The region's natural centre is STARNBERG on Starnberger See. The town, which is on S-Bahn line #6 from Munich, is one of the wealthiest communities in Germany, and the lake shore is lined with expensive villas. The town itself has a disappointingly suburban feel, but it does have a stunning setting at the north end of the lake, with a backdrop of distant Alps. It makes a handy departure-point for cruises on the lake by the boats of Bayerische Seenschifffahrt (Easter to mid-Oct; cruises 8.50–15.90 depending on itinerary; Web: www.seenschifffahrt.de ). The longer Grand Tour departs twice each morning in high season for Bernried at the southern end of the lake, supplemented in the afternoons from June to mid-September by three sailings of the Museumsschiff Fantasie. These are the most pleasurable way to reach the Sammlung Buchheim or Museum der Phantasie in Bernried (Tues– Sun: April– Oct 10am–6pm; Nov– March 10am–5pm; 8.50; Web: www.buchheimmuseum.de ), housed in a beautiful wood-clad building on the lakeside designed by Günther Behnisch, which looks more like a luxurious spa than a museum. It houses the varied collections of the artist and author Lothar-Günther Buchheim, best known as the author of the book on which the hit film Das Boot was based. The museum is built along a central axis, which allows the various departments to branch off independently – a clever solution to the problem of displaying a collection whose constituent parts never really make a coherent whole: roomfuls of applied art and unlabelled ethnographic objects feature, along with a good deal of Buchheim's own work, but the core of the collection is a stunning selection of classic twentieth-century German art. Lovis Corinth is represented by his Dancing Dervish of 1904, Max Liebermann by some of his lovely drawings, while a few very early works by Max Beckmann contrast with his more familiar later style. There's a caustic Otto Dix portrait, Leonie, as well as works by the Expressionists Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Alexej von Jawlensky.
To reach the Sammlung Buchheim other than by boat, take S-Bahn #6 to Tutzing and a bus from there. There's also plenty of car parking at the museum.