Ammersee, known as "Peasants' Lake," is the country cousin of the better-known, more cosmopolitan Starnberger See (the "Princes' Lake"), and, accordingly, many Bavarians (and tourists, too) like it all the more. Munich cosmopolites of centuries past thought it too distant for an excursion, not to mention too rustic, so the shores remained relatively free of villas and parks. Though some upscale holiday homes claim some stretches of the eastern shore, Ammersee still offers more open areas for bathing and boating than the larger lake to the east. Bicyclists circle the 19-km-long (12-mile-long) lake (it's nearly 6 km [4 miles] across at its widest point) on a path that rarely loses sight of the water. Hikers can spread out the tour for two or three days, staying overnight in any of the comfortable inns along the way. Dinghy sailors and windsurfers zip across in minutes with the help of the alpine winds that swoop down from the mountains. A ferry cruises the lake at regular intervals in summer, stopping at several piers. Board it at Herrsching.
Herrsching has a delightful promenade, part of which winds through the town's park. The 100-year-old villa that sits so comfortably there is a romantic and fanciful mixture of medieval turrets and Renaissance-style facades. It was actually built for the artist Ludwig Scheuermann in the late 19th century, and became a favorite meeting place for Bavarian artists. It's now a municipal cultural center and the setting for chamber-music concerts on some summer weekends.