Bodensee (Lake Constance in English) is the largest lake in Germany. The huge green gem on the German-Austrian-Swiss border is 63 km long. It owes its fame to the fact that it is a real holiday paradise, joined by charming towns. It is mainly a summer destination where everyone goes swimming, sailing or surfing.

The 536 km2 Lake Constance is the 3rd largest stagnant body of water in Europe after Lake Balaton and Lake Geneva. In addition to water sports, cycling is also very popular in the area. The lake can be circled on the 260 km Bodensee-Radweg cycle path.

Overview

Bodensee Details
Surface 536 km2 (63x14 km)
Average depth 90 m (deepest point: 251 m)
Countries Germany, Austria, Switzerland
Distance from Munich 220 km
Distance from Stuttgart 200 km
Major cities Konstanz and Bregenz
Things to do Watersports (bathing, surfing, sailing, etc.), wine tours, easy hikes, cycling ...
Top attractions nearby The Black Forest, Rhine Falls, Lichtenstein

Despite the proximity of the Alps (which stretches to the eastern side), the atmosphere of the cities has Mediterranean features at the same time. In the shade of palm trees, exotic plants and alpine greens can be found.

Where is Bodensee (Lake Constance)?

The huge lake lies on the border of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Since most of it is located in Germany, it officially belongs there. Tiny Liechtenstein does not touch the lake, but it is less than 1 hour away. Zurich, Munich and Stuttgart are the closest major cities.

  • Distance from Liechtenstein: 1 hour / 70 km
  • Distance from Munich: 2.5 hours / 220 km
  • Distance from Stuttgart: 2.5 hours / 200 km
  • Distance from Zurich: 2 hours / 90 km
  • Distance from Innsbruck: 3 hours / 230 km
  • Distance from Vienna: 7 hours / 620 km
Bodensee map - Munich distance

Map

62% of the lake belongs to Germany, 27% to Switzerland, and only 11% to Austria. The northern German side is busier, while the southern Swiss side is quieter (less explored by foreign tourists).

Lake Constance map
Bodensee map
Attention! The German Bodensee is not to be confused with the Austrian Bodensee of the same name found in Styria.

More about Bodensee

It is fed by the Rhine River and consists of two parts: the Untersee (lower lake) and the larger Obersee (upper lake). Hills mainly surround the lake, but don't expect huge mountains.

The quality and temperature of the water make water sports possible. Summer tourism based on this contributes greatly to the local economy. There are plenty of restaurants and hotels on the shore of the lake - or in its vicinity. Based on previous statistics, tourists spend 6 million nights here every year. The railway network has been developed. Mainly residents of the surrounding country vacation here.

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The bathing season usually lasts from mid-July to mid-September.

The Rhine fills the lake mainly with the melted snow layer of the Alps. Over the centuries, it has filled the lake's shallower parts with sediment here and there. In spring, the water can be almost 2-3 meters higher.

Its average depth is 90 meters, but its deepest point reaches 251 meters. In winter, the northern, shallower parts of the lake (7-10 m) can freeze.

Cities

As is usually the case with wetlands, many cities have developed on the shores of the lake. The most popular settlements are the following:

  • Konstanz or Constance
  • Bregenz
  • Friedrichshafen
  • Überlingen
  • Meersburg
  • Lindau
  • Kreuzlingen

Other noteworthy settlements in the area are St Gallen, Radolfzell, Schaffhausen, Frauenfeld, and Vaduz.

#1 Konstanz

The core and centre town of the lake is Konstanz. The city's core is the fabulous old town, which can present many cultural and historical attractions.

City of Konstanz, Lake Constance

Most restaurants and hotels can be found here and in Bregenz - all of which, of course, reach up to five-star service. One of the city's symbols, a statue depicting a woman, commemorates the Council of Constance, which might sound familiar from the history lesson. By the way, many houses and buildings in the old town have survived from that period.

