Lake Constance (Bodensee in German) features a shoreline of 273 km, and the lake lies across three countries in Europe: Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. With an abundant and diverse range of things to do, Lake Constance is a top tourist spot for a little adventure.
The German side of the lake covers the largest section at 170km of its northern shore. Here, you can enjoy soothing thermal baths and numerous charming lakeside towns. Or, take a trip to the Swiss side for some prime views of the Swiss Alps and an escape from the busier German side.
A visit to the Lake Constance region boasts picturesque alleys in beautiful historic towns surrounded by stunning landscapes of rolling mountains, beautiful parks, and nature reserves. It’s truly a year-round destination with seasonal events and a variety of activities on offer for the whole family. See for yourself!
What We Cover
- Best Things to Do Around Lake Constance
- 1. Explore Konstanz
- 2. Enjoy the Beauty of Flower Island
- 3. Set Sail on a Leisurly Boat Ride
- 4. Visit the Zeppelin Museum
- 5. Take Flight on a Zeppelin
- 6. Get Your Walking Shoes on and Explore the Lake by Foot
- 7. Take on the Local Biking Trails
- 8. Indulge in a Water-sports Paradise
- 9. Gaze Over Six Countries at Once
- 10. Island Hop to the Region’s Largest Island
- 11. Delve into a History Buff Haven at the St Gallen Abbey District
- 12. Take it Easy and Relax at the Spa
Best Things to Do Around Lake Constance
|Things to Do
|Charming cobblestone streets, Imperial Fountain, lakeside restaurants
|Enjoy the Beauty of Flower Island
|Beautiful gardens, seasonal blooms, migratory birds, cultural events, winter wonderland
|Indulge in a Water-sports Paradise
|Rent a paddleboard, windsurfing, canoeing, sailing, paddleboat
|Set Sail on a Leisurely Boat Ride
|Scenic cruises, historic DS Hohentwiel steamboat
|Take Flight on a Zeppelin
|Unforgettable aerial views, a unique experience
When planning to visit the third largest lake in Central Europe, this list is worth jotting down to ensure you have the very best vacation.
1. Explore Konstanz
Konstanz is the largest town in the Lake Constance region, with a history spanning over 1,000 years. Taking some time to explore the heart of the city will see you meandering down charming cobblestone streets. Take in local sites like the Imperial Fountain at the Marktstätte, and then take a rest stop at one of the many restaurants and cafes that line the streets.
Don’t forget to also make your way to Konstanz harbor on your city exploration! Snap a picture of the statue of Impreria, which is an iconic landmark of the area erected in 1993 that welcomes all into the harbor. Then, take a gentle stroll along the promenade to view historic townhouses and palm trees aplenty.
2. Enjoy the Beauty of Flower Island
On Mainau Island (Flower Island), you can enjoy one of Lake Constance’s top attractions: beautiful gardens! The island provides year-round beauty in its seasonal blooms and diverse migratory birds. It also provides other forms of entertainment with a varied scheduling of events, including lively musical concerts.
Wintertime is an especially magical time of year as Mainau Island turns into a winter wonderland. The Palace Court Yard transforms into winter whimsy with Christmas illuminations the whole family can enjoy.
Pop a note in your calendar for other experiences like the island castle festival at the end of September to October or the Orchid Show at the end of March. The island is also a big hit for kids with plenty of fun attractions, like Germany’s largest butterfly house, an island-wide treasure hunt, or a water park to cool off in the summer!
3. Set Sail on a Leisurly Boat Ride
Taking a leisurely little cruise along Lake Constance is a popular activity for tourists in the area. Ferry services run throughout the year, with easy connections between lakeside towns from April to October, and scenic winter cruises are available in the colder months.
A particularly unique experience would be to take an indulgently nostalgic step back in time and hop on board the DS Hohentwiel. It’s the only steamboat still going strong on the lake! The DS Hohentwiel provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy a scenic sunset with a 5-course dinner on a lavishly historic outing.
Traveling via the local boat services is also a great shout if you’ve decided to rent a car for a road trip to the region. Car ferries operate between certain points for more convenient access to top spots around the lake!
4. Visit the Zeppelin Museum
Address: Seestraße 22, 88045 Friedrichshafen, Germany
Count Ferdinand Von Zeppelin designed the first ever “rigid airship” and took its first flight from Lake Constance on July 2, 1900. So it only makes sense that the only Zeppelin museum in the world resides right here!
The Zeppelin Museum is a fascinating chance to learn all the facts about the impressive Zeppelin airship and aircraft of the type. It’s a perfect spot to answer questions like how such a machine can fly or why it’s so big. You can discover the marvels inside the museum solo, or join one of the tours offered for a more enriching visit.
Inside the museum are over 1,500 original artifacts with informative visual elements, such as film, audio, and photographs. Fun for all the family, you can enter life-sized reconstructions of passenger rooms and see what it’s like to fly in such incredible machines.
See Related: Ways to Find Cheap Flights to Europe
5. Take Flight on a Zeppelin
So, visiting the Zeppelin Museum and learning about this unique form of transportation is one thing. But if you want to go the extra mile, you can actually take flight on a Zeppelin for a truly unforgettable experience!
Enjoy looking down on the Lake Constance region as you float quietly above from about 300 meters. You’re not constricted to your seats, either, and can freely walk around the cabin for panoramic views of the rolling mountains below.
