One hour from Munich: Take the plunge in Ludwig's lake

Break away from the beer halls and the home of BMW to discover the delights of beautiful Bavaria.

Break away from the beer halls and the home of BMW to discover the delights of beautiful Bavaria.

Lake Starnberg

Slap-bang in the middle of the stunning Five Lakes district, Starnberg attracts walkers and windsurfers. There are five castles to visit in the area, and if you like mucking about in boats, you can hire one from the booth by Starnberg Hauptbahnhof, at the northern end of the lake. The cross in the water at Berg marks the spot where King Ludwig II drowned mysteriously in 1886.

By car: take the A95 and follow signs; journey time approx 40 mins. By train: take the S-Bahn 6 from Munich Hauptbahnhof to Starnberg; journey time approx 30 mins.

Augsburg and the Romantic Road

Originally a trade route, the Romantic Road links a series of beautiful Bavarian cities and towns, including historic Augsburg. It was here in 1530 that the principles of the Lutheran church were set out in the Augsburg Confession.

By car: take the A8 towards Stuttgart and follow signs; journey time approx 45 mins. By train: hourly ICE service from Munich Hauptbahnhof; journey time approx 30 mins.

Prien and Lake Chiemsee

This lakeside town is the gateway to an area of outstanding natural beauty. On the island of Herreninsel, fans of Ludwig II pay homage at Schloss Herrenchiemsee, the fabulously over-the-top castle he built to put Versailles in the shade. You can also swim or try out watersports in the lake.

By car: take the A8 towards Salzburg and follow signs; journey time approx one hour plus. By train: frequent service from Munich Hauptbahnhof; journey time approx one hour.

Dachau

A visit to the former Nazi death camp is a disturbing but fascinating experience. Much of the camp has been reconstructed, and the main hall has an outstanding exhibition dedicated to the Holocaust. The guided tours in English are excellent.

By car: take the A8 east and follow signs; journey time approx 35 mins. By train: take the S-Bahn 2 from Munich Hauptbahnhof; journey time approx 20 mins.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Merged for the 1936 Winter Olympics, these two resort towns are the Bavarian Alps at their best. Climb some 3,000 metres to the top of Germany's highest mountain for a breathtaking view, or take the vertigo-inducing Eibsee cable car to the observation terrace.

By car: take the A95 and follow signs; journey time approx one hour plus. By train: hourly service from Munich Hauptbahnhof; journey time approx one hour plus.

Bad Tölz

This spa town on the Isar River offers aquatic and alpine thrills. Alpemare, Germany's leading water park, boasts the country's longest waterslide, while the nearby Blomberg mountain has a winter toboggan track and a summer alpine slide.

By car: take the A95 and follow signs; journey time approx 50 mins. By train: take the S-Bahn 7 to Wolfratshausen and change to main line service; journey time approx one hour.

Cresta Holidays (0870 161 0900; www.mytravel.co.uk/cresta) offers a three-night break at the four-star Forum Hotel in Munich from £263 per person, including return flights from Stansted. Europcar (0870 607 5000; www.europcar.com) offers weekend car hire in Munich from £93.73. For more details contact the German National Tourist Office (020-7317 0908; www.germany-tourism.de).

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