The Bodensee - Fodor's Germany - Fodor's

Fodor's Germany - Fodor's (2016)

The Bodensee

Welcome to the Bodensee

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Top Reasons to Go | Getting Oriented | What’s Where | Planning | Biking the Bodensee

Updated by Leonie Schaumann

A natural summer playground, the Bodensee (Lake Constance) is ringed with little towns and busy resorts. Lapping the shores of Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, the Bodensee, at 65 km (40 miles) long and 15 km (9 miles) wide, is the largest lake in the German-speaking world.

Though called a lake, it’s actually a vast swelling of the Rhine, gouged out by a massive glacier in the Ice Age and flooded by the river as the ice receded. The Rhine flows into its southeast corner, where Switzerland and Austria meet, and flows out at its west end. On the German side, the Bodensee is bordered almost entirely by the state of Baden-Württemberg (a small portion of the eastern tip, from Lindau to Nonnenhorn, belongs to Bavaria).

It’s one of the warmest areas of the country, not just because of its southern latitude but also owing to the warming influence of the water, which gathers heat in summer and releases it in winter. The lake itself practically never freezes over—it has done so only once in the past two centuries. The climate is excellent for growing fruit, and along the roads you’ll find stands and shops selling apples, peaches, strawberries, jams, juices, wines, and schnapps, much of it homemade.


The Bodensee: Whether you’re circling the lake on foot, or by bike, car, or train, crossing the water by boat, or dipping into it on a hot summer’s day, the beautiful Bodensee affords myriad pleasures.

Zeppelin Museum, Friedrichshafen: Step inside the gracious passenger rooms of the airship, and you may question whether the air transport of today, though undeniably bigger and faster, is a real improvement.

Altes Schloss in Meersburg: Explore the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Germany, from the sinister dungeons to the imposing knights’ hall.

Schloss Salem, near Überlingen: The castle itself offers plenty to see, with furnished rooms, stables, gardens, and museums.

Wallfahrtskirche Birnau, near Überlingen: A vineyard slopes down from this pilgrimage church to Schloss Maurach on the lakeshore. The scene inside the church is a riot of colors and embellishments.

Mainau Island: More than a million tulips and narcissi grace the flower island in spring—later they’re followed by rhododendrons and azaleas, roses and dahlias.


The Bodensee (Lake Constance) is off the beaten path for visitors from overseas and from other parts of Europe. If you venture here, you can be pretty sure you won’t meet anyone else from back home. Even the Swiss and the Austrians, who own part of the shore of the Bodensee, tend to vacation elsewhere. For Germans, however, it’s a favorite summer vacation spot, so it’s wise to reserve rooms in advance.


The Northern Shore. A dozen charming little villages and towns line the northern shore of the lake. In good weather there’s a wonderful view across the water to the Swiss mountains.

The Upper Swabian Baroque Road. Nearly every village has its own baroque treasure, from the small village church to the mighty Basilica Weingarten. The more miles between you and the Bodensee, the easier it is on your wallet, which may be reason enough to venture to this region.

Around the Bodanrück Peninsula. Konstanz is the biggest city on the international lakeshore, situated on the Bodanrück Peninsula and separated from the northern shore by a few miles of water. Konstanz survived World War II unscathed by leaving its lights burning every night, so the Allied bomber pilots could not distinguish it from the neighboring Swiss city of Kreuzlingen. The small towns of the “Untersee” (Lower Lake), as this part of the Bodensee is called, have a more rural atmosphere than those of the northern shore.



The Bodensee’s temperate climate makes for pleasant weather from April to October. In spring, orchard blossoms explode everywhere, and on Mainau, the “island of flowers,” more than a million tulips, hyacinths, and narcissi burst into bloom. Holiday crowds come in summer, and autumn can be warm and mellow. Some hotels and restaurants as well as many tourist attractions close for winter.


The closest major international airport is in Zürich, Switzerland, 60 km (37 miles) from Konstanz, connected by the autobahn. There are also direct trains from the Zürich airport to Konstanz. There are several domestic and international (primarily of United Kingdom and European origin) flights to the regional airport at Friedrichshafen—these are mostly operated by budget airlines.

Airport Contacts
Flughafen Friedrichshafen (FDH). | Am Flugpl. 64 | Friedrichshafen | 07541/28401 |
Zürich Airport (ZRH). | Flughafenstr. | Kloten | 410/4381-62211 for general enquiries, 0900/300-313 for flight-related enquiries (1.99 CHF/min) |


TIP Note that the English pronunciation of “ferry” sounds a lot like the German word “fähre,” which means car ferry. “Schiffe” is the term used for passenger ferries. Car and passenger ferries have different docking points in the various towns. The car ferries run all year; in summer you may have to wait in line. The passenger routes, especially the small ones, often do not run from November to March. Sailing on a car ferry as a passenger can be cheaper than taking a passenger ferry—and most car ferries are reasonably comfortable. Bicycles can be taken on both types of ferry.

The Weisse Flotte line of boats, which is run by the BSB, or Bodensee-Schiffsbetriebe, links most of the larger towns and resorts. One of the nicest trips is from Konstanz to Meersburg and then on to the island of Mainau. Excursions around the lake last from one hour to a full day. Many cross to Austria and Switzerland; some head west along the Rhine to Schaffhausen and the Rheinfall, the largest waterfall in Europe. Information on lake excursions is available from all local tourist offices and travel agencies.

Ticket offices for this ferry line are in Konstanz, Überlingen, Meersburg, Friedrichshafen, and Lindau. | Hafenstr. 6 | Konstanz | 07531/36400 |


Buses serve most smaller communities that have no train links, but service is infrequent. Along the shore there are buses that run regularly throughout the day from Überlingen to Friedrichshafen, stopping in towns such as Meersburg, Hagnau, and Immenstaad.


The A-96 autobahn provides the most direct route between Munich and Lindau. For a more scenic, slower route, take B-12 via Landsberg and Kempten. For another scenic and slower route from Frankfurt, take B-311 at Ulm and follow the Oberschwäbische Barockstrasse (Upper Swabian Baroque Road) to Friedrichshafen. From Stuttgart, follow the A-81 autobahn south. At Exit 40 take B-33 to Konstanz, or the A-98 autobahn and B-31 for the northern shore. Lindau is also a terminus of the picturesque Deutsche Alpenstrasse (German Alpine Road), running east-west from Salzburg to Lindau.

Lakeside roads, particularly those on the northern shore, boast wonderful vistas but experience occasional heavy traffic in summer, and on weekends and holidays year-round. Stick to the speed limits in spite of tailgaters—speed traps are frequent, especially in built-up areas. Formalities at border-crossing points are few. However, in addition to your passport you’ll need insurance and registration papers for your car. For rental cars, check with the rental company to make sure you are allowed to take the car into other countries. Crossing into Switzerland, you’re required to have an autobahn tax sticker (CHF40/€40, purchasable in euros or Swiss francs) if you plan to drive on the Swiss autobahn. These are available from border customs offices, and from petrol stations and post offices in Switzerland. This sticker is not necessary if you plan to stick to nonautobahn roads. Car ferries link Romanshorn, in Switzerland, with Friedrichshafen, as well as Konstanz with Meersburg. Taking either ferry saves substantial mileage. The fare depends on the size of the car.


From Frankfurt to Friedrichshafen and Lindau, take the ICE (InterCity Express) to Ulm and then transfer (total time 4 hours). A combination of ICE and regional train gets you to Konstanz from Frankfurt in 4½ hours, passing through the beautiful scenery of the Black Forest. From Stuttgart to Konstanz, take the IC (InterCity) to Singen, and transfer to an RE or IRE (Regional/InterRegio Express) for the brief last leg to Konstanz (total time 2½ hours). From Munich to Lindau, the EC (Europe Express) train or the ALX (Alex) train take 2½ hours. From Zürich to Konstanz, the trip lasts 1½ hours. Local trains encircle the Bodensee, stopping at most towns and villages.


Most of the larger tourist centers have city tours with English-speaking guides. The Bodensee is a great destination for bike travelers, with hundreds of miles of well-signposted paths that keep riders safe from cars. You can go on your own or enjoy the comfort of a customized tour with accommodations and baggage transport (and a rental bike, if need be). Wine-tasting tours are available in Überlingen, Konstanz, and Meersburg. Call the local tourist offices for information. Zeppelin tours operated by the DZR (Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei) are not cheap (sightseeing trips cost €210-€785), but they do offer a special experience and a reminder of the grand old days of flight. The zeppelins depart from the airport in Friedrichshafen.

Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei.
Perfect for aviation enthusiasts, and those looking for a unique way to experience the Bodensee: glide silently above it in a Zeppelin. | Messestr. 132 | Friedrichshafen | 07541/59000 | | From €210.

Radweg-Reisen GmbH.
This cycle-hire company’s most popular tour circumnavigates the Bodensee in a relaxed eight days, with hotel accommodation and breakfast included. | Fritz-Arnold-Str. 16a | Konstanz | 07531/819-930 | | From €479.

Velotours Touristik GmbH.
Velotours offers a variety of cycle-tour options around the Bodensee. Their Eastern Bodensee route begins and ends in Konstanz, taking in highlights in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, including a ferry “shortcut” from Konstanz to Meersburg. | Bücklestr. 13 | Konstanz | 07531/98280 | | From €475.


In this area, international dishes are not only on the menu but also on the map—you have to drive only a few miles to try the Swiss or Austrian dish you’re craving in its own land. Seeweine (lake wines) from vineyards in the area include Müller-Thurgau, Spätburgunder, Ruländer, and Kerner.


Accommodations in the towns and resorts around the lake include venerable wedding-cake-style, fin de siècle palaces as well as more modest Gasthöfe. If you’re visiting in July and August, make reservations in advance. For lower rates in a more rural atmosphere, consider staying a few miles away from the lake.


Choosing a place to stay is a question of finance and interest. The closer you stay to the water, the more expensive and lively it becomes. Many visitors pass by on their way from one country to another, so during the middle of the day, key hubs like Konstanz, Mainau, Meersburg, and Lindau tend to be crowded. Try to visit these places either in the morning or in the late afternoon, and make your day trips to the lesser-known destinations: the baroque churches in upper Swabia, the Swiss towns along the southern shore, or the nearby mountains.


