Kick off the day with a yummy breakfast. Café Nova is relatively new to Prien but has won over local and visiting breakfast enthusiasts with their fresh and trendy concept. From sandwiches to delicious pastries, breakfast platters, eggs and vegan açaí bowls, their food will fuel you up for a day’s worth of exploring.
Prien itself has only a few notable sights, though the method of transport to the lake almost qualifies as an attraction in itself. Head over to the Prien train station and jump aboard the adorable neon-green Chiemseebahn. The steam locomotive dates back to 1887 and takes you to the harbour at a leisurely pace. From here, regular ferry services take you the largest of three islands in Chiemsee Lake – Herreninsel.
The picturesque setting cast a spell on the man behind Neuschwanstein Castle and Linderhof Palace, Bavaria’s Swan King Louis II, who in 1873 bought the entire island to erect another pompous mansion. Inspired by Versailles Palace, Louis II commissioned his smaller version of it as Herrenchiemsee Palace.
Today, the imposing building and its beautiful grounds draw visitors to the island. English-speaking tours run twice a day in the summer months and take you around the lavishly decorated rooms. Among the highlights are the grand staircase, the master bedroom and the small Rococo-style apartment. Louis II knew like no other how to stun with the grandiosity of marble columns, intricate wood carvings, velvet curtains, hand-painted frescoes, stucco ornaments and hammered-gold elements.
The on-site Ludwig II Museum is dedicated to the mad king behind all of this splendour and explores this life, works and relationships, and his friendship with German composer Richard Wagner in particular. A tour of the palace is not complete without an extensive stroll around the beautiful parks and gardens. Like Versailles, the New Palace is surrounded by carefully arranged flowerbeds, hedges and water features among which you can get lost.
Make your way back to the harbourfront and stop at the Augustinian Monastery, which moved into the old Baroque palace after the first monastery fell victim to Bavaria’s secularisation. The permanent exhibition is a must-see for history fans, as parts of it are dedicated to the August 1948 Constitutional Convention in preparation for drafting the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany.
Grab some lunch at the nearby Schlosswirtschaft restaurant before you head on. On the menu are all kinds of treats from light salads and soups to hearty German dishes such as schnitzel and stuffed cabbage roulades.
Another quick ferry ride takes you to island number two of the day. Fraueninsel is only ten minutes from here by boat and offers a completely different flair. The romantic island has always been a popular fishing village, and numerous poets and playwrights have found inspiration in the small houses and idyllic setting. In winter, the island hosts one of the region’s most magical Christmas markets.
It takes no more than 30 minutes to walk around the island, but it’s worth stopping along the way to look at the few attractions. At the centre of things is the 772 Benedictine Frauenwörth Monastery with its gatehouse from the Carolingian period and convent church, which is home to some of the oldest monumental paintings in all of Europe.
If you want to buy souvenirs, the convent shop might have something in store for you, from homemade marzipan, liqueur, herbal remedies and books.
Spend the rest of the afternoon in one of the island’s beer gardens and enjoy a cold drink before you board the ferry back to Prien.
Back in town, head to Wieninger Bräu, which for many is the best restaurant in the area. The eatery offers indoor and outdoor seating on a lovely patio and offers many of the culinary highlights Bavaria has to offer. Think schnitzel, pork knuckle in beer sauce, cheesy Spätzle, tenderloin steak with potatoes and a lot more. The food is best washed down with a few cold glasses of the home brew or German wine.
Don’t expect much nightlife here, but you can always stay at Wieninger Bräu for a few more drinks after dinner if you want to stay out for a bit, or head to another one of the taverns or pubs nearby.