39 Best Sights in The Bodensee, Germany

Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei GmbH

Fodor's choice

For an unforgettable experience, take a scenic zeppelin flight out of Friedrichshafen airport. The flying season runs from March to November, and prices start at €210 for half an hour. For those who prefer to stay grounded, you can also tour the Zeppelin NT (New Technology) in its hangar.

Schloss Salem

Fodor's choice

This huge castle in the tiny inland village of Salem, 10 km (6 miles) north of Überlingen, began its existence as a convent and large church. After many architectural permutations, it was transformed into a palace for the Baden princes, though traces of its religious past can still be seen. You can view the royally furnished rooms of the abbots and princes, a library, stables, and the church. The castle also houses an interesting array of museums, workshops, and activities, including a museum of firefighting, a potter, a musical instrument builder, a goldsmith shop, a glassblowing shop, pony farms, a golf driving range, and a fantasy garden for children. There is a great path that leads from the southwestern part of the grounds through woods and meadows to the pilgrimage church of Birnau. The route was created by the monks centuries ago and is still called the Prälatenweg (path of the prelates) today. It's an 8-km (5-mile) walk (no cars permitted).


On the road between Überlingen and Salem, the Affenberg (Monkey Mountain) is a 50-plus-acre park that serves as home to more than 200 free-roaming Barbary apes, as well as deer, aquatic birds, gray herons, ducks, coots, and—during nesting time—a colony of white storks.

Mendlishauser Hof, Überlingen, 88682, Germany
Sights Details
Rate Includes: €12, Closed Nov.–mid-Mar.

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If you want to learn about early Germans—residents from the 6th, 7th, and 8th centuries whose graves are just outside town—visit the Alemannenmuseum in the Kornhaus, which was once a granary. Archaeologists discovered the hundreds of Alemannic graves in the 1950s.

Altes Rathaus

The Old Town Hall is the finest of Lindau's handsome historic buildings. It was constructed between 1422 and 1436 in the midst of a vineyard and given a Renaissance face-lift 150 years later, though the original stepped gables remain. Emperor Maximilian I held an imperial diet (deliberation) here in 1496; a fresco on the south facade depicts the scene. The building retains city government functions, thus its interior is closed to the public.

Altes Rathaus

This old town hall was built during the Renaissance and painted with vivid frescoes—swags of flowers and fruits, shields, and sturdy knights wielding immense swords. Walk into the courtyard to admire its Renaissance restraint.

Altes Rathaus

Inside the late-Gothic Altes Rathaus is a high point of Gothic decoration, the Rathaussaal, or council chamber, which is still in use today. Its most striking feature amid the riot of carving is the series of figures, created between 1492 and 1494, representing the states of the Holy Roman Empire. To visit the interior, you'll need to take the short guided tour. Tours are free; simply show up shortly before the set start time.


Ravensburg is home to a remarkable collection of well-preserved medieval towers and city gates. Highlights include the Grüner Turm (Green Tower), so called for its green tiles, many of which are 14th-century originals. Another stout defense tower is the massive Obertor (Upper Tower), the oldest gate in the city walls. The curiously named Mehlsack (Flour Sack) tower—so called because of its rounded shape and whitewash exterior—stands 170 feet high and sits upon the highest point of the city. From April to October, visitors can climb to the top of the Blaserturm for rooftop views over the city.

Burg Meersburg

Burg Meersburg
(c) Fottoo | Dreamstime.com

Majestically guarding the town is the original “Meersburg” (Sea Castle). It's Germany's oldest inhabited castle, founded in 628 by Dagobert, king of the Franks. The massive central tower, with walls 10 feet thick, is named after him. The bishops of Konstanz used it as a summer residence until 1526, at which point they moved in permanently. They remained until the mid-18th century when they built themselves what they felt to be a more suitable residence—the baroque Neues Schloss. Plans to tear down the Burg Meersburg in the early 19th century were shelved when it was taken over by Baron Joseph von Lassberg, a man much intrigued by the castle's medieval romance. He turned it into a home for like-minded poets and artists, among them the Grimm brothers and his sister-in-law, the poet Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (1797–1848). The Burg Meersburg is still private property, but much of it can be visited, including the richly furnished rooms where Droste-Hülshoff lived and the chamber where she died, as well as the imposing knights' hall, the minstrels' gallery, and the sinister dungeons. The castle museum contains a fascinating collection of weapons and armor, including a rare set of medieval jousting equipment.

Das Schmetterlinghaus

Das Schmetterlinghaus
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Beyond the flora, the island of Mainau's other colorful extravagance is Das Schmetterlinghaus, Germany's largest butterfly conservatory. On a circular walk through a semitropical landscape with water cascading through rare vegetation, you'll see hundreds of butterflies flying, feeding, and mating. The exhibition in the foyer explains the butterflies' life cycle, habitats, and ecological connections. Like the park, this oasis is open year-round.

