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The Bodensee Travel Guide

  • Photo: Nick Biemans / Shutterstock

Plan Your Bodensee Vacation

Lapping the shores of Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, the Bodensee (Lake Constance), at 65 km (40 miles) long and 15 km (9 miles) wide, is the largest lake in the German-speaking world.

Though called a lake, it's actually a vast swelling of the Rhine, gouged out by a massive glacier in the Ice Age and flooded by the river as the ice receded. The Rhine flows into its southeast corner,

where Switzerland and Austria meet, and flows out at its west end. On the German side, the Bodensee is bordered almost entirely by the state of Baden-Württemberg (a small portion of the eastern tip, from Lindau to Nonnenhorn, belongs to Bavaria).

A natural summer playground, the Bodensee is ringed with little towns and busy resorts. It's one of the warmest areas of the country, not just because of its southern latitude but also owing to the warming influence of the water, which gathers heat in summer and releases it in winter. The lake itself practically never freezes over—it has done so only once in the past two centuries. The climate is excellent for growing fruit, and along the roads you'll find stands and shops selling apples, peaches, strawberries, jams, juices, wines, and schnapps, much of it homemade.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Zeppelin Museum, Friedrichshafen Step inside the gracious passenger rooms of the airship, and you may question whether the air transport of today, though undeniably bigger and faster, is a real improvement.
  2. Altes Schloss in Meersburg Explore the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Germany, from the sinister dungeons to the imposing knights' hall.
  3. Schloss Salem, near Überlingen The castle itself has plenty to see, with furnished rooms, stables, gardens, and museums.
  4. Wallfahrtskirche Birnau, near Überlingen A vineyard slopes down from this pilgrimage church to Schloss Maurach on the lakeshore. The scene inside the church is a riot of color and embellishment.
  5. Mainau Island More than a million tulips and narcissi grace the flower island in spring—later they're followed by rhododendrons and azaleas, roses, and dahlias.

When To Go

When to Go

The Bodensee's temperate climate makes for pleasant weather from April to October. In spring, orchard blossoms explode everywhere, and on Mainau...

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