Visitors to Germany, and the southern state of Bavaria, in particular, could easily spend months seeing all of the beer breweries that cover the picturesque landscape. But Klosterbrauerei Andechs is special. Less than an hour outside of Munich, Kloster Andechs sits on a hill overlooking the surrounding countryside of small towns, farms and, to the west, a lake. The brewery is still run by the monks of the Benedictine abbey. While the brewery exports Andechs beer around the world, you can try it for yourself by visiting Kloster Andechs. And while you could easily drive or take the bus to reach the monastery, Andechs is a popular pilgrimage — that is, you can reach Andechs on foot from nearby Herrsching. I only had to experience it once. Now the hike to Andechs is a favorite Munich day trip!
Visiting Kloster Andechs
Kloster Andechs is made up of a number of smaller buildings that cover the hill upon which it sits. You’ll find maps posted to help you find your way around. But the grounds are definitely worth exploring. You definitely do not want to miss, for example, the overlook point behind the church next to the parish office (Pfarramt) where a large wooden crucifix stands high above the surrounding countryside.
I’m highlighting a few of the spots at the monastery and the brewery.
The Church (Wallfahrtskirche)
The central focal point of Andechs is not the beer but its church with its prominent onion dome. The Wallfahrtskirche, or pilgrimage church, was built in the first half of the 1400s and features a lavish Baroque interior. It was originally founded as a late-Gothic church by Duke Ernest I but was later established as a Benedictine monastery in 1455 by Duke Albert III.
The church features Rococo style artwork that was added roughly 300 years later by Johann Baptist Zimmermann. You may already be familiar with Zimmerman’s work at Munich Residenz and Nymphenburg Palace, among other places.
While the inside of the church feels relatively small, there are ornate decorations throughout. The church is the second largest pilgrimage church in Bavaria.
Andechser Bräustüberl & Biergarten
You made it all the way to Andechs. So you want to taste the beer, right? If nothing else, you’ll certainly have worked up an appetite and thirst if you made the hike. On the eastern side of the holy mountain, as they call it, is the Andechser Bräustüberl (or pub) and Biergarten. Depending on the time of year and the weather, different seating areas will be open. But regardless of where you’re able to get a seat, it will be cozy and put you in a good mood!
The food at the Bräustüberl is only self-service, that is cafeteria-style. You can grab a tray and place your food order directly with the person behind the counter. There’s a selection of roast meat options, sausages, fish, and more. The standard selection of bread (rolls and pretzels) is on offer, too. The restaurant even an entire section of cheeses on offer! I highly recommend the Rollbraten, or crispy grilled pork roast.
At a separate counter, you can order your drink. Everything on offer is, of course, from Andechs — even the water! As you might expect, the selection of beers on offer at the brewery pub is rather large so be sure to pace yourself.
Gift Shop (Klosterladen)
As is typical for breweries, you can even grab some beers to take with you. But if you’re looking for a different kind of souvenir, the monastery gift shop is worth a look. In addition to offering Andechs Krüge, or beer mugs, you can also purchase special Andechs liquors. (If you’re planning to travel abroad via airplane with these liquid souvenirs, be sure to verify the volume doesn’t exceed the allowed limit. My husband and I learned this lesson the hard way!)
Hiking to Kloster Andechs
Before I start, I have to admit that you, of course, don’t have to hike to Andechs. The monastery has parking at the bottom of the hill upon which it sits and there are also local bus routes that serve the area. But if you’re able, I highly recommend the walk!
There are a number of different routes that lead from the town of Herrsching to the Andechs Monastery. For example, you can take a longer route that goes right along the Ammersee lake or a shorter more direct route. When I visited, I opted for the Hörndlweg route, so named for a street along the way.
The Hörndlweg path to Andechs took about an hour in each direction and a steady but unrushed pace. Starting from the Herrsching S-Bahn station, you go through the town, then out of town and into a forest, across an absolutely stunning rolling meadow, back into town and finally again through the woods. From there, you head up the hill to Andechs. You’ll walk past waterfalls, over bridges, and be able to sneak peeks over the Ammersee over the treetops.
The trail is marked but can be confusing the first time. At times, the marks are only spray painted arrows. If you have a smartphone with GPS, be sure you have a full battery just in case. The hike isn’t challenging for the average walker if you take your time. Through the woods, the trail is somewhat rocky and there are many exposed tree roots. There is also a lot of uphill walking. You’ll also encounter a few staircases, too. Again, it’s a bit of a challenge but it’s absolutely worth it.
Getting to Herrsching
You can’t hike to Andechs from Herrsching without getting to Herrsching first! If you’re taking a day trip from Munich to Kloster Andechs, the easiest way using public transit is to take the S8 train to Herrsching. The S8 is one of the two airport S-Bahn train lines and it terminates in Herrsching so you don’t need to worry about missing your stop! You can catch the S8 from any of the major downtown S-Bahn stops. That it: Pasing, Laim, Hirschgarten, Donnersbergerbrücke, Hackerbrücke, Munich Hauptbahnhof, Karlsplatz, Marienplatz, Isartor, Ostbahnhof. The line also makes additional stops in addition to these.
If you happen to be anywhere around the Ammersee, the Bayerische Seen-Schifffahrt operates a ferry service across the lake that includes a stop at Herrsching.
Getting to Andechs Without the Hike
If you’re unable to make the pilgrimage on foot, no worries. There is a large parking lot on the eastern side of the monastery with an entrance on Seefelder Str.
There’s also a bus stop directly across the street from the parking lot. Munich’s public transit system (MVV) operates several buses that serve the “Andechs, Kloster” stop. Be sure to check timetables.
Tips for Visiting Kloster Andechs
If you’re using public transit to reach Andechs, consider buying mobile tickets for local transit routes or regional tickets for long-distance travel.
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All photos, as well as all opinions, are my own.