FolkestoneJack's Tracks

The Ludwig II trail

Posted in Füssen, Feldafing, Germany, Munich, Prien am Chiemsee by folkestonejack on June 6, 2015

We hadn’t intended to turn our trip into a Ludwig II pilgrimage, but soon found ourselves gripped by his unusual story and spectacular vision. So, with this in mind, I thought I would wrap up our trip report with a quick run through of our self-guided Ludwig II tour for any souls contemplating a similar endeavour.

Our tour could have been pretty expensive if it wasn’t for the 14 day passes from the Bavarian Department for State Palaces. A pass for two adults came to 44 euros, which compares incredibly favourably to the 127 euro bill we would have faced by paying for all our tickets individually. Children under the age of 18 are also included on this ticket at no extra charge.

Nyphenburg Palace
Ludwig was born on 25 August 1845 at Nymphenburg Palace, in the suburbs of Munich. The palace is easily reached by tram (Straßenbahn 17) and can be toured on a self-guided basis. The Queen’s Bedroom, where Ludwig entered the world, is one of the rooms open to visitors. The palace, park and park buildings are all delightful but the star attraction has to be the Marstall Museum’s collection of royal carriages.

Detail from one of Ludwig Ii's carriages in the Marstall Museum

Detail from one of Ludwig II’s carriages in the Marstall Museum

The Marstall Museum gave us our first glimpse into the world of Ludwig II with some of the most extravagant and ornate carriages and sleighs that can ever have existed. If they still have this effect on us today, how much more astonishing they must have seemed to Ludwig’s subjects in their time – especially with Ludwig’s preference for moonlit excursions!

Ludwig’s childhood summer home was a real surprise to me, as I expected something quite plain and found an altogether more elaborate castle. Maximillian II clearly had a strong artistic vision like his son. It is striking that the two palaces are just a short distance from each other. The castle can be visited on a hectic day trip from Munich or taken at a more leisurely pace with a stay in Füssen. I have written posts about our visit to Hohenschwangau and the pleasures of Füssen covering the practicalities in more detail.

Munich Residenz
The Residenz is a marvellous complex to visit, but the apartment that King Ludwig had fitted out for himself between 1867 and 1869 (in the style of Louis XIV) was destroyed during World War II. Thankfully, many of the moveable items of furniture and decoration were spared and can now be seen in three rooms of the museum at Herrenchiemsee.

Ludwig’s other major construction here, the winter garden, has also long gone. The garden was a 70 metre long glass hall constructed on the roof of the palace, abutting Ludwig’s apartment. It was no ordinary conservatory, presenting a fantastical Indian landscape, complete with a Moorish Kiosk, a lake and a large illustionistic backdrop to extend the setting way beyond the space available. It was dismantled in 1897 but we can still get a good idea of its appearance from surviving photographs and a gondola preserved at the museum at Herrenchiemsee.

The secluded summer house, known as the ‘Casino’, on Roseninsel (Rose Island) was the only finished building from Maximillian II’s Feldafing Palace project. It doesn’t have the wow factor of the palaces, but it is easy to see why Ludwig II enjoyed this retreat. It’s a little off the well-trodden tourist path in Bavaria but worth a diversion if you have a spare day. I have written posts about our visit to the island with some practical tips.

The modestly sized mansion at Linderhof, tucked away in the shadow of the Ammer mountains, was the only palace that Ludwig II lived to see completed. The palace was built and developed in stages between 1869 and 1885, growing out of the forester’s house constructed by his father Maximilian II. It must have presented a fascinating mix of styles in the early stages, blending the simplicity of an alpine house with splendour worthy of Versailles. All of this changed in 1874 when the alpine styled Royal Lodge was moved and the palace assumed the form that we see today.

The Royal Lodge can still be visited for a small additional charge (free to holders of passes from the Bavarian Department for State Palaces) in the grounds, with a small museum about the history of the palace and park (the text of the displays is only in german, but english language translations handouts are available).

Many of the coach tours that run from Munich offer limited time at the park, so we opted to use public transport instead (a train and two buses in each direction) and this worked out pretty smoothly. I covered our visit in the post Royal refuge in the Ammer mountains with some practical tips drawn from our experience.

My personal highlight of the trail came with the visit to Neuschwanstein Castle. It is one of the most visited sights in Germany and there are plenty of downsides to this, but nothing can detract from the wonderful interior that (in my eyes) exceeds anything else that Ludwig II created. Don’t believe the reviewers who say that it is not worth taking the tour!