Visitor Information
Internationale Bodensee Tourismus. | Hafenstr. 6 | Konstanz | 07531/909-490 |


The best way to experience the Bodensee area is by bike. In as little as three days, you can cross the borders of three nations. The largely flat landscape makes this cycle tour suitable for all ages and fitness levels.

You could start and finish anywhere, but this three-day tour circumnavigates the entire lake. Book a room in Meersburg or Konstanz for the first night; in Arbon, Switzerland, for the second; and in Lindau for the third. Store your baggage, bringing with you only what you can comfortably carry on your back or in panniers (don’t forget your bathing suit). A sign displaying a bicyclist with a blue back wheel will be your guide through all three countries. Much of the route follows dedicated bike paths—some lakeside, some farther away. However, you’ll occasionally find yourself riding along the road, so a helmet is recommended, although it’s not required by law. At some points, you might like to disregard this official route in favor of a more scenic path. Follow your instincts—even without the signs or a map, the water is an easy point of reference.


You can rent a bike as a guest at many hotels, at some tourist offices, from bike shops, and from bicycle-tour operators. Biking maps are available from newspaper stands, bookshops, and tourist offices, and you can leave your baggage in the long-term storage available at the train stations in Konstanz, Überlingen, Friedrichshafen, and Lindau. You can cut across the lake on a ferry at numerous points.


Departing Lindau, head west along the lake toward Wasserburg, 5 km (3 miles) away. Continue on through meadows, marshland, and orchards, passing charming villages like Nonnenhorn and Langenargen—9 km (5½ miles) from Wasserburg. Friedrichshafen is another 10 km (6 miles) from Langenargen. Pay a visit to the Zeppelin Museum. After Friedrichshafen the path runs along the main road; follow the sign to Immenstaad (10 km [6 miles]) to get away from the traffic. Pass through the village and continue to Hagnau. After another 5 km (3 miles), stay overnight in lovely Meersburg, rising early to catch the ferry to Konstanz.

When you come off the ferry, head to the flower island of Mainau to enjoy the blooms. Continue onward to Konstanz, pass the ferry dock again, and keep as close as you can to the water, which will bring you into Konstanz through the scenic “back entrance.” Cross the bridge over the Rhine. Take in the old town, and the buzzing small harbor. When you set off again, you’ll be in the Swiss city of Kreuzlingen in a few minutes. Head east out of the city. After 32 km (20 miles) of rolling Swiss countryside, you’ll arrive in Arbon for your second overnight.

Leave Arbon early in the morning, passing Rorschach (after 7 km [4½ miles]) and Rheineck on the Austrian border (another 9 km [5½ miles]). After the border, keep as close to the lake as possible, and you’ll pass through protected marshlands and lush meadows. Twenty kilometers (12 miles) beyond the border is Bregenz, Austria. Ascend the Pfänder cable car 3,870 feet for a marvelous view. If you’re too tired to bike the 9 km (5½ miles) back to Lindau, you can board a train or ferry with your bicycle in Bregenz.


Copious amounts of fresh lake air and pedaling are bound to trigger your appetite. If the weather is ripe for a picnic, be on the lookout for supermarket chains such as Rewe, Edeka, and Lidl, where you can fill your picnic basket.

For Brot (bread), a fresh Brezel (pretzel) or Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake), seek out a local Bäckerei (bakery) or Stehcafé (standing café). Don’t be shy about venturing into the village Metzgerei (butcher), either. Most of them offer delicious Leberkässemmel or Fleischkäsweckle (its respective names in Bavaria and Baden Württemburg)—a slice of warm sausage-meat loaf in a bread roll. Or, try some sliced Fleischwurst (bologna sausage) in various flavors, or tangy Fleischsalat (sliced sausage-meat salad and pickles with salad dressing)—both best eaten on bread fresh from the bakery.

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The Northern Shore

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Lindau | Friedrichshafen | Meersburg | Überlingen

There’s a feeling here, in the midst of a peaceful Alpine landscape, that the Bodensee is part of Germany and yet separated from it—which is literally the case for Lindau, which sits in the lake tethered to land by a causeway. Überlingen, a beautiful resort at the northwestern finger of the lake, attracts many vacationers and spa goers. Clear days reveal the snowcapped mountains of Switzerland to the south and the peaks of the Austrian Vorarlberg to the east.


180 km (112 miles) southwest of Munich.

By far the best way to get to know this charming old island town is on foot. Lose yourself in the maze of small streets and passageways flanked by centuries-old houses. Wander down to the harbor for magnificent views, with the Austrian shoreline and mountains close by to the east. Just 13 km (8 miles) away, they are nearer than the Swiss mountains visible to the southwest.

Lindau was made a Free Imperial City within the Holy Roman Empire in 1275. It had developed as a fishing settlement and then spent hundreds of years as a trading center along the route between the rich lands of Swabia and Italy. The Lindauer Bote, an important stagecoach service between Germany and Italy in the 18th and 19th centuries, was based here; Goethe traveled via this service on his first visit to Italy in 1788. The stagecoach was revived a few years ago, carrying passengers on a 13-day journey to Italy. This service only runs occasionally—ask at the Lindau tourist office.

As the German empire crumbled toward the end of the 18th century, battered by Napoléon’s revolutionary armies, Lindau fell victim to competing political groups. It was ruled by the Austrian Empire before passing into Bavarian control in 1805. Lindau’s harbor was rebuilt in 1856.

Getting Here and Around

Lindau is halfway between Munich and Zürich, and about two hours from both on the EC (European Express) train. From Frankfurt it takes about four hours—change from the ICE (InterCity Express) train in Ulm to the IRE (InterRegio Express) train. You can also reach Lindau by boat: it takes about 20 minutes from Bregenz across the bay. Once in Lindau, you can reach everything on foot. Its Altstadt (Old Town) is a maze of ancient streets with half-timber and gable houses making up most of the island. The center and main street is the pedestrian-only Maximilianstrasse.


Visitor Information
Lindau Tourist-Information. | Alfred-Nobel-Pl. 1 | 08382/260-030 |

The Northern Shore and Upper Swabia

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Top Attractions

Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall).
The Old Town Hall is the finest of Lindau’s handsome historic buildings. It was constructed between 1422 and 1436 in the midst of a vineyard and given a Renaissance face-lift 150 years later, though the original stepped gables remain. Emperor Maximilian I held an imperial diet (deliberation) here in 1496; a fresco on the south facade depicts the scene. The building retains city government functions, thus its interior is closed to the public. | Bismarckpl. 4 |

Der Bayerische Löwe (Bavarian Lion).
A proud symbol of Bavaria, the lion is Lindau’s most striking landmark. Carved from Bavarian marble and standing 20 feet high, the lion stares out across the lake from a massive plinth. | Lindau Harbor entrance, Römerschanze |

Mangenturm (Mangturm).
At the harbor’s inner edge, across the water from the Neuer Leuchtturm, stands this 13th-century former lighthouse, one of the lake’s oldest. After a lightning strike in the 1970s, the roof tiles were replaced, giving the tower the bright top it now bears. The interior of the tower can be visited as part of the kid-oriented Märchenstunden (Story Time) tours run in August—contact the Lindau Tourism organization. | Hafenpl. 4.

Neuer Leuchtturm (New Lighthouse; Neuer Lindauer Leuchtturm).
Germany’s southernmost lighthouse stands sentinel with the Bavarian Lion across the inner harbor’s passageway. A viewing platform at the top is intermittently open (generally during summer, in good weather). Climb the 139 steps for views over the harbor. | Schützingerweg | €1.80.

Worth Noting

Barfüsserkirche—Stadttheatre Lindau and Lindauer Marionettenoper (Church of the Barefoot Pilgrims).
This church, built from 1241 to 1270, is now Lindau’s principal theater, and it also hosts the Lindauer Marionettenoper (Puppet Theater). Tickets for shows—starring humans or puppets—are available at the adjacent box office. | Fischergasse 37 | 08382/944-650 | | Ticket office Mon.-Thurs. 10-1:30 and 3-5:15.

Haus zum Cavazzen (Stadtmuseum Lindau).
Dating to 1729, this house belonged to a wealthy merchant and is now considered one of the most beautiful in the Bodensee region, owing to its rich decor of frescoes. Today it serves as a local history museum, with collections of glass and pewter items, paintings, and furniture from the past five centuries, alongside touring exhibitions. | Marktpl. 6 | 08382/944-073 | | €3 | Apr.-Aug., daily 10-6.

Lindau’s market square is lined by a series of sturdy and attractive old buildings. The Gothic Stephanskirche (St. Stephen’s Church) is simple and sparsely decorated, as befits a Lutheran place of worship. It dates to the late 12th century but went through numerous transformations. One of its special features is the green-hue stucco ornamentation on the ceiling, which immediately attracts the eye toward the heavens. In contrast, the Catholic Münster Unserer Lieben Frau (St. Mary’s Church), which stands right next to the Stephanskirche, is exuberantly baroque. | Marktpl.

Peterskirche (St. Peter’s Church, Krieger Gedächtnis Kapelle).
This solid 10th-century Romanesque building may be the oldest church in the Bodensee region. On the inside of the northern wall, frescoes by Hans Holbein the Elder (1465-1524) depict scenes from the life of St. Peter, the patron saint of fishermen. Peterskirche houses a memorial to fallen German soldiers from World Wars I and II, and a memorial plaque for victims of Auschwitz. Attached to the church is the 16th-century bell foundry, now a pottery works. Also of note is the adjacent fairy-tale-like Diebsturm. Look closely and you might see Rapunzel’s golden hair hanging from this 13th-century tower, awaiting a princely rescuer. Follow the old city wall behind the tower and church to the adjoining Unterer Schrannenplatz, where the bell-makers used to live. A 1989 fountain depicts five of the Narren (Fools) that make up the VIPs of Fastnacht, the annual Alemannic Carnival celebrations. | Oberer Schrannenpl.

