Lying on the Rhine, below the northern foot of the Alps, Lake Constance is the bespoke, largest lake in Germany. Sharing borderlines with Austria and Switzerland, the fascinatingly beautiful lake offers a breathtaking scene, with its impressive expanse of water, encompassing 270 kilometres of shoreline.
Freshwater Lake Constance is made up of four parts, with the deepest area being the Obersee that stretches from Konstanz to Bregenz Bay with a periphery of attractive, old lakeside villages.
Lake Constance is the perfect destination for sailing and water sports enthusiasts. Cycling around the lake is a common and fun way of enjoying its picturesque views, old castles, out of the ordinary medieval villages, exquisite gardens, rich culture and history.
When to visit
September in Lake Constance means pedalling through vineyards dense with grapes and farm stands overflowing with pears and apples. People who have tried it describe the experience as ‘ feeling away, yet a few minutes from a priory, glass of wine or slice of pie.’
Enjoy quiet time as you find inner peace in Mid-April and May by sitting at the harbour or taking long walks around the island, through the quaint villages, while being captivated by the marvellous Swiss Alps.
Some boat rides may only run during weekends and off-peak months while the colder months around winter can be a bit challenging because of frequent dense fogs.
Getting there and around
Being a tourist hotspot in Europe, Lake Constance has a significant touristic infrastructure. You can get to this incredible natural feature by plane or train.
The nearest commercial airports are in Memmingen, Stuttgart, Friedrichshafen and Zurich. The best part is that it only takes about 2 hours’ drive to get to the lake, from any of these airports.
Use a train that goes around the lake and stops at landmark junctions like Konstanz, Friedrichshafen, Radolfzell, Lindau, Romanshorn, Kreuzligen and Rorschach.
Get around the striking and third largest lake in central Europe via boat or train for a civilised excitement.
Whether it is during a sunny day or starry night, you will find a ferry crossing Bodensee. The fare depends on the size of your car.
Onto a big boat, cross Lake Constance in a peachy quarter-hour ride with cars, motorcycles, trucks, bicycles and other pedestrians. The upper deck lounge sells cold and hot beverages, snacks and a variety of quick bites.
Taxi cabs also wait around the ferry dock to pick you up and take you anywhere you want to go.
If you are in a hurry, the most frequent boat crossings are:
The ferry between Konstanz and Meersburg. It runs for a few times an hour, from 06:00 to 24:00 and once every hour, from 00:00 to 06:00.
The Katamaran ferry between Friedrichshafen and Romanshorn runs once an hour from 06:00 to 19:00.
The ferry between Friedrichshafen and Romanshor runs per hour, from around 05:30 to 22:30.
You can also choose more unwinding crossings as you enjoy a meal, beer or a bask on the sunlit top deck as you delight at the scenic view of the Alps. However, most of these boats only run during the day, mostly from April to October.
All the towns and cities in Bodensee are serviced by the three national railroads of Germany, Switzerland and Austria. However, the amount of time spent in between stops is best in Germany and Austria.
Top 1o attractions
1.The beautiful flower Island – Insel Mainau
The striking 110-acre ‘flower island’ will either take your breath away or sweep you off your feet. With its beautiful parks, gardens and a lush tropical and semi-tropical vegetation, it attracts many visitors.
Access the island via a pedestrian bridge or by boat and get a chance to view the Schloss, a glorious palace built in the early 1740s for the Grand Duke of Baden. The interior includes a gatehouse, an original defensive tower and the appealing White Hall.
2.The ancient Konstanz Minster Old Town
Close to the Swiss frontier, Konstanz is Lake Constance’s largest city and a significant cultural hub. One of its many striking, ancient buildings is Konstanz Minster, a landmark that dates back to the 11th century.
Climb the tower to savour views over the quaint town as you delight over the 15th-century doorway, 13th century Holy Sepulcher and choir-stalls from the 1460s.
