Given that you have a jam-packed day of sight-seeing ahead of you, it’s wise to start with a sumptuous breakfast at one of Meersburg’s best cafés. Good coffee and a unique flair have earned Café Pop stellar reviews on all platforms by both locals and visitors who come here for their daily caffeine fix or to browse the shelves stocked with kitchen utensils and other everyday items. Food-wise you can expect a small selection of breakfast foods, such as fresh croissants with jam, Bavarian-style pretzels with ham and cheese, or muesli with fruits and yoghurt plus freshly-squeezed orange juice – and, of course, the best coffee in town.
Once you’ve fuelled up on food and drink, head out to explore the old town. The twisty web of cobbled alleys is lined with colourful, historical townhouses on both sides, filled with speciality boutiques, cafés, bistros and wine taverns, workshops and other quaint establishments, and you could probably spend hours going from one to the next.
But Meersburg has more to offer than that. The town is studded with sights exemplary of its long history, starting with Meersburg Castle, or Alte Burg as it’s known locally. Rooted in the 7th century, Alte Burg is the oldest inhabited fortress in Germany, and with that one of the major attractions of the region. Plan at least an hour, if not 90 minutes for your visit of the museum inside (€12,80 – around US$15) to explore the decorated rooms, including the castle kitchen, weaponry, torture chamber and dungeon, and knight’s hall.
In the 18th century, the Neues Schloss (New Castle) replaced the medieval fortress. Once you turn the corner, you’ll see that the two buildings couldn’t be any different. The New Palace boasts an imposing pink-and-white façade with architectural elements from the Baroque and Rococo period. Scheduled tours only run in German, and even though group tours in foreign languages can be arranged in advance, an audio guide (€5/US$6 including entrance fee) is a great alternative if you want to explore the Palace at your own pace. The highlight of each visit is the majestic staircase designed by star-architect Balthasar Neumann. He is also the man behind the opulent Würzburg Residence, Käppele church and other Baroque masterpieces scattered across Germany. But the list of impressive features doesn’t end there: elaborate frescoes and stucco ornaments, the extensive collection of shells, fossils and minerals, and the adorable outdoor teahouse which grants scenic views of Lake Constance are must-sees.
Depending on how much time you take to explore both attractions, you might want to head straight to lunch from here. The See Pick restaurant occupies a spot on the waterfront promenade and is an excellent choice if you like seafood and fish. The eatery is known for tasty lunch and dinner options centred around freshly-caught fish, homemade potato salad, a good selection of wine from the region, all topped with panoramic views of the lake – quite the lunchtime treat.
Since you’re at one of Europe’s largest lakes, a day in Meersburg wouldn’t be complete without taking a short boat trip. A good way to spend the afternoon is jumping aboard a ferry towards Mainau Island (€34,90/US$40 return, including entrance fee). That way you get to see Meersburg skyline in all its glory, and you can tick another highlight off the list. What’s also known as ‘island of flowers’ owes its nickname to the millions of beautifully-arranged flowers, palm trees and citrus plants that cover the vast parklands and gardens. With changing seasons, the look of the island changes entirely with tulips, roses, rhododendrons, perennials and dahlias taking turns throughout the year. Take your time to go for a stroll around the gardens, greenhouses, water features and the butterfly house, and pop into the Baroque Mainau Castle to check out the current exhibition. There are several cafés and restaurants on the island should you need a short break or want to enjoy the vistas over a drink.
Once back in town, the Meersburger Winzerstuben is the perfect location to indulge in regional and international culinary specialities and, being the official restaurant of the local vintner club, a fantastic selection of local wines. Their menu is comprised of a vast number of delightful creations á la medallions of pork with Käsespätzle, the fish platter with rice and a white wine sauce, Argentinian rump steak and apple strudel cake with vanilla ice cream. If you still grow weary of wine after dinner, you can always head over to the Zum Alten Fass gastropub for a couple of draught beers and a nightcap before you say your goodbyes to Meersburg.