9 Top Things to Do in Lindau, Germany

Lindau in Bavaria

pululante / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The German island of Lindau is located about two hours from Munich in the state of Bavaria, situated on the eastern side of Lake Constance (known as Bodensee in German), the third-largest lake in Europe. Like other German island vacation destinations, it offers both a spectacular natural setting and charming small-town quality. Lindau is connected to the mainland by a bridge; the island is a showpiece with its magnificent harbor, guarded by an impressive Bavarian lion and an ancient lighthouse. The lake borders Austria and Switzerland and is also home to several islands featuring gorgeous beaches, butterfly sanctuaries, medieval villages, castles, and plenty of activities for visitors of all ages.

01 of 09

Feast on Traditional German Favorites

Restaurant Strandhaus Lindau

Restaurant Strandhaus Lindau

No matter what time of year you plan to visit Lindau, restaurants and biergartens (beer gardens) serving traditional German fare with locally sourced ingredients await. Chic Alte Poste actually offers both dining styles, with a creative menu featuring a variety of wiener schnitzel, pork and fish dishes. Nearby, Wissingers im Schlechterbräu serves up traditional German cuisine from its beer garden located within the 14th century walls of the Schlechterbräu, while another local favorite, Strandhaus, sources meat for its creative BBQ dishes from the nearby regions of Vorarlberg, Upper Swabia, Lake Constance, and the Allgäu.

Fischergasse 3, 88131 Lindau (Bodensee), Germany
Phone +49 8382 93460
02 of 09

Admire Lindau's Harbor and Lighthouse

Lindau Harbor at dusk with Bavarian Lion and Lighthouse

Juergen Sack / Getty Images

One of Lindau's biggest highlights is its picturesque harbor. The Neuer Leuchtturm (New Lighthouse) dates back to 1853 and is Germany's southernmost lighthouse. At 36 meters high (118 feet), this tower provides one of the best views of the lake, if you can brave the 139 steps.

Across from Neuer Leuchtturm is the iconic Bayerische Löwe (Bavarian Lion), the symbol for the region of Bavaria. The 50-ton statue carved from sandstone presides over the harbor on a pedestal with the Roman numerals MDCCCLVI marking the date it was erected: 1856.

The 13th-century Mangturm (Old Lighthouse) stands at the northern edge of the port. Though not generally open to the public, there are Märchenstunden (Fairy Tale hours) typically from April through October.

Hafenpl., 88131 Lindau (Bodensee), Germany
03 of 09

Wander Lindau's Charming Altstadt (Old Town)

People walking bikes down Maximilian street, Lindau

parasola parasola / Getty Images 

Stop by the tourist office just off the harbor before heading into the altstadt (historic town center); use the free maps to navigate the cobblestone streets and medieval half-timbered houses, or just allow yourself to wander. Maximilianstrasse (also written as Maximilianstraße in German) is the main, pedestrian-only promenade. You'll find family-run shops, quaint cafes, and restaurants, as well as row after row of beautiful homes. Admire the decorative gables and ceiling paintings that tell stories of the town and enjoy a walk through the Alten Markt (old market).

The 15th-century Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) is also located off this street. Decorated with frescoes of cherubs, this is the city's most important building. Continue along the south side to see more paintings and a historic sundial, as well as the Library of the Ehemals Reichsstädtische Bibliothek (Former Imperial Free City), which holds more than 13,000 historical books, including some very early printed documents and an example of the first complete German translation of the Bible by Martin Luther.  

Another standout building is the Romanesque Peterskirche, a more than 1,000-year-old church featuring frescoes of the Passion of Christ. The merchant house Haus zum Cavazzen is the most beautiful Baroque building in Lindau and houses the Stadtmuseum (city museum). Another must-see is the Diebsturm (Thieves Tower), located next to the church, which was constructed in 1380 and is much less endearing as the former town prison.

88131 Lindau, Germany
04 of 09

Visit a Magical Butterfly Island

Multicolored flowers and ornate gardens on Mainau Island

Flavio Vallenari / Getty Images

Mainau is a tiny nearby island situated at Germany's southernmost point, renowned for its gardens and greenhouse butterfly sanctuary, home to about 120 different species. It is a model of excellent environmental practices and one of the most popular attractions near Lake Constance. Stop by to smell the nearly 30,000 rose bushes, find some shade beneath 150-year-old giant sequoias, and check out the 18th-century castle.