Stadtgarten (City Park; Oskar-Groll-Anlage).
Ludwigstrasse and Fischergasse lead to a watchtower, once part of the original city walls with a little park behind it. If it’s early evening, you’ll see the first gamblers of the night making for the neighboring casino. | Oskar-Groll-Anlage |

Recommended Bodensee Foods

On a nice day you could sit on the terrace of a Bodensee restaurant forever, looking across the sparkling waters to the imposing heights of the Alps in the distance. The fish on your plate, possibly caught that very morning in the lake, is another reason to linger. Fish predominates on the menus of the region; 35 varieties swim in the lake, with Felchen (whitefish) the most highly prized. Felchen belongs to the salmon family and is best eaten blau (“blue”—poached in a mixture of water and vinegar with spices, called Essigsud) or Müllerin (baked in almonds). A white Seewein (lake wine) from one of the vineyards around the lake provides the perfect pairing. Sample a German and a Swiss version. Both use the same kind of grape, from vineyards only a few miles apart, but they produce wines with very different tastes. The Swiss like their wines very dry, whereas the Germans prefer them slightly sweeter.

One of the best-known Swabian dishes is Maultaschen, a kind of ravioli, usually served floating in a broth strewn with chives. Another specialty is Pfannkuchen (pancakes), generally filled with meat, or chopped into fine strips and scattered in a clear consommé known as Flädlesuppe. Hearty Zwiebelrostbraten (beef steak with lots of fried onions) is often served with a side of Spätzle (hand-cut or pressed, golden soft-textured egg noodles) and accompanied by a good strong Swabian beer.


Gasthaus zum Sünfzen.
$$ | GERMAN | This ancient inn was serving warm meals to the patricians, officials, merchants, and other good burghers of Lindau back in the 14th century. The current chef insists on using fresh ingredients preferably from the region, such as fish from the lake in season, venison from the mountains, and apples—pressed to juice or distilled to schnapps—from his own orchard. Try the herb-flavored Maultaschen (large ravioli), the excellent Felchen (whitefish) fillet, or the peppery Schübling sausage. | Average main: €15 | Maximilianstr. 1 | 08382/5865 | | Closed Thurs. mid-Jan.-mid-Mar.


Gasthof Engel.
$$ | HOTEL | Tucked into one of the Old Town’s ancient, narrow streets, this ancient property with a pedigree dating back to 1390 positively exudes history. Twisted oak beams are exposed inside and outside the terraced house. All rooms are recently refurbished, but maintain a rustic elegance. The traditional restaurant ($) on the ground floor hums with Bavarian “Gemütlichkeit” (cozy hospitality). Pros: historic building; in the center of town; freshly redecorated rooms. Cons: no elevator; steep, narrow stairs. | Rooms from: €128 | Schafg. 4 | 08382/5240 | | 10 rooms | Breakfast.

Hotel Bayerischer Hof.
$$$ | HOTEL | This is the address in town, a stately hotel directly on the edge of the lake, its terrace lush with semitropical, long-flowering plants, trees, and shrubs. Most of the luxuriously appointed rooms have views of the lake and the Austrian and Swiss mountains beyond. Freshly caught pike perch is a highlight of the extensive menus in the stylish restaurants ($$$). Rooms at the adjoining Hotel Reutemann and the Hotel Seegarten next door (both under the same management) are a little cheaper than those at the Bayerischer Hof. Pros: pretty lake view from many rooms; elegant dining room with good food; majority of rooms air-conditioned. Cons: not all rooms have a lake view; no free parking; on weekends in summer parking is difficult; expensive. | Rooms from: €210 | Hafenpl. | 08382/9150 | | 95 rooms, 6 junior suites, 4 suites | Breakfast.

Hotel Garni Brugger.
$$ | HOTEL | This small, family-run hotel stands on the site occupied by the city wall in the Middle Ages. It’s especially appealing for families, as you can always add another bed to your three-bed room. During the colder months, make use of the Finnish sauna and herbal steam room. Pros: center of town; family-run atmosphere; good value for families. Cons: caters to families; elevator only in one separate section of building. | Rooms from: €110 | Bei der Heidenmauer 11 | 08382/93410 | | 23 rooms | Breakfast.

$$ | HOTEL | In fine weather, you can enjoy breakfast alfresco as you watch the town come alive at this friendly central hotel on the pedestrian-only Maximilianstrasse. All rooms and interior spaces at the Insel-Hotel have benefitted from a recent refurbishment; the location is superb and the service is warm. Pros: center of town; family run; recently renovated. Cons: no free parking. | Rooms from: €128 | Maximilianstr. 42 | 08382/5017 | | 26 rooms | Breakfast.


Fodor’s Choice | Bregenzer Festspiele (Bregenz Music Festival).
A dramatic floating stage supports orchestras and opera stars during the famous Bregenzer Festspiele from mid-July to the end of August. Make reservations well in advance. The Austrian town of Bregenz is 13 km (8 miles) from Lindau, on the other side of the bay. | Pl. Der Wiener Symphoniker 1 | Bregenz | 0043/5574-4076 |

Spielbank Lindau Casino.
You can play roulette, blackjack, poker, and slot machines at the town’s modern and elegant casino. The dress code requires that men wear a sports jacket and shirt. Sports jackets can be rented at the coat-check area. | Chelles-Allee 1 | 08382/27740 | | Sun.-Thurs. noon-2 am, Fri. and Sat. noon-3 am.


The best way to see Lindau is from the lake. Take one of the pleasure boats of the Bodensee-Schiffsbetriebe (sometimes referred to locally as the Weisse Flotte—white fleet), which leave Lindau’s harbor several times a day for the 20-minute ride to Bregenz in Austria. These large boats carry up to 800 people on three decks. Round-trip costs €11. | Schützingerweg 2 | 08382/275-840 |

Bodensee Yachtschule.
This sailing school in Lindau charters yachts and offers sailing courses for all ages, from beginner to advanced levels. | Schiffswerfte 2 | 08382/944-588 |

Surfschule Kreitmeir.
You can rent boards and take windsurfing and stand-up paddleboarding lessons at Surfschule Kreitmeir. | Strandbad Eichwald, Eichwaldstr. 20 | 08382/279-9459 |


Biedermann en Vogue.
This high-end boutique carries various luxury fashion brands, as well as custom-made clothing, cashmere sweaters, and Italian shoes. | Maximilianstr. 2 | 08382/944-913.

A destination for interior decorators, Böhm consists of three old houses full of lamps, mirrors, precious porcelain, and elegant furniture. | Maximilianstr. 21 | 08382/94880 |

Internationale Bodensee-Kunstauktion.
Michael Zeller organizes the celebrated International Bodensee Art Auction, held four times yearly. Visit the website for the catalog and dates of upcoming auctions. | Binderg. 7 | 08382/93020 |

EN ROUTE: Wasserburg.
Six kilometers (4 miles) west of Lindau lies Wasserburg, whose name means “water castle,” a description of what this enchanting island town once was—a fortress. It was built by the St. Gallen monastery in 924, and the owners, the counts of Montfort zu Tettnang, sold it to the Fugger family of Augsburg. The Fuggers couldn’t afford to maintain the drawbridge that connected the castle with the shore and instead built a causeway. In the 18th century the castle passed into the hands of the Habsburgs, and in 1805 the Bavarian government took it over. Wasserburg has some of the most photographed sights of the Bodensee: the yellow, stair-gabled presbytery; the fishermen’s St. Georg Kirche, with its onion dome; and the little Malhaus museum, with the castle, Schloss Wasserburg (now a luxury hotel), in the background. | Lindau |

EN ROUTE: Schloss Montfort (Montfort Castle).
Another 8 km (5 miles) west of Wasserburg is the small, pretty town of Langenargen, famous for the region’s most unusual castle, Schloss Montfort. Named for the original owners, the counts of Montfort-Werdenberg, this structure was a conventional medieval fortification until the 19th century, when it was rebuilt in pseudo-Moorish style by its new owner, King Wilhelm I of Württemberg. If you can, see it from a passenger ship on the lake; the castle is especially memorable in the early morning or late afternoon. The castle houses a restaurant, open for dinner from Tuesday to Sunday, March through October, and on weekends during the colder months. The restaurant is also open for Sunday brunch year-round (10-2, €25 per person, all-you-can-eat German buffet-brunch style). A new wine bar features in the atmospheric cellar, open Friday nights. You can also climb the wooden spiral staircase to the top of the tower for views across the lake to Switzerland, Austria, and over the rolling German countryside. | Untere Seestr. 3 | Langenargen | 07543/912-712 | | Tower €2 | Tower Apr.-Oct., daily 10-noon and 1-5.


24 km (15 miles) west of Lindau.

Named for its founder, King Friedrich I of Württemberg, Friedrichshafen is a relatively young town (dating to 1811). In an area otherwise given over to resort towns and agriculture, Friedrichshafen played a central role in Germany’s aeronautics tradition, which saw the development of the zeppelin airship before World War I and the Dornier seaplanes in the 1920s and ’30s. The zeppelins were once launched from a floating hangar on the lake, and the Dornier water planes were tested here. The World War II raids on its factories virtually wiped the city off the map. The current layout of the streets is the same, but the buildings are all new and not necessarily pretty. The atmosphere, however, is good and lively, and occasionally you’ll find a plaque with a picture of the old building that stood at the respective spot. The factories are back, too. Friedrichshafen is home to such international firms as EADS (airplanes, rockets, and helicopters) and ZF (gear wheels).

Getting Here and Around

It takes about two hours from Ulm on the IRE (InterRegio Express) train, then a bus or BOB (Bodensee Oberschwaben Bahn). Most trains stop at Friedrichshafen airport. The car ferry takes you on a 40-minute run across the lake to Romanshorn in Switzerland, where you have direct express trains to the airport and Zürich. In town you can reach most places on foot.


Airplane Tours
Konair. | Riedstr. 82 | Konstanz | 07531/361-6905 |

Visitor Information
Friedrichshafen. | Tourist-Information, Bahnhofpl. 2 | 07541/30010 |


Fodor’s Choice | Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei GmbH.
For an unforgettable experience, take a scenic zeppelin flight out of Friedrichshafen airport. The flying season runs from March to November, and prices start at €210 for half an hour. For those who prefer to stay grounded, you can also tour the Zeppelin NT (New Technology) in its hangar. | Messestr. 132 | 07541/59000 |

Dornier Museum.
Explore a century of pioneering aviation history. Alongside the main focuses on Claude Dornier and his company, restored classic Dornier aircraft and Dornier’s explorations into aerospace technology, temporary exhibitions on various aviation themes are shown. A special Dornier Museum/Zeppelin Museum combination ticket (€15) provides a discount for those exploring the major aviation attractions of Friedrichshafen. | Claude-Dornier-Pl. 1 | at Friedrichshafen Airport | 07541/487-3600 | | €9 | May-Oct., daily 9-5; Nov.-Apr., Tues.-Sun. 10-5.