Planning your trip in advance is a must here as the ticket queues can be horrendous. Various ticket combinations are available, depending on how you plan to arrange your visit and whether you are aiming to see everything in one day or spread out over a couple of days with a longer stay in Füssen. I covered our visit, with some practical tips, in the post Monument to monarchy

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

Ludwig II’s attempt to recreate Versailles on an island in Bavaria is quite extraordinary (a word that gets used alot on any tour of Ludwig’s palaces!) and delivers some of the most spectacular rooms I have ever seen. The tours may be short but every second in this palace counts.

The opulence of Herrenchiemsee New Palace is in stark contrast to the relative simplicity of the King’s chambers in the Augustinian Monastery (Old Palace), which can be visited with a combination ticket. I summed up our astonished impressions in the blog post Versailles-am-see, though words are quite inadequate to describe this place!

The King’s House on Schachen
One sight that eluded us was the King’s House on Schachen, which is located 1,866 metres up in the Wetterstein mountains. It is difficult to reach at the best of times, as it can only be reached on foot and takes 6 to 7 hours to get there and back!

Whilst we were visiting the area many of the footpaths were closed because of the G7 summit, including those up to the King’s House, but this shouldn’t be a factor in anyone else’s visit! Guided tours are given during the summer months (in German only). The highlight is the upper floor, known as the Turkish Hall, which is a splendid vision of eastern delights.

Berg Castle, where Ludwig was living at the end of his life, is still home to the Wittlesbach family and not open to the public (indeed, Ludwig’s gothic additions have long since been removed). However, you can see the Votivkapelle (memorial chapel) constructed in his memory and the cross in the Starnberger See marking the spot where Ludwig died in mysterious circumstances on 13th June 1886, aged 40.

We didn’t make it to Berg but it is relatively easy to reach by taking the S-Bahn to Starnberg, followed by a 12 minute ferry crossing.

Ludwig was laid to rest in the crypt at the Michaelskirche in Munich on 19th June 1886 (though his heart was placed in an urn at the Gnadenkapelle at Altötting alongside those of his forebears). The crypt can be visited for a couple of euros.

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Rose Island and the missing palace

Posted in Feldafing, Germany by folkestonejack on June 5, 2015

Our good progress with our sightseeing plans opened up the opportunity to make one last trip out of Munich and take a look at Feldafing Park, a spot on the Starnberger See where Maximillian II planned to build a massive summer palace.

Maffei-Kapelle overlooking Feldafing Park and the Starnberger See

Maffei-Kapelle overlooking Feldafing Park and the Starnberger See

The early death of the king in 1864 stopped building work in its tracks. The palace had progressed no farther than the foundations (to be fair, construction only began in 1863) and the successful landscaping of the grounds. The project was abandoned and the untended park soon became wildly overgrown. It is said that the bricks from the foundations were removed to build the railway stations at Feldafing and Possenhofen, whilst the finest tree were transferred to Ludwig’s new palaces.

Although the palace and park were lost to history, one element was completed and spared from neglect – a secluded garden retreat known as the ‘Casino’ situated on an island 160 metres from the shoreline. The island, better known today as Roseninsel (Rose Island), featured a small villa and a circular rose bed planted with over 1300 roses. Here, Ludwig II found the perfect location to entertain guests such as the Czarina Maria Alexandrovna and Empress Elizabeth of Austria.

After the death of Ludwig II the island too succumbed to nature and the villa fell into disrepair. The island and park are now owned by the Bavarian state. Restoration work on the villa and rose garden started in 1998 and was sufficiently well progressed to be opened to the public in 2003, in time to celebrate the 150th anniversary, though the upper floor of the villa did not open until two years later. The island is now open to the public from May to October, though the best time of year to visit is around mid-June or mid-August to get the best of the rose blooms. They were just starting to come out when we visited, but must be wonderful at their peak.

The rose garden

The rose garden

One distinctive feature of the garden is a 5 metre tall blue and white glass pillar, topped by a sculpture of a girl feeding a parrot, which was carefully restored in 2001. The original was one of three gifted by the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV (the others were installed at the Sanssouci Palace, Potsdam, and at Peterhof, outside St Petersburg). It certainly looks striking set amongst the circle of roses.

The villa itself is an interesting place to visit, with some exquisite touches, even though it is much plainer than Hohenschwangau Castle. I particularly liked the wood-panelled dining room on the first floor which was decorated with wall paintings depicting the seasons, a ceramic fireplace held aloft by two figures and small statuettes of Victory atop wooden columns around the walls. It is all rather charming and must have been a wonderful place to get away from the pressures of court life.


