Lake Constance, or Bodensee, is one of
Europeís largest lakes and it borders three countries: Switzerland, Germany and
Austria. Itís also one of Europeís most popular cycle routes. It's easily
reached by rail connection with bike friendly German or Swiss rail, and makes a
fine family tour. We started and ended in Zurich, Switzerland.
Lake Constance is actually a giant bulge on the course of the Rhine River as it
flows from its source in the Alps on its way to the North Sea. It borders on
Switzerland, Germany and a small segment of Austria. The entire circumference of
the lake is 273km. The southern 72km belong to Switzerland, 28 km to Austria and
the north western 173km to Germany.
Whatever your pleasure, youíll find a mix of medieval towns, vineyards, farms,
nature preserves and lots of other folks enjoying the pleasures the lake offers.
Summer brings many tourists to cycle, swim, camp and just generally enjoy the
lake. Fall brings the grape harvest and accompanying festivals. There are some
good boat connections from a number of towns on the lake, in case you want to
make a quicker connection or skip part of the ride. Due to strict regulations,
the lake is kept very clean and clear. We spent the 1st night close by the
airport in the small town of Kloten and set off refreshed the next morning for
Rail service from the Zurich Airport is frequent, with
a rail journey between the airport and Konstanz of about an hour and twenty
minutes. Konstanz is the
largest city on the lake and itís cultural and economic center; as well as it's
inviting harbor make it a great place to start a bicycle tour.
The 1st riding Stage begins at the German border in Konstanz; then crossing into Switzerland
and a ride along the shore of Lake Constance to the harbor at Romanshorn,
through historic Arbon and ending for the night in Rorschach, a comfortable,
liesurely 37 km ride. We stopped to purchase fruit from the local orchards along
the way. A visit to the lakeside beer garden was a welcome treat after
touring the local sights of Rorschach.
The 2nd stage takes us through three countries, starting in Swiss Rorschach,
crossing the Austrian border at GaiŖau and continuing to
historic Bregenz, then crossing the German Border and ending in Lindau, on an
island that juts into the Lake, a 39 km ride.
harbor is flanked by an ancient lighthouse and a towering statue of a Bavarian
A walking tour of this small
island reveals an enclave of fine medieval buildings, including the impressive
The 3rd stage is completely in Germany, beginning in Lindau, and arriving by lunchtime
at Freidrichshafen, home of the Zeppelin museum. This is worth the stop to see
the replica. Then
through the wine country and ending up in Meersburg, after 43 km
Meersburg is a picture book
romantic village perched on a plateau above the lake and surrounded by orchards
and vineyards. It also boasts
The 4th Stage is actually two short rides and a ferry trip: starting with an 11
kilometer round trip to the Phalbau Museum at Unteruhldingen, then a ferry
crossing to Konstanz, ending with a 6 km ride into Konstanz zentrum. A total of
17 km of bicycling. This allows for some sightseeing in Konstanz.
Konstanz is crisscrossed
with pedestrian streets, starting from the harbor. You can follow a self guided
walk; using a brochure from Tourist Information, and check out the historic
buildings and monuments.
Stage 5 takes us from Konstanz along the Rhine to the Untersee on the
Switzerland side and ending with another Rhine crossing into Stein am Rhein, a
30 km ride.
Dating back to the 11th
century, Stein am Rein is one of the most authentic and best preserved towns in
To continue your journey or to go back to Zurich, once again you can take
advantage of the very bicycle friendly Swiss rail system.
It would be a shame to do the whole tour and miss seeing Zurich. Nestled on the
end of scenic Lake Zurich, the town is brimming with historic sights, stately
old churches, and more museums than any other European city of its size. Zurich
is an ideal size for strolling, with all of its attractions neatly distributed
on both sides of the Limmat River which flows out of Lake Zurich.
Then it's back to the airport via the train and back home to prepare for another
If you'd like to know more details about
this ride, check out our DVD.