#2 Bregenz

Austria's most picturesque province is Vorarlberg, with the seat of Bregenz. The town by the lake lies at the foot of Pfander mountain. Thanks to its idyllic location, almost everyone can find their calculations. You can go hiking with a cable car - or without it; you can take a bath or take part in a wine tour. There will be no shortage of sightseeing.

Bregenz, Vorarlberg - Austria
Cable car in Bregenz, Bodensee

By the way, Bregenz belonged to both France and Germany in the past - this left its mark on its architecture and gastronomy. Regarding the division of Bregenz, we distinguish Lower and Upper Bregenz.

The top attractions in Bregenz are:

#3 Friedrichshafen

Friedrichshafen is located on the north side of the lake, almost in the middle. This is the most important industrial city of the lake, which many people know because of the zeppelin production. The statue of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin will greet you when you visit the city. And those who like museums can visit the Zeppelin museum.

Friedrichshafen, Lake Constance attractions

Although the city is not as romantic as Bregenz or Konstanz, let's not write it off. In addition to having the most fairs and markets in the area, there are also plenty of restaurants and charming streets. Life is bustling here. Like in other lakeside towns, you can also find a beach here.

#4 Meersburg

Meersburg is a real gem surrounded by vineyards. Its most famous attraction is the medieval Meersburg castle and the museum inside it.

Town of Meersburg

As you walk between colourful houses and towers, many charming cobblestoned winding streets are waiting to be discovered. Make sure to include the city of Meersburg in the program during your vacation to Lake Constance.

#5 Lindau

You can almost feel the atmosphere of Lake Constance with Lindau's centuries-old buildings, lively squares and picturesque alleys. The icing on the cake is that there is even an island belonging to the city, which you can reach via a long bridge.

Lindau, Lake Constance

The entrance to the well-known harbour with its Bavarian lion and white lighthouse stands in front of a stunning panorama overlooking the Alps and Lake Constance. Here you will find the most attractive lakeside promenade in the area, which is home to numerous cafes.

#6 Überlingen

Überlingen is located at the northwestern tip of Lake Constance in Germany. The city is a popular boating and sailing destination. It is also worth noting that it has spa and wellness baths. It is quieter and more modest compared to the other towns. If you are looking for a place to stay that is close to nature, Überlingen might be an ideal choice.

#7 Kreuzlingen

Kreuzlingen is located on the lake's southern shore, on the Swiss side, directly opposite to Konstanz. The settlement, famous for its castles, is a real curiosity among the towns of Constance.

Kreuzlingen

Its charm is mostly because it is not as "touristy" as its better-known brother. When visiting the city of Konstanz, it is worth crossing the bridge and taking a walk.

#8 Mainau

Mainau is a small island with one of the largest botanical gardens in Europe, so the locals only refer to it as the island of flowers.

Mainau is the island of flowers on the west side of Lake Constance

Among the plant species brought from almost all over the world, you will be able to see plants that the Crusaders allegedly placed.

Read more: Lakes in Germany

Top 3 attractions in the area

#9 Black Forest

If your accommodation is on the west side of the lake, you can reach the well-known Black Forest in 1 hour by car. The forest promises plenty of wild and cultural attractions. It is an unmissable destination when visiting the area and worth returning on two separate days.

Sigmaringen Castle, Black Forest

#10 Rhine Falls (Rheinfall)

One of the largest waterfalls in Europe is the Rhine Falls, with its enormous size and power. Although the waterfall is not located near Lake Constance, it is less than an hour's drive from the west coast. By the way, you can admire the waterfall not only from the shore, but you can even get to it by boat.

  • Distance from the city of Konstanz: 45 minutes / 65 km
Rhine Falls 

#11 Vaduz

The capital of Liechtenstein is Vaduz. The Prince of Liechtenstein himself lives in the Vaduz castle, so you can only admire it from the outside. Don't be discouraged; there will still be enough things to see in the city, as it was worth coming here just to walk the charming streets.

Vaduz, Liechtenstein

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