Constance – The German Riviera
Last year my family and I took advantage of living in Germany and went on vacation locally, deciding on Ferienpark Orsingen, near Lake Constance (Bodensee). The region has many wellness hotels and spa resorts, with hotels in Überlingen and Meersburg offering sauna and soothing ‘Hot Stone’ treatments. However, this family friendly campsite, of which there are many in and around the area, was ideal for a family with three-year-old twin boys.
Lake Constance, considered the German Riviera, lying below the northern edge of the Alps, is by far the largest lake in Germany. Bordering Austria and Switzerland, Lake Constance has plenty to offer, striking scenery and family friendly attitude, combined with plenty of activities for all ages, provides a perfect backdrop for an enjoyable holiday.
Lake Constance and the city of Konstanz is stunning, with Lake Constance’s majestic expanse of water encompassing 270 kilometers of shoreline.
We were lucky to choose a week where Germany was hit by a heat-wave, although summer temperatures often reach the 30s in this part of Germany. On our first night, once settled and the children asleep, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset, glass of wine in hand.
Much to our boys’ excitement we hired a boat on our first day, a popular activity with tourists. Rather than go for the extravagant yacht or expensive speedboat, we went for a leisurely pedalo (although not so leisurely for my husband who had to drive). With the blue lake surrounding us, large boats passing us by and quacking ducks providing a soundtrack to our journey, it was a wonderful experience. Afterwards we visited a local cafe to sample delicious ice cream and to cool off.
Lake Constance is known for its water sports. Whether you enjoy sailing, surfing or swimming, there is a no more beautiful spot, with stunning views of the Alps. However, we decided to relax instead, with a cold beer, soaking up the sun on one of the man-made beaches surrounding the lake.
With its wide variety of excellent locally sourced restaurants and wine cellars, we had the opportunity to sample the delicious, fresh-water white fish ‘Felchen’, which wonderfully complements the local white wine, Müller-Thargau. The mild climate in the area is perfect for grapes, one of the many wine festivals being a summer highlight.
While there we visited nearby Switzerland where Schloss (castle) Laufen, a Swiss Heritage site of national significance, stands grandly over the breathtaking Rheinfall, the largest plain waterfall in Europe. After walking through the pretty castle entrance, stairs took us down the side of the waterfall, leading to spectacular views; thankfully there is a lift back up to the entrance. If you feel brave, you can take a boat trip to the bottom of the waterfall to seek a better view, something we thought better of with two toddlers in tow.
On our last day we visited the small town of Meersburg. This medieval city, situated in Baden-Württemberg, is picturesque and bustling. Meersburg had a slightly more touristy feel, with little shops selling souvenirs lining up along the lake, alongside eateries and drinking establishments. We stopped for ice-cream at a lovely restaurant on the seafront which, although slightly more expensive, provided stunning views of the lake.
Trips to Lake Constance are not restricted to summertime. Autumn is also a lovely time to visit Lake Constance. It is less busy, the weather is still very pleasant and the many apple orchards are harvested then.
We thoroughly enjoyed our holiday and highly recommend this often overlooked, by Brits anyway, paradise.