Bodensee by Bike
The Bodensee, or Lake Constance as it’s known in English, lies at the far southern end of Germany along the border of Switzerland and Austria. Despite the cloudy and rainy weather we experienced when we first arrived in Konstanz, the region is known for its fine summer weather, and is a major tourist destination for Germans taking holidays along the lakefront.
Konstanz to Meersburg
Many of those vacationing Germans come for the cycling, so when the clouds parted and revealed perfect blue skies, we grabbed a couple of bikes and rode to a ferry that would take us across the lake to Meersburg.
Meersburg boasts a beautiful, if touristy old town that surrounds the prominent Meersburg Castle. With its close proximity to our base of Konstanz, we decided to skip the €8.50 entrance fee and save it for another visit. We could also have spent another hour or two exploring the town, but after a long day of flights and several days of less than perfect weather, we were keen to jump back on our bikes to enjoy the sun and exercise.
Meersburg to Überlingen
The bike routes around the Bodensee are pleasant and easy to travel on once you get used to the small yellow signs that indicate the route directions. After a few kilometers of cruising alongside fields and the lakefront, the routes continually dip into small towns with picturesque churches and typical european style houses.
A real gem along the this particular route is the Wallfahrtskirche at Birnau. Sitting atop a hill covered in grape vines, this church is clearly visible from many points along the opposite bank and is a fantastic example of the Baroque style. You’ll have to go visit on your own though, as the taking of photos inside is forbidden. If you go, be sure to search out the Honigschlecker (honey taster) statuette.
Überlingen to Konstanz
Überlingen is another little town just 13 km northwest from Meersburg along the lake. More modern and suited to a bit of shopping and coffee or beer on the patio, it’s a nice place to sit back and watch all variety of tourists and locals go about their business. While sitting in one small courtyard, I noticed an old woman leaning out her window and surveying the goings-on below. I’d later realize that this is a favourite pastime of many Germans living in smaller towns, and some people go so far as to prop a pillow under their arms to make their window leaning more comfortable.
Also worth a look in Überlingen is the Peter Lenk fountain in the central waterfront courtyard. Lenk is something of a prolific and controversial local artist with public works scattered around the Bodensee region. This small detail below is just one small part of the statue, and represents the people being squeezed by the state. More to come on Peter Lenk in a future post.
From Überlingen it was a quick ferry ride across the lake to Wallhausen and another 9 km of cycling through more small towns and farmer’s fields to arrive back in Konstanz where we were served up heaping portions of baerlauch spätzle and goulash. Our small little cycle tour was only one leisurely option out of many that can be drawn from the 256 km Bodensee-Rundfahrweg that circles the entire lake. Add to that a few dozen side trips and interconnecting routes that lead off into Switzerland, Austria, or even France, and you can keep yourself busy riding for several years.