KonstanzKonstanz is a city in southern Germany. It lies on the border with Switzerland and on Lake Constance (Bodensee) between Obersee and Untersee, exactly where the river Rhine exits the lake. The city is split in two by the Rhine. Although the Rhine is the usual border between Switzerland and Germany, the historic part of Konstanz lies on the south ("Swiss") side of the Rhine and is more or less an exclave.
Konstanz has traces of civilization dating from the stone age and was settled by the Romans in about 50 CE. Konstanz was an important trade centre and a spiritual centre. At the council of Konstanz in 1414-1418, a papal election was held, ending the papal schism. Three popes went into the council (one from Avignon one from Rome one from Pisa) an entirely different person left as the single pope. The council was also the place where Jan Hus was burned despite an assurance of safe passage. Konstanz attempted to join the Swiss Confederacy in about 1460, but was voted down. Due to its proximity to Switzerland, Konstanz was not bombed during World War II and its historic old town remains intact. It is a historic city with a charming old town, and could be called the jewel of the region.
Tourist Information Centre
By planeKonstanz has no commercial airport. The closest airports are:
- Zurich Airport (Switzerland) (ZRH). By car 1 hour to Konstanz. By train 1 to 1.5 hours to Konstanz. There is a direct train from Zurich airport to Konstanz once an hour, and another train with a connection in Weinfelden once an hour.
- Friedrichshafen Airport (Germany) (FDH). By car 1 hour to Konstanz (take the car ferry between Meersburg and Konstanz). By train approx. 2 hours to Konstanz. By boat approx 1 hour to Konstanz (take the train from Friedrichshafen airport to Friedrichshafen Hafen and get the Katamaran to Konstanz).
- Stuttgart Airport (Germany) (STR). By car 2 hours to Konstanz. By train 2.5 to 3 hours to Konstanz.
- EuroAirport (Basel, Switzerland). About 2 hours by car. By train, 2 hours from Konstanz first to the Basel Bad Bahnhof (in Germany) then about 45 minutes by regular tram/bus to the airport via a transfer at the Basel SBB station on the Swiss side.
Konstanz HauptbahnhofThis is the main train station. It's the last German stop before the Swiss border, and is therefore served by both German and Swiss trains. Hourly direct trains from Zurich Main Station (1hr 20 min) go via Zurich Airport. Zurich Main Station has excellent connections to the rest of Switzerland as well as Italy, Austria and France.
The other train stations in Konstanz are in the city districts of Petershausen, Fürstenberg and Wollmatingen.
Most places around Lake Constance can be reached by train: Romanshorn, St. Gallen, Stein am Rhein and Schaffhausen can all be reached with a change in Kreuzlingen (which is the "Swiss suburb" of Konstanz, just across the border), whereas Friedrichshafen, Lindau and other German places around the lake require a change in Radolfzell and take a long time - the boat can often be quicker. Bregenz in Austria is best reached via Switzerland - change in Rorschach and St Margrethen.
To reach Konstanz from the rest of Germany is time-consuming. There are direct trains to Karlsruhe (3 hours on a scenic route through the Black Forest), but other connections require a change in Offenburg (for Frankfurt and cities further north), Radolfzell (Ulm, Augsburg, München and beyond) or Singen (Stuttgart).
By carFrom Germany: from the A81, take the B33 into Konstanz.
From Switzerland: the A7 leads straight into Konstanz.
By boatPossible from many cities on Lake Constance. The fastest connections are :
- Car ferry from Meersburg, runs several times an hour from 06:00 until 24:00, and once an hour from 00:00 until 06:00. The crossing takes 15 min.
- Katamaran from Friedrichshafen, runs once an hour from 06:00 until 19:00, taking around an hour.
On footKonstanz's centre (old town) is largely pedestrian and very walkable.
By busThe bus system is fast and efficient. The bus costs €2.10 (adult) or €1.05 (child). A day ticket is €4.00.
By taxiTaxis are nearly always available in front of the main train station.
By bicycleThere are bicycle paths all over the city. Bicycles can be rented from near the train station (about 100 m north of the main station building) for €12 per day or less.
Konstanz CathedralConstruction completed on the North Tower in about 1100 AD. Built between 1100 and 1854, the church is a magnificent example of architectural styles of the centuries. Climb up the tower for a fantastic view of Konstanz and the Bodensee.
Art nouveau houses beside the lakeaddress: Seestraße
address: BismarksteigThere are towers commemorating the first German chancellor Otto von Bismarck all over Germany. Konstanz's Bismarck tower is at the top of a grapevine-covered hill. There are benches and firepits at the base of the tower. It's a nice place to watch the sunset. There's a good view from the base of the tower and an even better one from the top.
KonzilThis building was built in 1388 and originally used as a warehouse. From 1414-1417 the council of Konstanz was held here to resolve the three-way occidental schism (an earlier compromise attempt had not resolved the two rival claims, but instead produced a third). The Council was also where Czech reformer Jan Hus was burned as a heretic. The building contains a restaurant and concert hall, and is undergoing restoration work.
Rheintorturm and PulverturmRemnants of the old city defenses.
Schnetztoraddress: Hussenstraße14th-century city gate and tower, next to a bit of the old city wall.
Imperia statueBy artist Peter Lenk. The statue is of a woman holding two naked menPope Martin V and Emperor Sigismund--in her hands. The men wear only the papal tiara and the crown, respectively. The statue refers to a short story by Balzac, "La belle Impéria".
Sculptures along the German-Swiss borderWhere there used to be a border fence, there is now a series of 22 sculptures representing the trumps of the tarot, the "Great Arkana".
The harbourFrom the harbour on a clear day, you can see the Swiss and Austrian alps across the lake. The harbour is a great place to see sailboats, catch a boat across the lake, sit in a beer garden, rent a paddle boat or mini motor boat, or relax in the park.
Niederburg districtThis charming district is the oldest part of Konstanz. It is made up of narrow streets and old buidings, sometimes more than 700 years old. On the first Friday of each month from May to October, the shops of Niederburg stay open late and there is music, flea market tables, and art in the streets. It's a very cozy atmosphere and worth a walk through.
Museums and galleries
address: Benediktinerplatz 5Particular emphasis on the Bodensee (Lake Constance) region and the middle ages.
address: Hussenstraße 64Museum dedicated to Czech religious reformer Jan Hus. The museum is all in German and Czech.
address: Rosgartenstraße 3-5History and culture of Konstanz and the surrounding area. The museum is all in German.
address: Hafenstr. 9
address: Wessenbergstraße 43Art gallery with rotating exhibitions
Take a boat trip on the lakeThe ticket office is at the harbour, just past the pedestrian underpass. You can take trips to, e.g., Meersburg, flower island Mainau, Ueberlingen, Friedrichshafen, Lindau, Bregenz, or down the Rhine to Stein am Rhein and Schaffhausen.
SwimEither in the Rhine near the pedestrian bridge, or at the beach "Hörnle" at the east-most point of Konstanz. (Bus 5 goes to the Hörnle.) The Hörnle has a nudist area (in German: "FKK") at its north end.
address: Zur Therme 2Go to the spa. The facility includes multiple saunas, multiple pools including an outdoor heated pool and an outdoor 50-m swimming pool, and a restaurant. The saunas are no-clothing areas and the pools are mostly bathing suit areas.
Konstanz TheatreKonstanz has 3 theatres: "Stadttheater" for classic pieces, "Spiegelhalle" for youth theatre and experimental theatre, and "Werkstatt" for puppet theatre. You can buy tickets in advance at the Stadttheater (Konzilstraße 11) or at the tourist information centre (inside the train station).
Konstanz PhilharmonicYou can buy tickets in advance at the Stadttheater (Konzilstraße 11) or at the tourist information centre (inside the train station).
Organ concerts at the Münster (Cathedral)For schedules and pricing, see the website or contact the Münster music office at Pfalzgarten 4, or +49 7531 9062 52.
Festivals and annual events
CarnivalThis week-long event involves parades, costumes and parties. Carnival is an old tradition in southern Germany, made up a mix of pagan and Christian beliefs, whose main purpose is to chase out winter. The secondary purpose is, of course, to dress up in a costume and party.
International Bodensee WeekThis festival is all about boats. It features boat exhibitions, regattas, and water skiing shows & competitions.
Christopher Street DayA cross-border LGBT pride parade/demonstration in Konstanz and neighbouring Swiss city Kreuzlingen. There are several cultural activities in the week leading up to the parade. The parade starts around 11 am and is followed by some bands playing in the Stadtpark (near the harbour). In the evening there's a party in the Konzil building (€14 entry).
Konstanz Wine FestivalAn outdoor festival featuring local wines and live music.
address: all along the lakeshore in Konstanz1-day festival with live music and other performances on a few different stages, water shows (e.g. waterskiing), a market. The final event is a big fireworks competition between Konstanz, and neighbouring Swiss city Kreuzlingen. You can see the fireworks for free by watching in Kreuzlingen instead. Kreutzlingen also has a small midway and market during this event (free entry).
address: Bodensee Stadion (stadium)1-day music festival.
OktoberfestThe Konstanz Oktoberfest is rather smaller than the one in Munich but is worth attending if you're in town. It features the usual Oktoberfest-style beer, food, and live bands, and has a small midway.
Christmas MarketAn outdoor festival where the main marketplace and harbour are lined with stalls selling mulled wine, food, art and kitchy stuff.
