After only glimpsing the Chiemsee from a distance on our trip to Salzburg, we knew we needed to head back on a nice day. It’s a large freshwater lake with several islands you can visit, including one with a palace! So when a suitable weather forecast presented itself a few weeks back, we caught the train southeast from Munich towards Prien am Chiemsee


But not this train, of course. We took a modern train from Munich. This little green steam train is actually the Chiemsee-Bahn, which runs about a mile from the main station in Prien down to the edge of the lake. You could easily walk that distance, but we couldn’t resist getting to ride on heritage-listed choo-choo!

On the Chiemsee-Bahn

The train lets you out right at the water and then the engine detaches, spins around on a turntable, and hooks up to head back the other direction.

Prien-Stock terminus

All of the Chiemsee ferries and cruises depart from this landing, and there are restaurants, a Ferris wheel, boat rental, a promenade, a swimming center, and lots of folks just hanging out, enjoying the weather. The view of the lake was really spectacular.


We hopped on a ferry and headed to the Herreninsel (“Men’s island”), the largest one and the one with the palace.

Snookums on a ferry

When you get to the island, you end up at a visitor center next to an old Augustinian Monastery. There’s about a 20 minute walk to the Herrenchiemsee Palace, or you can take a horse carriage ride. We went for the walk, strolling through a beautiful shady wood…

The walk to Herrenchiemsee

We eventually reached a break in the woods and stepped out into a formal garden, straight out of Versailles! 😳


It’s not accidental. It was built by King Ludwig II as the third and last of his famous castles (after Neuschwanstein and Linderhof), and he deliberately modelled it after Versailles. Dude had a fixation with Louis XIV! Several of the fountains are copies of ones at the French palace. (They weren’t running constantly; it seems like they were going every half an hour on the day we were there.)

The only way to see inside the palace is to book a tour, and I was lucky enough to get us on one of the few English versions. It was us and two other couples, and the tour guide took us inside and through all of the completed rooms. Unfortunately photography wasn’t allowed, but you can see some pictures on the Wikipedia page. One thing I found fascinating was that Ludwig had his architects copy Versailles pretty closely, but he also built in secret “modern” technology, like central heating from furnaces under the palace. He also had a trap door under his dining table, which cranked up and down like an elevator so it could magically appear with food on it! The Hall of Mirrors was spectacular, as was the world’s largest Meissen porcelain chandelier. Sadly, Ludwig ran out of money before the palace was finished, and he only spent like ten days there before he mysteriously died at 40. (Nowadays they use the unfinished part to host art exhibitions.)

View towards Chiemsee

Leaving the palace, you look across the sunken formal garden all the way to the Chiemsee in the distance!

After a wander back to ferry landing, we caught another boat over to the Fraueninsel (“ladies’ island”).

Ferry to Fraueninsel

While the Herreninsel is mainly a tourist destination, the Fraueninsel has a Benedictine convent and a little village of about 300. It’s car-free, so we had a lovely time walking around and checking out all the little houses and shops. I noticed that several of the places had rental details on them, and I can’t imagine a more beautiful place to spend a week just chilling out. We were also delighted to spot some familiar flags. There are Antipodeans living on Fraueninsel! 🇦🇺🇳🇿

We took another small cruise to end the day, but we were getting a bit sunburnt and tired at this point!

Snook on a boat

To get home, we disembarked at Prien Stock and took the Chiemsee-Bahn back to Prien train station, before catching the regional train back to Munich. Lovely day out on the water!