How about visiting the mountains to enjoy the fresh morning air and then spending the afternoon swimming in the refreshing cool waters of a lake? Doesn’t it sound perfect for a warm summer weekend? Then, Herzogstand and Walchensee is your best bet. I visited Herzogstand based on my colleague’s recommendation and it was a beauty. The turquoise shades of the lake Walchen (Walchensee) with the blue indigo mountains serving as a backdrop was a view to die for. The beautiful landscape around this mountain lake consists of stunning untouched nature.
Getting here: From Munich central station you can take a train to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and then a regional bus to Walchensee Herzogstandbahn, Kochel am See. The travel takes roughly 140 minutes. The last departing bus to connect to the train back to Munich leaves Walchensee Herzogstandbahn at 6:30 in the evening. On weekends the timings of the train and the bus are not in sync and it takes much longer to reach here. Traveling here by car is the best option when compared to public transport and takes just 90 minutes.
I visited Herzogstand along with four other friends. We rented a car from Flinkster for a day. The parking ticket at Herzogstand bahn costed us 3€ for the whole day. There are more than 20 hiking trails one can choose that go around the lake or up the Herzogstand mountain. Click here to know more on the hiking options around the lake.
You can begin your hike from the base of the mountain or choose to ride in a cable car half way up the mountain. This will get you past the initial part of the trail that is very steep and hard to climb at a few places. We bought the cable car ticket which costed us 12.5€ each. There was a small queue and we had to wait for about 15 minutes before our turn. As the cable car went up the mountain, the view began to expand with height and the lake looked spectacular. On coming out of the cable car, we couldn’t believe our eyes. The view from the top was insanely blue and beautiful. Everything we saw looked blue! The sky, the mountains, the clouds, the lake. Even the green looked a shade of blue!
From here you can follow the trail to begin with the hike to the Herzogstand summit. It takes roughly 1.5 hours for completing the hike back and forth. The hike is a comfortable zigzag climb with hairpin bends.
Instead of the usual trail, we followed a narrow stairway situated on our right side when we exited the cable car. This trail led us to a small chapel called ‘Fahrenberg Chapel’. We spent some time here to enjoy the view and click pictures.
We continued by following the thin lane which eventually joined the usual hiking trail ahead. A ten minute walk along this path gets you to a restaurant/ lodge where people stop by for refreshments or lunch before they continue with the hike further.
On the way we could see lake Kochel on the right side. We chose a nice clean spot here and enjoyed our picnic meal soaking in the fresh mountain air. We then went to the restaurant to enjoy a glass of beer overlooking the lake. The price of beer and food is quite reasonable and I can definitely recommend this place if you haven’t packed lunch.
We did not continue with the hike since we wanted to spend our afternoon in lake. We took a walk back to the cable car departure point and rode it down to the lake. If you choose to walk down it takes about 2 hours through a tough 5.5 km steep terrain. Exploring one among the many hiking trails to experience the mountain climb is on my to-do list for the next time I visit Herzogstand.
On reaching down, we all changed into our swimwear and couldn’t wait to get into this natural bathing beach. The water wasn’t cold and a swim with the bright afternoon sunshine was a bliss. Leisure activities like pedal boats, stand up paddles and windsurfing sails are also available. You will see plenty of people having a picnic along with their families here. There are wonderful Cafés all around too.
After spending a good two hours here we were all pretty exhausted. We changed and decided to have coffee and dessert at ‘Café am See’ in Urfeld as recommended by my colleague. The cafe has a lot of outdoor seating with an excellent view and their cakes are simply delicious. You can even hire a boat, available just behind the Café and row around the lake to burn those extra calories!
After coffee and dessert, we started our drive back to Munich. I would highly recommend this day trip on a summer weekend. To know about other interesting day trips from Munich, read my articles on Eagle’s Nest, Konigssee and Neuschwanstein Castle.