise-coloured Sylvensteinsee nestles between the mountains of the Isarwinkel. The reservoir was created in the 1950s south of Lenggries. It lies in the valley of the Isar and attracts water sports enthusiasts, swimmers and anglers. The calm lake offers many places to swim, but there is no lido.

In summer, the popular swimming spots are monitored by the water watch. At the water rescue hut, 200 metres west of the village of Fall, there is a swimming area with a sunbathing lawn on the gravel shore and with public barbecue facilities. Toilets are available, as is free parking. In Lenggries there are providers who rent SUP boards. Guests with a guest card can fish at the lake, including from a boat.

A hotel, café and camper van site can be found in Fall. The lake is the starting point for numerous hiking and cycling tours.

Reachable by train and bus. (only in German)

Lake Kochelsee near Schlehdorf


Between rocks and reeds: Kochelsee

Lake Kochelsee lies 70 kilometres south of Munich, measures 15 kilometres in circumference and has the Loisach River flowing through it. That is why the water of this lake is fresh and of the best quality. Mountains and rocks surround the southern shore. The northern part juts out into the flat foothills of the Alps and is bordered by a belt of reeds, which is a nature reserve.

There are several swimming spots. Water fun is offered by the crystal Therme in the village of Kochel directly on the lake. It includes an outdoor pool with beach bar and lounge as well as access to the lake. The largest beach and sunbathing area on the lake is close to the spa. You can rent pedal boats, rowing boats or electric boats as well as surf and SUP boards in Kochel. Surf and SUP courses as well as SUP yoga are offered. Schlehdorf, the second village on the lake, has two swimming areas with sunbathing lawns and shady trees. To the north of Schlehdorf, the small, warmer Eichsee, a moor lake, beckons.

An excursion boat offers 1.5-hour round trips across Lake Kochel. Tip: The Franz Marc Museum and the famous Walchensee hydroelectric power station with information centre for visitors have their own jettys. Romantic: A rock path leads through the steep bank in the south-west of the Kochelsee. Experienced climbers venture to the rock faces from the lake.

Reachable by train. (only in German)

Der Walchensee: Wie ein nordischer Fjord


Bavarian Caribbean: Walchensee

From Kochelsee, the Kesselberg road leads up to Walchensee. With its winding roads, it was once famous for car races. Lake Walchensee lies at an altitude of 800 metres and is surrounded by a shoreline that is almost 30 kilometres long. With its turquoise water, it is reminiscent of the Caribbean. On the north shore, the panorama is dominated by the Herzogstand, which is accessed by a gondola lift, and the Jochberg. To the south, the view falls on the peaks of the Karwendel Mountains.

At up to 190 metres, Lake Walchen is unusually deep and popular with divers thanks to good visibility. The lake is a landscape conservation area and the small island of Sassau is designated as a nature reserve. There are several natural swimming spots: between Urfeld and Sachenbach, near the village of Walchensee and on the Zwergern peninsula in the west, and for about ten kilometres on the southern shore between Einsiedl and Niedernach.

Due to the good wind conditions, Lake Walchen is a hotspot for sailors as well as wind and kite surfers. Water sports equipment can be rented on site. When the weather is good, thermal winds develop on the north shore around midday and then move across the lake. Motor boats are not allowed.

The Walchensee, which is fed by the Rißbach, coming from the Karwendel, and by Isar water, serves as a reservoir for the lower-lying hydroelectric power station at Kochelsee. Famous guest at the lake: Goethe, who rested here during his trip to Italy.

Reachable by train and bus. (only in German)

Tatjana Falk: Die Wildnispädagogin mag besonders die wilden Stellen der Isar mit den Kiesbänken in den Alpen


Wildfang: Upper Isar

The Isar (the "Ripping Tides") rises in the Karwendel Mountains. It flows in a north-easterly direction via Munich and Landshut to Deggendorf. There, after almost 300 kilometres, it flows into the Danube. At Krün, water is diverted for the Walchensee power plant, after which the Upper Isar is a real wild river and is under nature conservation.

Up to the Sylvenstein reservoir, it makes its way as it has since time immemorial. The watercourses are constantly changing, new gravel banks and islands are formed in the wide riverbed. The vegetation of willows, pine forests and shrubs such as the rare German tamarisk is typical. Rare birds and flowers also find a habitat here: sandpipers and little ringed plovers breed in the gravel, and pink snow heath, silverroot, meadow primrose, gentian and other flowers add splashes of colour to the floodplains.

