Southern Bavaria is a fantastic holiday destination though it doesn’t generate the same global buzz as Berlin, Neuschwanstein and other rather cliché tourist destinations.
There’s not even a lot of tourist information about Bavaria in languages other than German, yet a yet a lot of locals speak very good English and are very friendly and welcoming to tourists.
Each time we’ve visited we’ve had a positive and happy experience, so we keep going back. This year we decided to visit Lake Constance (Bodensee), the third largest inland lake in Central Europe, located on the Rhine River at the northern edge of the Alps bordering Germany, Austria, Lichtenstein and Switzerland.
The lake is a paradise for water sports, with marinas in several towns. In the summer months the water temperature can reach up to 24 degrees C. so it is possible to swim in the lake. The water is also very clean; Lake Constance is one of the largest drinking water reservoirs in the region.
We stayed near Lindau, a romantic island city with rich cultural heritage and history that can be traced back to 9th century. This truly is an idyllic location, a maze of small streets amongst old buildings with sgraffito facades, created by the German master builders of the Renaissance.
A great example is the Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) built between 1422 and 1436 and then given a sgraffito facelift 150 years later, portraying the court life in Lindau in 1496 with the coats of arms of Lindau families and important Lake Constance towns surrounding the Town Hall clock.
The rathaus itself can only be visited as part of a special organised tour but the former Reichstag library with its 15,000-plus valuable books is open to tourists.
Lindau’s most famous landmarks are at the harbour entrance – the new, 33-metre high (with 139 steps) lighthouse and the 6-metre tall Bavarian lion.
Both were built as a gateway to town and represent entry into the Kingdom of Maximilian II of Bavaria.
Things to do:
• On a nice day take a round trip on a “three countries panoramic tour” which departs from the pier behind the Lindau casino and it cruises through the “Bay of Bregenz” crossing the German/Austrian border, offering splendid views of German, Austrian and Swiss shorelines and returning to Lindau past the famous harbour entrance.
The tour commentary is available on board but only in German so ask for further information about it at the ticket desk, which is the small office next to the main railway station, Lindau Hauptbahnhof.
• Lake Constance has a bicycle trail that goes around the whole lake, 170 miles long. It’s comprised of mostly paved bike paths, some minor roads or packed dirt lanes and occasionally it goes through town streets.
It is mostly flat and clearly sign posted; ideal for families with children.
• We were not staying for long enough to start exploring the Alpine regions but we did visit Bregenz which was only a 30-minute drive from our accommodations, following the coastal road by the lake and thus avoiding having to buy a vignette for Austria.
• Friedrichshafen, the birthplace of the Zeppelin, is also only a 30 min drive from Lindau. The Zeppelin Museum houses the world’s largest collection on the history and technology of aviation and 33-metre long partial reproduction of the Hindenburg.
Interestingly, it also has a permanent art exhibition giving visitors an overview of 500 years of Lake Constance regional arts and crafts, from the Middle Ages to modern times.
• Sightseeing flights in a Zeppelin, flying at 300 metres above sea level, are also possible and there are twelve routes on the Lake Constance, offering unique views of the lake and the Alps, as well as selected city trips within Germany.
• Of course no holiday would be complete without sampling the local food which is really good even for vegetarians and – if like me – you have a sweet tooth, there is a great choice of continental coffee/cake bars offering traditional Bavarian tortes.
Hotels in Lindau can be quite expensive and because the City is on the island, parking is limited and expensive. We stayed at a self catering apartment in Bad Schachen, which is a half an hour walking distance (with a toddler and a stroller) from Lindau. We enjoyed lovely views from the apartment, had use of the garden, parking for our car was free and for supplies the nearest supermarket was within one minute drive and the bakery within five minutes walking distance.
Bad Schachen is part of the Bavarian Riviera full of elegant villas that were built by the German nobility and the bourgeoisie at the beginning of 20th century.
How to get there
• From the UK, with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, it takes just 35 minutes to get from the UK to the Continent, which is the fastest way to cross the Channel. Online journey planners suggest either a route via France or via Belgium, both converging at Karlsruhe and then going past Stuttgart.
Alternatively, consider taking A26 then A4 via Strasbourg and then head south via Ludwigshafen which is at the top of Lake Constance then follow the coastal road via Friedrichshafen to Lindau. The
coastal road offers splendid views of the lake and the fruit orchards.
When we travelled, we were so lucky to also see a Zeppelin flying right in front of us. Having said that, we are told by the locals that in July and August the coastal route can be quite slow and we have observed that some parts have speed limits of 30km/h.
No matter which route you choose remember to allow extra journey time as you will need to rest and to re-fuel, and most likely slow down for road works.
About the author:
Lilly Rosier is business analyst, fine-arts lover, baker, wife and a mother who lives near Eindhoven, Netherlands
She’s passionate about travelling and always discovering new, great tasting vegetarian or vegan food.
Lilly’s secret to a happy life: “Spending time with a cat”.