With its beautiful natural landscapes where you’ll often come across farms where time seems to have stopped in its tracks, Lake Constance has much more to offer than its popular touristic highlights. Check out some of the lesser-known sights that will make you fall in love with Bodensee.
This beautiful hiking path is located past streams and a deeply green meadow, which leads up to this small outdoor altar with chapels that are built right into the sandstone. Maria im Stein (Maria in the Rocks) is a place of pilgrimage that is over 500 years old and according to the legend, Alberto von Bodmann, who escaped Turkish captivity while on his way to the holy land, built the altar for Virgin Maria to whom he prayed for his freedom. Nowadays, the altar is decorated with votive tablets and notes thanking Maria for her help.
For serious, off-the-beaten-path hikers who want to see everything that Lake Constance has to offer, the Jubiläumsweg (the Jubilee Hiking Trail) is the ultimate challenge that is rewarded with the stunning beauty of pure nature. Established in 1998 to celebrate the 25th year of the Bodensee districts, the 111 kilometre hiking trail is composed of six stages that are each about five hours long, bringing attention to Lake Constance’s often overlooked (but magnificent) hinterlands.
Apart from the Hotel Restaurant Haldenhof, the Hohenbodman has one of the best views in Lake Constance. Overlooking the landscape of the Linzgau district, the large white tower was actually part of a castle that was constructed in the 11th century by the Herren von Bodman. However, after the Thirty Years’ War and the consequent burning down of the castle, only the tower managed to survive. Nowadays, the 37-metre high tower is a historic monument and anyone can climb up the steep 136 steps to the platform for a 360-degree view of the beautiful surroundings, including the Salemertal, Lake Constance and even the Alps.
One of the best places to go swimming, apart from Lake Constance itself, Illmensee is a public beach that is a favourite among locals and rather unknown to foreign visitors. The lake is surrounded by a green meadow, which is filled with families in the summer who lie around on their beach towels enjoying the sun. During the colder months, a stroll the by calm water is a more romantic affair, especially when the sun begins to set and the trees reflect in the calm waters of the lake.
One of the most peculiar attractions in Bodensee that is often unknown to visitors, Affenberg, which literally translates to ‘Monkey Mountain’, is, in fact, a wooded park sanctuary for more than 200 Barbary macaques. The monkeys wander around freely in the sanctuary and every visitor who wanders through the marked path is given a handful of popcorn so that they can feed the curious creatures who gladly stretch out their hand for the tasty treat.
Lake Constance’s viniculture is definitely on the rise, especially since the Weingut Aufricht (Aufricht Winery) was awarded first place for its 2014 Isabel 3 Lilien Spätburgunder red wine from the European wine magazine, Vinum. Surrounded by fields upon fields of grape vines that all overlook the lake, the winery not only has modern production facilities but a guesthouse and a wine tasting room all overlooking the water and the Alps as well. With a menu in hand, visitors can taste the winery’s delicious varieties of reds and whites before they decide on their order.
One of Lake Constance’s most beautiful towns lies high upon the hill overlooking a view that encompasses land, sea and Alps. Known as the ‘viewing terrace of the lake,’ Heiligenberg is around 700 to 800 metres above sea level, experiencing less sultry days in the summer and much heavier snowfall in the winter, which happen to make it quite popular for winter sports. Make sure to wander along the Panorama Hiking Trail to make the best of the view and call in advance to check the status of the daily guided tours through the magnificent Schloss Heiligenberg, a Renaissance-style castle owned by the Fürstenberg family.