Flowers, ferries and disco balls; cycling around Bodensee


Bodensee is the only lake in Europe to share its shores between three countries; Germany and Austria, where it is known as Bodensee and Switzerland where it is known as Lake Constance. Covering 536km2 it is hardly a hidden gem, but what you may not know is that there is cycle path around the whole lake. With a circumference of around 260km it makes for a fine cycle tour in its entirety or, along with the many ferries that criss-cross the lake offers a plethora of day ride options.

Even the local bus goes on the Meersburg ferry

We had originally wanted to stay in Konstanz at the western end of the lake but the heavy summer traffic meant we decided to stop on the north shore of the lake just outside Meersburg from where we could get a 15 minute ferry over to Konstanz.

From our campsite we set off desperately in need of coffee and pastry; we didn’t have to travel far. The first settlement we came to had a beautiful little bakery set in a cobbled square. We sat down in the dappled morning sun and watched other cyclists potter past.

Cycling past Meersburg castle

Invigorated by coffee and breakfast items we cycled 5km into Meersburg and joined the queue for the ferry. Tickets could be purchased on the boat. Bicycles and their riders were charged. There was just time to head up to the top deck for a few photos before we docked in Konstanz. The car ferry that we were travelling on docks about 3km outside of the city centre but is very handy for Mainau which was our first destination.

The island of Mainau is connected to the shore by a causeway and is like a theme park for flower lovers. Those who know me know that I LOVE gardens and flowers and taking pictures of gardens and flowers. I was in my element! There was plenty to win over even the most pollen hating members of society with a butterfly house, art installations, environmental exhibitions and some of the most impressive flower sculptures I have ever seen. To top it all off the ‘cafeteria’ was a giant beer garden serving 8 different types of sausage. Thoroughly recommended and worth every penny.

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Full of flowers, views, sausage and beer we set off for Konstanz town. The old town is set back from the lake and has a lovely maze of cobbled streets to explore. We wandered through the ornately painted town hall and climbed the tower of the cathedral. A particular highlight was finding a disco ball on the viewing platform on the cathedral tower. We also enjoyed delicious ice cream for a bargain 1 euro!

Having cycled over the hill from Mainau to Konstanz we enjoyed a lakeside cycle back to the ferry and headed home via a beautiful lake swim from one of the many secluded little coves on the north shore between Meersburg and Hagenau.

Bodensee, although busy and touristy in parts, was one of the highlights of the trip. It just screamed good, clean, holiday fun and with great food (apart from one meal…) and local wine is a destination I would love to return to.

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