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Lake Starnberg

By Michael Schurmann from easyhiker.co       

There is no shortage of attractive hiking destinations for day trips near Munich where you are during the Oktoberfest. Both the Goldsteig and the Altmühl-Panoramaweg “top trails” are just a train ride away, and of course, there are always the Alps.
But Lake Starnberg tops the list of day trip destinations because it is by far the easiest to reach and is the scene of a titillating piece of German royalty history. (More of that if you promise to read through.)

You can go there by City Rail (the S-Bahn) in 30 minutes from Munich Central Station, and the round trip is covered by the Munich day pass which gives you unlimited access to all the city’s public transport facilities (a steal at €20 for up to five persons).

Another reason why Lake Starnberg tops that list: it won’t take you long to reach it from Starnberg station.

On a clear day, you can even see the Alps at the far end.

This far end, it must be said, is quite a long way away. Lake Starnberg is about 20 km long, and although it is quite narrow (never more than 5 km wide), the whole tour around the big pond may easily come to about 50 km.

“Road leading to Possenhofen hiking trail in Starnberger See near Munich”

For a day trip, this is clearly off the scale. But thankfully, there are plenty of alternatives.

On the right side of the lake, for example, there are two more S-Bahn stations further down the track (Possenhofen and Tutzing), so in theory, you could take the train there and walk back to Starnberg (7 km and 14 km respectively).

This was, in fact, our original plan: a walk to Possenhofen, the childhood home and favourite retreat of the star-crossed empress Sissi.

But the road to Possenhofen was so busy (even used by trucks) and so far away from the actual lake – it was practically lined with residential homes, gardens and boat houses – that we broke off our trip after app. 1 mile and returned to Starnberg.

Fortunately for us, we then discovered that the “left” (or western) side of the lake provides a much more pleasant ambiente.

A recognized hiking trail, the “König Ludwig Weg”, runs down the entire length of the lake’s west bank. That should, at the very least, ensure that you are safe from truck traffic.

No S-Bahn trains circulate down this side of the lake, but ferries take you to several of the small towns that are scattered around, including Seehausen at the lake’s southern tip.
If you have a full day, this is what you could do: Hike all the way to Seehausen and return by boat.

We only had the time for one section of this trail, however, and decided to walk the 6 km from Starnberg to the town of Berg.

Out of the station and standing in front of the lake, turn left.

The first half mile takes you past a mix of residential and recreational buildings: homes, gardens, boat houses and a public swimming pool.

After the first of two wooden bridges, however, the scenery becomes far more idyllic: swans in the lake, groups of sturdily built Bavarian women training their Nordic walking skills, young families and students skipping a boring lecture.

When you return to the asphalted road, in the outskirts of Berg, you will see some of the most expensive real estate in Germany.

Lake Starnberg, so pretty and so near to Munich, Germany’s richest city, is very much the Alpine version of the Cote d’Azur (or Beverly Hills).

After walking about 15 minutes, you will find the boat pier on your right.

“Sign leading to Koenig Ludwig Weg hiking trail in Starnberger See in Munich”Check the arrival and departure times, because the traffic back to Starnberg is infrequent and somewhat irregular, and if you miss one boat, you may have to wait a couple of hours for the next one.

If you can, make time for an excursion to the Votivkapelle (just follow the signs) another 30 minutes away.

This chapel was erected to commemorate one of the great unsolved mysteries of German history.
It stands very near the place where the mad King Louis II of Bavaria, (builder of Neuschwanstein Castle and generous supporter of Richard Wagner’s operatic works), explored Lake Starnberg in a vertical direction. (A wooden cross in the water marks the spot.)

Was it an accident? Did he commit suicide? Or was some sort of jiggery pokery involved? (For a full round-up of events, go HERE.)

On the way to the chapel, you will come across a plaque on a boat house where it says that Ludwig often set out from there to meet with his “soul mate” Sissi on the other side of the lake.

I found it strange and almost touching to see that after all these years, the Bavarians still can’t quite seem to cope with the fact that their beloved “Kini” did not fancy girls all that much.

For a less shamefaced account of the king’s life, watch Ludwig II, directed by Luchino Visconti and featuring the male model Helmut Berger as the eponymous royal, one of the campiest movies ever made: the thinking man’s Wizard of Oz.

If you do not have the time to experience Mr. Visconti’s Magnum Opus in its full Wagnerian languor of 247 minutes, do yourself a favour: sample the director’s operatic ambition here.

The latter section also features here a must-watch Bavarian-style gay orgy with folk dancing, zither music and much mutual groping.

