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A white and red tower topped with an olive green dome, peaks out over the trees as you walk through a quiet meadow. This tower appears to be part of a small fortress, but instead, this is a popular pilgrimage destination for visitors and believers from around the world. A fabulous rococo baroque church, built in 1712, rests atop Heiliger Hill (or Holy hill) and this is your final destination. Alongside the church is a lively Abbey, home to monks and their unique brewery. The walk up the hill takes about 45 minutes, but at the top, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views, rich history, a hardy beer, and traditional Bavarian food. This day trip is perfect for groups of friends, business trips, families or those looking for a different scene outside of Oktoberfest.
Length of Time: 6 hour day. About 2 hours of transit and about 4 hours (including the walk up) at the Monastery and brewery. Skill Level: 20-40 HP, which is a beginner. The walking trail is fairly easy. There is some elevation gain in the beginning, but nothing most people cannot manage. Options and Cost: The cost of your S-Bahn ticket (entire network), and money for beer and food. This is a very cheap day trip! Seasons: All seasons. The hike may be a bit more tricky in the winter, but if you’re hardy you can visit any time! Packing List:
Small backpack or large purse.
Good walking or trail shoes.
Light jacket in the fall. Hat, coat and boots in the winter.
How to Access the Trailhead
The town of Herrsching is located off the S8 S-Bahn line and is very easy to access from Munich Hbh. The train leaves every 20 minutes and takes 50 minutes. Sit back and relax because your destination is the last stop on this S-Bahn line, called Herrsching. After you arrive at Herrsching you will begin your walk up the holy mountain. There is an easy to read trail map right after the train station or you can just follow the signs pointing which direction to go. This walk will range anywhere from 45min-1hour depending on your speed and amount of times you stop. The first part of the small hike winds through the town before entering a forest which opens up to a grassy meadow. The last part of the hike is a narrow staircase up to the Abbey. All the trails are clearly marked. There is also an option to catch the 951 bus from Herrsching for those with limited mobility, but I highly recommend the walk, if you’re able. However, the bus is a good return option for those coming down in the dark or get too drunk. Make sure to keep an eye on the bus schedule, as they do stop running around 8 pm or so. If you miss it, you might be stumbling through the woods!
Be in the Know!
Grüss Gott (Guh-roo-sse Gott) is the traditional greeting in Bavaria and many of your fellow travelers will use this when greeting you! Don’t be shy in saying it first!
Andechs Monastery Church and Abbey
Woo! You made it to the top, where the gorgeous church and panorama views are waiting. I recommend taking some time to walk around, check out the views and explore the church before you head over to the brewery. You’ll read why it’s important to get all exploring done first a bit later. You can go inside the church, free of cost, and see classic rococo baroque architecture, which is quite gaudy and fun to look at. If you’re planning a work retreat near Munich this Abbey is also available to book for day conferences! After you’re done checking out the view and architecture head down over to the Biergarten.
Kloster Andechs Brewery
The main beer served around this time of year, autumn, at Klosterbrauerei Andechs Brewery is what Germans call Starkbier and it’s no joke. The official name of the Starkbier served here is Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel. As a decent drinker myself, I can down about 4 liters of beer on a good Oktoberfest day. So, you can imagine my surprise when I went to Andechs for the day and barely made it through one liter. Stark means strong in German and this stuff is strong! Starbier originated during lent, when the monks were fasting from food. They decided to brew a thick hardy beer to tide them over while their food intake was minimal. This type of beer is often closer to wine in terms of alcohol % and can get up to 16% (original extract) or 7% vol.! So, please please pace yourself and ask for their lighter beer if you can not handle very much beer. Don’t pull a me, who barely remembers how I got home! That being said, it’s a great flavor alternative to the lighter beers you’ll in Munich proper or Oktoberfest. This beer is best enjoyed during the colder months or after the sun goes down. It is meant to be sipped and enjoyed, not chugged.
If you find yourself here during the summer, I suggest one of the Helles, which can still be strong mind you, but their lighter in taste perfect for cooling off after the hike. I recommend trying the Andechser Vollbier Helles, which is 4.8% vol.
Pair any of these beers with your favorite Bavarian food like a pork knuckle and apple desert. The outdoor seating is self serve and can get quite crowded during peak seasons.
Great Alternative to Oktoberfest
My favorite way to experience Andechs is as a day trip away from Oktoberfest. If you’re coming into Oktoberfest for multiple days or perhaps you’ve already been, this trip is a nice way to get away from the main grounds and explore some of your surrounding area. You can even wear your Dirndl and Lederhosen during this time of year and you’ll fit right in with the locals. The hike during the autumn season is just breath-taking. The reds and oranges of the leaves compliment the red rooves of the traditional Bavarian houses below. The crowd here tends to be a little less rowdy than the traditional Oktoberfest crowd, probably because most of them are locals, but that’s not to say there isn’t copious amounts of drinking going on.
I hope you enjoy your day trip from Munich to Andechs Monastery! Share this post if you or any of your friends are heading to Oktoberfest or Munich this fall and let us know if you found it useful.
Susanna grew up in small-town Alaska where the changing climate was always on her mind. Through traveling, she gained an interest in the power of sustainable and regenerative travel. She now attends a Master's program for environmental sustainability and bridges sustainable travel with environmental science.