Schloss Hofen (Hofen Castle).
A short walk from town along the lakeside promenade is a small palace that served as the summer residence of Württemberg kings until 1918. The palace was formerly a priory—its foundations date from the 11th century. Today it is the private home of Duke Friedrich von Württemberg and isn’t open to the public. You can visit the adjoining priory church, a splendid example of regional baroque architecture. The swirling white stucco of the interior was executed by the Schmuzer family from Wessobrunn whose master craftsman, Franz Schmuzer, also created the priory church’s magnificent marble altar. | Klosterstr. 3 | Easter-Oct., Sat.-Thurs. 9-6, Fri. 11-6; Nov.-Easter, Sun. 9-6.

Zeppelin Museum.
Graf Zeppelin (Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin) was born across the lake in Konstanz, but Friedrichshafen was where, on July 2, 1900, his first “airship”—the LZ 1—was launched. The story is told in the Zeppelin Museum, which holds the world’s most significant collection of artifacts pertaining to airship history. In a wing of the restored Bauhaus Friedrichshafen Hafenbahnhof (harbor railway station), the main attraction is the reconstruction of a 108-foot-long section of the legendary Hindenburg, the LZ 129 that exploded at its berth in Lakehurst, New Jersey, on May 6, 1937. (The airships were filled with hydrogen, because in 1933 the United States had passed an act banning helium sales to foreign governments due to its military usefulness and scarcity at that time.) Climb aboard the airship via a retractable stairway and stroll past the authentically furnished passenger room, the original lounges, and the dining room. The illusion of traveling in a zeppelin is followed by exhibits on the history and technology of airship aviation: propellers, engines, dining-room menus, and films of the airships traveling or at war. Car fans will appreciate the great Maybach standing on the ground floor; passengers once enjoyed being transported to the zeppelins in it. The museum’s restaurant, a good place to take a break, is open for lunch and dinner. | Seestr. 22 | 07541/38010 | | €8 | May-Oct., daily 9-5 (last entry at 4:30); Nov.-Apr., Tues.-Sun. 10-5.


$$ | ECLECTIC | This lively, novel restaurant is divided into seven Stuben (rooms), all themed: sit in a wine barrel, dine in Tirol, relax under the image of an airship in the Zeppelin Bräustüble—or enjoy the beer garden in summer. Dishes are good and basic, with some international touches. Friendly service keeps up with the pace of the socializing at this friendly dining spot. Great for late diners; the kitchen is open until 11 at night (9:30 on Sundays). | Average main: €16 | Friedrichstr. 21 | 07541/6818 | | Closed Mon. No lunch Tues.-Fri.

$$ | ECLECTIC | A grand view of the harbor and the lake is only one of the attractions of this art deco-styled restaurant in the Zeppelin Museum. Soak up the retro airship travel theme as you enjoy cakes and drinks, and a range of Swabian, Italian, and Asian-influenced meals. | Average main: €15 | Seestr. 22 | 07541/953-0088 | | Closed Mon. Nov.-Apr. No dinner Sun. and Mon.


Buchhorner Hof.
$$ | HOTEL | This traditional family-run hotel near the train station is decorated with hunting trophies, leather armchairs, and Turkish rugs; bedrooms are large and comfortable. One floor is reserved for business travelers, with extra-large desks and Wi-Fi in the rooms. The restaurant ($$$) is plush and subdued, with delicately carved chairs and mahogany-panel walls. Its menus include dishes such as pork medallions, perch fillet, and lamb chops. Pros: business floor; cozy and big lobby; excellent restaurant; many rooms have nice views. Cons: many rooms look onto a busy main street; parking is difficult. | Rooms from: €100 | Friedrichstr. 33 | 07541/2050 | | 92 rooms, 4 suites, 2 apartments | Breakfast.

Flair Hotel Gerbe.
$$ | HOTEL | A former farm and tannery that’s about 5 km (3 miles) from the city center, is now a pleasant, spacious hotel; its rooms (many with balconies) overlook the gardens, the countryside, and—on a clear day—the Swiss mountains. In summer you can enjoy Swabian food ($$) on the big terrace that leads into the garden. Even if you don’t swim in the indoor pool, take a peek at it and its surprising barrel ceiling, which was constructed for the tannery more than 400 years ago. Pros: spacious rooms with good views; ample parking; indoor swimming pool. Cons: 5 km (3 miles) from center of town; some rooms have street noise. | Rooms from: €128 | Hirschlatterstr. 14, Ailingen | 07541/5090 | | 59 rooms | Breakfast.

Ringhotel Krone.
$$ | HOTEL | This large Bavarian-themed hotel in the Schnetzenhausen district’s semirural surroundings, 6 km (4 miles) from the center of town, has a lot to offer active guests, including tennis, minigolf, bicycles to rent, a gym, saunas, and indoor and outdoor pools. The restaurant ($$) specializes in game dishes and fish. Pros: great variety of rooms; good food; lots of parking. Cons: not near the center of town; a few rooms have street noise. | Rooms from: €164 | Untere Mühlbachstr. 1, Schnetzenhausen | 07541/4080 | | 140 rooms | Breakfast.


Café Bar Belushi.
College students and a mostly young crowd raise their glasses and voices above the din at Café Bar Belushi. | Montfortstr. 3 | 07541/32531 | | Closed Sun.

This modern convention center on the lakeside promenade also functions as a cultural center, where musicals, light opera, and classical as well as pop-rock concerts take place several times a week. The Graf-Zeppelin-Haus has a good modern restaurant with a big terrace overlooking the harbor. | Olgastr. 20 | 07541/2880 |


Marktkörble Ebe.
This century-old gift shop sells tableware and kitchenware, handmade candles, toys, stationery, and postcards, alongside some clothing and accessories. | Buchhornpl. 5 | 07541/388-430 |

Weber & Weiss.
Excellent chocolates are sold at Weber & Weiss. Look for the special zeppelin airship-shape chocolates and candies. | Charlottenstr. 11 | 07541/21771 |


18 km (11 miles) west of Friedrichshafen.

Meersburg is one of the most romantic old towns on the German shore of the lake. Seen from the water on a summer afternoon with the sun slanting low, the steeply terraced town looks like a stage set, with its bold castles, severe patrician dwellings, and a gaggle of half-timber houses arranged around narrow streets. It’s no wonder that cars have been banned from the center: the crowds of people who come to visit the sights on weekends fill up the streets. The town is divided into the Unterstadt (Lower Town) and Oberstadt (Upper Town), connected by several steep streets and stairs.


Visitor Information
Tourism Meersburg. | Tourism Meersburg, Kirchstr. 4 | 07532/440-400 |


Altes Schloss (Old Castle; Burg Meersburg).
Majestically guarding the town is the Altes Schloss, the original Meersburg (“sea castle”). It’s Germany’s oldest inhabited castle, founded in 628 by Dagobert, king of the Franks. The massive central tower, with walls 10 feet thick, is named after him. The bishops of Konstanz used it as a summer residence until 1526, at which point they moved in permanently. They remained until the mid-18th century, when they built themselves what they felt to be a more suitable residence—the baroque Neues Schloss. Plans to tear down the Altes Schloss in the early 19th century were shelved when it was taken over by Baron Joseph von Lassberg, a man much intrigued by the castle’s medieval romance. He turned it into a home for like-minded poets and artists, among them the Grimm brothers and his sister-in-law, the poet Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (1797-1848). The Altes Schloss is still private property, but much of it can be visited, including the richly furnished rooms where Droste-Hülshoff lived and the chamber where she died, as well as the imposing knights’ hall, the minstrels’ gallery, and the sinister dungeons. The Altes Schloss Museum (Old Castle Museum) contains a fascinating collection of weapons and armor, including a rare set of medieval jousting equipment. | Schlosspl. 10 | 07532/80000 | | €9.50 | Mar.-Oct., daily 9-6:30; Nov.-Feb., daily 10-6.

Fürstenhäusle (Prince’s Little House, Droste Museum).
An idyllic retreat almost hidden among the vineyards, the Fürstenhäusle was built in 1640 by a local vintner and later used as a holiday house by the poet Annette von Droste-Hülshoff. It’s now the Droste Museum, containing many of her personal possessions and giving a vivid sense of Meersburg in her time. You’ll need to join a guided tour to enter the museum. | Stettenerstr. 11, east of Obertor, the town’s north gate | 07532/6088 | | €5 | Apr.-Oct., Tues.-Sat. 10-12:30 and 2-6, Sun. 2-6.

Heilig Geist Spital (Haus für Wein, Kultur, Geschichte; Museum of Wine, Culture and History).
Take a fascinating look into Meersburg’s cultural—and vinicultural—history at this museum space housed in the city’s historic hospital building, the Heilig Geist Spital (Hospital of the Holy Spirit). Temporary exhibitions have been showing in the under-renovation building since 2015, with the new museum set to open in full by mid-2016. | Vorburgg. 11 | 07532/440-400 | | €6 | Tues.-Sun. 11-6.

Neues Schloss.
The spacious and elegant “New Castle” is directly across from its predecessor. Designed by Christoph Gessinger at the beginning of the 18th century, it took nearly 50 years to complete. The grand double staircase, with its intricate grillwork and heroic statues, was the work of Balthasar Neumann. The interior’s other standout is the glittering Spiegelsaal (Hall of Mirrors). | Schlosspl. 12 | 07532/807-9410 | | €5 | Apr.-Oct., daily 9-6.30; Nov.-Mar., weekends and holidays noon-5.


Winzerstube zum Becher.
$$$ | GERMAN | Fresh fish from the lake is a specialty at this traditional restaurant, which has been in the Benz family for three generations. You can pair the day’s catch with white wine from their own vineyard. A popular entrée is badische Ente (duck with bacon and apples in a wine-kirsch sauce). The restaurant is near the New Castle, and reservations are recommended. | Average main: €22 | Höllg. 4 | 07532/9009 | | Closed Mon. and 1 wk in Jan.


Gästehaus am Hafen.
$ | HOTEL | This family-run, half-timber pension is in the middle of the Old Town, near the harbor. The rooms are small but have room for a child’s bed, if needed. There’s a place to store bikes as well. Pros: close to the harbor; in the center of the Lower Town; good value. Cons: small rooms; no credit cards; parking is five minutes away on foot. | Rooms from: €58 | Spitalg. 3-4 | 07532/7069 | | No credit cards | Closed Nov.-Mar. | 7 rooms | Breakfast.

