At 80 sq km (31 square miles) Chiemsee is the largest lake in Bavaria, fed by the snowmelt water of the rivers Prien Tiroler and Achen, which drain the lake on its northern shores as the Alz.
Attractions around Chiemsee include the house designed by flamboyant Secessionist artist Julius Exter in the lakeside resort of Übersee-Feldwies; surrounded by colorful gardens, the house is ornately decorated with wrought-iron balconies and many of his paintings are displayed in his former studio.
There is also a retrospective exhibition of Exter’s vivid landscapes in the Baroque Augustinian Monastery on Herrenchiemsee, an island in the middle of Chiemsee. Also located on the same island is the extravagant Herrenchiemsee New Palace, built in the style of Versailles for King Ludwig II, who reigned over Bavaria between 1865–86; a small museum in the palace details his short but eccentric life.
Frauenchiemsee is the second islet on Chiemsee, home to one of the oldest monasteries in Germany. It was founded back in 782 and flourished for the most part for the next millennia before being rebuilt in Baroque style in the 17th century, although parts still date from medieval times.
As well as its manmade landmarks, Chiemsee is popular with walkers and cyclists for its natural beauty; surrounded by the snowy peaks of the Alps, the shoreline is protected as the wetland home of several endangered species of wading birds.
Chiemsee is 90 km (56.25 miles) southeast of Munich close to the Austrian border; it is best reached via the A8, taking the exit to Bernau. Julian Exter’s House: Blumenweg 5, 83236 Übersee-Feldwies. Open in summer for exhibitions only. Augustinian Monastery & Herrenchiemsee New Palace: 83209 Herrenchiemsee. Open Apr–Oct daily 9am–6pm; Nov–Mar daily 10am–4.45pm. Admission to both €10 adults, €9 concessions. Frauenchiemsee Monastery: 83256 Frauenchiemsee. Open May–Oct 11am–5pm daily. Admission free.