If you’re spending a bit of time in Germany and want a break from the more touristy destinations, heading to Chiemsee is an easy, affordable option. This is the preferred destination for many locals who are attracted by the waterside location and numerous outdoor activities for a healthy family holiday. Set against a pretty mountainous backdrop, this is an unpretentious chillax destination to suit every budget. For a family vacation in the German countryside with kids, Chiemsee is perfect.
The Chiemsee region is a series of small towns around the Chiemsee lake. Gorgeous cobbled streets, traditional houses and lovely public spaces hold this area in fond memory for many a German childhood (it has always been a popular destination for travelling with kids in Germany) making this an ideal place for a few days in the countryside.
Alternatively, if you are driving between Munich and Salzburg, Chiemsee make a nice mid-point stop for a couple of days R&R before heading onwards to another city.
If you are able, bring bikes, scooters, balls and other outdoor gear with you as there are plenty of spots to get some exercise. If not, don’t worry, as there are still lots of places to hire equipment and as many activities to indulge in as you could want. Plan for long days hanging about the lake, soaking up the sun and just chillaxing.
Chiemsee with kids is all about the great outdoors so swim gear, sun protection and sneakers are essential. Around the lake you can hire sailboats, canoes or just go for a splash at the public pools or even in the lake itself. Bring some bird feed to interact with the ducks or bring a football to kick around the grass.
If you have a car you can drive round to find a good spot to pull into the lake or otherwise do as many of the locals do and hop on a bike to take a scenic ride.
The major tourist destination is Herrenchiemsee New Palace which is on an island in the centre of the lake. It’s easy and cheap to get there via ferry from Prien am Chiemsee and many families and couples will pack romantic picnic baskets and put their dogs on leashes to spend the entire day in the grounds and parklands.
The Palace itself is well worth the expedition, even if you don’t pay the entry fee to go inside. The grounds are extremely picturesque with plenty of statues and fountains to look at, perfectly manicured gardens and lots of space to just run.
Once you get to Herreninsel island, it’s about a 15 minute walk to the Palace proper. Bring a stroller if your children can’t make the distance or otherwise indulge in the horse drawn carts that make the rounds from the ferry terminal to the Palace every few minutes.
At Prien am Chiemsee there is also the charming old steam train Chiemsee Bockerl that makes 10 minute trips back and forth between the town and the lakeside. This is a bona fide coal engine which means sitting in the front carriage does give the best vista of the driver, but will mean you also inhale a lot of smoke.
For older kids, there is also the climbing and ropes courses at Kletterwald which is highly popular to burn off energy. Alternatively go fishing at Frauenchiemsee or do some mountain hiking in the surrounding hillsides.
Since Chiemsee is a family-centric holiday destination, many of the restaurants are kid-friendly and there are lots of casual eateries whichever town you are in.
If you are looking for a special adults-only night out, you should not miss the chance to visit the Residenz Heinz Winkler restaurant in Aschau. They serve divine European fare with a stunning outlook over the Alps. This is formal dining though, so while children can technically eat here, you’d really only want to older, well-behaved kids with you.
Chiemsee has accommodation ranging from the very low budget to more expensive. Campervan parks and camping are very popular in the area with multiple options such as Chiemgau Camping Lambach.
The Yachthotel has basic rooms and is based right on the lake. It has a restaurant with reasonably priced meals that caters well to kids with a huge lawn out the front. If you are sailing into Chiemsee, it also has its own berthing area for boats to dock.
Whatever you choose, opt for something right on the lake so you don’t always have to leave the hotel every time you want to do an activity.
If you plan to come via car over the weekend, leave early. Traffic, particularly from Munich, can be horrendous and parking spots run out quickly.
Mosquitos can also be a bit of a problem in the summer so bring repellant with you.
Chiemesee is a good stopover point if you are driving from Munich to Berlin (or vica versa). For more travel tips on things to do in the major German cities with kids, see the suitcases&strollers stories Munich and Berlin.
For more ideas on activities to do in the German countryside with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story The Spreewald.