Hotel Weinstube Löwen.
$ | HOTEL | Rooms at this local landmark—a centuries-old, ivy-clad tavern on Meersburg’s market square—have their own corner sitting areas, some with genuine Biedermeier furniture. The welcoming restaurant ($$; closed Thursdays November to March), with pine paneling, serves regional and seasonal specialties, notably a tasty stew of local fish. Pros: center of town; pleasant rooms; good food in a cozy restaurant. Cons: lots of daytime noise from tourists; no elevator. | Rooms from: €90 | Marktpl. 2 | 07532/43040 | | 20 rooms | Breakfast.

Romantik Hotel Residenz am See.
$$$ | HOTEL | This tastefully modern hotel overlooking the lake features two restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Casala, and Residenz Restaurant, which specializes in regional fare. Most of the elegant rooms face the lake, but the quieter ones look out onto a vineyard. The hotel is about a 10-minute walk from the harbor and Old Town. Pros: good food; pleasant rooms with lake view; quiet rooms toward the vineyards. Cons: not in center of town. | Rooms from: €198 | Uferpromenade 11 | 07532/80040 | | 23 rooms, 2 suites | Breakfast; Some meals | Casala restaurant closed Mon.-Wed. and Nov. Residenz restaurant closed Tues., in winter also Mon.

See Hotel Off.
$$ | HOTEL | Nearly all rooms at this bright, airy and crisply renovated hotel just a few steps from the shore offer balconies with views across the lake or vineyards. Owner Elisabeth Off has added many personal touches to make guests feel completely at home, and has designed several rooms according to the guidelines of feng shui. In the restaurant ($$) her husband, chef Michael Off, transforms local ingredients into gustatory adventures, with a nod to nouvelle cuisine. The wellness area includes all sorts of alternative healing measures, including Reiki and aromatherapy. And there’s swimming in the lake. Pros: close to the lake; individually decorated rooms; away from center of town. Cons: not in center of town. | Rooms from: €107 | Uferpromenade 51 | 07532/44740 | | Closed Jan. | 13 rooms, 7 junior suites | Breakfast.

Zum Bären.
$ | HOTEL | Individually furnished rooms lend character to this historic hotel, whose ivy-covered facade, with its characteristic steeple, hasn’t changed much over the centuries. Built in 1605 and incorporating 13th-century Gothic foundations, the building was an important staging point for Germany’s first postal service. The restaurant ($-$$) is rustic in an uncluttered way; people travel from afar to enjoy the rack of lamb. Some rooms are furnished with Bodensee antiques and brightly painted rustic wardrobes. Try to book Room 23 or 13: both have semicircular alcoves with armchairs and windows overlooking the marketplace. Pros: center of town; historic building; good value; own parking garage. Cons: no elevator; some rooms are small; no credit cards. | Rooms from: €88 | Marktpl. 11 | 07532/43220 | | No credit cards | Closed mid-Nov.-mid-Mar. | 20 rooms | Breakfast.


Meersburg Therme (Meersburg Spa).
This lakeside pool complex east of the harbor has three outdoor pools, an indoor “adventure” pool, an indoor-outdoor thermal bath (34°C [93.2°F]), and an indoor-outdoor “sauna world” with a wide variety of saunas, including two “Pfahlbau saunas” built to look like traditional Pfahlbauten (lake dwellings). | Uferpromenade 12 | 07532/440-2850 | | Bathing and sauna (3 hrs) €18, full day €22 | Mon.-Thurs. 10-10, Fri. and Sat. 10 am-11 pm, Sun. 9 am-10 pm.


Omas Kaufhaus.
If you can’t find something at this incredible gift shop (with nostalgic retro toys, enamelware, books, dolls, model cars, and much more), then you should at least see the exhibition of toy trains and tin boats on the first floor. The boats are displayed in a long canal filled with real water. | Cnr. Kirchstr. and Steigstr. | 07532/433-9611 | Entry to the exhibition €2 | Daily 10-6:30 | Exhibition closed in the winter months, except around Christmas.

EN ROUTE: Pfahlbauten.
As you proceed northwest along the lake’s shore, a settlement of “pile dwellings”—a reconstructed village of Stone Age and Bronze Age houses built on stilts—sticks out of the lake. This is how the original lake dwellers lived, surviving off the fish that swam outside their humble huts. Real dwellers in authentic garb give you an accurate picture of prehistoric lifestyles. The on-site Pfahlbaumuseum (Lake Dwelling Open-Air Museum and Research Institute) contains actual finds excavated in the area. Admission includes a 45-60-minute tour. | Strandpromenade 6 | Unteruhldingen | 07556/928-900 | | €9 | Apr.-Sept., daily 9-6:30; Oct., daily 9-5; Nov.-Mar., hrs vary.


13 km (8 miles) west of Meersburg, 24 km (15 miles) west of Friedrichshafen.

This Bodensee resort has an attractive waterfront and an almost Mediterranean feel. It’s midway along the north shore of the Überlingersee, a narrow finger of the Bodensee that points to the northwest. Überlingen is ancient—it’s first mentioned in records dating back to 770. In the 14th century it earned the title of Free Imperial City and was known for its wines. No fewer than seven of its original city gates and towers remain from those grand days, as well as substantial portions of the old city walls. What was once the moat is now a grassy walkway, with the walls of the Old Town towering on one side and the Stadtpark stretching away on the other. The Stadtgarten (city garden), which opened in 1875, cultivates exotic plants and has a famous collection of cacti, a fuchsia garden, and a small deer corral. The heart of the city is the Münsterplatz.


Visitor Information
Überlingen. | Tourist-Information, Landungspl. 5 | 07551/947-1522 |


Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall).
Inside the late-Gothic Altes Rathaus is a high point of Gothic decoration, the Rathaussaal, or council chamber, which is still in use today. Its most striking feature amid the riot of carving is the series of figures, created between 1492 and 1494, representing the states of the Holy Roman Empire. To visit the interior, you’ll need to take the short guided tour. Tours are free; simply show up shortly before the set start time. | Münsterstr. 15 | 07551/991-011 | | Tours: Wed. and Thurs. at 11.

Münster St. Nikolaus (Church of St. Nicholas).
The huge Münster St. Nikolaus was built between 1512 and 1563 on the site of at least two previous churches. The interior is all Gothic solemnity and massiveness, with a lofty stone-vaulted ceiling and high, pointed arches lining the nave. The single most remarkable feature is not Gothic at all but opulently Renaissance—the massive high altar, carved by Jörg Zürn from lime wood that almost looks like ivory. The subject of the altar carvings is the Nativity. | Münsterpl. | 07551/92720 | Daily 8-6.

Fodor’s Choice | Schloss Salem (Salem Castle).
This huge castle in the tiny inland village of Salem, 10 km (6 miles) north of Überlingen, began its existence as a convent and large church. After many architectural permutations, it was transformed into a palace for the Baden princes, though traces of its religious past can still be seen. You can view the royally furnished rooms of the abbots and princes, a library, stables, and the church. The castle also houses an interesting array of museums, workshops, and activities, including a museum of firefighting, a potter, a musical instrument builder, a goldsmith shop, a glassblowing shop, pony farms, a golf driving range, and a fantasy garden for children. There is a great path that leads from the southwestern part of the grounds through woods and meadows to the pilgrimage church of Birnau. The route was created by the monks centuries ago and is still called the Prälatenweg (path of the prelates) today. It’s an 8-km (5-mile) walk (no cars permitted). | Salem | 07553/916-5336 | | €9 | Apr.-Oct., Mon.-Sat. 9:30-6, Sun. 10:30-6; Nov.-Mar., Sun. 3 pm guided tour only.

Städtisches Museum (City Museum).
This museum is housed in the Reichlin-von-Meldegg house, built in 1462, one of the earliest Renaissance dwellings in Germany. It displays exhibits tracing Bodensee history and Germany’s largest collection of antique dollhouses. | Krummebergstr. 30 | 07551/991-079 | | €5 | Apr.-Oct., Tues.-Sat. 9-12:30 and 2-5, Sun. 10-3.

Wallfahrtskirche Birnau (Pilgrimage Church; Basilika Birnau).
Just northwest of Unteruhldingen, the Wallfahrtskirche Birnau stands among vineyards overlooking the lake. The church was built by the master architect Peter Thumb between 1746 and 1750. Its exterior consists of pink-and-white plaster and a tapering clock-tower spire above the main entrance. The interior is overwhelmingly rich, full of movement, light, and color. It’s hard to single out highlights from such a profusion of ornament, but look for the Honigschlecker (“honey sucker”), a gold-and-white cherub beside the altar, dedicated to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, “whose words are sweet as honey” (it’s the last altar on the right as you face the high altar). The cherub is sucking honey from his finger, which he’s just pulled out of a beehive. The fanciful spirit of this play on words is continued in the small squares of glass set into the pink screen that rises high above the main altar; the gilt dripping from the walls; the swaying, swooning statues; and the swooping figures on the ceiling. | Birnau-Maurach 5 | Uhldingen-Mühlhofen | 07556/92030 | | May-Sept., daily 7:30-7; Oct.-Apr., daily 7:30-5.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH: Affenberg (Monkey Mountain).
On the road between Überlingen and Salem, the Affenberg (Monkey Mountain) is a 50-plus-acre park that serves as home to more than 200 free-roaming Barbary apes, as well as deer, aquatic birds, gray herons, ducks, coots, and—during nesting time—a colony of white storks. | Mendlishauser Hof | On road between Überlingen and Salem | 07553/381 | | €8.50 | Mid-Mar.-Oct., daily 9-6; last entry at 5:30.


Landgasthof zum Adler.
$ | HOTEL | This unpretentious, rustic country inn in a village a few miles north of Überlingen has a blue-and-white half-timber facade, scrubbed wooden floors, maple-wood tables, and thick down comforters on the beds. There are also 10 apartments in a separate house for families at very affordable rates, and a large playground. The food ($$) is simple and delicious; trout is a specialty, as are several vegetarian dishes, such as potato gratin with fennel. Pros: good food in old wooden restaurant; modern rooms in annex; family-friendly. Cons: rooms on the street side can be noisy; a bit far from Überlingen; family-oriented. | Rooms from: €78 | Hauptstr. 44, Lippertsreute | 07553/82550 | | 16 rooms | Breakfast.