MarketTuesday and Friday mornings in St. Stephans Platz (downtown); Wednesday and Saturday mornings in St. Gebhard-Platz (Petershausen district)
Old town shopsMost of the pedestrian zone in the Konstanz old town is full of shops. In particular, there are a lot of shoe and clothing stores.
Gigantic cross-border flea marketThis flea market is several kilometres long and crosses the border to Kreuzlingen, Switzerland. The bulk of the market is in Konstanz though. It sells the usual flea market stuff, but is impressive due to its sheer size. It takes place in June or July.
In summertime most restaurants offer outside sitting and eating, in the evening hours it is hard to find a place, occasionally.
A yearly published magazine "Die Seezunge" covers many of the Konstanz eateries and is available in tabac shops and kiosks.
A good start to discover the Konstanz restaurant scene is to start at the central marketplace Marktstätte. Just north of the "Marktstätte" is the old fish market site Fischmarkt.
There are lots of very good "Dönerbuden" (kebap houses) in the city center selling this Turkish dish.
Casablancaaddress: Marktstätte 15Offers Italian food, a great place to sit outside and watch the tourist masses walk by or catch the performances of the street artists.
Aranaddress: Marktstätte 6An upscale cafe with great snacks (wood oven bread slices with various toppings, hot wraps, custom made icecream)
address: Marktstätte 2Offers Italian food of all different varieties as well as Italian-style coffee.
address: Am FishmarktIf you like the idea of Tex-Mex food but hate eating spicy stuff, this is the place for you.
Rossiniaddress: Fischmarkt 1An Italian restaurant with a great bistro atmosphere.
Ali BabaA special recommendation for Döner Kebap.
phone: +49 7531 917100address: Sigismundstraße 19Fresh and delicious soup and salad. The salad bar is full of fresh selections including many vegetarian and a few vegan options. (Pay according to the weight of your salad.) There are several soup options; some change daily.
address: Salmannsweilergasse 32A restaurant with typical southern-Germany atmosphere, serving typical southern-Germany specialties.
address: Sigismundstraße 14Food inspired by Indian, Chinese, Indonesian und Thai cuisine.
Taverne Panphone: +49 7531 25478address: Sallmannsweilergasse 13, 78462 KonstanzGreek taverne with great and most important cheap food. A place with nice music and good service. You should definitely try Gyro and Galactoboureko.
phone: +49 7531 - 3804158address: Webersteig 12A bar with a nice patch of sand about the size of a beach volleyball court. Lots of seating on beach chairs on the sand, and patio. They often have live music on Wednesdays.
address: Hafenstraße 10A bavarian-style beer garden. Live music on Sunday mornings starting at 10:30, and they often show "big" sports events (football championships, formula 1) on a big screen.
address: Bahnhofstraße 4They have a pretty full events calendar including bingo, karaoke, quiz nights, live music, and sports on TV. Often good place to go if you want to hear other people speaking English.
address: Macairestraße 4Variety of music genres. Check the events page of their website or simply look for the posters plastered all around town for the next event.
address: Obere Laube 55Cheapest place in town; loud, smokey and sticky, somewhat legendary.
address: Emmishofer Straße 2Former strip club; still has the stage and pole. Usually has bands playing on weekends.
Dance Palaceaddress: Max-Stromeyer-Str. 33
address: Bodanplatz 9The proprietors speak English and can arrange for nearby parking for a modest fee.
phone: +49 7531 691369-0address: St. Stephansplatz 15
phone: +49 7531 1304-0address: Rosgartenstraße 30
address: at the end of 'Auf der Insel' streetThis hotel is on a small island in a former Dominican Cloister. Accessible by bridge from the old town.
phone: +49 7531 32260address: Zur Allmannshöhe 16
If you're looking for a hostel, there are also a couple in the Swiss town of Kreuzlingen, which is practically a suburb of Konstanz.
- Mainau Island — "The Flower Island" is known for its warm climate and beautiful botanical gardens, parks, butterfly house and greenhouse.
- The Black Forest (Schwarzwald) — about 2 hours away by train or 1.5 hours by car (in Germany).
- Other cities and towns on Lake Constance. Especially recommended are Meersburg, Lindau and Bregenz.
- Stein am Rhein
- Schaffhausen — for the Rhine Falls
- Reichenau Island
- Kreuzlingen — this neighbouring Swiss city has a really nice waterfront with large parks and playgrounds and a small zoo. Simply walk south along the waterfront from Konstanz to get there.
- Swiss Alps — in winter, sign up at one of the local sports stores (e.g. Intersport Gruner across from the Lago Center, or Karstadt Sport in the basement of the Lago Center) to join a bus day-trip to a ski resort.