Home » 2017 European Vacation

Chiemsee, Germany

Friday, May 26, 2017 - 3:30pm by Lolo
87 miles and 1.5 hours from our last stop - 2 night stay


Herb enjoying his first day in the camperHerb enjoying his first day in the camperHow exciting! Our first of 27 days touring Europe in our little camper van. We are very accustomed to motorhome life and have criss crossed the U.S. over a dozen times in our 27-foot Lazy Daze, but we knew we would be faced with unfamiliar challenges, such as road signs we could not understand and roads that were much narrower than we are used to.

In my planning for this tip, I had used a rather old (2004) European Camping Guide to find campgrounds near places on our itinerary. Europeans seem to be much more camping-friendly than Americans. Everywhere we wanted to visit - whether it be city or village - was accessible, either on foot or by public transportation, from a campground. And the campgrounds themselves far exceeded our expectations - clean, great facilities, and most of them even had a restaurant or beer garden on site.

Chiemsee sunsetChiemsee sunsetFor Lake Chiemsee, I had found two campgrounds on different sections of the lake, each within walking distance to a boat ferry to the islands we wanted to visit. The woman who gave us the instructional on the camper told us that at this time of year (late May - early June), we should have no problem getting a campsite anywhere. So we headed to the first one (Panorama Camping Harras, on a peninsula jutting into the lake), without a care in the world, only to find that it was totally booked. The owner, who fortunately spoke English very well, told us that many people were making a long weekend out of the Thursday Father’s Day holiday. He told us we could probably park behind the hotel down the road and come back in the morning to see if anyone checked out. This was not exactly how we wanted to spend our first night in the camper.

We made a quick call to the second campground I had on my itinerary, Chiemsee-Camping Rödlgries, which was also on the lake about 10 miles east. They said they had room for us, so we set off immediately to ensure that we had a place to land for the night.

Chiemsee Schifffahrt (boat ferry) from FraueninselChiemsee Schifffahrt (boat ferry) from FraueninselIt was a lovely campground with shady, grassy sites, a beer garden, and very clean and ample bathroom / shower facilities. Plus, the walk to a boat ferry that would take us to the islands was only 1 km rather than the 2.5 km walk that we would have had to make from the previous campground. We both were quite glad that the last campground didn’t work out, because this one seemed much nicer and more convenient.

It was already quite late in the day by the time we settled in, so we relaxed and got to know the camper better and then took a sunset walk along the campground beach. Tomorrow we would take the ferry to visit the islands of Herreninsel and Fraueninsel. Kind of an interesting concept - Man Island and Woman Island.

Early the next morning, we walked to the boat dock for the Chiemsee Schifffahrt (boat ferry), where we were the first on line for the first ferry of the day from Ubersee. The tickets for a trip to both islands were 9.70 euro each.

The ferry stopped first at Fraueninsel, but we stayed on the boat because we were more interested in seeing Schloss Herrenchiemsee, King Ludwig II’s castle on Herreninsel. Hopefully, by being early we would beat most of the crowds. We could stop at Fraueninsel on the way back.

Gardens at Schloss HerrenchiemseeGardens at Schloss HerrenchiemseeUpon disembarking on Herreninsel, we purchased our tickets to tour the castle for 8 euros each and walked about a half mile to get to the palace. We were assigned a specific tour time, so we didn’t have much time to wander about and photograph the beautiful gardens - we would do that afterwards. As luck would have it, we were part of an English-speaking tour.

Unfortunately, no photographs were allowed inside the castle, so it’s difficult for me to portray what an amazing place this is. Let’s just say that you have to see it to believe it.

Herrenchiemsee is the least famous of Ludwig II’s three castles. He is most well known for Neuschwanstein, his fairy tale castle immortalized by Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, and Linderhof, his jewel-box palace. However, Schloss Herrenchiemsee cost more than the other two combined and pretty much depleted nine centuries of Wittelsbach wealth.

Gardens at Schloss HerrenchiemseeGardens at Schloss HerrenchiemseeThe castle was never intended to be inhabited. In fact, Ludwig only spent 10 days in the palace. Rather, it is a replica of the Palace of Versaille, meant to be a sort of museum where he could transport himself in his imagination back to the court of Louis XIV of France, whom he seemed to have a man crush on. There is even a Hall of Mirrors modeled on the one in Versailles, but even larger. As a result, the replica ceiling paintings had to be resized to fit the bigger room.

Only 20 of the planned 70 rooms were finished before Ludwig’s mysterious death in 1886 and construction was stopped. Each of those 20 rooms is more magnificent and opulent than the next.

After the palace tour, we took our time wandering through the formal gardens, also modeled on Versailles; however, now we were allowed to take photos. The gardens are filled with fountains and statues both in the classical style of Versaille and the fantastic romanticism that Ludwig loved.

There is also a baroque Augustinian monastery on the island built in the 1600s. Between the monks and Ludwig wandering around alone in his castle, there wasn't much of a female presence on the island - hence the name Herreninsel.

Idyllic FraueninselIdyllic FraueninselThe next stop on our boat tour was Fraueninsel, which had a much different feel to it than Herreninsel - much more idyllic and peaceful. Most of the island's inhabitants are either fishermen or artists. There has been an artists' colony on the island since the late 19th century.

The island’s best-known attraction is Frauenworth, an 8th century Benedictine convent with a beautiful campanile that can be seen from far away across the lake. Although the nunnery is closed to the public, the Klosterkirche, nunnery's church, which dates back to the 11th century, is not. It is well worth a visit. While we were there, a wedding was just about to get under way. What a wondeful place for a wedding.

We wandered around the island for a bit before taking the ferry back to Ubersee. From there it was just a short stroll back to our campground.


Fountains at Schloss HerrenchiemseeFountains at Schloss HerrenchiemseeChiemsee, which is only an hour and a half from Munich, is the largest lake in Bavaria. It has three islands, which can be reached by ferry:

  • Herreninsel - major attraction is Schloss Herrenchiemsee, a neo-Baroque royal palace built in 1878 by “Mad” King Ludwig II. It was meant to be a replica of the Palace of Versailles in honor of the Sun King Louis XIV of France, whom Ludwig admired almost obsessively. There is even a great Hall of Mirrors modeled on the one in Versailles, but even larger. Ludwig died in 1886 before the building could be completed. Tours of the palace and its gardens are conducted throughout the summer.
  • Fraueninsel - fishing village and site of an 8th century Benedictine convent
  • Krautinsel - uninhabited

Trips to the islands, which cost less than 10 euro per person, run from several docks around the lake and are operated by the Chiemsee Schifffahrt:

Chiemsee location map in "high definition"

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