Germany

Why not Holiday in the Lake Constance Region

Looking to plan a holiday that has you nestled between 3 countries? Lake Constance (Bodensee) is at the foothills of the Alps and straddles Germany, Austria and Switzerland. So, if you are looking to travel to as many countries as you can, this might be a good way to do that; and it is a short drive to Leichtenstein, one of Europe’s smallest countries.

As the most southern tip of Germany, it tends to be a popular holiday for Germans all-year round. It offers the perfect combination of a beautiful lake, picturesque towns, majestic Alps and is full of culture and history. Lake Constance is the largest lake in Germany, encompassing 270km of shoreline, and is separated into 3 parts: Lower Lake (Untersee), Upper Lake (Obersee) and Überlingen Lake (Überlingersee). Many are attracted to this area because of the hiking, biking, swimming, sailing, windsurfing; as well as, touring old castles and beautiful gardens.

Explore 4 countries by holidaying in Lake Constance Region. The 270km radius lake brings you through Germany, Austria and Switzerland and then a short drive to Liechtenstein. This is Lindau, the last (or first) stop on the 450km German Alpine route. Photo credit: freedomtreks.co.uk

This was our last stop on the 450km German Alpine route, starting in Schönau on Lake Königssee in the East to Lindau on Lake Constance in the West. The German Alpine Road is the oldest touring road in Germany, dating back to 1879, which takes you through picturesque rolling hills, lush meadows, towering trees, charming towns, calming lakes, and of course, the Alps. It was the perfect way to end a long and very active 2-week tour.

We decided to make the town of Konstanz our home base while in this region and stayed at the modern hotel, RIVA, which is steps from the waterfront. RIVA, a villa-style boutique hotel, offers the highest-quality amenities you would ever want to find. From 5-star dining to spa services, a sauna and wellness center to a rooftop pool with gorgeous views of Lake Constance, it really has it all. Not to mention the gorgeous interiors, especially the spectacular, self-supporting spiral staircase with floor to ceiling windows and teak and white marble accents throughout. RIVA is the place to stay and dine when in this area.

The 5 story free-standing spiral staircase made of white marble and teak flooring is a definite focal point in the RIVA hotel
Even on a cloudy day, the rooftop pool is a gorgeous place to take in the Lake Constance views

Konstanz

Konstanz is the largest town on Lake Constance. The history of this town dates back to the medieval times where a circular wall, 20 towers (only 3 stand today) and city gates surrounded the city. Perhaps the most historic building is the roman catholic church, Konstanz Minster. Although most of it was constructed in the 14th century, there are earlier references dating back to the 7th century. Don’t miss the opportunity to climb the 193 steps to the observation deck for panoramic views of the city and Lake Constance.

Photo credit: Konstanztourism

This charming old town is wonderful to just stroll through its web of winding streets, chocked-full of half-timbered houses, cobble streets and plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants to enjoy.

Konstanz Minister in the background
Banners and bikes on every corner
We even found some Lüftlmalerei - a tradition you find in Bavaria that dates back to the 18th century. Most often it depicts themes of fairy tales, religious scenes or architectural details.

Another significant and historical building that lies along the waterfront and dates back to 1388 is the original Kaufhaus (or can be referred to as Konzilsgebäude), which was an old warehouse built specifically for trade with Italy. A definite highlight is walking along the waterfront where you have wonderful views across Lake Constance. Another great way to explore the waterfront is by bike. If you have the time, you can do the full 270km circuit and ride through Germany, Austria and Switzerland. We had limited time, and spent a day riding along Switzerland’s route, taking in the local town of St. Gallen.

Some of the finer townhomes that fall along the waterfront trail in Konstanz.

Riding a portion of the 270km circuit around Lake Constance. This is in Switzerland. I just loved the canopy of trees along this portion of the trail.

Meersburg

Meersburg is located directly across the lake from Konstanz. We took the ferry across, which only takes about 30 minutes. When you first arrive to the town, either by boat or car, you will be in the lower town (Unterstadt). The lower town has a resort feel, with many hotels, pier-facing restaurants and touristy shops catering to the high tourist season in the summer. The uptown (Oberstadt) is where you will find the charming historic town. You can walk between them via stairs or a steep street. Meersburg, a name that literally translates to “Castle on the Sea” – is home to two old castles. The oldest of the two, is simply referred to as the Old Castle (Alte Burg) and is a well-preserved medieval fortress, which can trace its history all the way back to the 7th century.  

Or, do as we did, and that was just meander the twisty web of cobbled alleyways and take in the colourful historic townhouses that are filled with boutiques, cafes, wine taverns, and restaurants. You can easily spend an entire day getting lost in this charming town.

The stairs that take you from the lower town (Unterstadt) to the uptown (Oberstadt) have you climbing along the vineyards of Staatsweingut Meersburg and under the umbrellas of wisteria. 

At the top, you will be awarded with amazing views of Lake Constance. And why not stop and enjoy some local wine in their wonderful terrace. Despite the rain and damp day, we didn’t miss out on this opportunity! 

Mainau

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. It lies on the southern shore of the Überlingen Lake, south of Konstanz, and is home to a million different flowers and plants. It is also where you will find the Mainau Castle, built in 1746, making it a beautiful backdrop to all the flowers and plants. Germany is well-known for creating beautiful parks and gardens, and this said to be among the best in the country. Unfortunately, the day we set aside to visit, had rain in the forecast for the entire day.

Photo credit: mainau.de

We only just scratched the surface when we visited this region. It is the type of place that you really want to spend more quality time in, as it was just so relaxing. There was also a certain novelty in the fact that you could wake up in Germany, cycle into Switzerland for the lunch and then go to Austria later that afternoon for coffee and a strudel.

