Lake Constance cycling trail is easily one of the most popular in Europe and for good reason. Crossing three different countries and featuring some fabulous views, it offers a near-perfect mix of sports and relaxation that both beginners and veteran cyclists will enjoy. In this article, I’ll take you on a three-day cycling tour around Lake Constance and explain what to see along the way.
- Why Lake Constance Is Great for Cycling
- Why Three Days?
- Lake Constance Cycling Itinerary
- Day 1: Friedrichshafen to Konstanz
- Day 2: Constance to Bregenz
- Day 3: Bregenz to Friedrichshafen
- Extending the Trip
- Finding Accommodation on Lake Constance
- Cycling on Lake Constance — Useful to Know
- Final Thoughts
Why Lake Constance Is Great for Cycling
Lake Constance (also known as Bodensee in German) is one of the largest bodies of fresh water in Europe. Located in the foothills of the Swiss Alps, it marks the border between three countries: Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
As one might expect, Bodensee is a hugely popular travel destination. Beautiful scenery, countless little villages, and excellent local wines are just some of the reasons why it’s so attractive. There’s so much to see and try here that one can spend a week and never feel bored.
Another awesome thing about Lake Constance is its cycling infrastructure it’s fantastic. A well-marked cycling path circles the lake stretching for almost 270 kilometers. With little to no elevation gain, it’s quite undemanding, and the distance can always be reduced if needed.
That’s exactly what makes cycling on Lake Constance so incredible. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just bought a bicycle, you can enjoy the process without overexerting yourself. The route is easily modifiable to accommodate just about any fitness level.
I’d go as far as saying that to me, a bicycle is the best transport for exploring Lake Constance. Sure, you can visit many places by car as well but it will be hectic and inconvenient. The towns are small, parking is often limited, and traffic is congested.
Meanwhile, nothing beats the experience of cycling along the shore on a warm summer afternoon, watching the mirror-like water and the mountains in the distance. And when you feel like it, why not go for a swim or have a cold beer in one of the beer gardens along the way?
Why Three Days?
This article focuses on the three-day cycling itinerary. That said, there is no hard-set rule as to how long to spend on Lake Constance. There is so much to see and do that it all comes down to personal preference.
With some effort and a couple of shortcuts, an experienced cyclist can go around Bodensee in a single day. But while technically doable, this will be quite an exercise and won’t allow for much sightseeing.
Likewise, one can choose a super relaxed and chill option that requires an entire week to go around Lake Constance. With no more than 20-30 kilometers to cover daily, you’ll have endless possibilities to rest, have fun, or simply enjoy nature.
Not everyone can afford to stay a week, however. So for this itinerary, I’m suggesting a sort of a middle-ground — a three-day reduced version of the route with a total distance of around 170 kilometers.
I think for most people this will be close to a sweet spot. The itinerary is challenging but not overly so and leaves plenty of room for other activities. And we’ll still be doing a full circle stopping in the most interesting places so you won’t miss anything important.
I’ve also tried to make it flexible, so feel free to modify it to suit your needs better. For each step, I’m including ideas on how to make it less or more challenging if needed. And at the end of the article, I’ll share some suggestions on how to organize the trip differently if you have more time.
Lake Constance Cycling Itinerary
The map below shows the cycling paths around Lake Constance with approximate distances for each section. Keep in mind that we won’t be going the full length as that would be too much for three days.
Instead, we begin in Friedrichshafen in Germany and head west towards Überlingen and Konstanz. We then cross Switzerland to arrive at Bregenz in Austria. Finally, from there we return to our original starting point.
For each section, I will be attaching my Komoot recording of it. These allow you to view the detailed map, elevation profile, and other statistics as well as copy the route into your account. Alternatively, you can download the GPX file and use it with the tracker of your choice.
Before we dive in, a couple more things to mention. First, here are some basic facts about the trip as a whole:
- Total distance: 160-170 km
- Total duration: 3 full days
- Difficulty: beginner to intermediate
- Bicycle requirements: none, any bike will do
- Countries visited: Germany, Switzerland, and Austria
- Costs: food, accommodation, museums, ferry ticket(s)
Second, we chose Friedrichshafen as the starting point simply because it was the most convenient for us. You may just as well start elsewhere while keeping the same itinerary if that fits you better.