To get to Feldafing Park we took the S-Bahn (S6) to Feldafing. After leaving the station we walked along Bahnhof Strasse for a short way before taking a turning that led us onto a footpath ending at the Maffei-Kapelle and a rather splending war memorial (1951) nearby. From here we crossed Tutzinger Strasse and followed another footpath through the golf course which brought us to the landing stage for ferries to Roseninsel (Platanen-Rondell). I think there are a few variations on this route from the signs we saw along the way!

The landing point on Roseninsel

The landing point on Roseninsel

A small ferry runs visitors across the water on demand for a small charge (4 euros return) and tours of the villa are available in German during Tuesday-Sunday afternoons. Tours were running hourly on the day we visited (a Friday) at quarter past the hour and tickets should be purchased from the nearby gardener’s house. Our tour guide took us on a fairly leisurely tour around the property for around half an hour, covering the recent prehistoric finds and plantlife on the island, as much as on the history of the building itself.

The small shop in the gardener’s house sells copies of the official guidebook (in German only) and a map guide to Feldafing Park and Rose Island (available in English and German).

There is no cafe on the island, nor at the ferry stages, so any food or drink needs to be brought with you. Plenty of visitors seemed happy enough just to wander round the island or strip down to their trunks for a swim, rather than all coming to view the villa. Admittedly, it was 33 degrees on the day we arrived so I think the swimmers were quite right to ignore the interior!


Like father, like son

Posted in Germany, Schwangau by folkestonejack on June 4, 2015

A blisteringly hot day saw us make a return to Hohenschwangau to visit the older of the two castles and take a look around the Museum of the Bavarian Kings, but first we enjoyed a walk to the edge of the alpsee and the marvellous views up to the mountains.

It’s not hard to see why this spot so entranced Crown Prince Maximillian when he first came across it aged 18, prompting him to rebuild Schwanstein castle between 1833 and 1837 (better known as Hohenschwangau Castle today). How striking that both father and son decided to rebuild romantic castles at a similar age.

Hohenschwangau Castle

Hohenschwangau Castle

The similarities between father and son clearly don’t end there. I had imagined Hohenschwangau Castle to be a simple family home, but how wrong I was! On our tour of the castle it soon became clear that Maximillian had as much of a creative vision as his son, with wonderful rooms such as the Hall of the Swan Knight, the Hall of the Heroes and Tasso Room which feature murals painted directly onto the walls and an assortment of neo-gothic elements. The romantic vision is married with a domestic comfort that I didn’t see in Ludwig’s palaces, but there is no doubting where Ludwig’s imagination had been incubated!

The grounds surrounding the castle hold some lovely touches too, including a fountain supported by four water spiting lions, a swan fountain and a replica of the famous Gooseherd fountain (a peasant holding a water spouting goose under each arm).

The nearby Museum of the Bavarian Kings is also well worth a visit, putting the Wittlesbach line into some perspective and treating us to the wonderful Nibelungen centrepiece (commissioned by Crown Prince Maximillian in 1842 to celebrate his nuptuals), the robes of Ludwig II and the 326 piece Royal Bavarian Service created to celebrate the golden wedding of Ludwig III and Marie Therese in 1918.


Monument to monarchy

Posted in Germany, Schwangau by folkestonejack on June 3, 2015

After waiting for over 30 years to visit Neuschwanstein I wondered whether the reality would live up to my childhood expectations, particularly as so many reviewers on Tripadvisor had commented that they wished they had viewed it from outside and not bothered to go in.

The classic shot of Neuschwanstein Castle from the Marienbrücke

The classic shot of Neuschwanstein Castle from the Marienbrücke

The start of our visit did not begin well – a walk up the gently curving road to the castle might look delightful on the maps but the reality was anything but. The route is plyed by horse and carriage all day long, so by late afternoon on a hot day the streams of urine and other deposits presented quite a challenge. Huge swarms of flies had gathered and the only way up was through them, holding your hand over your mouth to avoid any possibility of swallowing one. Lovely!

Once we reached the castle and joined our tour all my earlier doubts melted away. The palace is incredibly spectacular and quite unlike anything I have seen anywhere else. To my mind is it the most extraordinary of all Ludwig’s palaces. No wonder it sees 1.5 million visitors a year and has already exceeded 60 million visitors over its lifetime (it reached this milestone in 2013).

