Lake Chiemsee, Bavaria, Germany

Lake Locations:

Germany - Bavaria -

Lake Chiemsee is the crown jewel of Bavaria’s tourist region. Located about half-way between Munich and Salzburg, Austria, Lake Chiemsee has been a favored destination since the days of Roman occupation of the area. This large glacial lake contains almost 20,000 acres and is often called the Bavarian Sea. Nearby wetlands and small pothole lakes give evidence it was once much larger. The Rivers Tiroler Achen and Prien flow into the lake; the River Alz is the main outlet. These rivers contribute to wetland systems of great value to migrating birds and waterfowl that nest in the reed beds and rear their young in the shallows and on the mudflats. Because of the importance of this water system, the entire lake and adjoining wetlands are protected by international agreement. This protection assures that Chiemsee remains a pristine water body and a joy for tourists to visit.

The Chiemsee is divided into the larger northeast section, called Weitsee, and the Inselsee, in the southwest. Although there are many tourist-geared villages along the lakeshore, Prien on the west end of the lake has become the main destination for holiday-makers. From Prien, visitors can take the small steam railway to local destinations or get on one of the 1920’s-style paddle-wheelers to visit other ports of call. The antique steam ships are a main method of transportation around Lake Chiemsee. The pristine waters warm early and are ready for swimmers to enjoy as early as May. Sailing is a tradition at Chiemsee, with several yacht harbors and marinas around the lake. Facilities exist here for visitors to arrange yacht storage and docking during the off-season. Private combustion-driven boats are not permitted on the lake, but electric boats are available for rent, as are peddle-boats, canoes, kayaks, row boats and inflatables. Lovely sand beaches stretch for long distances along the shore, inviting non-swimmers to sunbathe, play volleyball, windsurf, scuba dive, picnic and simply observe the water birds and wildlife.

Most of Lake Chiemsee’s shoreline holds walking paths for those wishing to enjoy the view. Farther back, the shoreline is dotted with cottages, both private and holiday rentals. Resort hotels offer relaxing spa facilities, fine dining and evening entertainment. A variety of holiday destinations are available, from holiday houses, gasthaus facilities, camping grounds and caravan parks. Because Lake Chiemsee lies at the foot of the German Alps, ski apartments and chalets are also offered that provide both winter and summer enjoyment. From a convenient location overlooking the emerald water, holiday-makers can engage in sailing, hiking, cycling, fishing, swimming, spas, golf, balloon rides, para-gliding, canoeing, rock climbing, white-water rafting, cross country skiing, windsurfing, and downhill skiing depending on interest and season. Most equipment can be rented, and lessons are readily available for novices. Regular festivals are held at various points around the lake, including the biggest Reggae Festival in Europe held in Ubersee. Anglers enjoy the thrill of setting the hook on trout, pike, zander, perch, eel, carp, whiting, bream and char – the protected spawning grounds at some river mouths are off-limits, however. Licenses and rules can be obtained at most major tourist locations.

Today’s visitor to Chiemsee is only the latest in a long line of appreciative lake visitors. On the northeast shore, at Seebruck, a museum and archaeological dig exposes remnants of a Roman settlement from many centuries ago. During World War II, Hitler was so impressed with Lake Chiemsee that he insisted the route of his first Autobahn be changed in order to skirt the shore; he ordered the first ‘rest house’ on the highway built along the lake. But likely the historical figure that still brings the most visitors to Lake Chiemsee is King Ludwig II, the last Bavarian King. Often called Mad King Ludwig, his mental health has always been a matter of conjecture, and he was preoccupied with building castles before his removal from office and mysterious death. One of the three castles he ordered built was constructed on the largest island in Lake Chiemsee, Herreninsel (Gentlemen Island). The castle, Herrenchiemsee, was built as a replica of Versailles in Paris. Visitors flock to see the castle and also to visit the nature reserve on the island, a protected area for birds and bats.

Another island in the lake is Frauenchiemsee (also called the Fraueninsel or the Island of Women), home of a beautiful Benedictine abbey founded in 782 AD. Some areas of the Abby Frauenwoerth are open to visitors, including the beautiful gardens. Both islands are accessible by boat. Small uninhabited Cabbage Island between the two often serves as a good place to anchor private boats.

Cycling and walking paths are numerous in the area around Lake Chiemsee. Bicycles can be rented in several places. Local roads are popular for motorcycle touring, and guide services exist to make nearly any expedition an easy and pleasant experience. Farms in the area often offer farm-made food products, and cafes in the small villages surrounding the lake provide a more traditional cuisine. The Alps themselves offer rock climbing, white-water rafting, and mountaineering.

Less that two hours from Munich or Salzburg, Lake Chiemsee remains one of Bavaria’s most popular destinations for lakeside vacations. Whether you prefer to be pampered in a lakefront resort spa or enjoy the freedom of a caravan park or self-catering holiday home, you’ll find exactly the right mix of leisure activities to make your vacation a memorable one. Once you experience the lake and its alpine backdrop emerging from the morning fog, you’ll be checking the real estate listing to make Lake Chiemsee your home. Come and enjoy Chiemsee – don’t lose another day!

Things to do at Lake Chiemsee

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Scuba Diving
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Rock Climbing
  • Biking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum
  • Antiquing

Fish species found at Lake Chiemsee

  • Carp
  • Char
  • Eel
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Trout
  • Zander

Lake Chiemsee Photo Gallery

Lake Chiemsee Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 19,571 acres

Shoreline Length: 40 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,701 feet

Maximum Depth: 239 feet

Water Volume: 1,660,341 acre-feet

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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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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