Der Bayerische Löwe

A proud symbol of Bavaria, the lion is Lindau's most striking landmark. Carved from Bavarian marble and standing 20 feet high, the lion stares out across the lake from a massive plinth.

Römerschanze, Lindau, 88131, Germany

Dornier Museum

Explore a century of pioneering aviation history. Along with the main focuses on Claude Dornier and his company, restored classic Dornier aircraft and Dornier's explorations into aerospace technology, temporary exhibitions on various aviation themes are shown. A special Dornier Museum/Zeppelin Museum combination ticket provides a discount for those exploring the major aviation attractions of Friedrichshafen.

Claude-Dornier-Pl. 1, Friedrichshafen, 88046, Germany
Sights Details
Rate Includes: €11.50, Closed Mon. Nov.–Mar.


An idyllic retreat almost hidden among the vineyards, the Fürstenhäusle was built in 1640 by a local vintner and later used as a holiday house by the poet Annette von Droste-Hülshoff. It's now the Droste Museum, containing many of her personal possessions and giving a vivid sense of Meersburg in her time. You'll need to join a guided tour to enter the museum.


At the middle of the island, the Gärtnerturm (Gardener's Tower) contains an information center, a shop, and an exhibition space. Several films on Mainau and the Bodensee are also shown.

Humpis-Quartier Museum

Glass walkways, stairways, and a central courtyard connect the well-preserved medieval residences at this museum, where visitors can take a close look into the lives of Ravensburgers in the Middle Ages. The residences once belonged to the Humpis family, who were traders in the 15th century.


At the harbor's inner edge, across the water from the Neuer Leuchtturm, stands this 13th-century former lighthouse, one of the lake's oldest. After a lightning strike in the 1970s, the roof tiles were replaced, giving the tower the bright top it now bears. The interior of the tower can be visited as part of organized storytelling events—contact Lindau Tourist-Information.


Many of Ravensburg's monuments that most recall the town's wealthy past are concentrated on this central square. To the west is the 14th-century Kornhaus (Granary); once the corn exchange for all of Upper Swabia, it now houses the public library. The late-Gothic Rathaus is a staid, red building with a Renaissance bay window and imposing late-Gothic rooms inside. Next to it stands the 15th-century Waaghaus (Weighing House), the town's weigh station and central warehouse. Its tower, the Blaserturm (Trumpeter's Tower), which served as the watchman's abode, was rebuilt in 1556 after a fire and now bears a pretty Renaissance helmet. Finally there's the colorfully frescoed Lederhaus, once the headquarters of the city's leather workers, and now home to a café. On Saturday morning the square comes alive with a large market.


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Lindau's market square is lined by a series of sturdy and attractive old buildings. The Gothic Stephanskirche (St. Stephen's Church) is simple and sparsely decorated, as befits a Lutheran place of worship. It dates to the late 12th century but went through numerous transformations. One of its special features is the green-hue stucco ornamentation on the ceiling, which immediately attracts the eye toward the heavens. In contrast, the Catholic Münster Unserer Lieben Frau (St. Mary's Church), which stands right next to the Stephanskirche, is exuberantly baroque.


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Konstanz's cathedral, the Münster, was the center of one of Germany's largest bishoprics until 1827, when the seat was moved to Freiburg. Construction on the cathedral continued from the 10th through the 19th century, resulting in an interesting coexistence of architectural styles: the twin-tower facade is sturdily Romanesque; the elegant and airy chapels along the aisles are full-blown 15th-century Gothic; the complex nave vaulting is Renaissance; and the choir is severely neoclassical. The Mauritius Chapel behind the altar is a 13th-century Gothic structure, 12 feet high, with some of its original vivid coloring and gilding. It's studded with statues of the Apostles and figures depicting the childhood of Jesus. Climb the Münsterturm (Münster Tower) for views over the city and lake.

Münsterpl. 4, Konstanz, 78462, Germany
Sights Details
Rate Includes: €2, Tower closed Nov.–Mar.

Münster of St. Maria and St. Markus


Begun in 816, the Münster of St. Maria and St. Markus, the monastery's church, is the largest and most important of Reichenau's Romanesque churches. Perhaps its most striking architectural feature is the roof, whose beams and ties are open for all to see. The monastery was founded in 725 by St. Pirmin and became one of the most important cultural centers of the Carolingian Empire. It reached its zenith around 1000, when 700 monks lived here. It was then probably the most important center of manuscript illumination in Germany. The building is simple but by no means crude. Visit the Schatzkammer (Treasury) to see some of its more important holdings. They include a 5th-century ivory goblet with two carefully incised scenes of Christ's miracles, and some priceless stained glass that is almost 1,000 years old.

