A short trip to Germany´s biggest lake – Lake Constance (Bodensee)
Lake Constance things to do
Standing at the shore of Lake Contsance it feels like somewhere at the sea side. Due to the mild climate of the region palm trees are growing and a splendid nature surrounds you. Flowers are blooming all over and vast areas of the countryside are filled with fruit trees and vegetable plantations. Even wine is cultivated at the lakeside.
You can easily spend 1-2 weeks in this region. Inclusive of a visit to the neighbouring countries of Austria and Switzerland, which also have their share of the lake.
For me it was just a long weekend trip.
Stop 1 – Lindau
Lake Constance from Munich
Lindau is easily accessible from Munich by car or train. I was driving down the 180 km from Munich to the lake in less than 2 hours on the comfortable A96 highway.
The Old Town of Lindau is picturesquely located on an island. You can cross over by bridge with your car, on foot or with public transportation. Most of the cobble stoned streets of the Old Town are a pedestrian area.
Take a stroll through the commercial centre with its colourful houses to begin.
Afterwards walk down to the Marina, where you can see the distinctive symbols of Lindau. A lion and a lighthouse standing guard in front of the harbour gate.
If you are in mood for a cruise you can book yourself in one of the various boat tours starting from the Lindau harbour (www.bsb.de/en). Optionally you can also take the small island bus for a tour around the city (https://www.lindau.de/adressen/insel-bob).
When your hunger sets in take a seat in one of the many cafes and restaurants around the harbour basin.
If you are looking for a less touristic option a bit away from the crowds, I can recommend to check out the cosy Cafe Collodium (www.cafe-collodium.metro.bar) for home-made food like the traditional Flammkuchen (a kind of flat bread with various toppings).
If dining with a special experience is your thing, I recommend the Eil.Gut.Halle (www.eilguthalle.li). You can enjoy excellent food within the ambiance of a historical warehouse surrounded by stunning Oldtimers.
I have to admit that I fell in love with our hotel in Lindau – the Villino (www.villino.de), especially with its magnificent garden. This small Boutique Hotel, which is a member of the Relais & Chateau group, is located a bit outside of town surrounded by beautiful nature. With its light colours, open terraces and blooming garden you will have a real Mediterranean feel.
Each room is decorated with lovely details.
On sunny days breakfast will be served within the open courtyard. Breakfast was excellent with many nice options. Unfortunately we only stayed for one night and had not the chance to enjoy dinner at the hotel. However I would highly recommend to try out their restaurant, which has been ranked with one star from the Michelin Guide.
En route to Meersburg
If you drive down from Lindau to Meersburg there are mainly two places worth to stop by.
The first one is the small village of Wasserburg (www.wasserburg-bodensee.de) with its picturesque church/monastery directly at the lake.
Have a small walk around the cemetery before you enter the church. You will see some ancient graves of former famous lake residents.
Another stop can be made at the bigger town of Friedrichshafen (www.friedrichshafen.de).
Main attraction is the Zeppelin Museum (www.zeppelin-museum.de). If you are brave enough you can even book yourself into a flight with this extraordinary aircraft – although it is not cheap it is a lifetime experience inclusive of some fantastic views(www.zeppelin-nt.de).
Stop 2 Meersburg
Meersburg, which is surrounded by vast lands of vineyards, is simply beautiful and picturesque in all aspects. The Old Town with its cobble stoned streets and half-timbered houses is one of the most stunning cities around the lake.
Start your exploration tour with a visit of the medieval castle on top of the city. See the historical rooms of the Lords and the castle dungeon (www.burg-meersburg.de). Just beside the castle stands another famous and more luxury landmark of the city – The Palace of Meersburg with its significant baroque style and artistic frescoes (www.neues-schloss-meersburg.de).
Afterwards walk your way down to the lower town through narrow streets and walk-ways. Arriving down the hill you have a wide selection of bars and cafes along the main road. Take a rest before you explore the small harbour of Meersburg. Main sight is the “Magische Säule” (Magical Pillar) of Peter Lenk.
It is also nice to take a walk along the lake a bit out of town. After few minutes you will reach the soft rolling hills covered by vineyards as far as the eye can reach. I recommend to walk until the winery Rebgut Haltnau. After you have passed the main building, take the small but very steep road up the vineyard hill.
On top take the road on your right hand side until you reach the war memorial from where you will have a fantastic view onto the lake and mountain backdrop. The large cross of the war cemetery can be seen already from far.
I have already mentioned the Rebgut Haltnau above. I would recommend a lunch or dinner there. They offer excellent food and of course great wines in a beautiful lake-side setting (www.rebgut-haltnau.de).
Another great place for food and wine is the state winery Gutsschänke Meersburg (www.gutsschaenke-meersburg.de). Located in the historical buildings of the former riding school of the prince bishops. Not only the fresh fish (try the local speciality “Bodenseefelchen") and salads are fantastic here, but also the stunning view from the terrace over the lake and mountains. Therefore it is also a prime setting for sunsets.
