Windsurfer on the Walchensee in the hinterland of Munich.

Walchensee (lake)

The Bavarian Caribbean

Walchensee (lake) is also called the "Bavarian Caribbean", because of its turquoise-green water. It not only invites you to swim - its local thermals also make it ideal for windsurfing or hiking up one of Munich's popular surrounding mountains.

Walchensee (lake) at a glance: Places of interest & things to know

Walchensee is located about 80 kilometres south of Munich in the municipality of Kochel am See. It is one of the deepest, largest and probably also oldest alpine lakes in Germany. It owes its unusual depth of 190 metres to its special tectonic formation. Since 1924, it has also served as a water reservoir for the power station of the same name - the Walchensee power station, which, however, is located 200 metres lower down on the neighbouring Kochelsee (lake).

Walchensee is also called the "Bavarian Caribbean" because of its particularly clear and thus turquoise-green shimmering water. This is partly due to the high calcium carbonate content, and since no motor boats are allowed here, the water meets the requirements of class I water quality. However, the water temperatures are rather low, as is typical for a mountain lake: In summer, Walchensee reaches an average of 17 to 18 degrees; in the hot months, the temperature climbs to a maximum of 21 degrees.

The villages of Walchensee, Einsiedl, Urfeld and Zwergern lie directly on the shore of the lake. One of the most tranquil places on the lake is the traffic-free eastern shore between Urfeld and Niedernach. The alpine lake is not only popular with water sports enthusiasts, but also with hikers: Herzogstand and Jochberg (mountains) lie to the north, while the Karwendel summit panorama can be admired to the south.

 

Swimming and windsurfing at Walchensee (lake)

The largely undeveloped shores of Walchensee offer many beautiful bathing spots. Guests can enjoy untouched shore areas almost everywhere, which makes the mountain lake one of the most popular destinations for bathing fans in summer. It is worth arriving early - especially for car drivers, as parking spaces are limited.

The most popular bathing spots include the Walchensee "surfing" meadow, the swimming beach at Maibaum Walchensee, the gravel beach at Einsiedl and the swimming beach at the toll road on the southern shore of Walchensee. The Zwergern Walchensee peninsula offers another great swimming opportunity – and a magnificent view of the mountains and villages. In addition, there is a nice camping site on the peninsula.

Walchensee is a splendid destination for windsurfers and is considered Germany's equivalent of Lake Garda in this respect. On clear summer nights, the local thermals build up here, providing perfect conditions: The cool air from the valley wafting up from the Kochelsee (lake) is intensified by the nearby mountains at Walchensee and creates a strong wind. The local windsurfing centre offers appropriate equipment for hire.

 

Jochberg & Herzogstand (mountains): Hiking around Walchensee (lake)

The mountains around Walchensee are among Munich's most popular landmarks – such as the Jochberg (1,565 m). Since the hike is relatively easy and short, it is known as “Kater Berg” or “Hangover Hill”. The Jochberg is the ideal destination for late departures from Munich or for an after-work excursion. Hardly any summit in the foothills of the Alps can be reached more quickly, and the climb is manageable at just under two hours. From the top, you have a magnificent view of Kochelsee and Walchensee (lakes), and you can stop for a snack at Jocheralm.

Maybe the Herzogstand (mountain) (1,731 m) is an even more popular destination – especially because of the Herzogstand cable car. This allows a comfortable ascent, also with kids. Once the cable car has reached the top, it's another half hour's hike to reach the summit. But you can also just sit on the terrace of the Herzogstand mountain inn and enjoy the picturesque view of the surrounding lakes and the Karwendel mountains.

 

Directions to Walchensee (lake)

The distance between Munich and Walchensee is about 80 kilometres. With favourable traffic conditions, the drive to the scenic mountain lake in the district of Bad Tölz - Wolfratshausen takes between one and one and a half hours. Simply follow the A 95 motorway in the direction of Garmisch-Partenkirchen to the Murnau/Kochel exit. There are numerous parking spaces (for a fee) at Walchensee.

Rail travellers can take the train to Kochel am See and from there get to the lake by bus operated by Regionalverkehr Oberbayern (regional transport Upper Bavaria). The journey time from Munich main station to the Walchensee / Herzogstand station is one and a half to two hours. For day trips and groups, it is worth using the Bayernticket.

 

 

Text: Anja Schauberger; Photos: Frank Stolle, Tobias Schnorpfeil / Carolin Unrath

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