The largest town at Lake Constance is the perfect getaway for those who want to spend a relaxed day worth of shopping, indulging in yummy foods and enjoying lakeside views. We had a look at what there is to do in Konstanz and created a 24-hour itinerary for you, which includes all the not-to-miss highlights.
Being a popular destination for both Germans and international tourists, the city centre of Konstanz boasts many fantastic breakfast spots that help kickstart your day of exploring. Café Zeitlos often tops the list of the best cafés in town and lures with a design-your-own breakfast approach. You’ll be handed a list of all available breakfast items – bread, buns and croissants, muesli, spreads, cheese and so on – tick off everything you want, pass that back to the waiter and wait for your custom platter to arrive.
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After a sumptuous breakfast, tour the quaint old town of Konstanz. Much of the city centre is pedestrianised making a sightseeing and shopping trip a fairly relaxed venture. Along the way, you’ll spot many historical townhouses dating back to the Middle Ages, several monuments and beautiful churches. So let’s dive straight in and take a zigzag route through the old town.
From medieval times through to the 19th century, a circular wall, 20 towers and city gates surrounded the city of Konstanz. Today, only three of them still stand and pose as backgrounds in your holiday snaps. The Schnetztor at the southwestern fringe of the old town was constructed sometime in the late 14th or early 15th century and is considered a national landmark. You’ll see two later on – the Pulverturm and the Rheintorturm. The latter also houses a small museum dedicated to the local Carnival celebrations and exhibits traditional costumes.
Right at the heart of the old town, the Emperor’s Fountain shows the somewhat peculiar depictions of four of the past emperors, and as you walk on, you’ll come across another iconic statue. The sparsely clothed Imperia holds two characters in her palms which are believed to be Pope Martin V and Emperor Sigismund who both pulled the strings during the Council of Konstanz in the 15th century.
Make sure to stop by the Konzilgebäude which is just around the corner from here. The massive stone built with the hipped roof was initially built to be the region’s largest warehouse, though it was repurposed as conclave during the time of the Council of Constance from 1414 to 1418 and the scene of the election of Pope Martin V.
The highlight of every sightseeing tour around the city is the Konstanz Minster. The imposing church dates back to the 7th century and flags the honorary title Basilica Minor. For more than 12 centuries, the church served as bishop seat as well as a boardroom for the council mentioned above. Frescoes, wood-carved elements and the authentic cross-ribbed vault from the late 17th century, chancel walls made up of gold and marble, and two organs wait for you inside. Don’t miss the opportunity to climb the 193 steps to the observation deck (€2, or $2.5) for panoramic views of the city and Lake Constance.
Continue your stroll through the Niederburg neighbourhood, Konstanz’s oldest one which spreads a medieval charm with its web of winding alleys, half-timbered houses and cobbled streets. You’ll find plenty of crafts and speciality shops and boutiques where you can pick up a couple of souvenirs before you get some lunch.
Vogelhaus Café is a unique little spot not far from here, and you can treat yourself to all kinds of culinary goodies from wraps, quiche, salads, vegetarian Maultaschen (a sort of German dumpling), or pasta dishes followed by homemade ice cream and cake.
Given you’re at one of Europe’s largest lakes, it’d be a shame if you didn’t get out on the water. A ferry ride (€ 34,90 return, or $43) takes you across the lake to Mainau Island, also known as Flower Island. The name comes from the mesmerising amount of flowers in the vast parklands and gardens. With every season, the look of the island changes and no matter the time of the year you can easily spend a relaxed afternoon on this gem of an island. The Baroque Mainau Castle was built in the 1700s and features changing exhibitions year-round.
Back in Konstanz, the many restaurants wait for you with dinner options. Holly’s is one of the most popular eateries in town and combines a vintage-chic atmosphere with international foods including burgers and Flammkuchen, curries, salads, and a bunch of vegan options. Bonus points for the fact that you can not only purchase delicious food here, but pretty much everything else you see, furniture and decor included. Traditional German and Austrian dishes like schnitzel, knödel and spätzle make up the menu at Constanzer Wirtshaus. The hearty meals are traditionally washed down with a draft wheat beer or a Radler. If you fancy a gourmet dinner instead, have a look at Michelin-starred Restaurant Ophelia which serves beautifully arranged platters à la carte or as part of a four-to-six course meal.
If you’re looking to grab a drink after dinner, follow your nose around the old town or the waterfront and pop into one of the pubs or wine bars along the way.
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