Afterwards a walk down to the lower town for a sundowner or ice cream is the perfect thing to end an exciting day in Meersburg.
For a coffee stop during the day I recommend the cute home accessory shop cum cafe “Zierat” (www.zierat.de).
For a coffee-in-style make a stop at the Cafe nestled inside the Palace (www.neuesschlossmeersburg.de/en/cafe).
We stayed at the cute little Boutique Hotel 3 Stuben (www.3stuben.de) located at the edge of the Old Town in one of the historical half-timbered houses. We had a small, but very cosy room. Breakfast was good as well. If you are arriving by car you can book a private parking space through the hotel.
From Meersburg it is only a short drive to Unteruhldingen, which hosts one of the best museums around the lake – and the oldest open-air museum in Germany – Pfahlbaumuseum Unteruhldingen (Pile Dwelling Museum). You can either take part in a guided tour or walk around yourself through a complex of reconstructed stilt houses or lake dwellings from the Neolithic Stone Age and Bronze Age. The place has been the set for many movie productions and is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Stop 3 Constance (Konstanz)
From Meersburg you can take the car ferry across to Constance, which is a very convenient alternative compared to the otherwise time consuming drive around the lake.
The university city of Constance has an attractive harbour front with many nice restaurants and entertainment facilities. You can take long walks around the Constance bay and enjoy a refreshing jump into the water on hot summer days.
The Rhine river, which starts in the Swiss Alps and passes through the lake is dividing the city into two parts. The most interesting part for visitors is the historic Old Town with its restaurants and shopping facilities mainly connected through pedestrian streets.
Constance is also the gateway for a visit to the popular flower island of Mainau (www.mainau.de).
There are plenty of food options for each taste in and around the Old Town of Constance. So I only name the ones we have been during this visit.
For a lake-side meal try the Hafenmeisterei (www.hafenmeisterei.de), which mainly serves Italian inspired dishes.
For a more rustic and traditional ambiance in the Old Town Tamara´s Weinstube Zum Guten Hirten (www.weinstube-zum-guten-hirten.de) is worth the visit.
If you like to enjoy cross-over food in a more modern setting the Wessenberg (www.wessenberg.de) is something for you. Beside the tasty food I really enjoyed the lofty Mediterranean courtyard terrace.
Was really a jewel and something very special – I can highly recommend a stay in this property – the Villa Barleben (www.hotel-barleben.de). The lake-side building itself is a historically protected summer residence. The bright colours can be seen from far.
If you step inside the Villa you feel like out of this world. The Interior is basically a trip around the globe and goes from kitsch to colonial. Each of the few rooms has a different design and interior. You actually feel rather in a museum than in a hotel room. For sure this ambiance is not everybody´s taste, especially the pieces of stuffed animals in the lobby. It takes some time to get used to the very special charm of Villa Barleben. But for me I just loved it and I got excited to explore all the little details.
Another real nice thing at this hotel is the beautiful terrace and garden area, where you can enjoy your breakfast during summer. Again the garden might appear over-decorated for some people, but for me it just fitted to the special charm of the Villa.
Villa Barleben is also a popular place for weddings and other special occasions.
Daytrip to the Rhine Fall
I want to recommend you a very nice excursion that you can easily make from Constance by car to the stunning Rhinefall (Rheinfall), located in Switzerland.
The border to Switzerland is right behind Constance. It will only take a few minutes’ drive from the centre until you reach Swiss territory. Follow the signboards to Schaffhausen. I suggest to choose the “Bundesstraße” (federal road) rather than the highway. First of all it is much more scenic and second you do not need to pay for the quite expansive highway toll (which is only available in Switzerland as a yearly and not a weekly or daily fee).
En route make a stop at the very picturesque village of Stein am Rhein.
Approaching afterwards Schaffhausen you pass the main city and follow the signboards to the Rheinfall, which is the most powerful waterfall in Europe (www.rheinfall.ch). Over a width of 150 m the water is rushing down the rocks.
The waterfall can be visited from both shores. We stopped our car at the parking of Schloss Laufen. After the ticket counter you pass through the castle and down the stairs to the waterfall. On various viewing platforms you can take fantastic pictures and come real close to the raging water.
Additionally take a boat tour to come even closer to the waterfall. There are various routings available, the most adventures one will stop in the middle of the waterfall, where you can climb on a narrow rock enclosed from the wild waters.
A restaurant with panoramic views on the waterfall is located on the other side of the river.
On the way back to Constance you can stop in Schaffhausen. Another very nice location for a stop would be the village of Diessenhofen. Idyllically located on the Rhein River it is nice for a small walk. Don´t miss to have a look at the historic wooden bridge over the river.
For a lunch, snack or dinner I recommend the Unterhof (www.unterhof.ch), which offers good food on a garden terrace directly beside the Rhine river.
As I mentioned earlier there would be so much more to do around Lake Constance, but for a short stay above suggestions would be a varied program for a glance onto the region.