We drove from Rothenburg to Meersburg. We went through Ulm, home of Germany’s tallest church tower. You can go up it and it’s quite a view but it was a couldy day, so we did not stop there. Although we drove, the rail system in Germany is very good. The train does not go to Meersburg but you can get regular trains into the region and there are regular buses. It we did it again we would skip renting a car.
We lived in Meersburg for 4 years 20 years ago, so we were eager to go back and see what it looks like now. Meersburg is a pretty little town on Lake Constance, which is the third largest lake in Europe. Lake Constace is bordered by Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The area is also known as the Bodensee. It is one of Germany’s wine growing regions. It is also a great place to cycle, and a major tourist attraction.
We were here in mid-September and although it was a bit unseasonable cold it’s a great time to visit. The German schools had gone back the week before, so peak tourist season was over, but everything was still open for the shoulder season.
We rented a three-bedroom apartment to share with our kids who were meeting us there. Great spot with helpful hosts who speak excellent English. We arrived in time to stop at the local grocery store. These are generally open until 8pm but like everything else they are closed on Sundays.
We took a stroll around town and not surprisingly very little had changed. The lower town and upper town date back to medieval times. Meersburg is built on a hill so the upper and lower town is quite literal. Every walk is a hill walk!
There are two castles. The old castle (Alte Burg) built by King Dagobert 1 in the 7th century. It’s one of the oldest surviving castles in Germany and you can do a self-guided tour.
The “new castle”( Neues Schloss) built between 1710 and 1712.
There are many half-timbered houses and wineries along with small shops and restaurants. It is a great place to just walk around. The town is surrounded by vineyards and there are beautiful views everywhere.
It was harvest season when we were there, and the local co-op was processing grapes for the smaller vineyards in the lower town.
We actually lived on the outskirts of Meersburg in Daisendorf which is a separate village of 1600 people. Meersburg has a year-round population of about 5000 and the two are basically connected.
We were excited to go back to Capri Pizza our local pizza takeout from 20 years ago. It was still there, and they had expanded across the street to a bigger location unfortunately, they were closed for a holiday the whole time we were there. We went back to check out our old house and the playground. The hedge needed trimming!
There is a ferry which runs between the towns on the lake in the summer and shoulder seasons. It’s not the fastest way to get around but it’s definitely the most scenic. You can get a day pass for 19.80 Euros which allows you to cruse the lake all day although you are unlikely to get around the whole lake in a day. You can also take your bike on the boat for an extra fee. Bikes are free on Mondays and dogs are always free.
There are designated bike paths all over the Bondesee most of them are traffic free and the routes are well sign posted. There is a route which goes around the lake through three countries and a fourth if you make a small detour to Lichtenstein. We did not have time to ride around the lake, but we did borrow bikes to ride from Merrsburg to Lindau. There are lots of bike rentals available and you can rent an e-bike if you don’t want to pedal too hard.
We had actually planned to ride to Bregenz in Austria and ride the ferry back, but we stopped to visit friends and were pleasantly distracted for a couple of hours. You can take a train with your bike back as far as Friedrichshafen which is about 20km from Meersburg. I had the clever idea to ride back. To make a long story short it was a good thing we had lights.
Other sites on the Bodensee
About 7 km from Meersburg, it is stunning and well worth the trip. The monks make wine and other farm products and there is a large restaurant across the B31 It’s worth going to a service there if you get the chance. There is also a small cemetery on the uphill side of the B31 KZ-Friedhof Birnau (the Birnau concentration camp cemetery) In the fall of 1944, a satellite camp of the Dachau concentration camp was set up in Überlingen. About 800 prisoners had to blast underground tunnels in the molasse rocks in western Überlingen. At least 168 people died as a result of forced labour, malnutrition and abuse. First, the dead were cremated in the Konstanz crematorium. 97 nameless people from the Aufkirch camp – have found a decent resting place here.
This Island full of flowers and butterflies features beautiful displays and is very popular with tourists. Take the ferry there and add a stop in Konstance which has a nice harbour. The town is partly in Switzerland and has a lovely old town near the harbour.
Konstance, Meersburg and Lindau are the most popular tourist stops on the German side of the lake.
Bregenz in Austria is home to Bregenzer Festspiele a sound stage which floats on Lake Constance. The lake stage (Seebühne) is the largest open-air lake stage theatre in the world, with an audience capacity of around 7,000. It is best known best for opera. We saw Elton John there 20 years ago. It was amazing.
We spent four days walking around, riding bikes and seeing the sites. Apples are also a crop and this time of year you can buy them directly from the farmers’ fields. You take a bag of apples and leave some cash. I had forgotten what a beautiful place it is.