If you enjoy idyllic nature, beautiful scenery and picturesque towns and villages, you should consider taking your next holidays on Lake Constance.
The Bodensee, as it’s known in German, stretches across three national borders, so it should be no surprise that there’s plenty to see and do around this large lake.
The German city of Constance (or Konstanz in German) is the largest city on the lake and can be easily reached on an overnight train from London. Train travel from neighboring countries is also efficient and reliable.
While I’ve visited the area several times, there’s still plenty that I’ve yet to explore, so I asked some of my fellow travel bloggers to help me compile this list of the best Lake Constance things to do and see. Let’s get to it!
Lake Constance Cycling — the Donau-Bodensee Radweg
Contributed by Dave Briggs of Dave’s Travel Pages
Lake Constance and the surrounding regions are well known for their wealth of outdoor activities, including cycling. A number of bicycle routes criss-cross the area, with one of the best being the Donau-Bodensee Radweg.
Starting in the German city of Ulm and finishing on the shores of Lake Constance at Kressbronn, the route is around 150 kilometers and can easily be broken up into different stages.
Having cycled this route myself, I’d suggest allowing four days to both cycle the route and see the attractions along the way.
The cycling itself is neither technical nor too demanding, meaning that people of all fitness levels can enjoy themselves.
Using a combination of cycle paths and quiet country lanes, the Donau-Bodensee Radweg passes through notable places such as Ulm, Laupheim, Biberach, Bad Waldsee and Kisslegg before finishing at Kressbronn.
Along the way, you also have the chance to put your bike onboard a steam train at Warthausen! This way, you get the advantages of both an active cycling adventure and a scenic rail journey.
Accommodation choices en route include camping, guesthouses and boutique hotels. There are even services that will transfer your baggage from hotel to hotel, so there’s no excuse not to try it!
Contact the Lake Constance tourist office for a full list of campsites and other accommodation options.
To find out more details about cycling the Donau-Bodensee Radweg, check out Dave’s guide — Danube to Lake Constance Cycle Route.
Cycling around Lindau
Contributed by Linda of Travel Tyrol
The island and garden town of Lindau is a must-see when visiting Lake Constance, or the Bodensee as it’s called on the German side. On our last trip, we decided to explore more of the area by cycling along the lake from Lindau to Wasserburg.
Lindau Island boasts the most beautiful harbor entrance around Lake Constance. Watching boats or ferries approach between the Bavarian Lion and the New Lighthouse is just magical.
The sandstone lion and the lighthouse have been watching over the lake since 1856. You can climb the 139 steps to the top of the 36 m high tower for great views of Lindau and the surrounding water.
The Rapunzel-like Mangurm Tower is another landmark of Lindau you can’t miss before cycling out. We spent a grand afternoon in nature, with the cycle path either passing right next to the water or through green fields where cows graze.
In the places where the path did join public roads with normal traffic, it was never too busy. Our seven-year old son easily managed on his own, so it’s definitely suitable for family holidays. At Wasserburg, we took the train back to Lindau.
Of course, with more time it’s possible to cycle all around Lake Constance. Other great places to stop are the flower island of Mainau and the island of Reichenau.
The entire route 273 km long is mostly flat and well-signposted. We camped a short distance away and brought our own bikes, but there are plenty of places to rent bicycles if you don’t have your own.
Photo caption: Leaving Lindau, with the Bavarian Lion and the New Lighthouse in the background.
Contributed by Diana Calia of The Elusive Family
The island of Mainau on Lake Constance is its own little paradise filled with blossoming trees, an abundance of flowers, birds, and its very own butterfly garden. Mainau is a wonderful place to visit for anyone looking to enjoy natural beauty in the Konstanz area.
The island is perfect for families, and its playgrounds are hugely popular with visitors, as is the Baroque style Mainau Castle. The gardens on the island provide a little world of exploration and intense beauty on the grand lake.
One of the highlights of Mainau is the well-known butterfly enclosure, a main attraction on the island. The temperature-controlled butterfly house provides a sub-tropical climate with high humidity, and the enclosure has nearly 1,000 butterflies fluttering around.
The island also has a pond with a sunbathing area, fountains, a beautiful walk between wild roses and a dahlia garden. Mainau has a biergarten, cafes and restaurants, which are great for when you need a break from exploring the gardens and pathways.
There’s also an education center that provides a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the island.
Contributed by Shandos Cleaver of Travelnuity
It’s hard to believe these days, but back during the medieval period the island of Reichenau, close to Konstanz, was once an important monastic center.
Founded in 724, the Abbey of Reichenau reached its apex during the late 10th and 11th centuries, during which time it was renowned as the largest and most influential manuscript workshop in Europe.
These days the monastery on the island is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, mainly due to its well-preserved Benedictine monastic buildings.
Three of the abbey’s churches dating back to its heyday have been preserved: the Münster, the Church of St Peter and Paul and the Church of St George.