A view of Neuschwanstein  Castle from the Forggensee

A view of Neuschwanstein Castle from the Forggensee

It is easy to forget that Ludwig began to develop the concept for Neuschwanstein Castle in 1868, at the age of 22, envisaging nothing less than a monument to absolute monarchy. It is a quite remarkable vision that gives us a throne room fit for a Byzantine palace and presents us with Ludwig’s vision of true kingship in the depiction of six holy kings in the abse (including Edward the Confessor). The Singers’ Hall is equally stunning with its depiction of the saga of the Arthurian knight Percival and his quest for the Holy Grail.

However, for me it was the King’s personal chambers that struck me as the most wonderful, with delightful touches such as a small grotto accessed off Ludwig’s study or the quite marvellous neo-gothic state bed which has more spires than your average cathedral! Your eyes hardly know where to alight next as even the smallest details in the rooms are incredible, such as a washstand with water drawn up through a silver plated swan…

A tour of Neuschwanstein might only last thirty minutes, but it is quite an incredible thirty minutes and well worth any hassles along the way. It is a pity that Ludwig did not get to complete his vision – amongst the unfinished projects were the Moorish Hall, the bathing hall with its viewing terrace and the centrepiece of a keep and castle chapel. In a similar vein, many interior fittings were never finished including the king’s throne. Nevertheless, what we have today in the fifteen or so finished rooms is quite extraordinary.


The closest railway station to Neuschwanstein is located at Füssen and it is easy to get reach the castles from here using local buses.

The old rustic station building from the nineteenth century was demolished in 2012 and is currently nothing more than a deep hole, meaning that all passengers arriving at the station have to skirt round the fenced off construction site to get to the bus terminal.

Bus numbers 73 and 78 are the most likely options for the short ride to Hohenschwangau for the castles. Bayern tickets are valid on the buses. If you are staying in Füssen, like us, you may find that your hotel offers free local transport for your stay through the ‘Füssen card‘ which you just tap on the reader when you enter the bus.

The ticket centre at Hohenschwangau had a hefty queue when we arrived and limited time-slots available for tours. I can well believe that in the height of summer there can be days where no tickets are available at all. It is much better to book in advance through their website – not only do you stand a much better chance of getting the time slot you want but you can also use the much shorter queue for people picking up reserved tickets.

Tickets can only be purchased on the day of use and there are a variety of combinations available. The 14 day pass from the Bavarian Palaces department includes Neuschwanstein so we only needed to pay the reservation fee (you should indicate on the reservation form that you will have this pass).

You can reach the castle on foot, by horse and carriage, or by bus. We opted for the 40 minute uphill walk and arrived in good time for our slot (a digital display indicates when visitors with each tour number should scan their tickets to enter the ‘cattle-pen’ before being led into the building by a tour guide).

Tours take around 35 minutes and you don’t always get the chance to stop in each room so you need to be quite alert to take in everything around you as you pass through. Our tour guide told us that every group from the start to the end of the day was of the maximum size, so they really are operating at full capacity.

If you wish to visit Marienbrücke, the bridge over the Pollat Gorge that Ludwig constructed to offer the best view of the castle, this is a further 15 minutes walk up from the castle terrace (if you take the bus up to the castle it will drop you off close by). It can become incredibly packed, particularly after a new busload of visitors has been disgorged. A notice posted nearby indicated that the bridge will be closed for renovations this year (since we visited the closure dates have been revised to 3 August 2015 until mid November 2015).


Royal refuge in the Ammer mountains

Posted in Ettal, Germany by folkestonejack on June 2, 2015

The morning train from Munich took us south into the Bavarian mountains to seek out Linderhof, the most secluded of Ludwig II’s palaces. It is also the most human in scale, so it is perhaps no surprise to learn that this was where the young king spent much of his time, enjoying life at the royal villa for extended periods away from Munich.

Mountain retreat

Mountain retreat

It still takes a little bit of effort to get to Linderhof if you use public transport, which only serves to emphasise the relative seclusion of the location to this day. It was a somewhat surreal journey for us as the security precautions for the G7 summit meant that every station along the route had been heavily populated by policemen, backed up by a fleet of police vans. The impression of travelling through a police state was not dispelled by a further security checkpoint on the road leading to Linderhof!

The journey was well worth it. The richly decorated interior of the rococo-style palace is simply spectacular, far exceeding the opulence that you expect of such buildings. It may be a short tour but every room packs an incredible punch, from the small dressing room lined with portraits of Louis XV’s mistresses to the vibrant blue and gold decoration of the king’s bedroom.