Day 1: Friedrichshafen to Konstanz
- Total distance: 57 km
- Starting point: Friedrichshafen, Germany
- End point: Konstanz, Germany
- Detailed map: click here
The first stint covers approximately 57 kilometers from Friedrichshafen to Konstanz. That’s a solid 2.5-4 hours of cycling, and there’s a lot to see, so I suggest starting early. Ideally, you want to be in Friedrichshafen the evening before to settle in and do a bit of sightseeing.
If you arrive by car, a good place to leave it for the duration of the trip is Parkhaus Sportpark. It’s not too far from the center yet the daily rate is very reasonable €8. You’ll pay significantly more anywhere closer to the lake.
The cycling path begins at the promenade. It is well-marked and immediately visible. Once you find it, you won’t need to consult the maps too often. Besides, in spring and summer, there are so many cyclers that you won’t get lost by simply following the crowd.
The initial section is a bit further away from the lake and not overly exciting. It’s only in Hagnau that you emerge on the shore and the most interesting part begins. From here onwards, the scenery is incredible with lots of places to stop for a swim or a quick drink.
Our goal is to reach Konstanz by the evening. You can do so by cycling around the upper Lake Constance but that’s a little too demanding. Instead, I suggest getting to Überlingen and catching the boat to Wallhausen to make it more manageable.
Departures are once per hour, so check the schedule beforehand to avoid the wait. The ride lasts 15-20 minutes and costs €8 including the bicycle. It is possible to buy the tickets directly aboard.
What to See — Main Highlights
There’s a lot to see in this area of Lake Constance and you might not be able to cover everything. It’s a good idea to pick some favorites in advance and focus on those.
Meersburg is a lovely medieval town with a pedestrian-only center and lots of cafes and restaurants. Its main attraction, however, is castle Meersburg. Dating back to the year 630, it’s one of the oldest surviving castles in Germany now converted into a museum.
Go inside if you like or simply take in the panoramic views of Bodensee from the castle’s terrace. And if you’re hungry, right next to it, Drachenfeuer is a nice medieval-themed restaurant that I thought was pretty good.
Unteruhldingen is a tiny village known for its open-air pile dwellings museum (admission €12). Featuring replicas of the Stone Age houses, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you’ll learn more about the history of the region. And right beside it, there’s a beautiful lakeside park.
On the southern side, the island of Mainau is one of the most famous attractions on Lake Constance. Often called the island of flowers, it’s spectacular all year long but especially so during the spring blooming season.
Keep in mind that although Mainau isn’t huge, there’s much to do there. Given a rather steep ticket price of €26, visiting only makes sense if you can stay at least a couple of hours. Check out this blog post for further info.
Lastly, Konstanz is the largest city on Bodensee. With a charming old district, bustling lakeside promenade, and plenty of restaurants, it’s a perfect location to unwind after all the cycling.
Depending on your preferences, there are a few ways to adjust the difficulty of this section.
Those who would like more cycling may try going around the north-western stretch of Lake Constance instead of taking the boat in Überlingen. This will add another 35 km with some noticeable elevation gain. You’ll find the map and all the details here.
To lower the difficulty, consider taking the Meersburg – Konstanz ferry instead. This will reduce the cycling by 25 kilometers and give you some more time in Konstanz. But, you’ll also be skipping Unteruhldingen or Mainau, so you have to decide for yourself whether they are worth seeing.
Day 2: Constance to Bregenz
- Total distance: 65-70 km
- Starting point: Konstanz, Germany
- End point: Bregenz, Austria
- Detailed map: click here
The second stint is the longest and most demanding of all. We will be cycling along the Swiss part of Lake Constance before finally crossing the Austrian border and arriving in Bregenz.
The distance is around 70 kilometers in total which can be quite challenging. Luckily, none of it is too complex. The route is so well-marked that you won’t have to worry about missing a turn. Just keep an eye out for signs and you won’t get lost.
