Constance Travel - Getting There


Getting to Lake Constance, either with or without your own bike, is going to involve one or more of:Express Train

See the map showing the principal options.

Planes

Flying to Lake Constance from outside Europe, there are a number of possible arrival airports:

If you are flying from within Europe then the options include flying to:

If you fly into Heathrow or Gatwick then you will have to get across the English Channel by ferry or train. Allowing time to get out of the airport and for meal stops, it could well be 13 hours after your flight lands before you arrive at Lake Constance, so it would make sense to build in an overnight stop.

There are many sources of cheap flights but we have found that cheapflights.co.uk offers consistently low prices.

If you are flying with your bike, check the airline's terms of carriage (many budget airlines disclaim liability for bicycles) and your travel insurance. We don't recommend transporting an expensive bike by plane. Also, choose a direct flight wherever possible, as the more your bike is handled, the greater the chance it will be damaged.
Advice on packing your bike for a flight is to be found in the Guide.
Don't forget to book an airport car park in advance, it will be much cheaper than just turning up. Purple Parking has better coverage than most, with car parks at over 20 UK airports.

 

Trains

So that you can understand the scale of the journey by train:

  • London to Friedrichshafen (between 2 and 4 changes) will take 11 hours
  • Paris CdG to Friedrichshafen (between 3 to 4 changes) will take 8 hours
  • Munich to Friedrichshafen (between 2 to 3 changes) will take 3:30 hours
  • Stuttgart to Friedrichshafen (between 0 to 1 changes) will take 2:30 hours
  • Zurich to Friedrichshafen (between 1 to 2 changes) will take 2:15 hours

Booking a train from the UK or Eire is not as straightforward as it could be because there isn't a booking web site that deals well with both the national and international legs of the journey. You will find that you need to interrogate one supplier to understand how to get out of the UK or Eire and a second supplier to understand how to get to Lake Constance, though you may find it contractually better to buy the tickets from a single supplier starting in the UK. Then, if a train is cancelled you have some rights to make them sort it out.

The following should allow you to plan the journey:

  • The Man in Seat 61 gives by far the best, independent explanations of all things rail-related and we can only recommend that you check out his views on bike travel.
  • Travel with a bike inside the UK is relatively easy, as most trains will carry bikes as long as there is room (avoid commuting times and travelling in a large group of cyclists) and for free, but advance reservations are sometimes required.
  • For information, train times and ticket purchases, we find that trainline is better than most of the other commercial sites.�
  • Note that the London Underground (the Tube) does not take bikes, unless they are bagged and do not look like bikes.
  • Crossing the channel by train means using Eurostar. Tickets can be ordered from thetrainline.
  • Eurostar will take you to Lille. A core tool for research from St Pancras (London) to the continent is the German Railways site.
  • Bikes are seldom allowed on TGV, Thalys or ICE unless they are in bag.
  • Tandems are tricky things to transport, they are just too long. If you are tandem riders, you will need to do more research on the transport possibilities or, more simply, hire a tandem when you get to Lake Constance.
The map below shows the site of the route, and key airports and ferries.

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AirportsConstance key points of travel

  1. London various
  2. Amsterdam
  3. Paris
  4. Stuttgart
  5. Allgau
  6. Freidichshafen
  7. Zurich

Ferry Ports

See Ferries below.

Bike Route

The green marke.

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Ferries

There are many ferry options from the UK and the Republic of Ireland. However the drive from the channel ports to Lake Constance is a minimum of 8 hours without any stops.

  • Eire
    • Rosslaire (Q) to Le Havre (M) or Cherbourg (N)
  • South Eastern England
    • Dover (E) to Calais (L) or Dunkerque (L)
    • Newhaven (E) to Dieppe (L)
    • Harwich to the Hook of Holland
    • Ramsgate (E) to Ostend (L)
  • South Western England
    • Plymouth (I) to Roscoff (P)
    • Portsmouth (F) to St Malo (O), Caen, Le Havre (M) and Cherbourg (N)
    • Poole (G) to Cherbourg (N) and St Malo (O)
    • Weymouth to St Malo (O)
  • Northern England
    • Hull (B) to Zeebrugge (J) (overnight)
    • Hull (B) to Rotterdam (C) (overnight)
    • Newcastle (A) to Amsterdam (C) (overnight)
    • All these make great starts to any holiday as the tedious car drive down through England is replaced by a night time ferry journey. P&O make the Hull trip very enjoyable.
  • Eurostar
    • St Pancras, Ebbsfleet or Ashford to Belgium, Lille, Paris or Calais

 

We like travelling by P&O and DFDS seaways and booking direct often gives you a good price. For other routes we have found Direct Ferries to be a reliable ferry booking agent.

 If you want to take your car in the tunnel under the Channel then use Eurotunnel .

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Driving

The rules vary by country and you should double check current requirements before setting off. If you are a member of a motoring organisation, it should be able to provide up to date information, as should the national tourist board web sites, or see here. At the time of writing, the most stringent requirements required for all of France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are:
  • carry your passport, driving licence, vehicle registration documents and certificate of insurance
  • display a country of origin sticker (GB etc) on the back of the car
  • use mobile phones only with "hands free" kit
  • children should sit in the back
  • all passengers should wear seat belts
  • fit beam converters to the head lights of a right hand drive vehicle
  • carry a warning triangle and spare light bulbs
Just so you are aware the motorways in Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Germany are free while in France they are toll based. It is mandatory in France (and spreading to other countries) to carry a reflective vest, fire extinguisher and first aid kit.  France also requires two breathalysers but the law seems confused at this time.
Fines are levied on the spot and must be paid in cash (Euros).

For further details, click here.

 

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