On top of this, the surrounding park offers up an array of wonderfully decorative refuges ranging from a Moroccan house to a Moorish kiosk with a peacock throne. In many respects the park buildings act as stage sets, allowing Ludwig to step into the legends that he so loved and escape the realities of his day to day life.

The Temple of Venus

The Temple of Venus

Although our visit was in bright daylight this is not how Ludwig would have been most familiar with the palace as he was very much a creature of the night – rising for breakfast as the sun set, taking lunch at midnight and heading to bed as the sun rose! The rooms must have looked astonishing as they sparkled by candlelight, particularly in the hall of mirrors where the reflected light and shine of the abundant gilt decoration must have created an incredible effect.

After leaving the palace we headed to the remarkable Venus grotto, which gives the appearance of being hewn from the rocks, but is an entirely man-made construction constructed using canvas and cement. At its heart is a ten metre tall cave with stalactites hanging from the roof which contains an underground lake and waterfall. On the water a gilt shell boat rests. All of this was illuminated by electric lighting, creating different colour effects. It is a wonderful illusion and hard not to be impressed as you stand by the water’s edge.

The Venus Grotto

The Venus Grotto

Our guide ran through a long explanation of the grotto in german before switching to a recorded english commentary which she left running as she headed off to get ready for the next group, by which point we were the only visitors left in the cave. It suddenly felt far too cavernous, so goodness only knows how Ludwig must have found it when he was in there alone, drifting in his boat.

Overall, we had a great day at Linderhof but it is difficult to get a good sense of Ludwig’s time there as the tour guides present a sanitised version of Ludwig’s life story that is presumably intended to play well to any audience. The edited story presented to visitors describes the loneliness of Ludwig’s life after he broke off his engagement whilst neatly omitting the scandalous tales of his male companions!


Linderhof first opened to the public two weeks after Ludwig’s death on 13th June 1886 and attracted 619 visitors (up to September) despite the lack of connecting routes. Once these difficulties were overcome the visitors poured in and the palace now sees over 1 million visitors a year. Various permutations of route by public transport are possible today, but all require at least one train journey and one bus ride.

We caught the 8.32am regional train from Munich to Oberau, arriving at 9.45am. From the stop outside Oberau station we picked up bus 9606 at 9:58am and took this as far as Oberammergau, where we switched to bus 9622 to Linderhof. It took us two and a quarter hours to reach the palace. It didn’t appear to be a popular option – we were the only passengers on bus 9622!

Tours are incredibly well organised at all of Ludwig’s palaces with your ticket giving you an admission slot for a specific time. Shortly before the appointed time you have to scan your ticket to get into what can only be described as a ‘sheep-pen’ for humans (there are four pens and an electronic display indicates which one you need to enter). Once all the tourists have been coralled a gate opens at the other end, allowing you to start the tour under the watchful eye of your official tour guide. It may sound bizarre, but it is a really efficient system that ensures the staff can get as many people through the building during the day. Given the hefty visitor numbers that really is impressive.

It appeared that the biggest influx of visitors had arrived in the morning on the day we visited, though I don’t know whether this is typical. The upshot of this was that the grounds were noticeably quieter in the afternoon. Taking public transport gave us a degree of freedom to spend as long admiring the grounds as we needed. In practice, we found that 4 hours was sufficient time to see the palace, grotto and surrounding park (with time enough left over to get a refreshing glass of radler before catching the 3.06pm bus back).

The return journey gave us a 29 minute break at Ettal between buses and a chance to glimpse the wonderful interior of the Kloster Ettal. It’s certainly worth a look if the timings permit it.



Posted in Germany, Prien am Chiemsee by folkestonejack on June 1, 2015

The first stop on our tour of King Ludwig II’s palaces brought us to the town of Prien am Chiemsee, an hour’s journey by train from Munich. It was here that Ludwig audaciously planned to build a new Versailles in tribute to his idol Louis XIV and the lost age of absolutist rule, having discovered a suitably reclusive spot on a heavily wooded island in the middle of the lake.

Herrenchiemsee Palace

Herrenchiemsee Palace

As a visitor you get a sense of the seclusion that the island of Herreninsel offered as you take a ferry from the harbour and follow this with a twenty minute walk through the woods to reach the palace. The ferry crossing offers only the briefest glimpse of the palace, adding to its dramatic effect, as was entirely intentional.

