Herrenchiemsee Palace, a royal residence of King Ludwig II, is built on an island in the middle of lake Chiemsee in the state of Bavaria, between Munich and Salzburg. It's not as famous as either Versailles, which it replicated or Neuschwanstein. It is very much worth a trip.
Herrenchiemsee Palace Travel Toolbox
Lesser known than Neuschwanstein, the Neo-Baroque Herrenchiemsee Palace was built on an island in the middle of Bavaria's largest lake, the Chiemsee. It was King Ludwig's largest royal residence, although he only stayed there a few days before his tragic death. The Palace is unfinished; more than 50 rooms were never completed. Still, it's the largest palace and royal residence built by King Ludwig II
The most impressive room in the castle is the recreation of Versailles Hall of Mirrors. The room turned out a bit longer than the original, so the artists entrusted with recreating the frescoes had to stretch them to make them fit. The king's bedroom is also interesting although he didn't get much of a chance to use it.
The island upon which Herrenchiemsee Palace is placed makes a fine day trip from Munich. You'll see gardens, museums, waterworks and Monastery Herrenchiemsee, a former Augustinian monastery built in the 17th century. That makes quite a full, and pleasant, day.
The Augustinian Monastery
The earliest parts of the Augustinian Monastery--the halls and monks' cells--were built from 1645-1649, well before King Ludwig II's vision for an homage to Versailles you see in the completed section of Herrenchiemsee Palace.
Inside you'll find a bookstore, art galleries and nearby there is a cafe. The interior has been turned into an art space except for a couple of rooms--one of them is pictured--that have been restored.
Getting There and Getting Around
If you've chosen to stay in Bernau am Chiemsee, you can drive north to the lake shore which is 2km away, or you can drive to the town of Prien and take the world's last running steam train to the pier at Stock, or you can drive directly to the pier at Stock and buy your ticket for the boat, Chiemsee Schifffahrt. Tickets to the island's attractions are available only at the cash-desks in the visitors' center near the landing stage.
A combination ticket that includes New Palace + King Ludwig II Museum + museum and galleries in the Augustinian Monastery, virtually everything to see on the island, is a mere 9 euro at the time of writing.
You can see all three of Ludwig's palaces for 26 euro.
The boat takes 15 minutes from the Stock pier. Herrenchiemsee Palace is about a 15 minute walk from the boat dock.
Alternatively you can stay in Prien instead of Bernau am Chiemsee and either walk to the pier or take the train. Those traveling Germany by train should choose to stay in Prien, since there's a train station and quite a few hotels. (compare prices on Prien Hotels)
We enjoyed our stay at the Hotel Bonnschloessl in Bernau am Chiemsee. It advertises itself as a wellness and beauty farm. I didn't experience anyone herding me around to enhance my good looks, but the hotel was reasonably priced, the room was large and included a sofa and a sitting area, and the bathroom was quite large and functioned as well as any one might find in a 4 or 5 star hotel. Breakfast was abundant and you could eat it inside or out.
Hotel Bonnschloessl is one of Germany's oldest hotels. It's across from the church. There are extensive gardens and a large lawn with chairs and an outdoor ping pong table. You can easily relax at the Bonnschloessl.
You check in at the Gasthof Alter Wirt across the street, which is owned by the same owners. The Alter Wirt has a fine restaurant and beer garden, so that's where we had a very fine lunch and dinner.
For destination ideas via written guidebooks about Germany, see our favorite guides.