Spanning 64 kilometres in length and up to 12 kilometres wide, Lake Constance lies at the junction of Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. The lake covers an area of about 536 square kilometres, reaching a maximum depth of 251 metres, making it the third-largest lake in Central Europe. It is often referred to as the Bodensee in German. Surrounded by beautiful scenery, the lake is a popular destination for vacationers who appreciate its natural beauty, cultural heritage, and recreational activities such as sailing and swimming. So check out my itinerary for the most incredible Lake Constance attractions to visit in six days by public transportation with a start and end at Zurich Airport.
Day 1. Arrival in Zurich. Rhine Falls. Going to the city of Constance.
The Rhine is the second longest river in Central Europe, stretching for 1,230 kilometres, with 375 kilometres running through Switzerland. Europe's biggest waterfall, the Rhine Falls, is located near the village of Neuhausen in Northern Switzerland. This impressive 150-metre wide and 23-metre high waterfall draws in many visitors, and the natural beauty is certainly worth seeing. It is best to visit the falls in May or June when the water flow is at its peak, although August is also an option. The waterfall is divided into the Zurich Falls, the Schaffhausen Falls, and the Mühle Falls by limestone rocks, with the middle one forming the border between the two cantons of Zurich and Schaffhausen.
Overnight. If you have enough time, go to the city of Constance and stay there overnight. If not, staying in German Jestetten town, which is one train stop from Neuhausen, might be a good value for money option. Of course, you can also stay at one of the few hotels in Neuhausen.
Practical information. The S24 train departs from Zurich Airport and reaches Neuhausen in approximately 45 minutes. The Rhine Falls is very close to the train station. Plan to spend a few hours exploring the area around the falls. If you continue your way to Constance on the same day, you will have to go to Schaffhausen first and change trains there.
Day 2 and Day 3. Constance.
The city of Constance, Konstanz in German, located at the western end of Lake Constance near Switzerland, has a long history that dates back to Roman times. Visitors to the area can explore the following attractions:
Mainau Island Gardens, UNESCO site on Reichenau Island,Konstanz Cathedral,Medieval Old Town,Lake Constance.For more information on how to spend days two and three of this trip, I invite you to read my article about Constance.
Day 4. Boat trip on Lake, Friedrichshafen and Lindau.
I suggest taking a one-hour catamaran ride from Constance to Friedrichshafen, followed by a quick tour of the city, before continuing to Lindau Reutin from the Friedrichshafen Stadt train station. Friedrichshafen was originally established in 1811 when it was part of the Kingdom of Württemberg, a French ally during the Napoleonic Wars. It is also known as the birthplace of the Zeppelin, the massive airship used in WWI for bombing runs. At the Zeppelin Museum, visitors can find exhibits dedicated to the history of the airships, including a recreated LZ 129 Hindenburg. It is also worth taking a stroll along the lakeside promenade on the way to the railway station.
Hop on the train for a 25-minute ride to Lindau Reutin station. To reach the Old Town of Lindau, located on the island, you can either walk for around 25 minutes or take the bus number 5 to Inselbahnhof.
Situated on an island in Lake Constance, the Old Town of Lindau covers only 70 hectares. The harbour entrance, with its Bavarian lion and white lighthouse, is surrounded by a spectacular panorama overlooking the Alps and Lake Constance. Along the lakeside promenade, which is the most attractive on Lake Constance, visitors can find many cafés with views of the harbour. Exploring the old town is a great way to experience its rich history, culture, and natural beauty. Visitors may stroll through the streets of the old town and admire medieval architecture or visit iconic landmarks such as St. Peter's Church, St. Stephen's Church, and the Lindau Lighthouse.The Lindau City Museum will provide an insight into the town's heritage. Additionally, travellers can admire the Bavarian Gate, the only surviving piece of the medieval city walls, and take in the vibrant atmosphere of Market Square.
Overnight in Lindau.
Practical tip. Lindau's old town is small and there are few hotels. If you want to stay overnight there, book your hotel well in advance, at least six months before your trip.
Day 5. Bregenz.
Take a boat or train to Bregenz. You will get there in less than 30 minutes.
Situated on the eastern shore of Lake Constance, Bregenz is the capital of Vorarlberg, Austria's westernmost region. Boasting two millennia of history, the city is home to Austria's most important harbour and the world-famous Bregenz Festival. A must-do is riding the Pfänder Panoramic Cable Car up the mountain, where you can explore the Alpine Wildlife Park, hike, cycle, or simply enjoy the view from the terrace of the Berghaus Pfaender restaurant. If you choose to hike in the Alpine Wildlife Park, the circular trail takes around half an hour and includes some steep sections. It begins at the Pfänder mountain house with some children-friendly animals such as dwarf nanny goats and rabbits.
Bregenz is well known for its annual Bregenz Festival in summer, which offers remarkable opera performances on a stage situated on the lake. The backdrop of the Alps creates a stunning atmosphere for viewers to experience. If you admire culture, this is an event you should not miss. Be sure to plan in advance and get your tickets for a memorable show in the evening.
Overnight in Bregenz.
Practical tips. Check the boat and train schedules in advance because they do not run frequently. If you stay in the Old Town of Lindau, boat trips could be more convenient because of the proximity to the harbour.
Day 6. St. Gallen and flight back home.
Take a train from Bregenz to St. Gallen and you will get there in half an hour.
One of Switzerland's most charming old towns is in St. Gallen, where many of the houses and structures date from the 16th and 18th centuries, occasionally have painted facades, and are frequently embellished with wrought-iron signs as well as carved and painted wooden oriel windows. The Abbey District of St. Gallen, which has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1983, is the central point in the city and features a baroque cathedral and famous abbey library.
Planning your city visit around the opening times of the St. Lawrence Church tower is a good idea. The tower is open Monday–Saturday from 9:30–11:30 a.m. and 2:00–4:00 p.m. However, it is closed during winter. After climbing the tower, you will be able to enjoy a beautiful view of the roofs of St. Gallen.
The Convent of St Gall is your next destination. It is a fantastic representation of a Carolingian monastery, having been one of the most influential in Europe from the 8th century to its secularisation in 1805. Make sure you visit the old library.
St. Gallen is well-known around the world for its textiles, so it may be worth visiting the Textile Museum, located in the Palazzo Rosso. The museum is known for its impressive selection of Eastern Swiss embroidery, fabrics, and laces from the Middle Ages to the present, as well as Egyptian textiles from late antiquity.
At the end of your tour, take a one-hour train ride to Zurich Airport.
The trip covers three countries, so planning is a bit more complicated than usual. Make sure you book your hotel and Bregenz Opera Festival performance tickets well in advance – and I mean half a year in advance. This way, you will get better hotel prices and the best seats for the performance. Do not forget to pick up your Bodensee visitor card at Constance for complimentary transportation in and around the city.
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Author: Anita Sane
About the author
Anita is a part-time traveller, passionate photographer and a retired career woman from Latvia, travelling mostly solo for more than 15 years. She is a skilled travel planner who plans and executes her travels by herself. Anita wants to show you how to travel the world and open your mind to new experiences. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Bloglovin.