Mostly, it’s a dedicated cycling path although occasionally you’ll be entering the bike lanes running alongside car roads. That said, these are far and between and limited to only low-speed streets, so I never felt intimidated or unsafe.
All in all, the Swiss side of Lake Constance is somewhat less developed. There are occasional villages but mostly you’ll be cycling through the sleepy countryside and farmlands. It’s charming of course, but also a little boring.
This impression of the countryside is even stronger when Bodensee is not visible. The lake is never too far but often separated from you by a stretch of land, trees, bushes, or fields. So if you spot a good place to rest near the water, use it — the next one might not be coming for a while.
What to See — Main Highlights
For this segment of the journey, my recommendation is to simply stop whenever you see something interesting rather than plan much in advance. Still, here are a few locations to keep in mind.
In Romanshorn, you will find a lovely lakeside park with unusual sculptures and flower-shaped fountains. It’s a nice area to rest with several restaurants and food trucks nearby.
Rorschach is a cute little town with lots of bars and beer gardens right next to the water. A perfect choice to have a beer on a sunny afternoon. And if you happen to be there in August or September, be sure to visit its sand sculpture festival.
And of course, Bregenz is worth staying a little longer in. There’s a beautiful promenade with some incredible restaurants (Wirtshaus am See, Pier69), a quaint old district, and a cable car that brings you to the top of the nearby hill with terrific views of the entire Lake Constance.
In July and August don’t miss a chance to visit the famous Bregenz Festival (Bregenzer Festspiele). Hosting it is the world’s largest floating stage that is rebuilt every two years with a different design. And let me tell you — some of these are real works of art.
To make this stretch less challenging you could use the boat to cover part of the distance. Unfortunately, Bregenz is only connected with Lindau, so you’ll probably need to change boats if you decide to do so.
For example, you could cycle to Rorschach, take a ferry to Lindau, then switch to one heading for Bregenz.
Alternatively, you could split the distance into two segments and stay overnight in Arbon or Rorschach. But personally, I find the German or Austrian side of Lake Constance much more interesting, so if you have extra time, I’d rather spend it there.
Day 3: Bregenz to Friedrichshafen
- Total distance: 40 km
- Starting point: Bregenz, Austria
- End point: Friedrichshafen, Germany
- Detailed map: click here
The last stint is the shortest of all so you can do it in a more relaxed manner. We are heading west towards Lindau before eventually returning to Friedrichshafen, some 40 kilometers away.
The section towards Lindau is one of the most picturesque in the entire itinerary. The dedicated cycling path goes right next to the water, so the views are great throughout. And if you fancy a swim in Lake Constance, there are plenty of spots to do so.
The bit beyond Lindau is less exciting and mostly goes through fields and villages with only occasional glimpses of Bodensee.
Other than that, there’s little to add. The cycling track is as well signposted as everywhere else on Bodensee so it’s all fairly straightforward. Simply follow the signs and you’ll reach the finish line before you know it.
What to See — Main Highlights
To me, Lindau is the undisputed highlight of this side of Lake Constance. Located on the small island, it’s an adorable medieval town with a beautiful harbor where you can spend hours sipping local wine and watching the ships come and go.
I also quite enjoyed Langenargen with its thriving promenade, numerous cafes, and castle Montfort (Schloss Montfort). Designed in an unusual Moorish style, it’s especially stunning during sunrise or sunset. Inside, there’s a restaurant and a wine bar, and if you climb its tower, you can relish amazing views across Lake Constance.
Last but not least, if you didn’t get a chance to stroll through Friedrichshafen before, be sure to do so now. It’s one of the larger cities on Bodensee with a gorgeous lakeside park, an observation deck, and the Zeppelin museum if that’s something you’re interested in.
For this segment, I don’t have any viable suggestions to make it more challenging. But should you want to reduce the difficulty, consider taking a boat from Bregenz to Lindau. There are several departures daily, you can check the schedule and prices online.
Alternatively, you could do the same from Lindau and just chill during the last segment instead of cycling it. The boat ride from Lindau to Friedrichshafen takes 1.5 hours, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy it.