Romantik Hotel Johanniter Kreuz.
$$ | HOTEL | Parts of this half-timber hotel in a small village north of Überlingen date from the 17th century, setting a romantic tone that’s further enhanced by the huge fireplace in the center of the restaurant. In the modern annex you can relax on your room’s balcony. An 18-hole golf course overlooking the lake is 1½ km (1 mile) away. Pros: choice of very different rooms; spacious; modern, and yet welcoming lobby; family run; cozy restaurant; golf course close by. Cons: 3 km (2 miles) from center of town; long corridors from historic part of hotel to reach elevator in new part. | Rooms from: €136 | Johanniterweg 11, Andelshofen | 07551/937-060 | | 29 rooms | Breakfast.

$$ | HOTEL | The charm of this vine-covered hotel in the center of town has been preserved and supplemented through time—in the hallways you’ll find quaint furniture and even an old Singer sewing machine painted with flowers. The rooms are done with light, wooden Scandinavian farm furniture. Guests and Überlingen residents congregate in the comfortable taproom, where the regional and international dishes are reasonably priced ($). The chef prides himself on his homemade Spätzle (Swabian egg noodles). For lake views, the hotel has a second, larger building a few steps away right on the lake, complete with a terrace café. Pros: center of town; local atmosphere in restaurant; annex with lake view. Cons: parking nearby, but for a fee; no credit cards. | Rooms from: €109 | Jakob-Kessenringstr. 12 and 14 | 07551/83070 | | No credit cards | 32 rooms in 2 houses | Breakfast.


The beauty and charm of Überlingen is one reason so many artists work and live here; there are more than 20 workshops and artists’ shops where you can browse and buy at reasonable prices. TIP Ask at the tourist office for the brochure listing all the galleries.

Holzer Goldschmiede.
You’ll find this master goldsmith’s studio near the city’s Franziskanertor. | Turmg. 8, Am Franziskanertor | 07551/61525 |

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The Upper Swabian Baroque Road

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Ravensburg | Weingarten

From Friedrichshafen, B-30 leads north along the valley of the little River Schussen and links up with one of Germany’s lesser-known but most attractive scenic routes. The Oberschwäbische Barockstrasse (Upper Swabian Baroque Road) follows a rich series of baroque churches and abbeys, including Germany’s largest baroque church, the basilica in Weingarten.


20 km (12 miles) north of Friedrichshafen.

The Free Imperial City of Ravensburg once competed with Augsburg and Nürnberg for economic supremacy in southern Germany. The Thirty Years’ War put an end to the city’s hopes by reducing it to little more than a medieval backwater. The city’s loss proved fortuitous only in that many of its original features have remained much as they were built (in the 19th century, medieval towns usually tore down their medieval walls and towers, which were considered ungainly and constraining). Fourteen of Ravensburg’s town gates and towers survive, and the Altstadt is among the best preserved in Germany.

Getting Here and Around

Consider taking an official tour of the city, which grants you access to some of the towers for a splendid view of Ravensburg and the surrounding countryside. Tours are available at the tourist office.


Visitor Information
Ravensburg Tourist-Information. | Tourist-Information, Kirchstr. 16 | 0751/82800 |


Top Attractions

Defensive Towers.
Ravensburg is home to a remarkable collection of well-preserved medieval towers and city gates. Highlights include the Grüner Turm (Green Tower), so called for its green tiles, many of which are 14th-century originals. Another stout defense tower is the massive Obertor (Upper Tower), the oldest gate in the city walls. The curiously named Mehlsack (Flour Sack) tower—so called because of its rounded shape and whitewash exterior—stands 170 feet high and sits upon the highest point of the city. From April to October, visitors can climb to the top of the Blaserturm (Trumpeter’s Tower) for rooftop views over the city. | Ravensburg | 0751/82800 | | Towers €1.50 | Apr.-Oct., daily 11-5.

Many of Ravensburg’s monuments that most recall the town’s wealthy past are concentrated on this central square. To the west is the 14th-century Kornhaus (Granary); once the corn exchange for all of Upper Swabia, it now houses the public library. The late-Gothic Rathaus is a staid, red building with a Renaissance bay window and imposing late-Gothic rooms inside. Next to it stands the 15th-century Waaghaus (Weighing House), the town’s weigh station and central warehouse. Its tower, the Blaserturm (Trumpeter’s Tower), which served as the watchman’s abode, was rebuilt in 1556 after a fire and now bears a pretty Renaissance helmet. Finally there’s the colorfully frescoed Lederhaus, once the headquarters of the city’s leather workers, and now home to a café. On Saturday morning the square comes alive with a large market. | Ravensburg.

Worth Noting

Evangelische Stadtkirche (Protestant Church).
That ecclesiastical and commercial life were never entirely separate in medieval towns is evident in this church, once part of a 14th-century monastery. The stairs on the west side of the church’s chancel lead to the meeting room of the Ravensburger Gesellschaft (Ravensburg Society), an organization of linen merchants established in 1400. After the Reformation, Catholics and Protestants shared the church, but in 1810 the Protestants were given the entire building. The neo-Gothic stained-glass windows on the west side, depicting important figures of the Reformation such as Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli, were sponsored by wealthy burghers. | Marienpl. 5 |

Humpis-Quartier Museum.
Glass walkways, stairways, and a central courtyard connect the well-preserved medieval residences at this museum, where visitors can take a close look into the lives of Ravensburgers in the Middle Ages. The residences once belonged to the Humpis family, who were traders in the 15th century. | Marktstr. 45 | 0751/82820 | | €4 | Tues., Wed., and Fri.-Sun. 11-6, Thurs. 11-8.

Kirche St. Peter und Paul (St. Petrus und Paulus).
Just to the southwest of Ravensburg in the village of Weissenau stands this old church, which was part of a 12th-century Premonstratensian monastery and now has a high baroque facade. The interior is a stupendous baroque masterpiece, with ceiling paintings by Joseph Hafner that create the illusion of cupolas, and vivacious stuccowork by Johannes Schmuzer, one of the famous stucco artists from Wessobrunn. | Abteistr. 2-3 | 0751/61590 | | Daily 9-6.

Liebfrauenkirche (Church of Our Lady).
Ravensburg’s true parish church, the Gothic 14th-century Liebfrauenkirche, is elegantly simple on the outside but almost entirely rebuilt inside, having reopened in early 2011 following major renovations. Among the finest treasures within are the 15th-century stained-glass windows in the choir and the heavily gilt altar. In a side altar is a copy of a carved Madonna, the Schutzmantelfrau; the late-14th-century original is in Berlin’s Dahlem Museum. | Kirchstr. 18 | 0751/361-960 | | Daily 7-7.

Museum Ravensburger.
Ravensburg is a familiar name to all jigsaw-puzzle fans, because the Ravensburg publishing house produces the world’s largest selection of puzzles, in addition to many other children’s games. Here you can explore the history of the company, founded in 1883 by Otto Robert Maier. Be sure to try out new and classic games via the interactive game stations throughout the museum. | Marktstr. 26 | 0751/861-377 | | €7.50 | Apr.-Sept., Tues.-Sun. 10-6; Oct.-Mar., Tues.-Sun. 11-6.

Ravensburger Spieleland.
This amusement park is located 10 km (6 miles) from Ravensburg, in the direction of Lindau. Entrance is free to children on their birthday. | Am Hangenwald 1 | Meckenbeuren | 07542/4000 | | €29 | Apr.-Oct., daily 10-6. Park closes sporadically, check ahead of time.


Café-Restaurant Central.
$ | ECLECTIC | This popular place, with two floors and a large terrace on Marienplatz, has an international range of dishes, from kebabs and curries to pastas and local specialties. You can also enjoy coffee, cakes, or an aperitif. | Average main: €12 | Marienpl. 48 | 0751/32533 |

Firenze Caffé e Gelateria.
$ | ITALIAN | This bustling multilevel café opens early and closes late and offers a mind-boggling array of ice-cream dishes and other sweet and savory fare. For a quick and inexpensive meal, consider the tasty breakfasts, sandwiches, and German- and Italian-influenced items on offer. | Average main: €10 | Marienpl. 47 | 0751/24665 | No credit cards.

Gasthof Ochsen and Ochsen Hotel am Mehlsack.
$ | HOTEL | A typical, family-owned Swabian inn, the Ochsen consists of a traditional Gasthof, and the adjoining, newly renovated Ochsen Hotel am Mehlsack featuring more modern (and pricier) rooms. The two parts of the hotel share a lobby and an elevator. When checking in, reserve a table for dinner, as the wood-paneled Restaurant Ochsen ($$) can often book up. This is the place to try Maultaschen (Swabian ravioli) and Zwiebelrostbraten (steak with lots of fried onions). Pros: warm atmosphere and good Swabian food in two cozy restaurants; many rooms newly refurbished. Cons: parking not on-site. | Rooms from: €99 | Burgstr. 1 | 0751/25480 | | 23 rooms, 2 suites, 1 penthouse room | Breakfast.

Romantikhotel Waldhorn.
$$ | HOTEL | This historic hostelry in the heart of Ravensburg has been in the Dressel-Bouley family for more than 150 years. Suites and rooms in the main building overlook the square. Rooms in the annex have views onto a quiet street. Pros: family-run historic institution; recently renovated. Cons: very limited on-site parking. | Rooms from: €109 | Marienpl. 15 | 0751/36120 | | 11 rooms, 1 suite, 9 apartments | Breakfast.


5 km (3 miles) north of Ravensburg.

Weingarten is famous throughout Germany for its huge and hugely impressive basilica, which you can see up on a hill from miles away, long before you get to the town. The city has grown during the last century as several small and midsize industries settled here. It’s now an interesting mixture, its historic Old Town surrounded by a small, prosperous industrial city.


Visitor Information
Weingarten Amt für Kultur- und Tourismus. | Münsterpl. 1 | 0751/405-232 |


If you want to learn about early Germans—residents from the 6th, 7th, and 8th centuries whose graves are just outside town—visit the Alemannenmuseum in the Kornhaus, which was once a granary. Archaeologists discovered the hundreds of Alemannic graves in the 1950s. | Karlstr. 28 | 0751/49343 | | €2 | Wed.-Sun. 2-5.

