Lake Ammersee
Pure nostalgia

As if the Alps weren’t already exciting enough! Upper Bavaria goes one better: dozens of lakes and rivers with unparalleled sports and leisure opportunities. Spending a night by the water is a particularly special treat, finds author Christian Haas

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Holidays on the Water in Upper Bavaria

You don’t have to be on the Mississippi to travel by paddle steamer. Simply take the train from Munich to Herrsching. There, two boats with paddle wheels on either side form part of the blue-and-white fleet on Lake Ammersee: the “Diessen”, launched in 1908 and renovated in 2006, and the “Herrsching”, built new in 2002. Both are hugely popular. Many passengers love the successful combination of nostalgia and modern technology.

Those who prefer to take the helm can hire an SUP or surfboard, a pedalo, an electro boat or a sailing dinghy. Good to know: sailing experience is enough, you don’t need a certificate. This applies to all boat hire in Upper Bavaria, including in Dießen. The town on the southwestern shores of the lake is known for its fantastic Marienmünster church and its arts and crafts, such as its 100-year-old pewter manufacture.

The Töpfermarkt, or Potters’ Market, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors as well as Europe’s top ceramicists to the lakeside promenade on Ascension Day, is one of Upper Bavaria’s best events.

Tatjana Falk: Am Ufer des Starnberger See kann die Wildnispädagogin besonders gut relaxen

Lake Starnberg

Lake Starnberg, too, offers plenty of history, culture and recreational activities. Also known as the Prince’s Lake, Bavaria’s Baroque princes enjoyed spending time on its shores. Even today, a noble wind blows across the water here. This can be seen in the expensive yachts as well as the villas and small castles that are home to millionaire celebrities.

However, anyone can afford to buy a ticket for one of the four excursion boats (a fifth, purely electric, is currently being built). Tip: a combi ticket also gives you entrance to the Buchheim Collection - Museum of Imagination in Bernried.

The architecture of this place alone is impressive, designed as it is to look like a ship, and then there is the bizarre collection of the author of “Das Boot” (The Boat). And talking of boats, there is a disproportionate number of skiffs on Lake Starnberg. Three well-known rowing clubs are based here. So why not hire a boat yourself and head to the Roseninsel? Or visit the cross erected in memory of Ludwig II on the shallows in front of the votive chapel?

Blick auf den Raddampfer Herrsching auf dem Ammersee
Mit der Zille auf die Roseninsel im Starnberger See

La dolce vita

The casual “Beach bar am Kleinen Seehaus” in St. Heinrich is best visited when you have plenty of time to spare and nowhere else you need to be. The deckchairs in the sand, the jetty that invites you to loll by the water and the enchanting garden set the scene for some serious hedonism. Especially when matched by a picture-perfect sunset.

Films are big here: the international Five Lakes Film Festival in summer has earned itself a top reputation among the cognoscenti, in part thanks to open-air screenings on the lake (and even on board ships).

Attractive open-air experiences are also on offer all the year round at the “Campingplatz Pilsensee”. You don’t even need your own tent or caravan to stay overnight here. Front-row pitches look out over lake, moor and mountains, while glamping barrels and chalets offer a really special night’s sleep.

Camping Pilsensee: Terrasse mit Seeblick
Schlaffässer mit Seeblick
Spaß mit dem SUP auf dem Maisinger See

The Fünf-Seen-Land, or Five Lakes Region, is made up of the Ammersee, Starnberger See, Pilsensee, Wörthsee and Weßlinger See lakes. In fact, it also covers smaller bodies of water such as the Maisinger See, at one end of a popular family walking trail from Starnberg through the Masinger Schlucht gorge. Or the Osterseen, a group of lakes that are a further relic of the last Ice Age. To achieve the tourism-led concept of the “25-Lake Region”, you need to include the nature reserve, which has more than 20 lakes and ponds.

It is not just walkers and cyclists who find this an attractive destination. Naturists, too, find secluded spots here for skinny-dipping. The tasty finale for any excursion is provided by the creative-alternative gastro-kiosk “Seemadames”, near Iffeldorf.

... Lake Tegernsee, Lake Schliersee and Lake Staffelsee

Other attractive lakes in Upper Bavaria are the noble Tegernsee and the more down-to-earth Lake Schliersee, as well as the lakes of Riegsee, Kochelsee and Walchensee. While divers can find delights underwater, fans of the Wickie films make a pilgrimage to the free film location village on the western shores.

In terms of islands, Lake Staffelsee definitely wins the prize. It has seven of them. And one, the 4.5 hectare Buchau, has no cars and is exclusively reserved for camping. This certainly has its charms, as you leap out of your tent in the morning and straight into the lake. What a way to wake up!

More information about holidays by the water in Upper Bavaria: (only in German)

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