Extending the Trip
In this three-day cycling itinerary for Lake Constance, I’ve tried to produce what I think is an optimal mix of exercise and relaxation. It is quite packed, so if you’d rather go a little slower, here are some suggestions.
If you have four days on Bodensee, I would split the first section in two. To me, the northern shore of Lake Constance is the most exciting, so I would gladly extend that bit. Stay overnight in Meersburg or Überlingen, and you’ll have plenty of time for Mainau and Konstance the following morning.
With five days at your disposal, you can do the same with the second segment as well. With some careful planning, you may even consider a detour to the Rhine Falls. Here is one example of such a five-day cycling itinerary.
Finally, six or more days give you enough flexibility to design the itinerary based purely on your preferences. Split the distance evenly or alternate cycling with prolonged rest periods — anything is possible.
Finding Accommodation on Lake Constance
There are all types of accommodations on Lake Constance from hotels and hostels to AirBnbs and campings. And while I won’t give any specific recommendations — this depends strongly on your budget — I’ll share some overall advice.
There are camping sites around Bodensee but these typically don’t have dedicated cabins available for rent. This means you’ll have to carry everything including a tent and a sleeping bag on your bicycle. This requires a special setup and might not be overly convenient.
Hotels, on the other hand, are ridiculously expensive, especially during the high season. Lake Constance is a popular vacation destination, and finding reasonably priced accommodation may be a daunting task.
Therefore, I recommend booking in advance. Just be sure to include a cancellation option in case the weather turns out bad. And if possible, try to avoid weekends, holidays, and school breaks. That’s when parents take their kids on vacation, so the area gets extremely busy.
Cycling on Lake Constance — Useful to Know
Before wrapping up this article, here are a few more tips that might come useful if you plan on cycling on Lake Constance.
- The cycling paths around Lake Constance are well-designed and marked. Assuming you follow the signs, you will never end up cycling on the open road, especially a high-speed one. If at any point the route doesn’t look safe, double-check the map. You might have taken the wrong turn somewhere.
- Cycling around Lake Constance is generally very safe — drivers are used to cyclers and by and large treat them with respect. That said, some caution is always a good idea.
- On Bodensee, you shouldn’t worry too much about your bicycle getting stolen. Nothing is guaranteed of course, but the theft rates are low. If you have a decent lock, you can leave the bike anywhere and be reasonably confident it’ll be there when you’re back.
- In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, you are not legally obliged to wear a helmet when cycling. Of course, it is highly advisable you do, for your own protection. What you are required to have, however, are front and back lights on your bicycle.
- Boat transport on Lake Constance is well-organized. You can use it to your advantage whenever you’re tired or just don’t feel like cycling anymore. Just board the ship in the next port and enjoy the rest of the ride. You can review the map of connections as well as schedules and prices on the official website.
- Have a little cash for your travels on Lake Constance. Unfortunately, credit cards are still not universally accepted, so having some old-fashion physical money will probably come in handy.
Lake Constance is one of the best places in central Europe to go to for a multi-day cycling tour, and rightfully so. Amazing nature combined with excellent infrastructure, idyllic landscapes, and a relaxed vibe make for an outstanding experience and long-lasting memories.
The cycling itinerary I suggest here is just one example. The beauty of Lake Constance is that it’s an extremely accommodating location. You can easily adjust the plan according to your fitness level and other preferences. In fact, I encourage you to do so.
I hope you enjoyed this short guide to cycling on Bodensee and got something useful out of it. If so, I’d appreciate you sharing the article with your friends and on social media. And if you have any questions or comments, let me know in the comments below.
I also have a bunch of other articles that you might find interesting and helpful. So have a look around the blog or check out some of the suggestions below:
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- Why Leipzig is Worth Visiting: 10 Cool Things to See and Do
- Beyond Just Riesling – An Easy Guide to German Wine
- Charmingly Authentic: Reasons Why Passau Is Worth Visiting
- A Land of Wonders: 10 Great Reasons to Travel to Slovenia
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