Nestled in the mountains on the border between Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, Lake Constance is an Alpine postcard come to life. Central Europe’s third-largest lake has long attracted holidaymakers to its shores, which are ringed with small towns and villages, vineyards, beaches, orchards, and Alpine foothills.
This natural summer playground offers all the outdoor attractions and activities you expect from a holiday to the Alpine countryside, but also has no shortage of cultural landmarks. If you want the ideal blend of fresh mountain air and European culture, Lake Constance is calling your name.
What to Do
Zeppelin Museum, Friedrichshafen
Visit the birthplace of the famous Zeppelin airship in Friedrichshafen, located right on the northern edge of the lake. In addition to housing the largest aviation collection in the world, the museum houses a full-scale replica of a 33-metre section of the Hindenburg, the largest airship ever to be built. If you’re wondering why only a section of the ship is replicated, that’s because the original, which infamously burst into flame in 1937, was an incredible 245 metres long! As an added bonus, don’t miss the art collection housed on the top floor.
Seestrasse 22, Friedrichshafen, Germany
Open daily May-October 9am-5pm
Altes Schloss, Meersburg
Literally ‘old castle’, the Altes Schloss guards the town of Meersburg on Lake Constance’s north shore. As the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Germany, a visit here is truly a trip back in time. Found in 628 A.D. by Dagobert, King of the Franks, the castle has walls up to ten feet thick and an imposing central tower. Inside, explore the luxuriously furnished rooms, the 13th century Knight’s Hall, and the chilling dungeons.
Schlosspl. 10, Meersburg, Baden-Württemberg, 88709, Germany
Open daily May-October 9am-6:30pm
With its ornate and soaring spire, it’s impossible to miss this imposing church, which has stood on site in some form for over one thousand years. The impressive interior is an architectural mélange of Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance styles, giving art history and architecture buffs plenty to explore. If you don’t mind a few steps, climb the tower for spectacular views over the town of Konstanz and the lake itself.
Altstadt, Münsterpl. 1, 78462 Konstanz, Germany
Open Mon-Sat 10am-6pm
Free admission, tower admission €2
Speaking of great views, if you’re looking to get some fantastic panoramas of the Alpine foothills, make your way up to Marienschlucht, about 15 kilometres north of Konstanz. This deep ravine, located between the villages of Bodham and Wallhausen, features a wooden staircase that winds through the canyon, past a cascading brook and cliffs thick with moss and fern. Don’t worry, the walk is by no means Alpine mountaineering – there are picnic areas and even a golf course at the top! Of course, you’ll be rewarded with unbeatable views of Lake Constance below you.
Open during daylight hours
German for ‘stilt house museum’, the Pfahlbaumuseum is the kind of place you simply won’t find anywhere else. This UNESCO World Heritage site is an archaeological open-air exhibit that features replicas of lake dwellings from the Stone and Bronze Ages. Remains of a Neolithic village dating back to 4000 BC led to the building of the first replicas, which are made of wood and sit on stilts directly in the lake. As you tour the lakefront museum, you’re taken back in time to glimpse the lives of fishermen, farmers and craftsmen from millennia past.
Strandpromenade 6, Unteruhldingen
Open daily 9am-6:30pm April-September
Naturally, your trip to Lake Constance isn’t complete unless you get out on the water. This ‘garden island’ is a lush, flowering paradise that attracts some two million visitors every year. Owned by relatives of the royal house of Sweden, the island features parks, gardens, arboretums, and greenhouses, along with a baroque castle and a butterfly house. With over 200 varieties of rhododendron, 30,000 rose bushes, 20,00 dahlias, and a staggering one million tulips, Mainau Island is the place to be if you’ve been cultivating a green thumb.
Mainau Island , Germany
Open Daily 10am-7pm late March-October
How to Get to Lake Constance
Ready to breathe in that fresh mountain air? Book yourself a flight into Stuttgart, the most conveniently located international hub to accessing Lake Constance (another option is to fly through Zurich, though keep in mind that if your accommodation is in Germany, you will have to cross an international border). Nonstop flights to Stuttgart from London airports are just under 90 minutes in duration, and are available daily from airlines such as Lufthansa, easyJet, and Eurowings.
Since Lake Constance is secluded in the Alpine foothills, you’ll need to arrange ground transportation to the area from the airport. The simplest solution is to book an airport transfer from Stuttgart to Lake Constance. The two-hour journey winds through the gorgeous Bavarian Alps, giving you a preview of what’s to come!
Where to Stay:
Adler Hotel and Guesthouse – With its cheery, bright yellow façade and sweeping gable roof and overflowing flower baskets, it’s hard to miss this charming hotel in Nonnenhorn, Germany. Rooms here are simply furnished and reasonably priced, making the Adler an excellent option for those who want that quintessential Bavarian feel without breaking the bank. Don’t miss breakfast in the bright and airy dining room – hearty local dishes will start your day off right.
Hotel Bad Schachen – How would you like to wake up, draw the curtains, and see Lake Constance spread out before you? At this four-star hotel in Lindau, Germany, that’s a daily reality! Relax on the private balcony of your elegant, classically decorated suite with a glass of wine, or enjoy dinner on the front lawn and watch the sailboats glide by on the lake.
Steigenberger Inselhotel – Seeking the real celebrity treatment? Look no further than this five-star hotel in Konstanz, Germany, a former monastery located on a small private island right on the edge of the lake. Furnished in an enchanting combination of contemporary style and old-world Bavarian luxury, this deluxe hotel has fully soundproofed rooms, two excellent restaurants, and wall paintings dating back to the 1200s.
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