Hello beautiful town! Konstanz (or Constance in English) is like a Mediterranean town in the middle of Lake Constance – also known as Bodensee in German. If it weren’t so far away, we would definitely visit this place more often. While we have travelled extensively and visited many places in Germany, never have we found ourselves so far south as Konstanz.
It was actually because of Kathi’s brother, that we got to see the largest city on Lake Constance. He had recently moved to the beautiful town of Konstanz, which had been his base for a few months by then and guided us through his new home. In this blog article, we will share with you the most beautiful sights in Konstanz and of course our best travel tips.
1. Konstanz: What to Expect from the Town on Lake Constance
Konstanz is a combination of many things that make a city worth living for us – and of course, worth visiting. The first reason being the most special: Konstanz is blessed with a very unique location, right by the shores of Lake Constance. This means afternoon coffee with a view of the sparkling water, cooling off in the lake or a sunset cruise – yes, yes and yes!
Secondly: Konstanz has a beautiful historic Old Town, but surprisingly, it doesn’t feel old and boring – quite the contrary, in fact. Being a University town, the University of Konstanz is actually the city’s largest employer. Its young, upbeat vibe is a tribute to the large number of students in Konstanz.
And thirdly: Konstanz is pleasantly tranquil. You can get almost anywhere just by foot. In the high season, you can expect lots of tourists bustling around in the Old Town, but all in all, we had a very pleasant experience in Konstanz.
Fun Fact: the locals here call their city “Konschdanz” – just in case you were wondering. After the 10th time, we still couldn’t get used to it… so don’t say we didn’t warn you!
2. Best Things to Do and See in Konstanz
Konstanz is pretty easy to get around and you can reach most of the main sights in the centre by foot. You can easily explore the most important parts of the city in just one day. For destinations that are further away (like Meersburg), then a boat trip could be a nice, refreshing alternative.
Old Town and Niederburg
We started our city tour in the beautiful Old Town of Konstanz. Here, you’ll find some of the town’s most important sights, including the towering cathedral of Konstanzer Münster – which we will tell you more about soon.
The Old Town of Konstanz is a very lovely, photogenic mix of narrow streets, spacious town squares and traditional historic houses – actually, make that lots of traditional historic houses. Konstanz is fortunate in that it escaped with very little damage from the previous wars, which is why the Old Town is so well preserved.
The oldest part of the Old Town is called Niederburg and begins north of the Münster. In this medieval part of Konstanz, there’s a good chance that you’ll get lost, as the streets are even narrower and more maze-like than the rest of Konstanz.
Once you’ve made your way through the Niederburg, then you’ll come out north of the Rhine, more precisely known as Seerhein. Located here is also the Rheintorturm – or the Gate Tower of the Rhine – one of the three preserved Medieval Defence Towers.
Our tip: There is a really nice spot on the other side of the Rhine bridge, along the street called Seestraße. Here, you can enjoy a pretty view of Konstanz in peace.
View from the Konstanzer Münster – Cathedral of Konstanz
The gigantic Cathedral of Konstanz easily surmounts all other buildings in the Old Town. Even if you don’t have much to do with sacred or religious buildings, this is a cathedral that deserves a visit. High above, from the tower of the cathedral is the best view over the Old Town of Konstanz.
The climb is less arduous than expected. You only have about 200 steps to overcome before you reach the open air observation deck. Hot Tip: There is a platform on both sides of the church tower and the view is fantastic from both. Thankfully, you can also photograph through the wire meshing.
If you want, you can also climb another 52 steps from here inside the church tower. Unfortunately, there’s no deck for you to go outside, which is why the additional effort is only partially worthwhile.
Once back down, we definitely recommend that you also take a look inside the cathedral. We were impressed by the cloister: Parts of it date back to the 13th and 15th century.
Information about the Cathedral Tower ascent
Price: 2 Euros
Opening hours: 10 am to 5 pm (on weekdays), 12:30 am to 5:30 pm (Sundays and public holidays)
Address: Münsterplatz 1, 78462 Konstanz
Harbour and Imperia
Down by the harbour of Konstanz towers the city landmark – the Imperia. The concrete statue rotates around its axis once every four minutes – all day, every day. The Imperia is a satirical reference to the Council of Constance: If you look close enough, then you will notice that a naked figure is held in each hand of the Imperia – symbolising the Pope and Emperor.
Speaking of the Council: Directly opposite the Imperia is the Council building, which dates back to the 14th century. Just north of the council building is the city garden and from the park benches along the shore, you have a great view of the house-fronts from across the opposing street of Seestraße.
