Lake Constance / Bodensee

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Lake Constance / Bodensee

Lake Constance (German: Bodensee, map) refers to three bodies of water on the Rhine at the northern foot of the Alps. The lake is situated where Germany, Switzerland, and Austria meet.

Its shorelines lie in the German states of Baden – Württemberg and Bavaria, the Swiss cantons of St. GallenThurgau, and Schaffhausen, and the Austrian state of Vorarlberg.

While in English and the Romance languages, the lake is named after the city of Constance, the German name derives from the village of Bodman (municipality of Bodman-Ludwigshafen), in the northwesternmost corner of the lake.

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The Bodensee and its shores are very beautiful in a quiet, cultivated way. The views are serene, not spectacular. If you want dramatic scenery, drive a couple of kilometers south into Switzerland or south-west to Upper Bavaria (Allgaeu) and Austria, (Vorarlberg) and visit the Alps. The area sits in a kind of bowl and tends to be very foggy in the winter months.

The most populous towns on the Upper Lake are Constance > Friedrichshafen (map), Bregenz (map), Lindau (map), Überlingen (map) and *Kreuzlingen (map). The largest town on the Lower Lake is Radolfzell am Bodensee (map).

In Lake Constance there are ten islands. By far the largest is the island of Reichenau (map) in the Untersee, which belongs to the municipality of Reichenau. The former abbey of Reichenau is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its three early and highly medieval churches. The island is also known for its intensive cultivation of fruit and vegetables.

The island of Lindau (map) is located in the east of the Obersee, and is the second largest island. On it is the old town and main railway station of Lindau.

The third largest island is Mainau (map) in the southeast of Lake Überlingen. The owners, the family of *Bernadotte, have set up the island as a tourist attraction and created botanical gardens and wildlife enclosures.

Biking around the lake is also possible on the 261 km (162 mi) long trail called “Bodensee-Radweg” (+ It brings its visitors to the most interesting sites and goes around the whole lake. Nevertheless, various shortcuts via ferries allow shorter routes and the trail is suitable for all levels.

The 260 kilometers long Lake Constance circular route, signposted as “Bodensee Rundwanderweg“, leads around Lake Constance through the territories of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. It is mainly intended for hiking; cyclists follow the sometimes slightly different managed Lake Constance cycle path.

Swimming in the lake is usually possible from mid-June to mid-September.

Public transport

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+ Getting here ( • Getting There & Around (

 BUS >   Eurolines Austria – is the largest operator and organizer of bus travel in Austria though many services are not included in their schedules. MeinFernbusStations & Destinations — Germany’s largest long-distance bus company. Swiss PostAuto bus network. + EurolinesFlixbus

 RAIL >    There are trains going around the lake and stopping in most cities of interest. Swiss Travel SystemÖBB • WestBahn + Rail Europe.

 AIRPORTS >   Vienna International Airport.

 WATERWAYS >   The major boat/ferry operators are: Bodensee-Schiffsbetriebe (Germany) • Vorarlberg-Lines Bodenseeschifffahrt (Austria) • SBS Schifffahrt (Switzerland). + • + + Association of Swiss Navigation Companies – more information on cycling routes

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