Alpsee, Bavaria, Germany

Lake Locations:

Germany - Bavaria -

Also known as:  Lake Alpsee

Beautiful Lake Alpsee in the Bavarian Alps is widely regarded as one of Germany’s most picturesque vistas. The lake lies beneath Hohenschwangau Castle, the childhood home of King Ludwig II, among some of the most lovely peaks in southern Bavaria. The castle was built by King Maximilian II on the remains of a former ruined fortress; it is questionable whether the site was chosen for its defense capabilities or its gorgeous view overlooking Alpsee. Sheltered by the surrounding mountains, the surface of Alpsee regularly maintains a glass-like surface which reflects the castle and the surrounding Alps in stunning reproduction. Native swans are often the only movement seen on the water, which remains so clear that observers can usually see the lake bottom near shore. The summer residence of Bavarian royalty, King Ludwig II and his brother (later King Otto) learned to swim here. Many happy hours were spent tramping the pathway around the lakeshore, now protected as a nature preserve, and the paths in the surrounding forest. The lake is owned by the Bavarian Palace Department which manages tourism to the two famous castles and the Museum of the Bavarian Kings in the small village of Hohenschwangau.

Pristine Alpsee is seldom the reason visitors travel here; many do not even know of the lake’s existence until they see it from above while touring Hohenschwangau Castle. There is no harbor at Alpsee-only a small boat dock where tourists may rent a rowboat for a day. No motors are allowed on the lake except by permit from the Bavarian Palace Department. Only paddling is allowed. Even with over 300,000 visitors a year touring the castle itself, Alpsee remains quiet and often deserted except for occasional hikers on the circling pathway. This view no doubt encouraged the future King Ludwig II’s love of beautiful architecture placed in spectacular natural surroundings. Although subject to strange behaviors and often reclusive, Ludwig II supervised the building of Neuschwanstein Castle nearby as a personal retreat and as a tribute to the operas of Richard Wagner. Neuschwanstein is familiar to children the world over as it was the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Built on the ruins of two former fortresses, Neuschwanstein overlooks his childhood home of Hohenschwangau Castle, the small village of Hohenschwangau, and Lake Alpsee.

Neuschwanstein Castle is likely the most visited tourist destination in Bavaria, with more than a million visitors annually. The Bavarian kings and the fairytale surroundings
created a need for a fourth destination in the area of Hohenschwangau: the Museum of the Bavarian Kings. Here visitors can learn of the history and the royal intrigues surrounding the castles and immediate vicinity. A self-paced audio tour is available in several languages. It is strongly suggested that visitors learn the background of the castles before scheduling the fast-paced tours, as the knowledge will add considerably to the tour experience. Because castle tours are so popular, ticket-holders must attend during the assigned time-slot. A wait of several hours would not be uncommon, so many visitors take this opportunity to walk some of the hiking paths surrounding Alpsee.

The Alpsee area is positioned at the southern end of what American soldiers named the Romantic Road after the end of WWII. The 200-mile stretch from Wurzburg in Bavaria’s north to Fussen near the Austrian border is dotted with picturesque and historical locations, and well-supplied with guest houses, hotels and restaurants serving traditional fare. There is one elegant hotel positioned right at the lake. This makes the Alpsee area a rewarding destination for a leisurely Bavarian holiday.

Plenty of other attractions draw holiday-goers to the Alpsee area: nearby the Ettaler Forest offers hiking paths and nature observation in a long-undisturbed natural hardwood area. The 32-square-mile state forest has no settlement within it and was once owned by the Ettal Monastery. The Village of Fussen is less than five miles from Hohenschwangau, a delightful little 700-year-old town with a number of unusual shops selling things like wood carvings and individual designer fare. The Museum der Stadt Fussen tells the history of this village dating back to the Roman era and features such exhibits as a monks’ library and a performance hall plus some unusual paintings. About 35 miles to the west, Germany’s longest Alpine Coaster draws the younger crowd. This 9,000-foot dry toboggan run will get the adrenaline pumping for the adventurous set. Other commercial activities in the area include tree-top rope gyms, children’s rides and activities and ski slopes and cable car rides. These activity parks are located near the Greater Alpsee Lake in Immenstadt-a separate lake entirely. The backdrop for all of these activities are the majestic Bavarian Alps.

Although there are a number of hotels, private rentals and guest houses which offer lodgings near Alpsee, there are no campgrounds listed locally. Just over the border in Austria, however, there are a number of caravanning sites. The delightful inns and other lodgings in the area will make every visitor feel welcome while imparting the ambiance of a Bavarian holiday to all. Come, visit the castles, the shops and the delightful serenity of Alpsee. Enjoy trekking the 75 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails in the immediate area. Enjoy watching the swans feed at dawn. You will be refreshed, rejuvenated and ready for life’s challenges. Lake Alpsee is that kind of place.

Things to do at Alpsee

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Tobogganing
  • State Forest
  • Museum
  • Ruins

Alpsee Photo Gallery

Alpsee Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 217 acres

Shoreline Length: 3 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 2,670 feet

Maximum Depth: 203 feet

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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