Lake Constance Guide (Bodensee)


Lake Constance overview

Lake Constance has been inhabited for many millennia.  It is bordered by three countries - Germany, Switzerland and Austria - and German is the language spoken in the area.  The lake is formed out of the Rhine and is, in places, very deep.

Steam ferry

The lake is a holiday centre for the people of the region and is used for water based sports (fishing, boating, sailing, swimming, etc).  The area offers other attractions including a large aquarium, wonderful parks, medieval walled towns and a reconstructed Iron Age villages in stilts.  The circular route of the bike trail will carry over 400,000 cyclists as well as inline skaters during the summer, which can make finding accommodation a little difficult if not pre-booked.  

 

 
Whether you are a regular cyclist or have never taken a cycling holiday before, Lake Constance is a good choice.  The bike route is largely off road, there are pleasant places to visit and spend the night, plentiful bike hire and repair shops, and lots of ferries and railway possibilities if you want to cut the cycling distance. There are several attractive towns offering architectural delights and medieval buildings, of which Konstanz, Lindau and Meersburg are real highlights. 

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Estimated costs

 

Holidays around Lake Constance are not generally offered by travel agents or tour operators outside of Germany.  But it is perfectly possible to use the web to book bike tours offered by local operators and prices can be very good due to high levels of competition.  For example, a company called Bodensee-Radweg will provide a five night / six day trip, on a half board basis, with luggage transfer (if you go clockwise) and bike rental for around €670 per person, or a seven night / eight day trip for €950.  This seems like a good price , but you should check out the alternatives (see bike hire shops listed).

 

Accommodation and other costs are average for Germany, and standards are generally high.  However, in mid 2011 the Swiss Franc soared on the international markets and as a result the cost of visiting  Switzerland has more than doubled, based on this you may want to limit your time on this side of the lake.  Luckily it is possible to take a ferry along the Swiss side barely touching the country, hopefully this will soon change. Our estimate of the cost (at early 2011 prices) of a reasonably comfortable holiday (ie staying in medium quality hotels, and eating and drinking moderately well) and assuming you rent a bike, based on riding for 7 days and two people sharing a room for 6 nights is:

 

 

 

 Item Calculation  Cost in Euros 
 Bike hire    €10/day per bike for 7 days  €140
 Hotels  €130/night for 6 nights  €780
 Food and drink  €40 per person per day, for 7 days  €560
 Public transport    €20
 Extras  say €20 per person  €40

      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

making €1,540 in total, or €770 per person.  This would require you to travel 40 to 50km per day, which is quite feasible as the route is level and the surface of the bike path generally smooth.  But if you want to take it a bit easier we suggest you let the ferry cut off some of the distance.  A trip on the lake on a sunny day is not to be missed.

 

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Lake Constance route guide

 

The bike route follows the circuit of the lake shore (in our case we have laid it out anti-clockwise).  It passes through three countries.  As you can see from the map at the base of this page, the lake splits into two fingers at its western end and the most southerly of these mini-lakes is bridged at Konstanz.  In addition, the lake is crossed by a number of ferries and many of the towns are linked by train services.  As a result, while the overall route is 268km (167 miles) long, this can be reduced by taking advantage of such short cuts.  This flexibility makes Lake Constance ideal for a bike tour with children, elderly people or infrequent cyclists - if anyone needs a rest day, it is easy to arrange without spoiling the trip for the rest of the groSatellite viewup.

 

For the purposes of this guide we start the trip at Friedrichshafen.  The majority of the route is level and well supplied with snack bars and icecream stalls, in particular on the north side.  Accomodation is also easy to find but, given the popularity of this ride with Germans in particular, finding somewhere to stay at short notice can be difficult in high summer. The accommodation column below provides an indication of the number of hotels or similar in each village/town.  Places of interest a short way off the route are highlighted in blue.

 

  • None: 0
  • Few: 1 or 2
  • Some: 3 to 6
  • Many: 7 or more
There are no tricky bits and many ferry opportunities to cut off the long bits on the route.  Have a  look at our Constance Map to get a full view of the route.

Place of Interest

Kms

Country & Service

Rooms

Friedrichshafen 0

german flagTrain.gifFerrry.gif

Many

Immenstaad 9.5

german flagFerrry.gif

Some

Meersburg 18.2 german flagFerrry.gif Many

Uhldingen-Mühlhofen

23.4

german flagTrain.gif

Few

Ãœberlingen 32.1 german flagTrain.gifFerrry.gif Many
Sipplingen 37 german flag Few
Bodman-Ludwigshafen 41 german flagTrain.gif Few
Mainau (island) 69 german flagFerrry.gif Few
Staad
74 german flag None
Konstanz 77 german flag Train.gifFerrry.gif Many
Kreuzlingen 79 SwissFlag.gifTrain.gifFerrry.gif Many
Allensbach 89 german flagTrain.gif Few

Radolfzell

94

german flagTrain.gif

Some

Moos

102

german flag

Few

Iznang

104

german flag

Few

Gaienhofen

109

german flagFerrry.gif

Few

Öhningen

117

german flagFerrry.gif

None

Stein am Rhein

120

german flagTrain.gifFerrry.gif

Some

Steckborn

129

SwissFlag.gifTrain.gifFerrry.gif

Few

Salenstein

138

SwissFlag.gifTrain.gif

None

Altnau

156

SwissFlag.gifTrain.gifFerrry.gif

None

Romanshorn

166

SwissFlag.gifTrain.gifFerrry.gif

Few

Arbon

176

SwissFlag.gifTrain.gif

Some

Rorschach

181

SwissFlag.gifTrain.gifFerrry.gif

Few

Rheineck

189

SwissFlag.gifTrain.gif

Few

Hard

200 AustriaFlag.gif Few

Bregenz

205 AustriaFlag.gifTrain.gifFerrry.gifCable car Many

Lochau

208 AustriaFlag.gif Many

Lindau

213

german flagTrain.gifFerrry.gif

Many

Wasserburg

218

german flagTrain.gifFerrry.gif

Many

Nonnenhorn

220

german flagTrain.gifFerrry.gif

Many

Kressbronn

222

german flagTrain.gifFerrry.gif

Many

Langenargen

227

german flagTrain.gifFerrry.gif

Some

Eriskirch

231

german flagTrain.gif

Few

Friedrichshafen 236 german flagTrain.gifFerrry.gif Many




Useful Links
Dornier Museum
Zeppelin Museum
Fly in a Zeppelin
Stone Age village
Sea Life aquarium
German Tourist Info
Swiss Local Tourist Info
Austrian local Tourist Info.
Reichnau Island

St Gallen Baroque town

 

Information on each village can be obtained from its web site by clicking on the village name in the table above.  For those that do not provide an English version, see the advice on web translation below.   

 

 

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Web translation

 

 

A lot of the smaller tourist web sites are written in German only.  This should be no barrier to you using or them as Google offers a number of translation solutions.  Our preferred option is the Google toolbar which can be downloaded, as the quality of translation is reasonable and in most cases the web page will appear in English as you read down it.  This means it is always up to date and integrated with the website.

 

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3rd party insurance

 

 

 

It is sensible to have 3rd party insurance.  At the time of writing there is a law in Switzerland which requires Swiss bike owners to mount a "Velo Vignette" on the mudguard each year and this also acts as a stolen bike tracking system.  Right now this rule does not cover visitors and may be about to be rescinded in any case.

 

 

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