This sample chapter appears in two of my recent guidebooks: the compact Daytrips Bavaria and the more complete Daytrips Germany, 7th Edition. This is an especially easy outing for visitors to Munich, and a most enjoyable one in good weather.
A Daytrip From Munich
Long a popular playground for the people of Munich, Lake Starnberg is a delightful daytrip destination within sight of the Alps. Its particular attraction, beyond natural beauty, lies in the fact that it is so easy to reach. Only a half-hour ride from the city by commuter train or car, the lake has a good boat service that carries visitors onwards to lovely, secluded villages.
Royalty has been drawn to these shores for centuries. The castle at Berg, still a residence of the Wittelsbachs, was always a favorite of King Ludwig II. It was here, too, that his bizarre life ended in tragedy. The artistic collaboration between Ludwig and the composer Richard Wagner was first realized at Starnberg, with many later scenes in their strange relationship taking place nearby.
For travelers, the Lake Starnberg region offers a wonderful alternative to staying in Munich. A wide choice of accommodations, at prices often well below those in the city, is available through the local tourist office in Starnberg.
Trains to Starnberg leave frequently from the lower level of Munich's main station. They may also be boarded at other S-Bahn stations, including those under Marienplatz or Karlsplatz. Take route S-6 in the direction of Tutzing for the half-hour ride to Starnberg. Those without railpasses should follow the ticketing instructions on page 00.
By Car, Starnberg is some 26 km (16 miles) southwest of Munich on the A-95 Autobahn.
This trip is most pleasant on a fine, warm day in summer; and is well suited for weekend travel. The local Tourist Information Office (Verkehrsamt) in Starnberg is at Wittelsbacherstrasse 2c, T: (08151) 90-60-0, W: sta5.de. The town of Starnberg has a population of about 22,500.
FOOD AND DRINK:
Seerestaurant Undosa (Seepromenade 1, on the lake) A big, lively restaurant, indoors and outdoors. T: (08151) 998-930, W: undosa.de. €€
Ristorante Al Gallo Nero (in Seehof Hotel, Bahnhofsplatz 4, by the station) Italian cuisine, with an outdoor café. T: (08151) 22-21. €€
Kðnigswasser (Maximilianstr, 2B, near the station) Light meals and snacks. T: (08151) 444-088. €
AROUND THE LAKE:
Strandhotel Schloss Berg (Seestr. 17, by the dock in Berg) A lovely, quiet hotel at the edge of the lake, with indoor and outdoor dining. T: (08151) 96-30. €€
Seehotel Leoni (Assenbucherstr. 44, by the dock at Leoni) A modern lakeside hotel with a restaurant and outdoor dining. Continental cuisine. T: (08151) 50-60, W: seehotel-leoni.com. €€ and €€€
Tutzinger Biergarten (Midgardstr. 3-5, Tutzing) A charming lakeside beer garden with light meals. T: (08158) 1216. €
Numbers in parentheses correspond to numbers on the map.
Leave the Starnberg train station (1) and stroll over to the pier, just a few yards away. Study the posted boat schedule and decide whether to take a ride to Berg now, or see the town of Starnberg first. If you choose the latter, continue up Wittelsbacher Strasse past the tourist office to Kirchplatz, where the parish church is located. Boat schedules at W: seenschifffahrt.de.
Cross Hauptstrasse and follow the map past the town hall, climbing uphill to the 16th-century Castle (2) around which the town developed. This is now occupied by government offices, but you can poke your head in for a look. Just beyond the Schloss there is a beautiful garden with fine views of the lake and the distant Alps.
Schlossbergstrasse leads over a boldly designed arch to the St.-Josef-Kirche, an enchanting 18th-century rococo church typical of Bavarian villages. Its interior is well worth a visit, especially for the high altar.
Return to lakeside via the Günther Steig, Achheimstrasse, and Bahnhofstrasse. Turn right just before the railway to the Museum Starnberger See (3). Originally located in a charming early-16th-century log-built house, one of the oldest structures of its kind in Germany, it has recently overflowed into an adjuacent modern structure. On display here are exhibits on anything having to do with the lake district, from history to culture to nature. T: (08151) 4477-570, W: museum-starnberger-see.de. Open Tues.-Sun. 10-5. €.
From here you can take a lovely stroll along the lakeside promenade (4). There are several outdoor cafés and restaurants along the way, as well as places where you can rent electric boats quite reasonably. This may be a more intriguing idea than the boat ride.
Walk back to the pier (1) and board the boat. The short round-trip cruise (Nördliche-Rundfahrt) goes to Berg and Leoni before returning to Starnberg and takes about an hour, not including stopovers. The *longer round-trip (Grosse-Rundfahrt) covers the entire 12-mile length of the lake, stopping at Berg, Leoni, Possenhofen, Tutzing, Ammerland, Bernried, Ambach, and Seeshaupt; and then makes the same halts on the way back. This takes a total of about three hours, again not counting any stopovers. T: (08151) 8061, W: seenschifffahrt.de. Boats operate from May through mid-Oct. €€ and €€€.
A highly recommended trip is to take the boat to Berg, walk a bit over a mile to Leoni, then either return to Starnberg or continue on the long cruise. If you do the latter you can get off at Possenhofen or Tutzing and catch an S-Bahn train back to Munich rather than return to Starnberg.
Disembarking at Berg (5), walk up Wittelsbacher Strasse past Berg Castle, a favorite residence of King Ludwig II. This is where he spent his last captive hours after being deposed in 1886. It is still occupied by the family and cannot be visited. From here a path, Am Hofgarten, leads through the woods to the Votive Chapel erected in his honor. At the water's edge a cross marks the spot where the young monarch's body was found along with that of his doctor. Both drowned under highly mysterious circumstances, possibly murder but more likely a struggle to escape followed by suicide. Completely out of touch with reality, Ludwig's dream world was shattered and he had nothing more to live for.
Following the path to Leoni (6), you can either take a boat back to Starnberg or continue on the long cruise. Suggestions for a stop along the way include Possenhofen (7), where Ludwig's distant cousin, the empress Elisabeth of Austria, spent much of her time. At one point he was engaged to her younger sister Sophie, but this was hastily terminated by the king as the actual date drew near.
From here the boat passes the Roseninsel, a tiny island where Ludwig had yet another castle, and where some of his affairs took place. Tutzing (8), a quiet resort, is the last stop on the lake to be served by S-Bahn commuter trains. Those venturing beyond will have to return by boat. Three other interesting halts are at Ammerland (9), an ancient fishing village with a castle; and Bernried, with its stunning new:
*BUCHHEIM MUSEUM (10), Am Hirschgarten 1, Bernried, T: (08158) 997-060, W: buchheimmuseum.de. Open Tues.-Sun. 10-6, closing at 5 Nov.-March. Restaurant. Café. €€. There is a direct “Phantasie” boat from Starnberg May-Oct., Tues.-Sun., departing Starnberg at 12:30, 2:45, and 5. Combination boat fare and entrance €€€. Calling itself a Museum of the Imagination, the Buchheim displays a fantastic collection of German Expressionist art, especially that of the Brücke movement. Some of the artists represented include Dix, Beckmann, and Schmitt-Rotluff.
The last stop is at Seeshaupt, the southern end of the lake, practically next door to the Alps.
Text and map copyright © 2007, 2009 by Earl Steinbicker. Top photo by Alexander Z., used under GNU Free Documentation License. Bottom photo courtesy of Touismusverband Starnberger Fünf-Seen-Land.
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