Our dream of biking in Germany came true when we ventured off for a week in September to bike around the Bodensee located in southwest Germany. The Bodensee (German for Lake Constance) borders three countries (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland) and this giant body of water with its shoreline towns have a long history beginning as far back as the Stone and Bronze Age (about 4000-850 BC) when the early lake dwellers built homes on “piles” or stilts directly on the water.
Today the Lake Constance is the home of a wide range of cultural interests, water sports and cuisine and you can enjoy all of the above while biking on the well-marked mostly flat pathways that hug the shoreline, meander into small villages and pass through orchards and grapevines. The bike/pedestrian path that circles the lake is roughly 162 beautiful miles long with stunning views of the lake over one shoulder and the Alps over the other.
We decided to focus on the section of the lake known as the Untersee (lower lake, which I still don’t understand since its actually the north part of the lake). We rented bikes and began our tour in Friedrichshafen (the birthplace of the flying Zeppelin) with the goal of biking a convoluted loop of sorts using various forms of transportation including bikes, ferries, trains and feet!
Our first day out started with a cycle around Friedrichshafen followed by a ferry ride to the quaint town of Meersburg with its imposing castle above the town. We have discovered the best way to “see” a new place is to sit at a neighborhood bar, order up some local wine, and make friends that aren’t tourists. We did just that in Meersburg and enjoyed the fellowship of a local couple who were more than happy to share tidbits and recommendations that even Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet don’t know about. (BTW – The Guter Hirte (Good Shepherd) restaurant in Konstanz was excellent!).
We spent the whole day in Meersburg checking out the old town and hiking up to the castle. Later that day we ferried across to the largest city on the lake, Konstanz, a town of historical significance and quaint Medievel architecture as well as a bustling center for education and commerce.
Part of our cycle route took us from Konstanz to Richeneau Island to Stein am Rhein and finally to Schaffhausen where devoured an amazing pasta meal at La Piazza followed by some serious snoozing at the beautiful historic Hotel Ruden. Most of this route was in Switzerland and we found out quickly just how expensive a small snack can be. Two espressos, two waters and two small pastries = 25 euro! But the scenery was stellar and we got a break in the clouds so we got over it..
Most of our days were wet (there’s a reason everything is so green here!) but we pushed on from Schaffhausen to Radolfzell pedalling along the shores of the Rhine River, through postcard pastures and deep woods so quiet that it almost seemed wrong to have a conversation as we biked along.
In Radolfzell, we ate dinner at Liesele’s and stayed in the historic Hotel am Stadtgarten that was built on the old fortress wall overlooking the old moat which is now a manicured sunken garden. It was wonderful to fall asleep to the sound of heavy rain but not so nice to bike in, so the next morning we opted to take the train to Uberlingen departing there and biking on Meersburg. The rest of our trip was spent snooping around the Medievel streets of Konstanz, biking to the garden island of Mainau, cycling down into Switzerland to Romanshorn where we took the ferry over to Lindau (another beautiful island on the lake.) Check out the photos in the gallery!
All through the trip we were blessed with fresh food (in some cases right off the tree), hospitable people, good health and great photos and lots of stories. We always found something to smile or laugh about in spite of the weather. Beautiful..
and downright funny…
The Bodensee is a sightseeing delight and should only be experienced from the best perspective – the saddle of a bicycle.