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Tegernsee, Bavaria, Germany

Also known as: Lake Tegern

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Map: Tegernsee, Bavaria, Germany

It is a picture perfect postcard with lush green meadows at the base of snow-capped mountains, and the blue water of Tegernsee (see=lake) is the center of this picturesque setting. Seated at the base of the foothills of the Austrian Alps in Upper Bavaria, Tegernsee or Tegern Lake has been drawing people to its clean water and tree-lined shore for centuries. A handful of charming alpine villages, each with its own style and specialty, are scattered around the shore of the lake and provide today's visitors with exactly the holiday they are seeking.

Tegernsee is a natural lake almost four miles long by slightly less than a mile wide. It sits about 30 miles south of Munich and 12 miles from the Austrian border. The town of Tegernsee is on the eastern shore of the lake. In the eighth century Benedictine monks built an abbey in what would become the town. It functioned as an abbey until 1803 when it became the summer residence of the Wittelsbachs, the Bavarian royal family. The royal family drew visitors and brought court life to Tegern Lake. The Wittelsbachs still own the property now known as Tegern Castle (Schloss Tegern) which houses a grammar school and restaurant.

Tegernsee is one of five villages around Tegern Lake that include Bad Wiessee, Rottach-Egern, Kreuth and Gmund. Bad Wiessee is a spa resort village on the western shore. "Bad" means bath or spa, and visitors started coming to Wiessee in 1922 to take advantage of the natural iodine and sulphur springs. Believed to have healing powers, guests seek treatments or just relaxation at the spa. The village of Rottach-Egern on the southern shore of the lake sits at the base of 5,650-foot tall Mount Wallberg. From the summit visitors can enjoy the view across the Mangfall Mountains. The village itself is a charming mix of native Bavarian treasures and luxury shops providing the perfect afternoon diversion for guests who enjoy a shopping outing.

Set against the backdrop of the Austrian Alps, the village of Kreuth has spectacular alpine views and is a popular place to hike and bike. Gmund is the perfect example of traditional Bavarian hospitality. It is also a great place for a farmhouse holiday. Locals rent out rooms in their homes and treat guests to fresh milk and cheese and the joys of retreating to a quiet rural life for a while.

All of the villages around Tegernsee have holiday cottages and vacation rentals including some right on the water. There is a sandy beach on the shore of the lake for swimming as well as boat rentals nearby. Lake Tegern has more than enough water for sailing and windsurfing along with fishing. Anglers can expect to find carp, pike, catfish, trout and burbot, and fly fishing is popular. Tegernsee is a four-season resort area with snowshoe and cross country ski trails and alpine ski slopes.

Whether it is riding in a horse-drawn sleigh along the lake's shore or searching for treasure in one of the picturesque alpine villages, Lake Tegern has something to please everyone. Its rejuvenating springs combined with its deep, clean water all set in the shadow of the Austrian Alps are sure to have visitors returning again and again. Add the charm of the local Bavarian hospitality and Tegernsee becomes an ideal German destination.

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