lake with yellow sunrise
Germany

Holiday in Lake Constance Germany

Are you looking to plan a holiday that has you nestled between three countries? Why not plan your next holiday in the Lake Constance. It straddles Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Making this a great destination for those that want to travel to as many countries as they can. It’s also a short drive to Liechtenstein, one of Europe’s smallest countries. That’s why it’s known as the four-country region. Lake Constance, or  Konstanz in German, is often referred to as Bodensee by locals. It really is just the one place.

lake with sailboats and mountains in background
What makes this a great destination…

As the most southern tip of Germany, it tends to be a popular holiday for Germans all-year round. Many are attracted to this area because of its mild climate and abundance of nature. Lake Constance is worth visiting for both its winter sports and water sports. The area offers the perfect combination of a beautiful lake, picturesque towns and the majestic Alps. Culture, castles, history, elaborate gardens – there is something for everyone to enjoy. 

timber buildings with red germaniums in window boxes
A bit about the Upper Swabia region… 

Lake Constance is the largest lake in Germany. It encompasses 270km of shoreline. It’s separated into 3 parts: Lower Lake or Untersee, Upper Lake or Obersee and Überlingen Lake  or Überlingersee. The largest and deepest part of the lake is Upper Lake. It’s so deep that it rarely freezes. In fact it has only frozen 34 times over many centuries. Upper Lake extends from Bregenz Bay to Lake Constance offering incredible views of the eastern Switzerland Swiss Alps from many old lakeside towns dotted along the coastline. 

Lake Constance Germany is the either the starting or ending point on the 450km German Alpine route through the Alps. This trip of a lifetime is not to be missed! 

The Must-See Towns in Lake Constance

The Lake Constance Bodensee area has so many wonderful cities and towns dotted along its shoreline. To make the most of your holiday, here are the top five places you need to visit when in Lake Constance. 

1. Lindau

port city with boats and colourful buildings

Lindau offers travellers a unique location of being completely lakeside. The impressive harbour entryway to this island features the iconic Bavarian lion on one side and lighthouse on the other. 

The town’s lakeside promenade is bustling with activity. Locals and tourists alike enjoy walking, biking and sunbathing along the waterfront. Why not climb the lighthouse and enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding Alps. 

Not to missed is a visit to Lindenhof Park. This large park offers a lush green space with its towering trees and beautiful gardens. It’s the perfect respite to the bustling harbourfront. Lastly, visit the small old town with its cobblestone streets and historic buildings. 

2. Meersburg

yellow building with white wisteria flowers on side of hill

Meersburg, a name that literally translates to “Castle on the Sea”, is home to two old castles. The oldest of the two is a well-preserved medieval fortress, which can trace its roots back to the 7th century.  

When you first arrive to Meersburg, either by boat or car, you will be in the lower town. The lower town has a resort feel, with many hotels, pier-facing restaurants and touristy shops. The uptown is where you will find the charming historic old town. 

The old town is impressive. You could spend the entire day getting lost in the maze of cobblestoned streets, admiring the historic townhomes. All of these delightful buildings have been turned into boutiques, cafes, wine taverns, and restaurants. 

3. Mainau

lush green gardens with stone staircase

Mainau is known as flower island as it features 110 acres and close to a million different flowers and plants. It’s considered the most popular attraction in the Lake Constance region.  

The Mainau Castle, built in 1746, makes a beautiful backdrop to all the flower gardens. Germany is well-known for creating beautiful parks and gardens, and this is said to be among the best in the country. 

4. Constance

lake with ancient tower with red roof

Constance, or Konstanz is the largest city on Lake Constance. It dates back to the medieval times and features some great historical landmarks. Some of those significant sites include the 14th century Konstanz Minster Cathedral and 14th century Kaufhaus (or can be known as Konzilsgebäude). In addition, the remaining medieval circular wall with 20 towers, of which only 3 stand today, protect the historic old town. Wander the quiet winding cobblestone streets and gaze upon the well-preserved half-timber houses.

Konstanz is a shopping city. There are numerous shops, cafes and restaurants lining the streets. Take a walk along the waterfront boulevard where elegant and elaborate townhomes look out onto the picturesque lake and the Swiss Alps. 

5. St. Gallen

old timber frame buildings on cobblestone square

St. Gallen is a culturally vibrant city just across the border in Switzerland. We arrived on bike along the Lake Constance Cycle path and headed straight to the charming, traffic-free historic town. 

The city’s most famous landmark is its baroque cathedral and Abbey library. Its been declared an UNESCO World Heritage site as it features almost 170,000 written documents dating back over a 1,000 years.  

Day Trips from Lake Constance

A popular day trip is to Rhine Falls in Switzerland. Only an hours drive away visit the most powerful waterfall in Europe. The falls are located to the town of Schaffhausen which you may want to add to your trip. 

Why not visit Switzerland’s largest city. Konstanz to Zurich is only an hours drive. It’s just enough time to explore the old town and enjoy a meal.  

A nearby destination is the NABU Nature Reserve. The Wollmatinger Marsh is near the city of Constance where the Upper Lake merges into the Lower Lake. This area is known for birdwatching as hundreds of species migrate here to these nature reserves. 

Best Hotels in Lake Constance

The ideal home base to explore this region is Konstanz. It’s centrally located to all of the must-see places featured here, plus it offers great dining and accommodation options. 

Recommend stay is the RIVA boutique hotel just steps from the waterfront. This lux property offers 5-star dining, spa, wellness center and a gorgeous rooftop pool. Not to mention the gorgeous interior and spacious rooms. 

Or do your own search using Booking.com. 

As a holidaymaker…

Lake Constance region is a wonderfully laid back and relaxing destination. There is something so calming to see those lake and mountain views. There is 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.

water with mountains

Disclosure:  As an Affiliate Associate of Booking.com if you click on the link contained in this post, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you decide to book. 

66 Comments

  • Carolin

    It’s a super pretty area down there and offers you so much outdoor activity, plus you could also do a day trip to the nearby Black Forest (which is an entire holiday region in itself). I’m happy you included the Rhine Waterfalls in Schaffhausen and seeing Lindau and Mainau on your list has brought back many childhood memories.

  • Shireen

    Renee, you have sold me! I am currently in Germany and looking at trains to head here! I love the fact it is so close to other countries too.

  • Barry

    Wow! To get 1 million flowers in 110 acres must be a record. That must be a beautiful sight at Mainau.
    All the towns’ architecture looks very much like the Swiss towns I visited a few years ago. Logical I guess as the birder is nearby.
    That cycle ride alongside the lake sounds just what I would want to do, see the scenery and get a little exercise in the fresh mountain air!.
    I love the anecdote of cycling from Germany to Switzerland for a coffee, then over to Austria for a bite to eat – 3 countries in one day, superb.
    The falls on the Rhine caught my attention as I never knew they had any – I must look them up.

  • Pam

    The picture with the boats almost looks unreal! I can understand why it is such a popular place – beautiful views and some history peppered throughout!

  • Linda (LD Holland)

    We visited so many cities when we were in Austria and Switzerland. It would be great to visit Lake Constance and enjoy this area. The towns are certainly story book picturesque. The RIVA boutique hotel looks like a charming base to relax and explore.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Isn’t it just amazing how easy it is to be in 3 countries in one day! Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  • Emma

    I love a place with some history and it sounds like this area has plenty. Germany is one of my favorites and especially love the architecture and traditional building styles. That lake looks huge, more like an ocean view.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thanks Emma for your comment. Lake Constance is a large lake, the largest in Germany in fact.

  • Renata

    Although I’m based in Germany, I’ve never been to the Bodensee. But I’ve heard so many good things – and your post really convinces me. I would particularly like to see the Lüftlmalerei – that looks just amazing. Also, I love to cycle, so Konstanz would be the perfect hug for me. Thank you for this wonderful inspiration 🙂

    • The.Holidaymaker

      I am so glad I inspired you to visit there. You will love it if you love to cycle. Thank you for your comment.

  • Angela

    I haven’t travelled to Germany very much but this area looks like somewhere I would love. The Konstanz buildings with their painted illustrations are so beautiful. It is fabulous that one lake borders 3 different countries!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      It is, where else can you say you have biked through 3 countries in one day! This is a lovely resort town, hopefully you get a chance to visit soon. Thanks for your comment Angie.

  • Georgina

    Such a charming colourful village! Love those buildings with different themes and colours – I am sure they plenty of stories to tell when layers of history are peeled.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      The towns are so picturesque – just as if lifted from a storybook. Thank you for your comment and stopping by.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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, 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.

    • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Faith

    Wow, this place sounds dreamy! The best of all worlds. Love your recommendations!! Happy travels

    • The.Holidaymaker

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

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