Three countries in one day
Southern Germany is full of amazing places worth a visit, even for a day-trip. Bodensee – also called Lake Constance – situated in the triangle between Germany, Austria, and Switzerland is one of them.
Although it isn’t possible to explore the whole lake in just one day, it’s enough to appreciate the almost nautical atmosphere in this landlocked region. If you’re up to it, take advantage of Europe’s short distances and visit three countries in one day.
Breakfast in Germany
Our day trip to Bodensee started early in the morning in Munich. We headed for Lindau, a town on the Bavarian side of the lake. Its historic center is located on an island in the lake connected with two bridges to the mainland.
Good to know: The drive from Munich takes around 2 hours. On a quiet weekend day, you can make the full use of German Autobahn without general speed limits. Once you’ve arrived, use one of the parking areas on the mainland. The streets of the historic center are narrow, and parking is limited.
We started the day at the lake with a yummy breakfast on the sunny terrace of the Helvetia Hotel overlooking Lindau’s most famous attraction: the harbor entrance guarded by a giant Bavarian lion.
Did you know: The harbor area of Lindau once belonged to the German Railways (Deutsche Bahn). It was later sold to the neighboring State of Baden-Württenberg. After a lengthy dispute, the harbor was returned to Bavaria in 2012. Now, the lion roars 100% Bavarian again.
After breakfast in the sun, we explored the picturesque medieval town.
Climbing the New Lighthouse – allegedly the only lighthouse in Bavaria – gets you an overview of the city and its surroundings.
Admire the colorful rooftop of Mangturm Tower, a lookout of the town’s old fortifications from the 12th century.
On solid ground, we walked through the tiny streets of the old town.
Don’t miss the ornamentally decorated façade of Lindau’s Old Town Hall dating back to the 15th century.
On the way back to the mainland, we took a walk along the coast in Stadtgarten park and enjoyed the spring blossom.
Lunch in Austria
For lunch, we headed to Bregenz in Austria, only a 15-minutes-drive from Lindau. Let’s face it. Wiener Schnitzel tastes better within Austrian borders.
We found a lovely historic guesthouse Kornmesser with a Biergarten just a few meters away from the lake’s shore inside the old town. The Schnitzel was indeed exquisite.
Tip: Bregenz also has small winding streets. Leave your car in one of the parking houses outside the old town and continue on foot.
The town of Bregenz became world-famous in 2008. James Bond hunted villains through the town’s lakeside theatre Seebühne in Quantum of Solace during a performance of Tosca. Every year Seebühne hosts an outdoor opera festival Bregenzer Festspiele held on world’s biggest floating stage with breathtaking scenic design.
If you can’t attend the trendy upscale gathering yourself, it’s worth to check the site out during the construction works for the upcoming season.
From the lake’s promenade, we headed to the upper historic part of the town called Oberstadt. From Seebühne, it takes about 20 minutes on foot. But it’s worth the trouble.
Leaving the hustle and bustle of the promenade behind and visiting Oberstadt felt like traveling in time to a medieval settlement.
While walking through the narrow streets, you’ll come across old town gates, still inhabited fortifications and a castle. Also, check out the old granary at Martin’s Tower.
As the day still felt young, we couldn’t resist the temptation of visiting three countries in one day and continued to Switzerland.
Gelato in Switzerland
The nearest Swiss town from Bregenz on Lake Constance is Rorschach. Apart from yet another nice promenade, the city’s architecture is more functional than appealing. Thus, we grabbed a gelato, enjoyed the last warm sun rays on the shore and headed for the nearest hill in the Swiss countryside to catch the sunset.
We followed Google Maps uphill for St.-Anna-Castle. The castle is still inhabited, so you can’t visit the interior. Outside, however, you can walk around on green hills while enjoying a magical view over the lake. We found the best lookout at ‘Five-country-vista.‘ It’s a 15-minutes walk from the parking spot at the castle.
Although it was too early in the year to enjoy the sunset entirely over the lake, it was a perfect ending to our short trip through three countries.
Good to know: Switzerland is neither an EU nor a Schengen member. Even though the border controls usually run smoothly, a crossing without customs check is not guaranteed. Be sure to check out the requirements for entry to Switzerland for your home country.
From Munich, you can also use public transport to get to Lindau and explore Bodensee. Take a train (approximately 3 hours from Munich) or a FlixBus. From March to October, boats operate between towns at Lake Constance’s shores. You can find their timetable here: www.bsb.de/en. There are train connections between Lindau, Bregenz and Rorschach as well. You’ll find more information on the website of German Railways: reiseauskunft.bahn.de.