I'd like to celebrate the publishing of my latest guidebook, Daytrips Germany (7th Edition) by posting one of its most popular one-day adventures. This one is about a lovely lake near Munich, but mostly about Beer, Glorious Beer. What is often considered Germany's finest brew is made in a monastery high atop a hill overlooking the Five Lakes Land, and served in a lively beer hall right next to the church. What a way to celebrate mass! Visitors come from all over the world to sample this marvelous golden brew — so here's how to do it:
A Daytrip from Munich
Another lovely lake within easy commuting distance of Munich is the Ammersee. More secluded than Lake Starnberg and virtually unkown to foreign tourists, it has the added attraction of a gorgeous rococo monastery at Andechs (photos, above and below right), which brews what many consider to be Germany's finest beer. This is the perfect daytrip for anyone who loves riding boats, walking quiet trails, and drinking fabulous brew in a convivial atmosphere.
Like Starnberg, the Ammersee region has fine hotels and guesthouses that offer lower prices than those in Munich — a practical alternative to staying in the city.
Trains on the S-Bahn commuter service leave frequently from the lower level of Munich's main station, after first making underground stops at Marienplatz, Karlsplatz, and other midtown stations. Take the S-5 line all the way to the last stop, Herrsching, a journey of about 45 minutes. Those without railpasses should follow the ticketing instructions on page 00. The tasty, strong beer at Andechs is a good reason to take the train.
By Car, leave Munich on the A-96 Autobahn in the direction of Landsberg to the Oberpfaffenhofen exit, then follow local roads past Wessling and Seefeld to Herrsching. You can drive to Andechs instead of walking if you prefer, but remember to have a designated driver.
The Ammersee should be visited on a fine day in the summer season. This is a good weekend trip, especially on Sundays. The local Tourist Information Office(Verkehrsamt), T: (08152) 52-57, W: sta5.de, is near the Herrsching train station at Bahnhofplatz 2. Herrsching has some 10,000 inhabitants.
FOOD AND DRINK:
Chalet am Kiental (Andechs Str. 4, a few blocks east of the station) Exquisite International cuisine in an old farm house. T: (08152) 982-570. €€€
Ammersee Hotel (Seepromenade, just south of the dock in Herrsching) Regional specialties and classic cuisine. T: (08152) 53-74. €€
Andechs Klosterbrauerei (in Kloster Andechs) Simple food and the monks' own beer, indoors or outdoors. T: (08152) 37-60. €
Numbers in parentheses correspond to numbers on the map.
Leaving the Herrsching train station (1), stroll over to the pier (2) and check the schedule of boats to Diessen. If you have a wait before the next departure you may want to visit the Kurpark (3) with its picturesque little castle.
The boat ride to Diessen (4) takes a little over 30 minutes. T: (08143) 940-21,W:seenschifffahrt.de. Roundtrip €€. Sights to see there include the sailing school and the Stiftskirche (Abbey Church), a masterpiece of the Bavarian rococo style. If you're there on a weekend you might want to visit the small Carl Orff Museum, which explores the life of the famed 20th-century composer of the Carmina Burana and other works. Hofmarkt 3,T: (08807) 91-981. Open Sat.-Sun. 2-5.
Return to Herrsching by boat. Before continuing on, you might want to visit the nearby Archaeological Park (5) with its reconstructed stone church from around AD 625, but inquire at the tourist office first to gain entry.
Now follow the map to St. Martin's Church, where the woodland trail to Andechs begins as Kientalstrasse. The two-mile walk to the monastery takes you through a lovely ravine and alongside a little stream. At the end it climbs up the Holy Mountain, a place of pilgrimage for centuries. You can also get there by bus from the Herrsching station; ask at the tourist office for schedules. Those with cars can, of course, drive.
*KLOSTER ANDECHS (6), T: (08152) 376-167, W: andechs.de. Open daily 7-7. Tavern, beer garden, restaurant.
The Benedictine Monastery of Andechs overlooks the surrounding countryside from its lofty perch (photo, top of page). Originally a castle dating from the 12th century, it was later rebuilt as an abbey due to the discovery of important relics in its chapel. The present church was first constructed in the 15th century. In the mid-1700s, however, it was completely redone in the rococo manner, with frescoes and stuccoes by the famous artist J.B. Zimmermann. The result is simply dazzling — one of the very best examples of that style anywhere. While exploring the interior, be on the lookout for the tomb of the 20th-century composer Carl Orff (1896-1982), world-famous for his Carmina Burana.
From here it is only a few steps to the Beer Garden, where the second reward of your pilgrimage awaits. The potent (11.5% to 18.5% alcohol!) brew is renowned all over the land. Join the queue for a one-liter stein (maß) and some snacks, then sit down at one of the indoor or outdoor tables for a rest before returning to Herrsching. For a full meal, try the adjacent full-service restaurant (Klostergasthof), where the prices are a bit higher but still very reasonable.
Text and map copyright © 2009 by Earl Steinbicker.
Interested in photography? Check out my "Assisting Avedon" blog.
Visiting Bavaria? Check out my new (2014) app for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch, Bavaria Travel: Munich & Great Day Trips. It's full of current, up-to-date information, special maps, day trips, walking tours, offbeat destinations, and much, much more.
CHECK OUT THE BOOK AT AMAZON.COM BY CLICKING BELOW:
This same trip is also featured in my more compact Daytrips Bavaria guidebook. Click below to check it out at Amazon.com: