Lake Constance (in German: Bodensee) is located partially in Southern Germany, but also borders Switzerland and Austria. Before moving to Germany, I had never heard of Lake Constance. When we were living in Ulm and searching for new weekend travel destinations, my husband suggested we check it out. We found a place to stay with a friend of a friend and it was an incredible weekend.
We were so lucky to be able to stay at a house located directly on the lake. There are only a small number of houses allowed to have water access, so it is not an experience that every traveler gets to have. We had a barbecue on their garden looking out over the water and it is by far one of my favorite memories from the summer.
Here are my travel recommendations for three cities located on Lake Constance: Meersburg, Bregenz, and Konstanz. I’ve also included some tips on other activities to do in the area.
Meersburg was my favorite city of the three that we visited. It has the charm of Bavaria and an unbelievable view of the lake. It’s much smaller than the other two cities and for me was more of a laid-back atmosphere. These are a few of my favorite photos of the town:
My top tip for you is to check out the Meersburg Castle. You can’t miss it, as it’s the focal point of the city at the top of the hill. You can pay a cheaper ticket price, I believe it was 2.50 euro, to enter the castle, see some of the historic building and head up to the Castle Cafe. The cheaper ticket does not include a castle tour or access to all of the grounds.
The ticket then serves as a coupon towards your purchase at the Cafe, which has a stunning outdoor seating area with an amazing view of Lake Constance. Every other cafe we passed was super crowded with tourists and yet the Castle cafe was only half full so I don’t think many people know about this offer. I would definitely advise you to check it out!
My other recommendation for Meersburg is to go to the Meersburg Therme. A therme is a German indoor pool/spa complex, that usually consists of heated indoor and outdoor salt pools, saunas, salt rooms, and massages. They are one of my absolute favorite things about Germany.
The Meersburg Therme has a heated outdoor infinity salt pool (I know, that’s a pretty intense pool description – but trust me, it lives up to it’s name). It’s not every day you can hang out in a pool and look out at the Alps. I really wish I had a photo of it but my husband told me that I was making people feel uncomfortable by taking photos at the pool (it does sound a little creepy now that I’m writing about it…), so I reluctantly had to put away my camera. We didn’t get a chance to go into the Sauna area, but from the outside it looked really unique and you can also take a dip in the lake afterwards to cool off.
Konstanz is one of the biggest cities located on the Bodensee, with a population of 80,000. You can easily get from Meersburg to Konstanz using the Meersburg-Konstanz Ferry. If you are looking for a bustling city atmosphere on the water, then this is the city you will want to spend some time in. I enjoyed getting to walk around the city, but I personally preferred the more quaint atmosphere of Meersburg. Konstanz is definitely worth the day trip though, as it has many cafés, shops, and restaurants to check out.
My view of Bregenz is unfortunately slightly biased because we were there on a rainy and grey day. I think under different circumstances I would have more to say about the city, but we really didn’t get to see a lot with so much rain and fog. We still managed to make it up to the old area of the city, called the Oberstadt, and it was really cute. You have to walk through the shopping district and up a hill to get there.
Once you are there, check out Martinsturm (Martin’s Tower), a tower preserved from the Baroque period. We unfortunately made it there right before it closed, but I imagine it has a fantastic view of the city. Also, if you happen to be in Bregenz during the Bregenz Festival (seems to fall around the end of July/beginning of August every year) then you can’t miss the world’s largest floating stage. I am a huge theater fan and I was awestruck by this stage. I am already planning ahead for next summer to go and see the famous floating opera.
Other Lake Constance Activities
The Gehrenburgturm is a tower located in Markdorf, Germany. The only way to access the tower is by bike or by car, or potentially by hiking. We drove to the tower from Meersburg and it was only about a 20 minute drive. The tower is an outdoor, exposed, metal structure. If you are severely afraid of heights, this might not be for you, but I didn’t think that it was too scary for the average person. And the panoramic view from the top of the lake and the alps is completely worth the steps it takes to climb to the top.
Rhine Falls is located in Schaffhausen, Switzerland and is the largest plain waterfall in Europe. It took us a little over an hour to drive to the waterfall from Konstanz, so it makes for a great day or half-day trip. It costs 5 euro to access the waterfall. I know I shouldn’t have been surprised by this, but I was. I guess I just thought something that’s a part of nature would be free. But it is worth it, because you can get very close (almost too close for me) to the waterfall.
For more money you can take a boat right up to the waterfall. It also seemed to be a great area to do some hiking, so bring your hiking shoes with you if you want to make a day out of it. And definitely bring some snacks or you will find yourself buying some overpriced tourist food.
On our way to Rhine Falls, we passed through the adorable Swiss town of Diessenhofen. To get to Diessenhofen, you will drive through a covered bridge over the Rhine. In this area, the Rhine actually separates Germany from Switzerland, so when you pass through the bridge you enter a new country.
I really enjoyed walking through the bridge and passing back and forth between the two countries. The view from the bridge is also so beautiful. Diessenhofen almost looked like Venice to me from this angle.
The town itself is very tiny and charming, with a classic huge clocktower and main street, where all the locals had gathered for a flea market. If you drive to the Rhine Falls from Lake Constance, you will want to make a quick pit stop here to take a few great photos.