From Easter to mid-October, Bayerische-Seen-Schifffahrt (www.seenschifffahrt.de) runs scheduled boat services on the Starnberger See and the Ammersee – a leisurely way to explore the region. In Starnberg, boats leave from the landing docks just south of the main station. For the Ammersee, Herrsching is the most convenient starting point.
If a cruise seems too tame, consider taking a spin around the lake under your own steam. Boat hire is available on the Starnberger See, the Ammersee and the Wörthsee. In Starnberg, Paul Dechant, near the train station, has rowing, pedal and electric-powered boats for €16 per hour.
If the weather plays along, there's no better way to explore the area than by bicycle. Velo-Bavaria in St Heinrich has a decent selection of two-wheelers. Bike It in Starnberg runs guided bike tours from €25. There's a famous in-line skating stretch on the eastern shore between Berg and Ambach.
There's plenty of good hiking as well. A delightful half-day trip starts in Tutzing and goes via a moderate ascent to the Ilkahöhe, which is a 730m hill with a restaurant, beer garden and panoramic lake views.
A visually stunning way to see the lakes and Alps to the south is from one of the hot-air balloons belonging to Landstettener Ballonfahrten. A 90-minute flight for four people costs €175, with balloons leaving on request from near the village of Landstetten, halfway between Starnberg and Herrsching.