Andechs Monastery: A Place for Pilgrimage, Praying and Beer Drinking

Andechs Monastery: A Place for Pilgrimage, Praying and Beer Drinking

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Photo courtesy of sanfamedia on Flickr.

Andechs Monastery (Kloster Andechs in German) is not only famous for its pilgrimage and praying, but also for its beer and is home to some of the best beer in Germany.

Perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising when you consider that the Benedictine monks have had over 900 years of beer brewing practice.  Monks used to brew the beer and survived on it during the 40 days of fasting during Lent, although the brewery itself just dates back to 1455.

The forested path and part of the pilgrimage to Andechs.

The forested path and part of the pilgrimage to Andechs.

Inside the elaborate church

Inside the elaborate church

Andechs Hill, now home to the Andechs Monastery, has been a pilgrimage since the 10th century where worshipers came to see Christian relics, most notably a piece of Jesus’ crown of thorns, which is still on display today in the church.  While bus transportation is available, I would recommend following in the footsteps of the pilgrims.  Starting in the Bavarian town of Herrsching and well signed, the path soon leads to a forested path and a little over an hour later we had reached our destination. 

The Rococo and baroque style church was our first stop, and very ornate, and worth a visit in-itself, but admittedly not the real reason we came to Andechs.  After a quick stop at the religious souvenir and beer filled gift shop, we were off to the 3500 person beer garden.  Proof that not all the beer drinking action just happens at Oktoberfest.

My friend enjoying a pint of the famous Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel and a Bavarian donut.

My friend enjoying a pint of the famous Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel and a Bavarian donut.

Andechs is famous for its beer, especially its Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel, a heavy dark beer that’s sure to put hair on your chest (you’ve been warned) with an alcohol content of 7.1%.  If you’re not a dark beer drinker, may I suggest the Andechser Weißbier Hell?  A light unfiltered beer with a mere 5.5% alcohol content.  Unfortunately I’m allergic to beer and was unable to try but the smallest sip, but my friend from Canada who was celebrating his first day ever in Europe was up to the task.   Besides beer, there is also  traditional Bavarian food in hearty portions at reasonable prices.  Especially considering how popular it is with tourists.  Its hilltop location which provides a pleasant view overlooking the town of Andechs and the Bavarian countryside.

View from the restaurant

View from the restaurant (the view from the beer garden is even better, but my photo didn’t turn out)

After enjoying just one pint of the Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel, my friend was feeling its effects, but it was with a perma-grin slapped on his face that he he headed back to the gift shop to try the Andechser Weißbier Hell, to be consumed later. We had planned to walk down, but as we boarded the bus, the bus driver gave a knowing smile.  Somehow I have a feeling that taking the bus down from the monastery is a common occurrence for many pilgrims.

Logistics of Getting to Andechs:

Andechs is located~40km SW of Munich and the nearby town of Herrsching is easily reached by S-bahn 8, a 40 minute journey.  From the town of Herrsching you can either take a public bus (which only come infrequently) or a private bus, which comes more often and only cost us €2.25 each for the one-way ride.  I would recommend walking up (just over an hour and 5km) and then playing it by ear for the return trip.  For more info see the official site of Kloster Andechs (in German only).

See more places to visit in Germany.

Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains, an adventure travel blog and company that helps people plan their active holidays in a sustainable way. Although Canadian, she lives in Germany. You can find her in the mountains on most weekends.
2016-09-20T17:11:08+00:00

19 Comments

  1. Bob Berwyn October 11, 2011 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    great memories of spring pilgrimmages – especially for the beer. Thanks for the post – and the reminder to go back someday.

    • wfb resident May 4, 2012 at 3:09 am - Reply

      Not far away is a place called Peissenburg! It is exactly like Andechs but smaller and hardly any tourists. It is a taller hill and the trail is very nice. Park in the town and walk the trail up. Towns name is the same. For better reference ,it is between Neuswanstein and Ammersee.

      • Laurel September 12, 2012 at 10:46 am - Reply

        wfb resident – Thanks so much for sharing this. I haven’t heard of Peissenburg but would like to check it out. Thank you!

  2. Laurel October 11, 2011 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    @Bob – Glad to bring back great memories, Andechs really is a unique place and I love the pilgrimage part of it.

  3. Heather October 11, 2011 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    I’ll have to add this to my list of places to go when I’m in Germany. Looks like a fun afternoon trip and who doesn’t love a good strong beer!

  4. Mette Christensen October 12, 2011 at 6:34 am - Reply

    Interesting match of piety and hedonism. Must go sometime.

  5. Turkey's For Life October 12, 2011 at 11:23 am - Reply

    Wouldn’t mind doing a bit of beer sampling there – and some sightseeing too, of course. The interior of that church is so ornate.
    Julia

  6. Barry October 12, 2011 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    Fabulous photos of amazing architecture and interior design. What really amazes me is that everyone doesn’t weigh 500 pounds. It is an experience I would like to enjoy. My friend Ewa is a long-time friend of Anna who you know from COC. Everybody says Hi.

  7. Christopher October 12, 2011 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    I love Andechs! The doppelbock dark beer is one of the things I miss since I started eating a gluten-free diet six years ago.

  8. robin October 12, 2011 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    Pilgramage…hmmmm…prayer…well….beer drinking! Ok, I’m in.

  9. Zhu October 12, 2011 at 4:32 pm - Reply

    Lovely pictures! I noted the lush green… doesn’t look like fall yet!

    But I mostly can’t get over the size of that donut!

  10. David @ Malaysia Asia October 12, 2011 at 7:22 pm - Reply

    Nice write and pics. I don’t know about the first two, but the third sounds like a plan. Just like in your picture!

  11. Glen October 12, 2011 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    Beer garden. And who says beer doesn’t grow on trees? Great post!

  12. The Travel Fool October 12, 2011 at 8:50 pm - Reply

    Went there many years ago, the views and beer were both great then and loks like not much has changed.

  13. Laurel October 12, 2011 at 9:01 pm - Reply

    @Heather – I agree, it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon, just don’t make any big plans for later 🙂

    @Mette – Well put, and not things you see together everyday.

    @Julia – I’ll confess that we spent more time in the beer garten than in the church, but the church was beautiful.

    @Barry – Well it’s because most people hike up, keeps the weight down :). I know Ewa and Anna is a very good friend of mine. Too funny that you know her, small world. Say hi to them from me.

    @Christopher – I think I’ll be going back everytime I have guests. I tried a sip of the doppelbock beer and it was too strong for me, but I loved the Weißbier. I know there’s a gluten free brewery around Munich which I need to check out sometime.

    @Robin – How did I know it was the beer that would get you there? 🙂

    @David – That’s exactly what my friend thought 🙂

    @Glen – Thanks and your comment made me chuckle.

    @The Travel Fool – Good to hear. I like knowing that some places stay the same.

  14. Debbie @ European Travelista October 13, 2011 at 2:55 am - Reply

    The church reminded me of the Wies Church! Beautiful setting for a beer or two.

  15. Sophie October 13, 2011 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    Interesting combination that. Not too keen on beer, but it looks like a lovely place to hang about to contemplate (and perhaps write a bit).

  16. Technosyncratic Travel October 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm - Reply

    For some reason monasteries and alcohol seem to go together! A few years ago we visited a monastery in Spain that had made their own wine – they even had trenches built into the ground to transport it (or maybe for another reason, but I can’t quite remember). It was sort of bizarre!

  17. Kikicat November 15, 2011 at 12:24 am - Reply

    Looks to me like they must have got the interior of the church built before they got into the Doppelbock!

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