You’ll be much closer to the ground than you would be on a plane, so the view is much clearer with far greater detail. One thing that makes Lake Constance famous is its sheer size, so experience this in all its glory from the air!
6. Get Your Walking Shoes on and Explore the Lake by Foot
There are many outdoor activities to burn off extra energy around Lake Constance. For example, its many top-tier hiking trails can cater to all fitness levels, and you’re never too far from the lake for a relaxing post-hike dip!
Take the gentle footpaths winding around the lake’s shores and discover beaches and perfect picnic spots. You can also stop off at a local old town or two to experience local culture and enjoy a few local delicacies as fuel to keep you going on your walk.
But for those wanting to put their hiking boots to good use, opt for the more mountainous paths, which feature a total of over 400km of hiking trails. Or, set aside 8-10 days for a real sightseeing adventure to walk around the whole lake, mainly sticking to the shoreline.
See Related: Best Hiking Apps for Your Next Adventure
7. Take on the Local Biking Trails
For something faster than exploring the lake by foot, Lake Constance also provides many great biking trails.
A cycle route of 260km stretches around the lake, but you can take on smaller sub-sections and enjoy the many detours to local attractions. If you’re feeling energetic and want a longer ride, go for the main 160km Lake Constance cycling path that takes you on a mostly flat tour around the lake.
Cycling around Lake Constance provides a lot of flexibility for day trips or longer excursions. It’s easy to find accommodation for stops along the way.
Look at the family-friendly Insel-Hotel-Lindau on the small Island of Lindau on the German side of the lake. Just a few minutes walk from the lake, rest at Insel-Hotel and enjoy a buffet breakfast before setting off to continue your cycling adventure.
8. Indulge in a Water-sports Paradise
In addition to the outdoor activities available on land, you can also make use of the beautiful lake and enjoy a variety of water sports. So go ahead, grab your water shoes, and rent a paddleboard to slow things down. It’s still an energetic way to experience the lake, but it lets you stop whenever you like to admire the view! Although the area has many other options, like windsurfing, canoeing, and sailing, so you’re really spoiled for choice.
Of course, you don’t have to get in the water to enjoy it and can stay dry on top while hiring a small paddleboat. Hiring a paddle boat is a wonderful way to enjoy a more immersive experience than taking a structured cruise. With a small paddle boat, you can take control of the wheel and float along at your own pace.
9. Gaze Over Six Countries at Once
Take a ride on the cable car up Säntis Mountain and travel 2,502m above sea level to enjoy the unique experience of seeing six countries from one spot. Witness Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France, Liechtenstein, and Italy from the observation deck when the weather allows.
To get the cable car, make your way to Schwägalp, Switzerland. There’s ample parking on-site, and cable cars run every 30 minutes, so it’s very convenient. The trip up to the mountaintop is a relatively brisk 10 minutes but is bursting with spectacular views.
Make sure to arrive with an appetite so you can delight in an al fresco meal at the Alpine Restaurant to accompany the view in the warmer months. There are also terraces to lounge in and numerous exhibitions to learn more about the mountain and surrounding landscape.
10. Island Hop to the Region’s Largest Island
Of all the islands on Lake Constance, Reichenau Island is the largest, and it also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sitting on the Northwestern Tip of the upper lake, Reichenau Island spans 5km long and 1.6km wide and is actually connected to the mainland via a 2km long causeway. It’s very easy to get to and actually makes a great day trip from Konstanz at around 15 minutes on the bus and even less via car.
Of all its historic buildings, the Abbey of Reichenau (Benedictine Abbey), built in the Middle Ages, once served as an imperial abbey and is an iconic landmark of this small island not to be missed. There are also more medieval churches to admire and a thriving horticultural scene to discover in the area.
11. Delve into a History Buff Haven at the St Gallen Abbey District
For the eager history buff, any visit to Lake Constance is incomplete without making it to the St. Gallen Abbey District. This popular spot on the Swiss side is definitely worth visiting for attractions of cultural significance, such as the Baroque Cathedral and Exhibition Hall.
But its centerpiece attraction has to be the famous Abbey Library. Not only is it the oldest library in Switzerland, but it’s also one of the oldest in the world! Visitors can marvel at its beauty and its extensive collection of around 170,000 books and 2,000 original documents from medieval times.
For seasonal events, visit in the summertime and see the area come alive with open-air operatic performances. Or, if Christmas markets are your thing, visit Lake Constance in the wintertime to enjoy the famed St. Gallen Christmas Market.
See Related: Best Christmas Markets In Germany
12. Take it Easy and Relax at the Spa
When visiting Lake Constance, take some time to wind down and relieve any stress by indulging in a little relaxation. Soak in muscle-relaxing thermal waters while enjoying top-tier views of the majestic Alps at Bodensee-Therme Konstanz thermal spa. Bodensee-Therme Konstanz features a large pool heated to a comfortable 33°C with mineral-rich water. There are also numerous saunas, each with its own fragrance, a 400 m² outdoor pool, and facilities like a paddling pool and waterslide for kids.
Or maybe you would prefer a visit to the Meersburg Therme with views to match Bodensee-Therme Konstanz. Meersburg also has an extra selling point in that it has direct access to the lake. So you can try a bit of hot-cold therapy and brave a lake dip after a session in the sauna!