You can experience the Upper Isar on the Isar Cycle Path, on the Isar Nature Experience Trail near Krün, on the trail from Wallgau to the Auhütte or in winter on the Canada Trail. From the easy-to-reach summit of the Krepelschrofen above Wallgau you have a beautiful view over the upper Isar valley. Nature conservation rangers offer hikes. From the Sylvensteinsee you can go SUP boarding as well as kayaking and tubing with numerous operators.

Wallgau and Krün can be reached by train and bus.

Die Drei-Seen-Wanderung ab Krün führt auch am Barmsee vorbei


Pack your swimming trunks! 3 Lakes Hike

All good things come in threes! An easy hiking tour from Krün near Mittenwald, walking time about four hours, leads to three moor lakes and opens up magnificent views of three mountain ranges: Karwendel, Estergebirge and Wetterstein. Start in Krün.

Signposts point the way to the northern shore of the Barmsee, where a natural swimming area invites you to relax. Continue along the shore to Geroldsee with swimming spots to the north and south. It lies in a landscape conservation area. Its dark water is soft and pleasantly warm in summer, and the view of the Alpspitze and Zugspitz massif is magnificent.

The route continues to Klais, where you can see remains of the ancient Via Raetia, and from there reaches the small Grubsee on a forest path, again in the direction of Krün. A lido with kiosk, swimming jetty, water slide and playground make swimming fun perfect for the whole family! Follow the path in the direction of Barmsee and return to Krün.

Krün can be reached by train and bus.

Wolfratshausen: Stadtkirche St. Andreas an der Loisach


Hikeable! Loisach

The Loisach is a left tributary of the Isar, about 115 kilometres long. It rises in Tyrol and flows north past Garmisch, Farchant, Eschenlohe, Ohlstadt and Murnau, then bends to the east, flows through Lake Kochelsee and finally joins the Isar near Wolfratshausen.

The upper section between Griesen and Garmisch is considered a white-water river and is more a spot for kayak experts. From Farchant onwards, the Loisach is suitable for river hikers. Time and again, gravel banks in the turquoise-green water invite you to take a break with a view of the Alpine scenery. Short tours with kayaks, canoes or rubber dinghies are possible thanks to the many places to get in and out, even multi-day tours. The approximately 80-kilometre stretch from Farchant to Wolfratshausen can be comfortably divided into four days, and there are opportunities to stop for refreshments or to camp.

Wolfratshausen at the end of the route offers connections to public transport, or you can continue paddling on the Isar to the gates of Munich. Tour operators offer tours on the Loisach, also with SUP boards, or rent out water sports equipment. On the Loisach cycle path you can follow the river from its beginnings to its mouth.

Farchant can be reached by train. |

Lake Eibsee below the Zugspitze


A stunner: Eibsee

The Zugspitze rises steeply above Grainau, and at its foot Lake Eibsee glistens in the sun. The spectacular scenery is reminiscent of the wilderness of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The crystal-clear lake with eight small islands was formed more than 3,000 years ago by a landslide and is one of the most beautiful lakes in the Bavarian Alps, and attracts visitors accordingly.

Its shores offer a variety of activities and excursions. For example, you can leisurely walk around the lake, which lies at an altitude of just under 1,000 metres, on a family-friendly path suitable for prams. Or you can take an easy hike up to the Hochthörlehütte hut with its spectacular views. In summer, of course, swimming is a must-do, with access to the lake at many places. Pedal boats, slide boats (which make swimming from the boat easier), rowing boats and SUP boards are available for hire, or you can board the "Reserl" excursion boat for a round trip. Bringing your own boat is not allowed.

Refreshments and food are available at the kiosk, beer garden, restaurant or ice cream parlour. There is a hotel directly on the lake.

Reachable by train and bus. (only in German)

Ein Naturlehrpfad führt rund um den Soier See


Soothing: Soier See

Lake Soier in Bad Bayersoien in front of the Ammergau Alps lies at an altitude of a good 800 metres. The moor water of the small lake, 700 metres long, 400 metres wide and 3.5 metres deep, is gentle on the body and warms up quickly in summer. A large sunbathing lawn with a swimming area stretches along the southern shore, where you will find a kiosk and the rowing boat rental at the Fischerhäusl.

A nature trail leads around the lake. It is accompanied by a barefoot trail with many elements such as pebbles, sand, bark mulch, a bog-treated pool and more. On the north side of the lake, also known as Bayersoien See, a moor nature trail explains the origin and significance of the moor for the region (moor treatments are offered by the spa and swimming facilities in Bad Bayersoien). Among other things, planks lead into the moor to a platform surrounded by plants typical of raised bogs. A measuring pole marks the structure of the moor layers since the Ice Age.