Boat trip to Meersburg
One of our personal highlights! Meersburg is a picturesque small town on the opposing shore of Lake Constance. Although the place is almost exclusively overrun by tourists during the day, we think that Meersburg is definitely worth seeing if you’re in the Constance region.
By boat, you can reach Meersburg from Konstanz in about half an hour. From the water, you can already catch a glimpse of what makes Meersburg so special – a small town located on a hilly slope, surrounded by vineyards. It goes without saying that there are quite a few places in Meersburg, from which you can enjoy a beautiful view of Lake Constance. One of them is the garden of the New Castle. From here you can see the Meersburg Castle, as well as the Unterstadt (Lower Town).
Our tip: We ourselves visited Meersburg in the late afternoon and took the last ferry back to Konstanz in the late evening. It was amazing to see and enjoy the sunset from the ferry – something we can highly recommend! But pay careful attention to the departure times of the ferry trips because they run less frequently in the afternoon. You can find and search for the ferry schedules and connections here: Lake Konstanz – Ferry Schedule.
Another important note: In addition to the regular passenger boat services across Lake Constance, they also run one Vehicle Ferry every 15 minutes to Meersburg. However, this particular ferry departs a little north from the city of Konstanz – to be precise, a few kilometres north of the Old Town in the district of Staad. The ferry ride is a bit cheaper, but of course less comfortable.
Information about the boat trip to Meersburg
Price: 12,80 Euros for a round trip
Departure: Port of Konstanz (Address of the Ticket Counter: Hafenstraße 6, 78642 Konstanz)
Duration: 30 minutes
Day Trip to the island of Mainau
The so-called flower island of Mainau is probably the most visited destination in the area of Konstanz. Those who travel to Konstanz usually visit Mainau as well. The island is known for its extensive gardens and parks. For example, you can visit the botanical garden or have a coffee break in a Baroque Castle.
We actually ended up not visiting this island for a few reasons: the absurdly high entrance fee of 21.50 Euros definitely put us off, as well as the fact we were visiting in peak season, plus we had heard very mixed reviews about the place – from “absolute highlight” to “overhyped and crowded”.
Information about visiting the island of Mainau
Admission: 22 Euros (summer), 10,50 Euros (winter)
Getting there: by boat from the Konstanz harbour or alternatively by bike
3. Restaurants and Café Recommendations in Konstanz
One of our favourite cafés in Konstanz. We liked it so much that we came back a second time! Voglhaus serves breakfast and lunch, but also a variety of cakes and pies. The espresso here was the best we found in Konstanz.
We also love that Voglhaus promotes a sustainable concept. For example, most of the dishes and snacks on offer are predominantly vegan and the coffee comes from a small roasting house. The seating areas are very nice, both indoor and outside. Note: the cafe is self-service, which was perhaps the only downside.
Address: Wessenbergstraße 8, 78462 Konstanz
Other recommended restaurants, cafes and bars in Konstanz:
Eugens: Very nice, young organic restaurant with many vegetarian and vegan options. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you’re lucky, you can sit outside on one of the outdoor tables.
Stadtkind (shown in photos): Pleasant café that is a bit off the beaten track. Ideal for coffee and cake in the afternoon.
Weinstube Niederburg: Small, very familiar and popular wine bar in the Niederburg.
Hintertürle: Also a quaint wine bar in the Niederburg.
Strandbar Konstanz: Sun-beds and a sandy beach make for holiday feelings on the shores of the Seerhein. Perfect for a sundowner.
La Bodega: Small Spanish tapas bar that is in great demand and (almost) always full.
4. Our Hotel Tip for Konstanz
We stayed in a very central location at Hotel Barbarossa and can highly recommend this place. This cozy city hotel is located within a historic house, right in the middle of the city centre. This means that most of the sights and places of interest are within walking distance, which is super convenient.
On first impressions, the hotel seems a little aged with time. However, our room was much more modern than we expected. It did get a little noisy at times, especially since our window was facing towards the streets. But we had a really nice view and overall had a very pleasant stay.
We didn’t end up trying the breakfast here, but apparently it’s very good. Note to those with cars: You can get discounted parking near the hotel if you request in advance.
You can view/book the hotel here: Hotel Barbarossa
Disclaimer: Affiliate Links
This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of affiliate links. If you book or buy something through these links, then we will receive a small commission from the company – it does not alter the prices for you at all. A million thanks from the both of us!
Have you ever been to Lake Constance? Do you have any further tips for the town of Konstanz? Which sights and highlights would you recommend? We look forward to reading about your experiences in the comments below!