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42 Comments

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Faith for taking the time to comment and glad you found the recommendations helpful.

  • Nic

    Wow, this place is like a fairytale! We’ve never heard of it before but we’ve visited Switzerland and Liechtenstein as well as areas of Austria and Germany though not over this side. We really would love to return to this region as we fell in love with it so this seems like a perfect place for us. We just love that architecture and culture as well as the landscape.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      That’s great to hear you may have been inspired to add this region to your future travel plans. You are right, there is so much to see and do. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  • Sandra

    this is one part of Europe that we are yet to explore so this will be super helpful for our next European sojourn. These photos are really inspiring!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thanks Sandra, I am happy to hear that this post has inspired you to look into it further. Happy travels!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you! It really is a relaxing and peaceful area waiting to discover. Even on a rainy day, those colourful houses seem to brighten it.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Yes, we definitely want to return to see more of Switzerland too, definitely a couple hours on bike doesn’t even come close to it! 😊 Happy travels, hope you get to return to this area one day soon.

  • APRIL KEY RODE

    Wow, I didn’t know that these three countries are very near to each other. I love the idea of having a bike ride between the three countries. Thanks for sharing it’s good to know this one.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thanks for commenting April. Yes, it does sound great to ride around the lake and be instantly in different countries. Glad to hear this was helpful to you.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Yes Wendy, it is pretty neat to think that in a matter of a day, you could easily enjoy 3 different countries.

  • Danik

    I love this region, it was one of the first places I visited when I did Germany and Austria. I been here a few times and even walked from Bregenz to Lindau which I loved very much. My favourite thing to do is hiking at the summit of Mt Bregenz, fantastic views of the lake. Love this post, sure did bring back some great memories.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      I am a bit envious, I would have loved to have done some hiking in this area. But, glad this brought back some memories for you. Thanks for commenting.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      We didn’t spend a lot of time in Lindau and wish we had. I think yes, definitely the summer months, along with Spring and Fall. We were there in May, but unfortuntely saw a lot of rain.

  • Josy A

    Oooh how gorgeous!

    It’s funny the architecture really reminds me of the South Tyrol area in Italy. Although that area used to be part of Austria, so I suppose it is not too surprising. I love the way they paint buildings, it is so whimsical and fun.

    It is sooo nice to see the snow-covered Alps as a backdrop to the town too.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      I haven’t been to the south Tyrol area, but that definitely makes sense that it may be similiar. If you want to see the painted murals, the best place is Oberammergau, it’s in Bavaria along the Alpine Road.

  • Marya

    First of all, the pictures alone make me add the Lake Constance region into my bucket list. Since I’ve never been to Europe, it’s also a great thing to know that the region straddles three countries all at once. I have a long term plan with my boyfriend to travel to Europe maybe in 2 years since he’s doing his Phd in the Netherlands as well. And once the time comes, I’d definitely put this in my itinerary. Thanks a lot for sharing this! 🙂

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank your kind words Marya. I am glad that this inspired you. Netherlands is wonderful, you will be so close to Belgium and Germany and there are lots of places to see that are just a couple of hours away. Happy future planning!

  • Vanity

    First and foremost your pictures are absolutely amazing! Please teach us your techniques. Lovely detailed post I feel like I was there. A true gem.

  • Cindy

    These towns in the Lake Constance region look utterly charming. I like nothing better than wandering cobblestone streets in medieval towns, as you did in Meersburg. The wisteria and wine make it all the more alluring. Loved your photos, especially the one of the staircase in the RIVA Hotel.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      So glad you liked the post! Yes, if you like to wander, then this is a good place to do this. Thanks for commenting.

  • Bernd Inhester

    Hello xxx, nice to see your block. Find, you did that very well. I have started now, too. Have seen many countries and cities in the world. But I’m still in the test phase. Before I start with the larger blocks of the previous trips, I have to gain some experience. That’s why it’s nice to have a good example. Like that of you. Thanks a lot for this. Greetings from Germany.

    Inhestertravel. com

  • Patricia Pagenel

    I think I might have passed by Lake Constance when I was little, but we did not stop to explore any of these cute cities. Meerburg seems especially charming, with the old houses and the stonework. These mural paintings are really stunning, and though I had seen some before, I did not know these were based on an actual tradition – stunning!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Yes, some beautiful towns in this area that we didn’t get to see everything either. Thanks for commenting.

  • Alice Ford

    Beautiful tree lined streets, amazing architecture, castles, and dreamy lakeside hotels. This sounds like such a whimsical trip and something that I now have on my radar thanks to your great article. I haven’t been to the Alps region in almost 20 years and you are reminding me that I need to get back there.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      I am so glad you enjoyed the article and that it may have inspired you to return to the Alps. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  • Bernadette Jackson

    Those buildings are incredible, and I love that they encompass such different themes. The spiral staircase in the hotel, unwinding like a seashell, is also gorgeous. I’ve never been here, and the combination of outdoor living, time spent on the water and beautiful buildings is absolutely my kind of place. I need to explore more.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      That’s great that this may have inspired you to explore more. It really does offer a vast amount of options, making it a great holiday destination.

  • Melody Pittman

    What a fabulous place! I’m with you, that canopy of trees was something we admired at nearly every port of call on our Paris to the Swiss Alps cruise with Viking a few weeks ago. I’m not sure if we were at Lake Constance or not, but every town we went to looked the same as your gorgeous pictures. After a while on those cruises, the towns start running together. Thanks for sharing your beautiful destination.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      You are most welcome. It sounds like you had a wonderful time on your cruise, if it did stop, it would have been in Lindau. That has a much bigger port. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

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