Weingarten Basilica (St. Martin Basilica).
At 220 feet high and more than 300 feet long, Weingarten Basilica is the largest baroque church in Germany. It was built as the church of one of the oldest and most venerable convents in the country, founded in 1056 by the wife of Guelph IV. The Guelph dynasty ruled large areas of Upper Swabia, and generations of family members lie buried in the church. The majestic edifice was renowned because of its little vial said to contain drops of Christ’s blood. First mentioned by Charlemagne, the vial passed to the convent in 1094, entrusted to its safekeeping by the Guelph queen Juditha, sister-in-law of William the Conqueror. Weingarten then became one of Germany’s foremost pilgrimage sites. To this day, on the day after Ascension Thursday, the anniversary of the day the vial of Christ’s blood was entrusted to the convent, a huge procession of pilgrims wends its way to the basilica. It’s well worth seeing the procession, which is headed by nearly 3,000 horsemen (many local farmers breed horses just for this occasion). The basilica was decorated by leading early-18th-century German and Austrian artists: stuccowork by Franz Schmuzer, ceiling frescoes by Cosmas Damian Asam, and a Donato Frisoni altar—one of the most breathtakingly ornate in Europe, with nearly 80-foot-high towers on either side. The organ, installed by Josef Gabler between 1737 and 1750, is among the largest in the country. | Kirchpl. 6 | | Nov.-Mar., daily 8-5; Apr.-Oct., daily 8-7.

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Around the Bodanrück Peninsula

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Konstanz | Mainau | Reichenau

The immense Bodensee owes its name to a small, insignificant town, Bodman, on the Bodanrück Peninsula, at the northwestern edge of the lake. TIP The peninsula’s most popular destinations, Konstanz and Mainau, are reachable by ferry from Meersburg—by far the most romantic way to get to the area. The other option is to take the road (B-31, then B-34, and finally B-33) that skirts the western arm of the Bodensee and ends its German journey at Konstanz.


A ½-hr ferry ride from Meersburg.

The university town of Konstanz is the largest on the Bodensee; it straddles the Rhine as it flows out of the lake, placing it both on the Bodanrück Peninsula and the Switzerland side of the lake, where it adjoins the Swiss town of Kreuzlingen. Konstanz is among the best-preserved medieval towns in Germany; during the war the Allies were unwilling to risk inadvertently bombing neutral Switzerland. On the peninsula side of the town, east of the main bridge connecting Konstanz’s two halves, runs Seestrasse, a stately promenade of neoclassical mansions with views of the Bodensee. The Old Town center is a labyrinth of narrow streets lined with restored half-timber houses and dignified merchant dwellings. This is where you’ll find restaurants, hotels, pubs, and much of the nightlife.

It’s claimed that Konstanz was founded in the 3rd century by Emperor Constantine Chlorus, father of Constantine the Great. The story is probably untrue, though it’s certain there was a Roman garrison here. In the late 6th century Konstanz was made a bishopric; in 1192 it became a Free Imperial City. What put it on the map was the Council of Constance, held between 1414 and 1418 to settle the Great Schism (1378-1417), the rift in the church caused by two separate lines of popes, one ruling from Rome, the other from Avignon. The Council resolved the problem in 1417 by electing Martin V as the true, and only, pope. The church had also agreed to restore the Holy Roman emperor’s (Sigismund’s) role in electing the pope, but only if Sigismund silenced the rebel theologian Jan Hus, of Bohemia. Even though Sigismund had allowed Hus safe passage to Konstanz for the Council, he won the church’s favor by having Hus burned at the stake in July 1415. In a satiric short story, the French author Honoré de Balzac created the character of Imperia, a courtesan of great beauty and cleverness, who raised the blood pressure of both religious and secular VIPs during the council. No one visiting the harbor today can miss the 28-foot statue of Imperia standing out on the breakwater. Dressed in a revealing and alluring style, in her hands she holds two dejected figures: the emperor and the pope. This hallmark of Konstanz, created by Peter Lenk, caused controversy when it was unveiled in April 1993.

Most people enjoy Konstanz for its worldly pleasures—the elegant Altstadt, trips on the lake, walks along the promenade, elegant shops, the restaurants, the views. The heart of the city is the Marktstätte (Marketplace), near the harbor, with the simple bulk of the Konzilgebäude looming behind it. Erected in 1388 as a warehouse, the Konzilgebäude (Council Hall) is now a concert hall. Beside the Konzilgebäude are statues of Jan Hus and native son Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin (1838-1917). The Dominican monastery where Hus was held before his execution is still here, doing duty as a luxurious hotel, the Steigenberger Insel-Hotel.

Getting Here and Around

Konstanz is in many ways the center of the lake area. You can reach Zürich airport by direct train in about an hour, and Frankfurt in 4½ hours. Swiss autobahn access to Zürich is about 10 minutes away, and you can reach the autobahn access to Stuttgart in about the same time. To reach the island of Mainau, you can take a bus, but a much more pleasant way to get there is by boat, via Meersburg. You can take another boat downriver to Schaffhausen in Switzerland, or east to the northern shore towns as well as Bregenz in Austria. The Old Town is manageable on foot.


Visitor Information
Tourist-Information Konstanz. | Bahnhofpl. 43 | 07531/133-030 |

Around the Bodanrück Peninsula

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Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall).
This old town hall was built during the Renaissance and painted with vivid frescoes—swags of flowers and fruits, shields, and sturdy knights wielding immense swords. Walk into the courtyard to admire its Renaissance restraint. | Kanzleistr. 13.

Konstanz’s cathedral, the Münster, was the center of one of Germany’s largest bishoprics until 1827, when the seat was moved to Freiburg. Construction on the cathedral continued from the 10th through the 19th century, resulting in an interesting coexistence of architectural styles: the twin-tower facade is sturdily Romanesque; the elegant and airy chapels along the aisles are full-blown 15th-century Gothic; the complex nave vaulting is Renaissance; and the choir is severely neoclassical. The Mauritius Chapel behind the altar is a 13th-century Gothic structure, 12 feet high, with some of its original vivid coloring and gilding. It’s studded with statues of the Apostles and figures depicting the childhood of Jesus. Climb the Münsterturm (Münster Tower) for views over the city and lake. | Münsterpl. 4 | €2 | Daily 8-6. Tower: Mon.-Sat. 10-5 and Sun. 12:30-5.

The Niederburg, the oldest part of Konstanz, is a tangle of twisting streets leading to the Rhine. From the river take a look at two of the city’s old towers: the Rheintorturm (Rhine Tower), the one nearer the lake, and the aptly named Pulverturm (Powder Tower), the former city arsenal. | Konstanz.

Rosgartenmuseum (Rose Garden Museum).
Within the medieval guildhall of the city’s butchers, this museum has a rich collection of art and artifacts from the Bodensee region. Highlights include exhibits of the life and work of the people around the Bodensee, from the Bronze Age through the Middle Ages and beyond. There’s also a collection of sculpture and altar paintings from the Middle Ages. | Rosgartenstr. 3-5 | 07531/900-246 | | €3 | Tue.-Fri. 10-6, weekends 10-5.

This huge aquarium has gathered all the fish species that inhabit the Rhine and the Bodensee, from the river’s beginnings in the Swiss Alps to its end in Rotterdam and the North Sea. Also check out the Bodensee Naturmuseum at the side entrance, which gives a comprehensive overview of the geological history of the Bodensee and its fauna and flora right down to the microscopic creatures of the region. You can buy tickets in advance online for a significantly cheaper price. | Hafenstr. 9 | 07531/128-270 | | €19.50 | Sept.-June, daily 10-5, July and Aug., daily 10-6.


Brauhaus Joh. Albrecht.
$ | GERMAN | This small brewery with shiny copper cauldrons, part of a chain of five throughout Germany, serves simple dishes as well as regional specialties and vegetarian food on large wooden tables. | Average main: €14 | Konradig. 2 | 07531/25045 |

$$ | GERMAN | Enjoy eclectic cooking—including Italian, Bavarian, and Swabian fare—at this warm-weather spot on the harbor. Sit outside on the terrace and watch the busy harbor traffic, or enjoy the beer garden with sandbox for children and big TV screen for watching sports. The restaurant frequently presents sporting, culinary, and live-music events. If you’re in town on Ash Wednesday at the end of the Swabian-Alemannic Fastnacht (carnival) celebrations, try to get a spot at Hafenhalle’s annual fish-and-snails dining event, which marks the reopening of the restaurant after their period of winter closure. | Average main: €15 | Hafenstr. 10 | 07531/21126 | | Closed Jan. and Feb.


ABC Hotel.
$$ | HOTEL | This hotel offers large, comfortable, individually furnished rooms, all with kitchen facilities; book the unusual Turmsuite (Tower Suite) for an especially memorable stay among exposed beams and steeply sloping walls, and with private access to the top of the tower. The sturdy building served as both a barracks and a casino in years gone by. It’s about 15 minutes on foot or 5 minutes by bus from the center of Konstanz. Pros: warm welcome; large airy rooms; quiet location; free on-site parking; free Wi-Fi. Cons: not in the center of town; no elevator. | Rooms from: €119 | Steinstr. 19 | 07531/8900 | | 36 rooms, 1 suite | Breakfast.

$ | HOTEL | This historic hotel in the heart of Old Town has been modernized inside, but such original elements as wooden support beams lend a romantic, authentic feel. Rooms are individually furnished, with several newly redecorated. The stained-glass windows and dark-wood paneling give the restaurant ($$$) a cozy, warm atmosphere. Fish and game in season are the specialties. Enjoy sunshine and views over the city from the rooftop terrace. Pros: historic building; cozy restaurant with good food; free hotel-wide Wi-Fi. Cons: some rooms simply furnished; parking available but a third of a mile walk away. | Rooms from: €99 | Obermarkt 8-12 | 07531/128-990 | | 50 rooms | Breakfast.

$$ | HOTEL | It’s a five-minute walk to the lake from this friendly hotel, where rooms are modern, airy, and decorated in bright colors. Try for the rooms on the top floor, which have good views. Pros: center of town; quiet location with little traffic. Cons: no restaurant; parking garage five minutes away on foot. | Rooms from: €115 | Bruderturmg. 2 | 07531/90460 | | 24 rooms | Breakfast.

