Travel report: Round the Upper Lake in three stints
From Radweg-Reisen employee, Tanja
Just like all new employees at Radweg-Reisen, we - that's Sarah (who's lived on the lake for 10 years) and me, Tanja (I am a genuine lake child!) - got to explore Lake Constance by bike. Our first tour took us round the Upper Lake, which is what the part of the lake is called that lies east of the line between Constance and Meersburg. Well, of course we know our way around, but we soon discovered that you can experience Lake Constance totally different by bike.
We set off in the morning, with quite some excitement in the air! Do we really have everything that we need? We checked the weather forecast before and knew that rain was forecast.
But we all know: there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes. We say this quite often on the phone, but now we had to pack our own raingear.
Day 1: Constance – Lindau, approx. 50 km
We arrived at the office, handed over our luggage and got our bikes.
We were allowed to cycle the tour on our new red e-bikes, which don't just look great, but are also great to ride. Slightly mocked by the bike mechanics who have been known to cycle round the entire lake in a day (!) we first set off to Constance-Staad, to get the ferry over to Meersburg.
The ferry crossing is the first little highlight, as you can not only see the flower island of Mainau, but in good weather you can even see the alps.
Arriving in Meersburg, you can visit the historic quarter and wander around its windy and romantic little streets. This is also where Meersburg Castle is and the fort, the town's landmark. After a short meander, we cycled past vineyards on to Hagnau and Immenstaad, heading for Friedrichshafen, the town of the Zeppelin (which you can often see up in the air when you're cycling round Lake Constance).
The lovely promenade in Friedrichshafen is a perfect spot to take a break for lunch. There are lots of restaurants with terraces right on the lakeside. With views of the lake, the food and the break are even more enjoyable.
If you look over to Switzerland from Friedrichshafen you'll see the widest stretch of Lake Constance - from here it's about 14 kilometres over to Romanshorn.
Keep following the lakeside heading for Lindau
After lunch we cycled through Eriskirch and Langenargen on to Lindau. We took a short break at the marina in Kressbronn and admired the yachts and the sailing boats, which you don't always get to see up close like this.
Now today's destination was pretty close, and we just had to cycle through the villages of Nonnenhorn and Wasserburg.
Our hotel was in the old town of Lindau, which is on the island of Lindau - the second largest island on Lake Constance (after Reichenau Island). After a short break in the hotel, we headed out again to explore the beautiful historic old town of Lindau.
The most famous sight here and the town's landmark is the entrance to Lindau harbour. You're greeted by a 6-metre high statue of a lion and watched over by Germany's southernmost lighthouse! A short walk over to the harbour is a must for everyone visiting Lindau.
After a walk through the narrow winding streets of the town, we went into one of the many restaurants before finally collapsing into bed with our heads full of the great things we'd experienced that day.
Day 2: Lindau – Arbon, approx. 50 km
Restored by sleep and a generous breakfast we headed off towards Arbon in Switzerland. During breakfast it started raining absolute buckets and we studied our travel documents to see if there were any ways we could shorten our route. The station was only a few metres from the hotel! After a quick discussion we decided to defy the rain and cycle!
As we already said, there is no bad weather, just bad clothing! Fitted out with rainproof trousers and jackets we left the hotel. Just at the moment it stopped raining! Still accompanied by black clouds, we cycled off Lindau Island to pedal to the festival town of Bregenz. After just a few kilometres we crossed the border to Austria, which we only noticed because of a large sign!
In good weather, it's worth going up Bregenz' local mountain, the Pfänder, in a cable car. From here you have great views of the lake and the alps. As the weather wasn't that great, we decided against the Pfänder and cycled on towards the Bregenz lake stage, where the Bregenz festival concerts take place in July and August. If there are no events currently on, you can go on to the stage, free of charge, and admire the impressive stage construction.
Then we pedalled off for the Swiss border, crossing Bregenz' Ach river and the Rhine in Hard, still in Austria. This is also where the Rhine flows into Lake Constance. Due to the continuing threat of rain we kept pedalling on to Arbon.
Tag 3: Arbon – Constance, approx. 30 km
Our final day on the bike took us back to Constance after a very tasty breakfast with views of the lake. The cycle path follows the lake banks most of the time, past many orchards, and the chance to enjoy lovely views of Lake Constance through the apple trees.
At Romanshorn harbour, we took a break and then set off again over the border back to Constance, where we had started our tour.
Arriving in Constance, with about 130 kilometres behind us, we sat in the Stadtgarten park and had a drink and an ice-cream and enjoyed views of the statue of Imperia, Constance landmark, and talked about everything we had seen and done on the Upper Lake. It was great!
The Upper Lake tour is great for people who don't have much time to explore the lake. In just three days you still have a great opportunity to get to know some lovely spots on Lake Constance. In just a few kilometres on day 2 you cross two national borders, hardly noticing that you're doing so. Within minutes you'll have been in three different countries. The cycle paths follow a level profile and are great for leisurely cyclists. The cycle paths are also very well signposted so you're not likely to lose your way.
Our tip: With the lake always on your right, you won't go far wrong!
During the tour you can hop into the lake for a swim if you want, or just stop and stare, enjoying the views. Depending on when you travel, there are lots of opportunities to by tasty Lake Constance fruit on the way and eat it at any of the lovely benches on the lake banks.