Konstanz on the Bodensee


In addition to the information about Konstanz and the Bodensee region below, please find some of the mentioned local tourist attractions and lake swimming spots marked on this map:

About Konstanz and the Bodensee Region

Konstanz is a university town of around 82,000 inhabitants, the largest town on the shores of the Bodensee (otherwise known as Lake Constance). These international waters - actually a widening and deepening of the river Rhine as it flows down from the Alps - are where Germany, Switzerland and Austria meet. Konstanz itself lies directly at the German-Swiss border.

This is a city with a long history - there has been a settlement here since the late Stone Age, and it was settled by the Romans in AD40. In 1192 it was declared a free Imperial City of the Holy Roman Empire. It is perhaps most widely known for the Council of Konstanz (1414-18), which resolved the Papal Schism by the election of Pope Martin V. The 600th anniversary of the Council is currently being celebrated by the city and the building in which the Council enclave was held still stands on the waterfront, today a restaurant and concert hall.

Konstanz can also boast the oldest theatre in Germany still performing regularly, which opened in 1610. The Old Town of Konstanz still retains much of its picturesque medieval charm today, thanks in part to its proximity to Switzerland. The city was not affected by Allied bombing raids during World War II, supposedly because leaving the city lights on as usual made Konstanz appear to be a part of its neutral neighbour.

Konstanz - Bürgerhäuser an der Seestraße (01) (9503181098) -- By Gerhard Giebener (Konstanz - Bürgerhäuser an der Seestraße (01)) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Konstanz-rheingasse -- By Roland.h.bueb (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons, cropped

Today Konstanz is an excellent base from which to enjoy and explore the Bodensee and the surrounding region, be it swimming in the lake, boating, biking, enjoying the fine food and wine of the region, relaxing in the local cafés or beer gardens, or simply seeing the sights. Some of the most famous attractions include the "Flower Island" of Mainau (right), with its botanical gardens and butterfly house; the Benedictine Abbey on the island of Reichenau, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and now the market garden of the region; and the reconstruction of stone-age dwellings at the Pfahlbau Museum at Unteruhldigen, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Insel Mainau - Streifzug über die Insel (14) - Verwaltungsgebäude (10052261474) -- By Gerhard Giebener [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In the old town of Konstanz itself one can find a Sea Life aquarium, several museums (including the Rosgarten Museum, an Archaeological Museum and the Jan Hus Museum), and the Wessenberg art gallery, located in the Kulturzentrum. There is also a handful of beautiful churches, for example Konstanz Minster, from whose tower one can, on a fine day in summer, enjoy extensive views of the lake and of the Alps, and St Stephan's Church (Stephanskirche) and Holy Trinity Church (Dreifaltigkeitskirche) with their beautiful frescoes. Some of the highlights of downtown Konstanz can be found in the "walking tour" booklet of the Konstanz Tourist Information Centre.

2014-10-05 004 KN Kulturzentrum -- By Meyer-Konstanz (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Or one can enjoy many a boat trip over the lake, especially during the summer season. Year round there is both the ferry from Staad to Meersburg (timetable), another picturesque lakeside town with a medieval Schloss, an 18th century New Schloss and many of the region's vineyards, and the Katamaran from Konstanz harbour to Friedrichshafen, home of, for example, the Zeppelin Museum. There is also a wide network of ferries running up and down the Bodensee in summer, for example to Reichenau, or to Bregenz in Austria, to Rorschach and Romanshorn in Switzerland, or to Lindau, Überlingen, Stein am Rhein and the Rhine Falls (Schaffhausen) in Germany (timetable, prices).

Abendschiff vor dem Säntis-Massiv -- By Ameichle (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons