With their mild temperatures and rich soils, the shores of Lake Constance are rich in natural produce. Just look to the markets: they’re chock-full of fresh fruit, local honey, and artisan schnapps. In lakeside restaurants, you can feast on grilled whitefish, pike and perch just steps from where they were caught – served alongside vegetables from the bounteous farms of Reichenau. Fresh and flavoursome, this is ‘slow food’ at its best.
In autumn, the apple harvest is in full swing. The lakeside orchards are renowned for their crisp and juicy fruits, and during September’s ‘Apple Weeks’, they take pride of place on every café menu – with pies, cakes and streusels galore. You can take guided tours of the orchards, and pick your own apples by hand.
The perfect accompaniment to those glittering lake views? Try a glass (or two) of Müller-Thurgau, a sweet – often apple-scented – white wine produced in Germany’s waterside vineyards. Müller-Thurgau was originally grown in the Swiss section of Lake Constance, and is now one of the most popular grape types in the whole region, flourishing on the German shores too.
Grapes have been grown in this region for over 2,000 years, and many of the wineries are open to the public: highlights include Weingut Aufricht, Winzerverein Hagnau, and Staatsweingut Meersburg – which has been creating wine for more than 800 years. Look out for wine festivals, too: in Nonnenhorn (July), Hagnau (August), and Meersburg (June).
Meanwhile, the regions of Tettnang and Ravensburg – near Friedrichshafen – produce excellent pale ales and wheat beers. Head to the Leibinger brewery for a guided tour and tasting: it uses locally-grown hops and malt from Upper Swabia to create some of southern Germany’s finest beers – a recipe perfected over the last 125 years.
Whether you’re gazing at it from a hot mineral pool or the flower-filled shores of Mainau, Lake Constance is always spectacular – but it’s particularly beautiful when viewed from above. Head to Friedrichshafen for a scenic tour with a difference: the city is the birthplace of Zeppelin airships, and you can catch a flight from the city’s Bodensee Airport.
These graceful giants are smooth and serene, offering bird’s-eye views of the water, vineyards and valleys – and down to the mighty Alps in the south. Afterwards, check out the Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen: it’s home to the world’s largest collection of aircraft.
Combining magnificent locations with must-see cultural events, Lake Constance’s German shore is renowned for its festivals. Every spring, Meersburg’s New Castle welcomes some of the world’s finest chamber musicians to the Hall of Mirrors – a spectacular setting for classical music. Salem Monastery and Palace host open-air concerts throughout summer, while Kulturufer Friedrichshafen is a ten-day fiesta of music, dance, acrobatics and parades.
During advent, look to Lindau and Konstanz for enchanting Christmas markets – then celebrate the end of winter with Carnival. This vibrant February festival welcomes the changing seasons with marching bands and masquerade parades, and offers the chance to try on – and dance in – traditional Alemannic costumes for yourself.