10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions Around Lake Constance
Lake Constance, lying below the northern edge of the Alps, is by far the largest lake in Germany. Also bordered by Austria and Switzerland, it offers strikingly beautiful scenery with its majestic expanse of water encompassing some 270 kilometers of shoreline, by far the greatest share of it in Germany. The largest and deepest part of the lake, the Obersee, extends from Bregenz Bay to Konstanz and is fringed by numerous old lakeside towns and attractive villages with incredible views of the Swiss Alps. Long a center for water sports - it's particularly popular among sailing enthusiasts - the area is rich in culture and history and boasts many old castles, quaint medieval villages, and beautiful gardens, and draws hikers and nature lovers from far and wide.
1 Konstanz Minster and the Old Town
Konstanz, close to the Swiss frontier, is the largest town on Lake Constance and an important cultural center with an active theatrical and musical scene. Prominent among its many beautiful old buildings is Konstanz Minster. Dating from the 11th century, with additions in the 15th and 17th centuries, its most notable features include its 15th-century main doorway, a fine interior that includes choir-stalls from 1460, as well as a 13th-century Holy Sepulcher. Be sure to climb the tower with its excellent views over the old town. Other old town highlights include the 15th-century Hohenzollernhaus; the 16th-century Rathaus; and the lovely Haus zum Rosgarten, the medieval butchers' guild-house now occupied by a museum with a collection of local and regional artifacts.
Address: Münsterplatz 1, 78462 Konstanz
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Konstanz
2 Insel Mainau - The Flower Island
One of the most popular of all the tourist attractions around Lake Constance - and for good reason - is the spectacular 110-acre "flower island" of Mainau. Just four and a half miles north of Konstanz off the southern shore of the Überlinger See, this site attracts many visitors with its beautiful parks and gardens, luxuriant with semitropical and tropical vegetation. The island also boasts a spectacular palace, the Schloss, built in 1746 for the Grand Duke of Baden. Notable features of the interior include the lovely White Hall, as well as an old defensive tower (one of the original 16), and a gatehouse. Access to the island is by boat or via a pedestrian bridge connected to the mainland.
3 Nature Reserves: Wollmatinger Ried-Untersee-Gnadensee
Various areas on the shores of Lake Constance, particularly near the mouths of the larger tributary rivers, have been declared nature reserves in order to maintain them in their relatively unspoiled condition. The most important nature reserve - and the largest on the German shores of the lake - is the Wollmatinger Ried Untersee-Gnadensee where the Rhine flows from the main lake into the Untersee. The reserve boasts a wide variety of plants and animals, including more than 600 fern and flowering plants, as well as in excess of 290 bird species drawn to its rich reed beds. An excellent place from which to explore the nature reserve as well as the flora and fauna of Lake Constance is the NABU-Centre, an information center with exhibitions and slideshows. Informative guided tours are also available.
Address: Kindlebildstrasse 87, 78479 Reichenau
Picturesque Lindau, the largest town on the Bavarian shores of Lake Constance, is split between an island and the slopes of the mainland and linked by a bridge, the Neue Seebrücke. The harbor is well worth visiting and is notable for its old lighthouse, the 13th-century Mangturm. At the ends of the outer harbor walls are Lindau's best-known landmarks, the six-meter-high Bavarian lion and the 33-meter-high new lighthouse, both dating from 1856 (the latter offers magnificent views of the town and the Alps). The old town, much of which is now pedestrian-only, has many beautifully preserved Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque houses. Particularly attractive is Maximilianstrasse, the main street, with its trim patrician houses, arcades, fountains, and cafés. Other highlights include the Old Town Hall built in 1436 with its colorful facade, and Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church), founded in the late 10th century. There's also a pleasant walking path around the island, the Uferweg, which offers fine views from two old bastions, the Gerberschanze and the Sternschanze, and from the Pulverturm (Powder Tower).