Münster St. Nikolaus

The huge Münster St. Nikolaus was built between 1512 and 1563 on the site of at least two previous churches. The interior is all Gothic solemnity and massiveness, with a lofty stone-vaulted ceiling and high, pointed arches lining the nave. The single most remarkable feature is not Gothic at all but opulently Renaissance—the massive high altar, carved by Jörg Zürn from lime wood that almost looks like ivory. The subject of the altar carvings is the Nativity.

Münsterpl., Überlingen, 88662, Germany
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Free

Museum Ravensburger

Ravensburg is a familiar name to all jigsaw-puzzle fans, because the Ravensburg publishing house produces the world's largest selection of puzzles, as well as many other children's games. Here you can explore the history of the company, founded in 1883 by Otto Robert Maier. Be sure to try out new and classic games via the interactive game stations throughout the museum.

Museum Reichenau


This museum of local history, in the Old Town Hall of Mittelzell, lends interesting insights into life on the island over the centuries.

Neuer Leuchtturm

Germany's southernmost lighthouse stands sentinel with the Bavarian Lion across the inner harbor's passageway. A viewing platform at the top is open in good weather from April until the end of September. Climb the 139 steps for views over the harbor.

Hafeneinfahrt, Lindau, 88131, Germany
Sights Details
Rate Includes: €2.10, Closed Oct.–Mar.

Neues Schloss

The spacious and elegant "New Castle" is directly across from its predecessor. Designed by Christoph Gessinger at the beginning of the 18th century, it took nearly 50 years to complete. The grand double staircase, with its intricate grillwork and heroic statues, was the work of Balthasar Neumann. The interior's other standout is the glittering Spiegelsaal (Hall of Mirrors).


The Niederburg, the oldest part of Konstanz, is a tangle of twisting streets leading to the Rhine. From the river take a look at two of the city's old towers: the Rheintorturm (Rhine Tower), the one nearer the lake, and the aptly named Pulverturm (Powder Tower), the former city arsenal.


As you proceed northwest along the lake's shore, a settlement of "pile dwellings"—a reconstructed village of Stone Age and Bronze Age houses built on stilts—sticks out of the lake. This is how the original lake dwellers lived, surviving off the fish that swam outside their humble huts. Museum interpreters in authentic garb give you an accurate picture of prehistoric lifestyles. Since 2011, 111 lake dwelling settlements are part of the UNESCO World Heritage. The on-site Pfahlbaumuseum (Lake Dwelling Open-Air Museum and Research Institute) contains actual finds excavated in the area. Admission includes a 45–minute tour.

Strandpromenade 6, Unteruhldingen, 88690, Germany
Sights Details
Rate Includes: €10, Closed Fri.–Mon. Dec.–Feb.


Within the medieval guildhall of the city's butchers, this museum has a rich collection of art and artifacts from the Bodensee region. Highlights include exhibits of the life and work of the people around the Bodensee, from the Bronze Age through the Middle Ages and beyond. There's also a collection of sculpture and altar paintings from the Middle Ages.

Rosgartenstr. 3–5, Konstanz, 78462, Germany
Sights Details
Rate Includes: €3 (free Wed. after 2 pm and 1st Sun. of month), Closed Mon.

Schloss Friedrichshafen

A short walk from town along the lakeside promenade is this small palace that served as the summer residence of Württemberg kings until 1918. The palace was formerly a priory—its foundations date from the 11th century. Today it is the private home of Duke Friedrich von Württemberg and isn't open to the public. You can visit the adjoining priory church, a splendid example of regional baroque architecture. The swirling white stucco of the interior was executed by the Schmuzer family from Wessobrunn whose master craftsman, Franz Schmuzer, also created the priory church's magnificent marble altar.

Schloss Montfort

Twelve km (7½ miles) west of Lindau (about midway between Lindau and Friedrichshafen) is the small, pretty town of Langenargen, famous for the region's most unusual castle, Schloss Montfort. Named for the original owners, the counts of Montfort-Werdenberg, this structure was a conventional medieval fortification until the 19th century, when it was rebuilt in pseudo-Moorish style by its new owner, King Wilhelm I of Württemberg. If you can, see it from a passenger ship on the lake; the castle is especially memorable in the early morning or late afternoon. The castle houses a restaurant, open for dinner from Tuesday to Sunday, April through October, and on weekends during the colder months. The restaurant is also open for Sunday brunch year-round (10–2, all-you-can-eat German buffet-style brunch). A wine bar features in the atmospheric cellar, open Friday nights. You can also climb the wooden spiral staircase to the top of the tower for views across the lake to Switzerland, Austria, and over the rolling German countryside.

Untere Seestr. 3, Langenargen, 88085, Germany
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Tower €2, Tower closed Nov.–Feb.