The island was to be a new kingdom that Ludwig could wander, taking delight in his new palace as it came into view from the myriad of pathways that cross the island or from the grand vista of the canal. It is a pity that Ludwig never got to build his island railway as it would have been fascinating to see how that would have fitted into the scheme.

Once you reach the palace grounds you find that they offer a curious pick and mix, with a copy of the Latona fountain from Versailles and a couple of fountains from the royal palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso. All entirely delightful, even if the vision remains incomplete – the final element, a copy of the Apollo fountain from Versailles, was never installed. The fountains spring into life every half hour adding to the marvellous vision of the Palace.

One of many splendid fountains at Herrenchiemsee

One of many splendid fountains at Herrenchiemsee

The interior of the palace is breathtaking from the moment that you enter the state staircase (a replica of the Ambassador’s Staircase from Versailles, recreated from engravings as the original was destroyed in 1752) to the moment that you step out of the last room.

Opulent does not even begin to cover the breathtaking decoration and furnishings in each room (where many of the equivalents at Versailles have long since lost their furnishings these rooms are almost fully furnished, having not suffered from the ravishings of two revolutions). The re-creation of the Hall of Mirrors is particularly impressive, but so are the individual elements such as the chandeliers and delicate flower bouquets made entirely of Meissen porcelain. The guides can’t linger if they are to get the vast number of visitors around the building, but that’s probably just as well as you could spend forever focusing on all the marvellous touches to these rooms!

The tour of the King’s living quarters, which have little to do with Versailles, proved to be the highlight for me. In particular, Ludwig’s bedroom with its blue globe night-light (naturally, on a richly carved and gilded stand) gave a much stronger sense of his personality and you could imagine how beautiful the room must have been with its artificially created moonlight filling the room. Another touch that gave a sense of the man behind the legend came from the ‘magic’ table which could be mechanically lowered and raised, allowing Ludwig to dine without coming into contact with his servants. Such a lonely existence.

On our visit to the palace an art exhibition was taking place in the unfinished rooms, offering a rare opportunity to see just how plain these rooms are. These rooms are empty brick shells, perfect for modern art but a world apart from the rooms we had seen moments earlier. On our visit it was stressed that talk of Herrenchiemsee as an ‘unfinished’ palace are a little wide of the mark for the construction plans of 1878 show no further interiors than the ones we can see finished today – demonstrating just how well the finished rooms created sufficient illusion for the King’s purposes.

The Fama Fountain

The Fama Fountain

The palace also houses the King Ludwig II museum which offers a fascinating glimpse into the King’s long lost residence in Munich (destroyed during the Second World War), his remarkable winter garden (a vast water filled conservatory built atop the Munich Residenz, dismantled in 1897) and a variety of other projects that never got off the drawing board.

One unexpected attraction in the palace was a small exhibition about the bats of the island which proved quite fascinating, including a live infra-red link to the colonies in the attic. The attic is home to the greater mouse eared bat, geoffroy’s bat and the highly endangered lesser horsehoe bat (one of only three remaining colonies in Bavaria). Beyond the palace, fifteen out of twenty-three bat species known in Bavaria occur in Herreninsel. Maybe this explains Ludwig’s penchant for avoiding the daylight and staying up for the night hours!? After all, what’s one more conspiracy theory to add to the many others…

After leaving the palace we sampled the delights of a radler on the terrace before exploring the monastery (worth a visit in its own right for its beautiful interior and the fascinating contrast of the simple apartment that Ludwig II used whilst overseeing his project) and taking a walk out to get a view of the Lakeside Chapel of the Holy Cross. You can easily spend an entire day here.


Prien am Chiemsee is roughly an hour by train from Munich and Salzburg. We opted for the 7.55am train from Munich which arrived at 8.52am. From the railway station it is an easy 20 minute walk to the harbour (our choice) or you can take a trip on the steam railway if it is operating (an 8 minute journey).

Our walk got us to the harbour in perfect time for the 9.25am sailing, arriving at Herreninsel around 9.40am. If there is a queue for tickets at the harbour you can usually buy tickets on board. Tickets for a tour of the palace are purchased at the ticket booths close to the jetty on Herreninsel. At this time of year the early morning English language tours don’t seem to be in such demand – there were just 10-12 people on our tour slot (10.15am).

It’s worth grabbing a copy of the ferry timetables as the return timings are a little erratic, with the gap between crossings ranging from 15 minutes to 50 minutes.