In particular, I recommend visiting the interior of the Church of St George with its 10th-century murals depicting the miracles of Christ. If visiting in summer, the murals are only accessible on twice-daily guided tours, to help maintain their splendor.
Tours cost 3 euros and are free for holders of the Bodensee Summer Card, which offers free entrance to more than 160 attractions in the region. Double-check the tour times at the tourist information center.
If you are visiting in summer, naturally there’s also a lovely swimming beach on the northern side of the island, where you can enjoy a swim in the lake and while away the day.
Contributed by Chelsea Sipe of Pack More into Life
Lake Constance is a delight for families, with so many places to visit that have playgrounds, animals and flowers. One of the places my son always enjoys visiting is the Ravensburger Spieleland.
The Ravensburger name will probably sound familiar to families with young kids. They are well-known for their puzzles, games and baby toys, so it’s only natural that they would have a fun theme park! This 25-acre park is located just north of Lake Constance and features a variety of family fun.
Best for ages 3 and up, your children squeal with delight on rides such as the Fix and Foxi toboggan run, complete a giant puzzle and explore the huge labyrinth. Older kids can enjoy the alpine-rafting ride, check out a variety of board games or test out their driving skills on the electric cars.
Be sure to bring your swimsuit in the summer, because there is also an extensive water park with rivers, pumps, sprayers and paddle wheels. With seven different themed areas, there is something for everyone.
Want to see more of our favorite things to do in the nearby city of Stuttgart? Check out the Top 10 Things to see and Do in Stuttgart with Kids.
About 30 kilometers southeast of the German city of Konstanz, Arbon in Switzerland is a compact city with many half-timbered houses to admire. Some of these date back as far as the 14th century.
In fact, this area was inhabited as far back as the Neolithic period, and the ancient Romans built a fort here. Parts of the Roman city walls can still be seen today. The castle and its imposing tower with sweeping views over the city and the lake are also a must-visit.
If you like automobiles, or are traveling with someone who does, head down to the Saurer Museum, which sits right on the water in a prime lakeside position. The museum showcases vintage cars as well as other old machinery like looms and weaving machines.
Stein am Rhein
This beautiful little town is nestled along the Rhine River, just before it widens out into the Untersee (Lower Lake Constance) and eventually the Obersee (Upper Lake Constance).
Strolling around town, you’ll be captivated by the medieval towers overgrown with ivy and the striking frescoed buildings on the Rathausplatz, not the least of which is the Rathaus (Town Hall) itself.
Be sure to check out the Cloister Museum of St. George while you’re there too. Inside, you’ll find beautiful 16th-century frescoes depicting events surrounding the Second Punic War between ancient Rome and Carthage. And don’t forget to look up at the beautiful wooden ceiling.
If you're here on a weekday, stop in for lunch at Raum 18. Located inside a yoga studio, this cozy café is almost exclusively vegan, with just a few vegetarian options. Unfortunately it's closed for dinner and on weekends.
The most iconic landmark of the city of Konstanz has to be the Imperia Statue by artist Peter Lenk, which stands proudly right at the entrance to the harbor. The imagery of the statue is unique.
A provocatively dressed woman has her arms raised and is holding a tiny image of a man in either hand. Two two men are Pope Martin V and Emperor Sigismund. If you look closely, you’ll notice that both of them are completely naked.
The Pope is wearing nothing but his papal tiara, while the emperor wears a crown. This work of art is a representation of a short story by Balzac called "La Belle Impéria”, which satirizes the morals of the Catholic clergy.
It was erected surreptitiously in 1993. This stirred up plenty of controversy, but the rail company that owned the land where it was erected did not object, so Imperia was able to stay.
In photos, it looks like she’s standing still, but in reality, the pedestal on which she stands is continuously rotating. She makes a full rotation every four minutes, so you can see this controversial work of art from every possible angle.
Lake Constance is most commonly talked about as a summer destination, but it’s also beautiful in the winter! And there are certain experiences that you can only have here in winter, such as exploring the Constance Christmas markets in December.
Of course, there are plenty of Christmas markets in cities and towns all over Germany. But this one is so special that people even come across the border from Switzerland, Austria or Liechtenstein to visit it.
There are about 130 market stalls that are set up right in the old town of Konstanz. They line the streets all the way down to the harbor, and they don’t stop there. This Christmas market even takes place out on the lake itself, on the Christmas Ship!
Stall vendors are mostly from the region and sell locally made handicrafts and foodstuffs. I recommend washing these down with a hot mug of glühwein -- hot mulled wine mixed with spices.
And if you're wondering what the vegan food scene is like in Konstanz, it's certainly growing! When I first visited the Christmas markets here in 2014, there were no fully veggie eateries as far as I recall.
Now, there are two vegetarian restaurants in Konstanz itself, plus one vegetarian restaurant and one fully vegan restaurant just across the border in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland.
And you'll find plenty more places that offer vegan options. There's never been a better time to be vegan!