What to Do in Lindau, Germany

9 Things to do on German island at the foot of the Alps

Lindau in Bavaria
pululante https://www.flickr.com/photos/pululante/

German islands are a favorite for vacationers. As they should be. Islands like Lindau have both a spectacular natural setting and charming small-town quality.

Lindau is located on Lake Constance (known as Bodensee in German) which is the third-biggest lake in Europe. It might as well be a sea, you can't even see across it. The lake borders Austria and Switzerland and includes several islands with gorgeous beaches, butterfly sanctuaries, medieval villages, castles and wine.

The island of Lindau is connected to the mainland by a bridge. It is a showpiece with its magnificent harbor, jealously guarded by a Bavarian lion and ancient lighthouse. Here are the 9 best things to do in Lindau.

Transportation: By train - 2-3 hours from Munich with almost hourly departures. By car - A-96 southwest.

01 of 09

Admire Lindau's Harbor

Lindau Harbor with Bavarian Lion and Lighthouse
Getty Images / Juergen Sack    

The highlight in Lindau is its picturesque harbor.

The Neuer Leuchtturm (New Lighthouse) on the right is actually from 1853 and is Germany's southernmost lighthouse. At 136 meters, this tower provides one of the best views of the lake if you can brave the 139 steps. (Admission: €2.10; Open 10:00 - 19:30 in summer).

Wondering where the old lighthouse stands? The 13th-century Mangturm (Old Lighthouse) is at the northern edge of the port. Though not generally open to the public, there are Märchenstunden (Fairy Tale hours) in August for children.

Across from Neuer Leuchtturm is the iconic Bayerische Löwe (Bavarian Lion). The lion is the symbol for the region of Bavaria and this statue is carved from Kehlheim sandstone and weighs in at 50 tons. It presides over the harbor on a pedestal with the Roman numerals MDCCCLVI marking the date it was erected, 1856.

02 of 09

Wander Lindau's Charming Altstadt

Maximilian street, Lindau, Bavaria, Germany, Europe
parasola parasola/Getty Images

Stop at the tourist office just off the harbor before heading into the altstadt (historic town center). You can use their free maps to navigate the cobblestone streets and medieval half-timbered houses, or just allow yourself to wander.

Maximilianstrasse is the main promenade and is pedestrian only. There are family-run shops, quaint cafes and restaurants, as well as row after row of beautiful homes. Admire the decorative gables then step inside to enjoy the ceiling paintings that tell stories of the town. Pass the metzgerei (butchers), then brodplatz (bakers), then walk through the Alten Markt (old market).

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

Another stand-out building is the Romanesque Peterskirche. This church is over 1,000 years old with frescos of the Passion of Christ. The merchant house Haus zum Cavazzen is the most beautiful Baroque building in Lindau and holds the Stadtmuseum (city museum). Another must-see buildings in Lindau is the fairy tale Diebsturm (Thieves Tower) next to the church. It was constructed in 1380 and was much less endearing as the town prison.

03 of 09

Visit a Magical Butterfly Island

Island Mainau
GNTB/Angelika Francke

Mainau is a tiny, nearby island that is renowned for its gardens and greenhouse butterfly sanctuary. It is both practical as a model of excellent environmental practices and beautiful as one of the main tourist attractions of Lake Constance. Stop to smell the nearly 30,000 rose bushes, find some shade beneath the150-year-old giant sequoias, and step into the 18th century castle.

The island is open every day from sunrise to sunset, rain or shine (shorter hours for the interior may apply). Entry in summer is €21.50 (winter discounted to €9.50).

04 of 09

Eat Fish Straight from Lake Constance

Fish Dish from Engelstube, Lindau
Janine Kyofsky

Around the harbor and Maximilianstrasse there are plenty of restaurants to choose from...perhaps too many.

Each features cozy interiors with views of the water. However, few offer a better sense of gemütlichkeit than the cozy wine tavern of Engelstube. Enjoy excellent service and eat fresh fish straight from Bodensee

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05 of 09

Swim and Bike on and off Lindau Island

Lindau by bike
GettyImages / Westend61  

You can't talk about visiting an island without talking about the beach.  Some people jump in year-round, but summer season (mid-May to mid-September) is the best. There are four freibads (open-air pools) available. You can also rent a boat and spend your time rowing around the aquamarine waters.

To travel around the island, many visitors choose to bike. There are multiple 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.

06 of 09

Skate by the Lake and Ski the Alps

Zugspitze and Bavarian Alps
GNTB/Hans Peter Merten

If your visit Landau in winter, strap on a pair of skates rather than a bathing suit or bike helmet. An ice-rink is also set-up next to the lake.

The nearby mountains also offer the opportunity to go skiing at Vorarlberg in Austria or at Schiedegg.

07 of 09

Walk to Austria from Lindau

Pfänder, Austria

With so many fantastic locations nearby, Lindau is the ideal location to base your travels.

You don't even need to hop in the car (or boat) to reach Bregenz, Austria. The town is within walking distance on the eastern shores of the lake. It features a summer music festival, Bregenzer Festspiele, with a magnificent stage right on the water. There is also a cable car that takes visitors up the Pfänder.

08 of 09

Stay in one of the Best Campgrounds in Germany

Gitzenweiler Hof near Lindau

In such a spectacular environment, you should consider staying in the magnificent outdoors. Nearby campsite Gitzenweiler Hof has been voted the second best in all of Germany with tent, caravan, motor home and cabins available. There is a family-friendly vibe and live entertainment and activity program.

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09 of 09

Ride the Ferry around Lake Constance

Lindau Harbor on Lake Constance
Julian Herzog

The best views of Lindau are from the water. Jump on one of the many ferries that travels between the cities on the lake like Bregenz, Konstanz or Friedrichshafen and cross over to Austria and Switzerland.

Fares are usually just a few euros and they sell 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 also offer plated lunch and dinner, as well as cruises with live music and themes. 

Two routes allow for cars to cross the lake by ferry: Konstanz to Meersburg is the quickest and Romanshorn to Friedrichshafen is slightly longer at 45 minutes.

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