From the title Fraueninsel (Women Island in English) I’m going to predict that some people might be either really excited or terrified by this post.
The truth is they should be neither. The women in reference are nuns. Yep nuns. They’ve been living at the monastery since 782. They’re not all no fun though, known for their Kloster Liquor Spirits that they produce, they’re known to indulge a bit too much from time to time. OK, I made that last part up and I digress….
The Fraueninsel Christmas Market has special meaning to me. Inspired by a German friend who informed me that it was her favorite market in all of Germany I just HAD to go. It was the one I most wanted to visit last year but alluded me. Oh it was still on and functioning, but we arrived just before 7:00pm. I had mistakenly assumed it would be open until at least 8:00 pm. It wasn’t. It closed at 7:00. We settled for the smaller, less famous Christmas market in Prien. It was fine, but it just wasn’t the same as visiting the one at Fraueninsel.
Flash forward one year later, dates and times checked, I actually made it this year. Yipee! J.P. my German husband didn’t share my enthusiasm but warmed up over the promise of Glühwein (mulled wine) and good company from friends. After our visit even he, albeit reluctantly admitted It was nice. That might not sound like much but coming from my husband, who thinks Christmas markets in general are overrated, that’s high praise indeed! I was much more liberal with my praise, claiming it absolutely magical! It definitely makes my Best Christmas Markets in Europe list. I was surprised at how busy it was, but it still felt authentic. The selection of vendors was not the usual vendors that you find at the more commercial markets like the one at Marienplatz in Munich or in Nuremberg, although the Nuremberg market did grow on me during my second visit. No second visit is necessary to convince me. The Fraueninsel Christmas Market is everything I had hoped it would be, although I will likely return again next year just for the atmosphere.
The monastery on Fraueninsel as seen from the boat.
The entrance to Fraueninsel. The line is for people boarding the boat back to the mainland. There was a huge line of people behind me so I didn’t have a chance to focus the picture.
Wurst (sausage) and Glühwein (mulled wine), typical German treats at Christmas markets
Handmade wooden figurines for sale.
Festive atmosphere at the Christmas market.
Boat ferrying passengers over the Chiemsee back to Prien at dusk
Know Before You Go to Fraueninsel Christmas Market:
- The market is open Friday to Sunday on two Advent weekends before Christmas: Nov 27 – Nov 29th and Dec 4-6th, (Dates for 2015).
- The Christmas market is open from 2:00 – 7:00pm on Fridays and from 12:00 to 7:00pm on Saturday and Sunday.
- The boat from Prien is at Seestrasse 108. It goes to Fraueninsel every 30 minutes from 12:00 to 6:30pm during the Christmas market.
- Return boats are also every 30 minutes from 12:00 to 8:00pm. The last boat leaves the island at 9:00pm. If you miss it, you’re sleeping on the island.
- The return trip costs €8.50 per adult. There’s no charge for the Christmas market itself.
- Dress warm. You will be outside for most of your visit, although there are standing heaters and fires in selected places. There are also a couple of restaurants where you can warm up over a traditional meal. Or drink Glühwein (mulled wine), my personal favourite way to warm up.
- The boat stops at the near by Herreninsel for visitors to visit the famous Herrenchiemsee Palace designed by King Ludwig II. Consider going earlier and visiting the castle first if you haven’t been there. It’s based on Versailles and is incredible!
- Prien is easily reached by train. The journey is 1 hour from Munich (the Bayern ticket is the cheapest option) and only 45 minutes from Salzburg.
- You can also visit the smaller Christmas market located at the Marktplatz in Prien. It’s open from 1:00 to 8:00pm on two Advent weekends in December.
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