While swimming is not possible on this island, it is an option at Litzelstetten, the beach to the north. For children, Mainau has a fun playground and other kid-friendly activities like pony riding and a petting zoo at the farm. The island is open every day from sunrise to sunset, rain or shine, though shorter hours for the interior may apply. Various methods of transportation to the island are possible, as you can reach it by bike, train, bus, ferry, or car.

Mainau, 78465, Germany
Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09

Explore the Island by Bike or Boat

Lindau by bike

Westend61 / Getty Images

It is rare to talk about visiting an island without mentioning the beach. Some people jump in year-round, but summer season (mid-May to mid-September) is the best time, offering warmer water temperatures. There are four freibads (open-air pools) available, while you can also rent a canoe, kayak, motorboat, electric boat, or paddle board and spend your time moving around the aquamarine waters. To journey around scenic Lindau Island, many visitors choose to bike. You'll find many bike rental shops and paths around the island, as well as the opportunity to travel onto the mainland and continue riding around the massive lake.

The best views of Lindau are from the water, and it's easy to travel by boat to points of interest in nearby Austria and Switzerland. Jump on one of the many ferries between the cities on the lake, like Bregenz, Konstanz, or Friedrichshafen. Two routes allow for cars to cross the lake by ferry: Konstanz to Meersburg takes about 15 minutes, while the Romanshorn to Friedrichshafen ride lasts approximately 40 minutes.

Check with the ferry companies for exact schedules and days of operation, which vary by destination. Fares are usually affordable and you can buy snacks and drinks on board. Bring your camera to take pictures of the entry to the harbor and surrounding Alps. If you have more than sightseeing on your itinerary, different tours offer plated lunch and dinner, or you can opt for lake cruises with live music and other themes. 

88131 Lindau, Germany
06 of 09

Skate by the Lake and Ski the Alps

People skiing in the Alps

fotoVoyager / Getty Images

If you plan to visit Lindau in the winter, strap on a pair of skates (which are available to rent) rather than a bathing suit or bike helmet. A public ice skating rink is set up next to Lake Constance, offering ice hockey and figure skating, afternoon games, and other activities for all ages and levels. On Saturday evenings, have some fun at the ice disco, complete with a DJ and disco lighting.

If time allows, visit one of the many ski resorts located in nearby Vorarlberg, Austria's westernmost province or consider going skiing or snowboarding at Kleine Scheidegg/​Männlichen-Grindelwald/​Wengen in the Jungfrau region of neighboring Switzerland.

Vorarlberg, Austria
07 of 09

Walk to Austria From Lindau

Church of Bregenz, Austria and mountain Santis in the background

Kerrick / Getty Images

With so many fantastic areas nearby, Lindau is the ideal location to base your travels. You don't even need to hop in the car (or take a ferry) to reach Bregenz, Austria, which is within walking distance on the eastern shores of the lake. City tours can guide you through the culture, history, and architecture of the small town. A six-minute scenic cable car ride takes visitors up the Pfänder (home mountain, offering incredible views of numerous Alpine peaks in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

In summer, don't miss the Bregenzer Festspiele music festival, which has taken place for more than 70 years and features operatic performances from a magnificent stage right on the water.

Bregenz, Austria
08 of 09

Eat Fish Straight From Lake Constance

Sign for Engelstube Lindau


Around the harbor and Maximilianstrasse, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from—perhaps too many—each featuring cozy interiors with views of the water, perfect for a romantic date or a whole-family outing.

However, few offer a better sense of gemütlichkeit (feelings of coziness, cheerfulness, friendliness, and social acceptance) than the historic wine tavern of Engelstube, located at the site of a renovated hotel established back in 1390. Check out the beer and wine selection while you enjoy excellent service and fresh fish straight from Bodensee (Lake Constance). 

Schafgasse 4, 88131 Lindau (Bodensee), Germany
Phone +49 8382 5240
Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09

Stay in One of Germany's Top Campgrounds

Aerial of Gitzenweiler Hof near Lindau

Gitzenweiler Hof 

In such a spectacular environment, you may want to consider staying in the outdoors and soaking up as much nature as possible. Nearby campsite Gitzenweiler Hof, located between the villages of Weissensberg and Oberreitnau, has been voted the second-best in all of Germany with good reason, as the place is full of positive attributes.

With options for tents, caravans, motor homes, and cabins, you'll find family-friendly vibes with live entertainment and activity programs, along with bikes for rent, an herb and vegetable garden, a supermarket, a pizzeria, and an onsite hairdresser. One interesting note: Twins, triplets, or multiple birth babies of any age won't have to pay any fees or tourist taxes—check the website as the campsite offers other discounts and promotions as well.

88131 Lindau, Germany
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9 Top Things to Do in Lindau, Germany