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Lindau
5 Allgäu - The Uplands of Lake Constance
The Allgäu is an attractive upland and mountain region that occupies the southern part of Bavarian Swabia, between Lake Constance and the Lech valley, and extends northwest into Württemberg. Traversed by the Deutsche Alpenstrasse and, farther north, a branch of the Upper Swabian Baroque Highway, it's a beautiful area for a driving trip or to explore on foot. The high Alpine chain of the Allgäu Alps, part of the Northern Calcareous Alps, forms the boundary between Bavaria and the Austrian provinces of Vorarlberg and Tirol. The landscape is spectacular, with its tiers of steep foothills, magnificent lakes, quiet ponds and moors, vast forests, lush mountain meadows, and trim villages set against an imposing backdrop of mountains. The Allgäu is also a region of spas and medicinal springs, and the well-known Kneipp water cure was first devised in Bad Wörishofen and is now applied in many other spas.
6 Konstanz Harbor
A highlight of any visit to Konstanz is the town's Harbor. It's here you'll find the Kaufhaus dating from 1388, an old warehouse built specifically for trade with Italy and also known as the Konzilsgebäude, having been the meeting-place of the conclave of cardinals who elected Pope Martin V in 1417. The harbor entrance is marked by a fascinating statue called Imperia that commemorates this famous event. Although only erected in 1993, this stunning nine-meter-high statue has become a well-known landmark in Konstanz.
7 Reichenau - Lake Constance's Largest Island
Near Konstanz and the largest of the many islands of Lake Constance, Reichenau is connected to the mainland by a causeway and covers an impressive 1,057 acres. The island has long been inhabited, and its oldest man-made structures include three churches belonging to the famous monastery of Reichenau: St. George's Church in Oberzell with its fine wall paintings of the Ottonian period, the Minster of St. Mary and St. Mark with a rich treasury in the sacristy, and the church of Saints Peter and Paul in Niederzell. Founded in 724 AD by Charles Martel, Charlemagne's grandfather, they're among the finest examples of Early Romanesque art in Germany, both for their architecture and for their magnificent frescoes. Also of note at the northwestern tip of the island is the 14th-century Schloss Windegg.
8 The Lake Constance Trail (Bodensee-Rundwanderweg)
Walkers and cyclists are well catered to by the excellent Lake Constance Trail (Bodensee-Rundwanderweg), which encircles the entire lake at varying distances from its shores for about 272 kilometers. Within Germany, the trail frequently follows the paths waymarked by the Black Forest Association (Schwarzwaldverein). Highlights include the Wollmatinger Ried nature reserve, as well as the majority of the lake's small villages, the historic towns of Lindau and Konstanz, and the islands of Reichenau and Mainau. While hiking tours are available that can last anywhere from a day to a week (or longer), even casual walkers and bikers can enjoy the trail as it's easily accessible at numerous entry points around the lake.
9 The German Stilthouse Museum
A highlight of a visit to Lake Constance is a chance to visit the wonderful Pfahlbaumuseum Unteruhldingen, the German Stilthouse Museum, an open-air museum with reconstructions of stone- and bronze-age homes. Opened in 1922, it's a wonderful way to spend time exploring living conditions of the lake's original residents, dating as far back as 6,000 years. Tours take in re-created buildings on the shore before delving into the heart of the attraction, the Lake Dwellings, built over the water and offering superb views of the area's stunning scenery. Guided tours are included in the price of admission and last up to an hour.
Address: Strandpromenade 6, D-88690 Uhldingen-Mühlhofen/Unteruhldingen
10 Exploring Lake Constance by Boat
Exploring Lake Constance can easily be done by boat, a mode of transportation that offers many opportunities for sightseeing without need of a car. Tourist boat services on Lake Constance run from mid-April to mid-October, the main routes including Konstanz, Überlingen, Kreuzlingen, and Lindau, with many additional stops being made to smaller communities. There are also ferry services capable of carrying cars, most of which run year round between Friedrichshafen and Romanshorn and between Konstanz-Staad and Meersburg. There are also local passenger ferries between Allensbach station and the island of Reichenau and across the Rhine at Konstanz. During the summer, numerous excursions of various kinds are offered, from whole-day or half-day trips, shorter breakfast or lunch trips, as well as fun journeys including evening mystery excursions.