Chiemsee is often referred to as the “Bavarian Sea” due to its vast size which has shrunk by two-thirds in the last 10,000 years. That’s okay, it’s still pretty impressive and if size doesn’t matter so much to you, it sure is a stunningly beautiful sight to behold. You can’t fault Bavarians for throwing the word sea around so easily since they are so far from a real one.
the stunning Chiemsee
Its being less than an hour by frequent trains from Munich makes it a very popular excursion but oddly enough it took a special visitor to finally get us to make the trip. We were giving my father visiting from the US a grand tour of our new home state Bavaria and a boat trip on the Chiemsee sounded like a can’t miss for a then 87 year old. It was Father’s Day no less so a perfect way to spend it with him. They even use an old steam train to transport you from the regular train station down to where the boats go out!
the steam train to the boats on the Chiemsee
The boat trip out was even better than the train and my wife and Dad really loved it. Of course, a gorgeous day never hurts. The boat stops at the two inhabited islands, making it possible to break your trip and stretch your legs.
a fantastic boat trip on the Chiemsee to the Fraueninsel
After doing a bit of research, I saw there was a little brewpub on the Fraueninsel so our Father’s Day lunch was set. It was conveniently on the smaller of the two islands on the lake so only a short walk. We went there first so we could hit the larger Herreninsel on the return trip. Ok, hunger probably had as much to do with the decision as anything.
Inselbräu was a pleasant surprise
Though a little pricey, the food was excellent and the beer surprisingly good. I guess with a location like this, they could charge even more and besides, it was a Father’s Day treat and even my Dad, who generally doesn’t drink beer, quite enjoyed it. Despite not being a beer person, he’s come to respect my knowledge of it or at least how it has universally led us to some great meals over his many visits to Bavaria.
the palace grounds on the Herreninsel
The trip back to the Herreninsel was almost too swift. I think my Dad would have been happy to just ride on the boat for another hour and head home. The “Men’s Island” was much larger and even just walking from the boat dock to the palace was a bit of an effort for him. He was impressed nonetheless with the former short term digs of Ludwig II. He drowned after living there for only nine days. There were quite a few kilometers of trails on the island but they’d have to wait for another visit.
a lovely first visit to Chiemsee comes to an end
While researching Beer Hiking Bavaria, I sought as many hikes as I could find close to Munich and also to include some easier walks for those not looking to climb mountains. The islands on the Chiemsee are quite flat but still afford great mountain views in the distance so I headed back out to do a good portion of the trails on both. This time I started on the Herrenisnsel so as to finish with a beer at Inselbräu.
a pretty walk on Herreninsel begins
I largely followed the Rundweg which takes you through a pretty forest to the quaint Nordic-flaired Seekapelle with lake views. It then wraps you through a somewhat more secluded area heading back to the palace.
some great large old trees on the largely rural route
On the route back to the palace, I took a diversion to the St. Maria Kapelle and out onto an atmospheric canal before crossing it on a stone path and backtracking to the main attraction.
St. Maria Kapelle & stroll on canal
The palace area was a lot less crowded on my weekday visit. The fountains are exquisite and an understandable draw.
an understandably popular attraction
The prudent thing to do at this point would have been to head back to the boat dock and be on my way to a small walk around the Fraueninsel before lunch and a beery reward. If my father had been with me, I surely would have done just that. I had one more planned area to yet explore so I persevered to Pauls Ruh. It sounded like a peaceful spot. I had the trail there all to myself and soon found out why: mosquitos. I’d stopped to take a photo and was immediately attacked. Needless to say I didn’t stop often and whatever pictures I took were shall we say rushed. The small beach that Paul found so peaceful would surely be a lovely spot in late summer or autumn but on this June day, dipping into the lake would have meant having a few free souvenirs from the Herreninsel.
Pauls Ruh excursion
The return along a different route was swift and it seemed none of my new friends followed me back to the palace. I was shortly on the boat to the Fraueninsel and looking forward to lunch.
short lovely stroll on Fraueninsel
Strolling on the Fraueninsel was even lovelier than I’d remembered. Mosquitos aside, you can see why the population is ten times that of the more than ten times larger Herreninsel. It was pleasantly sans the weekend crowds, adding to its tranquility. I was at Inselbräu almost too quickly.
a fine beery reward at Inselbräu
The brewpub was remarkably quiet compared to the Sunday we’d been. The pub interior is cozy but the weather was too nice to not enjoy the leafy Biergarten out back. Their Weißbier hit the spot and the local delicacy Renke, a delicately flavored whitefish, was perfectly sauteed in butter and served with an excellent potato salad. I followed up with their Zwickl and liked it so much, I used it as the featured beer for the hike in the book. It’s an idyllic spot not easy to leave but I wanted to check out the 700 year old Linde tree out back and nearby monastery which dates back to 782. It now houses an order of Benedictine nuns.
a short visit at the monastery
It was too nice out to spend a lot of time in the admittedly pretty church and once outside, I felt it the weather was too fine to jump on the next boat so I strolled back around the island with more purpose than a second investigation might warrant. I’d spotted a small smoked fish eatery near the beginning of the hike. The Renke lunch was great but not all that big and I still had a bit of a journey to get back to Munich.
another quick peek at the island & smoked fish sandwich
On the boat back, I couldn’t help thinking about my father. After all, he was the reason I’d finally visited Chiemsee. I also amusingly looked back at my mosquito ambush, now that it was behind me. I know I’d have avoided it if I’d had him with me. When it comes to beer, the son knows better but for most everything else, father knows best.
boat trip back
Chiemsee lies in Upper Bavaria (Oberbayern in German). There are 14 hikes in this region in my book Beer Hiking Bavaria along with another 36 from all over Bavaria. Each includes detailed descriptions of the hikes as well as information on the breweries along the routes plus some tasting notes on my favorite beers at each establishment.