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. 

 Planning

We think that planning is part of the fun, we used these to plan this holiday.

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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

 Language

Accomm-odation

Friedrichshafen  0

german flagTrain.gifFerrry.gif

 Union Jack

Many

Immenstaad  9.5

german flagFerrry.gif

 Union Jack

Some

Meersburg  18.2 german flagFerrry.gif  Union Jack Many

Uhldingen-Mühlhofen

 23.4

german flagTrain.gif

 

Few

Überlingen  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 Union Jack Few
Staad
 74 german flag    None
Konstanz  77 german flag Train.gifFerrry.gif Union Jack Many
Kreuzlingen  79 SwissFlag.gifTrain.gifFerrry.gif   Many
Allensbach  89 german flagTrain.gif Union Jack Few

Radolfzell

 94

german flagTrain.gif

Union Jack

Some

Moos

 102

german flag

 

Few

Iznang

 104

german flag

 

Few

Gaienhofen

 109

german flagFerrry.gif

Union Jack

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

Union Jack 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

Union Jack Many

Wasserburg

 218

german flagTrain.gifFerrry.gif

 

Many

Nonnenhorn

 220

german flagTrain.gifFerrry.gif

 

Many

Kressbronn

 222

german flagTrain.gifFerrry.gif

Union Jack

Many

Langenargen

 227

german flagTrain.gifFerrry.gif

Union Jack

Some

Eriskirch

 231

german flagTrain.gif

 

Few

Friedrichshafen  236 german flagTrain.gifFerrry.gif Union Jack 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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