Other attractions in the Old Town include:
- The eye-catching 15th-century Hohenzollernhaus
- The captivating 16th century Rathaus
- The Haus Zum Rosengarten
- The medieval butcher’s guild-house which is now occupied by a museum
3.The alluring Lindau
Lindau is the largest among the towns on the Bavarian shores of Lake Constance. Use the Neue Seebrucke bridge to get to the island from the slopes of the mainland and vice versa.
The harbour attracts many visitors for its notable lighthouse and the Mangturm that date back to the 17th century.
The pedestrian-only town has many ancient and beautifully preserved Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque houses including:
Maximilianstrasse, the main street with bistros, fountains, coffee shops and collonades.
The famous Old Town Hall, constructed in 1436.
St. Peter’s Church (Peterskirche), founded in the 10th century.
Uferweg, for beguile views from the Sternschanze and the Gerbershanze.
4.The striking Wollmatinger Ried-Untersee-Gnadensee
Wollmatinger Ried-Untersee-Gnadensee is where the Rhine meets the Untersee from the main lake. The nature-reserve is the largest on the German shore of the lake, with more than 290 bird species and more than 600 flowering plants and ferns.
The NABU-Center is an excellent place from which to discover species of fauna and flora of Lake Constance as well as the nature-reserve.
5.The biggest Island in Lake Constance, Reichenau
Near Konstanz, Reichenau covers 1,057 acres. There are many ancient sites to see including:
Three churches belonging to the known abbey of Reichenau; from St George Church with wall paintings from the Ottonian era, to the ancient churches of Saints Peter and Paul found in Niederzell.
They’re known Schloss Windegg at the northwestern edge of the island that dates as far back as the 1300s.
6.The Cycling Trail from Bodensee to Rundwanderweg
Perfect for the walkers and cycling enthusiasts, the Lake Constance Trail encompasses the lake, at safe distances from its beautiful shores, for about 272 kilometres.
Highlights of the famous trail include:
- Wollmatinger Ried Nature Reserve
- Historic towns of Konstanz and Lindau
- Islands of Mainau and Reichenau
- Majority of Lake Constance’s small villages
Whether it is a hike to last for several days or casual cycling, the trail is easily accessible from numerous spots around Lake Constance.
7.The archaic German Stilthouse Museum
One of the peaks of a visit to Lake Constance is the spectacular Pfahlbaumuseum Unteruhldingen, the open-air German museum, with restorations of the time-honoured homes. Unlocked in early 1920, it is a great way of spending time, exploring the history of the lake’s native occupants who date more than 6,000 years ago.
Tours include the rebuilt structures on the shore and the Lake Dwellings. Guided tours of the wonderful site last up to an hour.
Where to stay
The quality of accommodation in hotels in Lake Constance is worth your dime. From advanced bookings to last-minute room requests, here is a list of hotels you can check in.
Luxuriant Hotels (above $200)
- Steigenberger Inselhotel Konstanz
- Hotel Reutemann-Seegarten
- Hotel 47
- Hotel Bayerischer Hof
Comfort Hotels (below $200)
- Hotel Zum Schiff
- Hotel Bella Vista
- Villa Babel en
- Aqua Hotel
- Hotel VIVA SKY
Remember to plan well in advance as accommodation prices can hike during peak seasons.
Where to shop
If you are looking forward to shopping till you drop during your visit to Lake Constance, hit the small towns and villages, markets and the main streets. You will find everything, from famous fashion houses to independent boutiques and specialist shops to buy artefacts, jewellery, souvenirs and accessories.
Food and drinks
Enjoy freshly-caught fish from Lake Constance and a seasonal side dish from the vegetable islands of Tagermoos and Reichenau. The mouth-watering high-quality beef from wild game and throat-lavishing wine makes Lake Constance’ cuisine, one of the best in the world.
Lake Constance has an eccentric population, which means the tourist destination’s nightlife is exciting. With clubs, bars, beer-chill spots and pubs the night never ends in this beautiful city.
The Ess Bar, Standbar Konstanz and Wessenberg are among the most popular hangouts for beer lovers. By far, Lake Constance is a party hub at night, with numerous venues for live music, cocktails and a good beer.