Fodor’s Choice | Steigenberger Insel-Hotel.
$$$ | HOTEL | With its original cloisters intact, this former 16th-century monastery is now the most luxurious lodging in town. But in earlier days, the church reformer Jan Hus was held prisoner here, and later, Graf Zeppelin was born here. Bedrooms are spacious and stylish, more like those of a private home than a hotel, and most have lake views. The formal terrace restaurant has superb views of the lake, while the Dominikanerstube is smaller and more intimate. Both restaurants ($$$) feature regional specialties. For drinks, there’s the clubby, relaxed Zeppelin Bar and Susos Bar-Café, which also has a terrace. Pros: wonderful lake views; luxurious; good restaurants; several rooms newly refurbished. Cons: a few rooms look out on railroad tracks; some rooms need refurbishing; expensive. | Rooms from: €210 | Auf der Insel 1 | 07531/1250 | | 100 rooms, 2 suites | Breakfast.


Casino Konstanz.
Try your luck on the machines and tables of the casino in Konstanz. You must be over 21 to enter the casino. | Seestr. 21 | 07531/81570 | | Sun.-Thurs. 2 pm-2 am, Fri. and Sat. 2 pm-3 am | Entry only with ID. Dress code: shirt and sports jacket for men.

K9 (Kommunales Kunst-und Kulturzentrum K9).
This cultural center draws all ages with its music and dance club, theater, comedy, and cabaret. It’s in the former Church of St. Paul. | Hieronymusg. 3 | 07531/16713 |

Kulturladen (Kula).
Concerts and variously themed DJ nights are held at Kulturladen. | Joseph Belli Weg 5 | 07531/52954 |

Rock am See.
This annual late-summer rock music festival has been drawing rock fans to the Bodensee since 1985. Held at Bodensee-Stadion in Konstanz, the festival features both German and international acts. | Bodensee-Stadion, Eichhornstr. 89 | 07531/90880 ticket service | | Approx. €90.

This cozy and crowded Italian restaurant ($) and bar features the occasional live jazz night and also screens live football games from time to time. | Konzilstr. 1 | 07531/27232 | | Open daily from 5.

Seenachtfest (Lake Night Festival).
In August, Konstanz shares this one-day city festival with neighboring Kreuzlingen in Switzerland, with street events, music, clowns, and magicians, and ending with fireworks over the lake. | Lakefront | | €19.

Stadttheater (Theater Konstanz).
The Stadttheater, Germany’s oldest active theater, has staged plays since 1609 and has its own repertory company. | Konzilstr. 11 | 07531/900-150 (tickets) | | Ticket office open weekdays 10-7, Sat. 10-1.



Bike rentals generally cost €12 per day.

This friendly store rents bikes at the main train station. A two-day rental costs €25. | Bahnhofpl. 29 | 07531/27310 |

Velotours Touristik GmbH.
You can book bicycle tours and rent bikes at Velotours Touristik GmbH. | Bücklestr. 13 | 07531/98280 |


Wilde Flotte—Segel & Wassersportschule Konstanz Wallhausen (Wild Fleet).
This sailing school offers boat charters—both skippered and solo—as well as lessons in sailing, wakeboarding, and waterskiing. | Uferstr. 16 | Wallhausen | 07533/997-8802 |

Yachtcharter Konstanz.
Sail and motor yachts are available at Yachtcharter Konstanz. | Hafenstr. 7b | 07531/363-3970 |


It’s worthwhile to roam the streets of the old part of town, where there are several gold- and silversmiths and jewelers.

Modehaus Fischer.
This elegant fashion store has enough style for a city 10 times the size of Konstanz. Much of its business comes from wealthy Swiss who visit Konstanz for what they consider bargain prices. Modehaus Fischer deals in well-known international fashion stock, including handbags and exquisite shoes. The store is actually spread over three branches a few blocks apart—two for women, and one for men at Obermarkt. | Rosgartenstr. 36, Hussenstr. 29, and Obermarkt. 1 | 07531/363-250 |


7 km (4½ miles) north of Konstanz by road; by ferry, ½-1 hr from Konstanz (depending on route), or 20 mins from Meersburg.

One of the most unusual sights in Germany, Mainau is a tiny island given over to the cultivation of rare plants and splashy displays of more than a million tulips, hyacinths, and narcissi. Rhododendrons and roses bloom from May to July; dahlias dominate the late summer. A greenhouse nurtures palms and tropical plants.

The island was originally the property of the Teutonic Knights, who settled here during the 13th century. In the 19th century Mainau passed to Grand Duke Friedrich I of Baden, a man with a passion for botany. He laid out most of the gardens and introduced many of the island’s more exotic specimens. His daughter Victoria, later queen of Sweden, gave the island to her son, Prince Wilhelm, and it has remained Swedish ever since. Today it’s owned by the family of Prince Wilhelm’s son, Count Lennart Bernadotte. In the former main reception hall in the castle are changing art exhibitions.

Getting Here and Around

Ferries to the island from Meersburg and Konstanz depart from April to October approximately every 1½ hours between 9 and 5. You must purchase a ticket to enter the island, which is open year-round from dawn until dusk. There’s a small bridge to the island. At night you can drive across it to the restaurants.


Visitor Information
Insel Mainau. | Mainaustr. 1 | Konstanz | 07531/3030 |


Das Schmetterlinghaus.
Beyond the flora, the island of Mainau’s other colorful extravagance is Das Schmetterlinghaus, Germany’s largest butterfly conservatory. On a circular walk through a semitropical landscape with water cascading through rare vegetation, you’ll see hundreds of butterflies flying, feeding, and mating. The exhibition in the foyer explains the butterflies’ life cycle, habitats, and ecological connections. Like the park, this oasis is open year-round. | Insel Mainau, Mainaustr. 1 | Konstanz | | Spring and summer 10-7, fall and winter 10-5.

At the middle of the island, the Gärtnerturm (Gardener’s Tower) contains an information center, a shop, and an exhibition space. Several films on Mainau and the Bodensee are also shown. | Gärtnerturm.


There are nine restaurants and cafés on the island, but nowhere to stay overnight.

$$ | SCANDINAVIAN | The lunchtime crowd gets what it needs here—fast and good service. At dinnertime candlelight adds some extra style. The resident Bernadotte family is Swedish, and so are the specialties of the chef. Have your hotel reserve a table for you. After 6 pm your reservation will be checked at the gate, and you can drive onto the island without having to pay admission. | Average main: €18 | Insel Mainau | 07531/303-156 | | Closed mid-Nov.-mid-Mar.


10 km (6 miles) northwest of Konstanz, 50 mins by ferry from Konstanz.

Reichenau is an island rich in vegetation, but unlike Mainau, it features vegetables, not flowers. In fact, 15% of its area (the island is 5 km [3 miles] long and 1½ km [1 mile] wide) is covered by greenhouses and crops of one kind or another. It also has three of Europe’s most beautiful Romanesque churches, a legacy of Reichenau’s past as a monastic center in the early Middle Ages. The churches are in each of the island’s villages—Oberzell, Mittelzell, and Niederzell, which are separated by only 1 km (½ mile). Along the shore are pleasant pathways for walking or biking.


Visitor Information
Reichenau. | Tourist-Information, Pirminstr. 145 | 07534/92070 |


Münster of St. Maria and St. Markus.
Begun in 816, the Münster of St. Maria and St. Markus, the monastery’s church, is the largest and most important of Reichenau’s Romanesque churches. Perhaps its most striking architectural feature is the roof, whose beams and ties are open for all to see. The monastery was founded in 725 by St. Pirmin and became one of the most important cultural centers of the Carolingian Empire. It reached its zenith around 1000, when 700 monks lived here. It was then probably the most important center of book illumination in Germany. The building is simple but by no means crude. Visit the Schatzkammer (Treasury) to see some of its more important holdings. They include a 5th-century ivory goblet with two carefully incised scenes of Christ’s miracles, and some priceless stained glass that is almost 1,000 years old. | Münsterpl. 3, Mittelzell | 07534/92070 | | Daily 9-5.

Museum Reichenau.
This museum of local history, in the Old Town Hall of Mittelzell, lends interesting insights into life on the island over the centuries. | Ergat 1-3, Mittelzell | 07534/999-321 | | €3 | Apr.-June, Sept., and Oct., daily 10:30-4:30; July and Aug., daily 10:30-5:30; Nov.-Mar., weekends and holidays 2-5.

Stiftskirche St. Georg (Collegiate Church of St. George).
The Stiftskirche St. Georg, in Oberzell, was built around 900; now cabbages grow in ranks up to its rough plaster walls. Small round-head windows, a simple square tower, and massive buttresses signal the church’s Romanesque origin from the outside. The interior is covered with frescoes painted by the monks in around 1000. They depict the eight miracles of Christ. Above the entrance is a depiction of the Resurrection. | Seestr. 4, Oberzell | | Free. Tours €2 | Daily 9-5; tours May-Sept., daily at noon and 4.

Stiftskirche St. Peter und Paul (St. Peter and Paul Parish Church).
The Stiftskirche St. Peter und Paul, at Niederzell, was revamped around 1750. The faded Romanesque frescoes in the apse contrast with bold rococo paintings on the ceiling and flowery stucco. | Cnr. Eginostr. and Fischerg., Niederzell | | Daily 9-5.


Kiosk am Yachthafen.
$ | GERMAN | This kiosk-style restaurant at Reichenau’s yacht harbor provides an ideal lunch, drink, or snack stop when wandering the island. In good weather, you can sit outside and watch the boats come and go. It’s also a perfect place to try the Bodensee specialty Zanderknusperle (crispy battered pike-perch bites)—fresh out of the lake. | Average main: €10 | Yacht Harbor, Hermannus-Contractus-Str. 30 | 07534/999-655 | | No credit cards | Closed Nov.-Mar.

Strandhotel Löchnerhaus.
$$ | HOTEL | Standing commandingly on the water’s edge fronted by its own boat pier, the Strandhotel (Beach Hotel) Löchnerhaus exudes a retro Riviera feel. Fresh lake fish figures prominently on the menu of the restaurant ($-$$), as do the island’s famous vegetables. Most rooms have lake views; those that don’t look out over a quiet, shady garden. Pros: nice location; views over the lake into Switzerland; quiet; free bicycle rental. Cons: closed in winter; some rooms expensive. | Rooms from: €155 | An der Schiffslände 12 | 07534/8030 | | Closed Nov.-mid-Mar. | 41 rooms | Breakfast.