From a "nature cinema" you can enjoy a beautiful view over the lake and of the Ammergau Alps from comfortable forest loungers. Sport fishing is permitted at Soier See.

Reachable by train and bus.

Benediktinerkloster St. Mang am Lech in Füssen


By boat, bike or on foot: Lech

The Lech is a 250-kilometre-long right tributary of the Danube. It rises in Vorarlberg in Austria, flows through Tyrol, Swabia - including the cities of Füssen and Augsburg, and through Upper Bavaria. It flows into the Danube below Donauwörth.

In the alpine upper reaches, the Lech is a wild river. In the tamed lower section from Füssen, however, there are beautiful stretches for river walkers that are also suitable for beginners. Water sports enthusiasts can expect beautiful riverside landscapes with mountain panoramas, meadows and forests.

There are boat rental companies where you can also book tours. These day tours are recommended: from the Lech loop near Peiting to Schongau (three kilometres), from Mundraching to Landsberg (eleven kilometres) or from Kaufering to Scheuring (eleven kilometres). Or you can cycle in four to five stages from Füssen to Augsburg.

Hikers experience the Lech on foot from the high mountains to Füssen on the Lechweg. Cyclists follow the Lech on cycle paths to its mouth. The Lech Museum Bavaria in Langweid north of Augsburg provides information about the river. | (only in German)


Protected by nature: Bannwaldsee

Something for nature lovers: Lake Bannwaldsee is located northeast of Füssen at an altitude of just under 800 metres at the foot of the Ammer Mountains. The lake is a nature reserve and marshy meadows, reed beds and paths line its shores.

On the south-eastern shore there is a campsite with holiday flats, rented caravans and sleeping barrels. Next to it is a swimming area with a shallow beach, swimming jetty, sunbathing and play area and a children's playground and volleyball court. The lake offers pleasantly warm swimming temperatures and the water quality is excellent. Rowboats and bicycles can be rented. A nice bike tour leads around the lake in about an hour.

Fishing is allowed on the south shore. Motor boats, sailors, surfers and SUP boards are prohibited. There are many activities and excursion destinations in the surrounding area, such as hiking and cycling tours as well as the Tegelberg with its cable car, Neuschwanstein Castle or the famous Wieskirche, a UNESCO cultural heritage site. (only in German)

Schiffsrundfahrt auf dem Forggensee bei Füssen, im Hintergrund Schloss Neuschwanstein


Box seat: Forggensee

A lake with a certain something: with the mountains of the Ostallgäu as a backdrop, Lake Forggensee offers a direct view of the fairytale castle of Neuschwanstein which is especially good from the terrace of the Neuschwanstein Festival Theatre. The lakeside musical theatre opened in 2000.

Lake Forggensee lies north of Füssen, is nine kilometres long and three kilometres wide. The Lech flows through it. In winter, the lake is dry and parts of the ancient Via Claudia Augusta and a sunken village can be seen on the bottom. In mid-June it reaches its full size again. The turquoise-green lake is easily accessible almost everywhere.

There are many swimming spots, for example in Füssen at the boat harbour or in Schwangau, Roßhaupten or Dietringen. Water sports enthusiasts have all the options: Sailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, SUP boarding and boating. Sailing and surfing schools offer courses. You will find boat rentals, restaurants and cafés all around.

A 40-kilometre-long cycle path circles the Forggensee and the nearby Hopfensee. Or you can experience Lake Forggen and its sights on board an excursion boat, the "MS Füssen" or the "MS Allgäu". If the lake is not enough: In Schwangau, visit the warm pools and saunas of the Kristall Therme.

Reachable by train and bus.

Wandern in der Hüttlebachklamm in der Alpenwelt Karwendel


Beautifully shady: Hüttlebachklamm gorge

A rather unknown gorge invites you to an easy, cool round tour near Krün near Mittenwald through the Hüttlebachklamm. The short, shady hike is a good tip, especially on hot summer days. You will climb 120 metres in altitude.

The starting point is the centre of Krün. Walk in the direction of the Isar, cross the Isar bridge and follow the forest road to the right until you reach the turn-off for the Hüttlebachklamm gorge. Numerous wooden stairs and railings lead adventurously through the gorge. After about an hour, you will reach a small covered bench at an altitude of about 1,000 metres. From here you have a view of the Isar valley and the mountains.

The way back leads in a northerly direction through the forest. If you wish, you can also climb further: to the Schwarzkopf (1,150 metres) or even further to the Seinskopf (1,931 metres).

Reachable by train and bus.

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