Its water is mild and contains natural healing mud. It gets warm quickly in the summer. In the winter, though, it cools off more quickly. That is why swimming enthusiasts love the lake just as much as curlers and ice skaters. Hikers and cyclists, too, find plenty to do here. Rounding the Staffelsee Lake on foot or by bike is an unforgettable experience with magnificent vistas of the Alps, a fantastic variety of vegetation and, of course, the lake itself. It is even possible to swim across the lake, perhaps with a stop on one of the seven islands to take a rest and admire the amazing landscape of the alpine foothills. The lakeshore is ideally suited for sunbathing and swimming – you can choose from public beaches with facilities or natural beaches.
The Staffelsee Lake can look back on an eventful history: In the Middle Ages, its islands were populated by Celts, Romans and monks. Comprehensive archeological exploration is an important priority for the market town of Murnau, which though, has not been possible thus far due to a lack of funds.
The Staffelsee Lake's seven islands are uninhabited with one exception: Auer oxen graze on Wörth Island. They help prevent the trees and shrubs from becoming too dense. The island was inhabited by humans in the 7th century. This is testified by the remains of a chapel. It is believed that this is also where the former Staffelsee Abbey was once located. To reach the former abbey and parish church, pilgrims walked across a long wooden bridge leading from the Burg Peninsula to Jakob Island, and from there to Wörth Island. The bridge no longer exists, but there are still old stakes north of the smallest island in the Staffelsee Lake.
All of the islands of the Staffelsee Lake – including the Große Birke, Kleine Birke, Mühlwörth and Graden-Eiland islands – can only be reached by muscle power: by swimming, sailing, rowing or surfing. The MS Seehausen ferry only stops at Buchau Island in the summer to bring supplies to the campground and to transport the campers to the towns on the lake.
It is the largest island in the Staffelsee Lake, and it is the only inhabited island. Next to the building resembling a palace, you can see animals doing the work of a landscape maintenance crew in the meadows: a herd of Auer oxen. The island was once a cultural site of the Celts. However, the Romans were here first as can be seen clearly by the old remnants of construction that can still be found here: around 450 AD, they built a fortress. An abbey was built on the island around 300 years later. One of the oldest poetic works of Germany is believed to have been composed in the monks' bureau here: the Wessobrunn Prayer. The name comes from the site where it was discovered: the Wessobrunn Abbey. Dialect researchers have discovered the following: The dialect and spelling suggest the monks who lived on Wörth Island at that time. However, no solid evidence supporting this assumption has been found until now.
The abbey was dissolved in the 11th century. The former abbey church served as a parish church for many Christians until well into the 18th century. They came from the surrounding villages and had to take a boat or walk across the bridge of about 400 metres length leading from the Burg Peninsula to Jakob Island and then Wörth Island to get to the church, both of which entailed risks: In the year 1722, it is said that there was a snowstorm on Candlemas Day. Only the strongest men were able to make the difficult trip to the church. Accordingly, the citizens of Seehausen insisted ever more strongly that a church be built on the mainland. In 1773, the small church on the island finally disappeared. The remains of the walls were brought to Seehausen where the stones were used to build the new church, St. Michael. As a result, the bridge leading to Wörth Island was no longer needed, so that it was eventually removed. The stakes, though, are still here, shimmering through the water. A small chapel was erected on the island. It still serves its purpose: the citizens of Seehausen regularly get into their boats and row over to Wörth Island to hold a church service here.
At the Staffelsee Lake, you don't need to rely on coincidence for your recreational activities. There are marked hiking and cycling trails and paths as well as other attractions on or near the lake to look forward to.