No wonder the locals hated the film so much that they tried to have it banned when it was first released in 1972.)

Now, return to the pier where – if there is still time – you can have a coffee or a beer on the terrace of the Hotel Berg before taking the boat back to Starnberg.
If you have started your day before 12, you can still be back at your favourite Oktoberfest beer tent before the evening rush begins – and won’t miss any of the action.

Why not take a trip to Munich? Have a look at our flights here!

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Are you thirsty? Here are five of the best beer bars in Europe

If you love craft beer, this post is for you! Read on to find the best places to quench your thirst and discover new spots in Barcelona, Dublin, Munich, Amsterdam and Prague.

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Cultural Weekend Getaway to Munich

There’s a lot more to Munich than the Oktoberfest beer festival and a legendary football team –this city of 1.5 million people is one of Europe’s most important cultural centres, while also boasting a very complete menu of entertainment and recreational options, every day of the year. Here are a few proposals for a weekend getaway to this liveliest of German cities.

Amongst it many attractions, Munich is easy to get to and to get around in, thanks to its huge international airport, excellent rail connection, and the super-modern public transport systems serving the city and its outskirts. Most of the key places for sightseers are concentrated in a relatively small area, and the city is thronged with visitors all year round. Keep in mind that the Alps are nearby, and the city is a staging point for skiers in winter and for climbers, hikers, mountain bikers, and paragliders in summer.

The city’s cultural life is intense, and no tourist should neglect to visits the cluster of three classical art museums collectively known as the Pinakothek –a show of El Greco is now in progress in one of them and will remain open until 12th April. Not far away is the Brandhorst museum of modern art. On the bank of the Isar river is the fascinating Deutsches Museum of science and technology. It has a branch in Schleissheim to the north of the city that specialises in airplanes, and another in Theresienhöhe dedicated to every imaginable type of land transport vehicle. You may also enjoy the recently opened ZNT, New Technologies Centre, with its focus on nanotechnology and biotechnology. Car aficionados will love the BMW Welt museum –BMW is a Bavarian brand, afer all! To learn more about Munich itself, and its long and curious history, check out the Stadtmuseum, and don’t miss the permanent “Typically Munich” exhibition. For insights into the Bavarian people, there’s the incredible Residenz, the old palace of the Bavarian royal family, located in the city centre, and Germany’s largest urban palace. Today it is one of Europe’s leading museums of decorative arts, and its richly furnished and adorned spaces evoke many centuries of history under the Wittelsbach dynasty (1180-1918). At a short distance is the dynasty’s first Munich home, the Alter Hof, later used as law courts, and now the site of the Bavarian Museums Information Office and of a small museum devoted to the Wittelbachs, whose most famous king, Ludwig II, was born in the Nymphenburg castle standing in the western part of the city, next to the entrance to the Nymphenburg park. But just two hours southwest of Munich is one of Germany’s most celebrated castles, Neuschwanstein, at the foot of the Alps, which was Walt Disney’s inspiration for the castle in the cartoon classic Sleepìng Beauty.

Munich, by the way, has three top-ranked orchestras, numerous music festivals in many genres, and dozens of concert halls.

Design
Design is something else Munich is famous for, and this is evident in the way people dress –in style and good taste, like the people of Milan. The city centre is the best place to shop for designer clothes and decorative items, for antiques, and for books. For luxury goods, jewellery, silverware, etc., look for shops labelled as Königlich Bayerischen Hoflieferanten, or “suppliers to the royal household of Bavaria”.

A Bite to Eat, Sports…
It’s almost impossible not to eat well wherever you go in Bavaria, and Munich’s dining is unrivalled for quality and variety. Local specialities include the famous Weisswurst or veal sausages, accompanied by a salty soft or crisp pretzel and sweet mustard; a ration of pork or beef with mash; and a spicy Obatzder cheese sauce with black bread. When it comes to eating, the locals prefer the biergärten –especially in summer—and the friendly beer halls found throughout the city.

For the sports-minded, we recommend a tour of the Olimpiastadion stadium where the main events of the 1972 Olympic Games were held, a milestone in stadium architecture, and still in almost continual use, as is the Allianz Arena, built for the 2006 World Football Cup, and now home to FC Bayern -a team with five Champions League titles to its credit- and the less well-known TSV 1860.

Munich awaits! Check out our fares here!

Text: Isabel y Luis Comunicación

Photos: Deutschland Tourismus, Haydar Koyupinar/ Museum Brandhorst

 

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