Located on the shores of the picturesque Bodensee, (Lake Constance to English speakers), Lindau Island, Germany is a glimmering lakeside jewel overlooking the Alps. Its historic city center is resplendent with medieval buildings and half-timbered houses and situated on its own island connected to the rest of the city by a bridge.
We arrived by car on Lindau Island just as the sun was beginning its early descent on an unseasonably warm late February day. The sun-splashed terraces along the lake overflowed with locals enjoying an early taste of spring warmth while sipping an evening cocktail.
I was instantly smitten with the Venetian-inspired architecture along the waterfront and was reminded of some of my favorite Italian island destinations like Elba Island, Procida or Ischia…or even the town of Chania in Crete. For a moment, I had to remind myself I was still in Germany!
How to Get to Lindau Island
It’s easy to get to Lindau from Germany, Austria or Switzerland.
From Munich, the drive will take 2 hours and 15 minutes. By train, the journey takes 2.5 to 3 hours depending on routing. If you’re coming from Stuttgart, the trip is only slightly longer, 2.5 hours to drive and 3 hours by train. From Zurich, it’s less than a 2 hour drive, by train it’s closer to 3 hours.
Arriving by train is a great option as the train station is directly on the island in the heart of town. Parking on the small island can be a challenge and once you arrive it’s unlikely you’ll need a car. All of the island’s best sights are within an easy stroll.
Ferries also service Lindau Island from nearby harbor towns in Austria and Switzerland from March to October. Check the BSB Ferry site for routes, time and fares.
Where to Stay on Lindau Island
Hotel Schreier am See – This is my favorite hotel on the island and where we chose to stay on our recent visit. Located directly on the lakefront promenade, many rooms offer terraces and gorgeous views of the lake. We booked a lakefront room and absolutely loved the view! While the room itself was a bit small, it was clean and comfortable and even had a small terrace.
Hotel Bayerischer Hof – Also located directly on Lake Constance, this majestic hotel is the top choice for a splurge on Lindau Island. Situated in the heart of the harbor, just a few steps from the train station, there is no better choice for location. Rooms are spacious and comfortable and it’s well worth spending a little more for a lake view. The elegant bar on the lake terrace is THE place to sip an aperol spritz and enjoy the view in the summer months. The hotel also features a spa which makes it a great choice for a romantic getaway.
Hotel The Medusa – If you want to stay on Lindau Island (versus the mainland), there aren’t many options in the “budget” category. But this small hotel just off Maximilianstrasse is the best choice on a tighter budget. Rooms are clean, modern and bright and public parking is available a short walk away.
Top 5 Things to Do on Lindau Island
1. Lindau Harbor
The harbor’s entrance is framed by the 33-meter-high new lighthouse on one side and the Bavarian lion on the other, with the Swiss Alps as a perfect backdrop. Chiseled out of Kehlheim sandstone, the lion is 6 meters high and weighs 50 tons. The year 1856 (the year the harbor was completed) is engraved on its base in Roman numerals.
2. Mangturm Lighthouse
Built in the thirteenth century, the old lighthouse (called the Mangturm) is a prominent fixture of the former city fortification. It served as Lindau’s primary lighthouse until 1856 when the new lighthouse was completed. Later, an extra level was added and covered with the striking glazed roof tiles that define its appearance today. Climb the tower for spectacular views across the lake to Bregenz on the opposite Swiss shore.
Turned into a wide pedestrian lane in the mid 1970’s, this lively street is lined with arcades, patrician houses, shops and cafes. The architecture is a blend of Gothic and Renaissance style.
4. Old Town Hall
As you stroll down Maximilianstrasse, you’ll come to one of Lindau’s most beautifully ornate buildings, the Old Town Hall. Completed in 1436 on the site of a former winery, the centuries that followed each had an impact on its design. Most recently, in 1975, the façades were refurbished to the 1885 design of Munich painter Josef Widmann.
5. Take a Ferry ride to Switzerland or Austria
Sailing daily from March to October, the fleet of ferry boats operated by BSB connect Lindau with dozens of locations including a short 20-minute ride to Bregenz, Austria and Rorschach, Switzerland in just over an hour. Timetables and destinations can be found here. Thanks to the short travel time and frequent ferries many of the ferry stops on the lake can make a great day trip (be sure to travel with your passport when heading into Switzerland, just in case!).
Instagram-Worthy Photo Ops
Most of Lindau Island is picture-perfect but these are a few of my favorite images:
It’s easy to see why Lindau Island is a terrific summer holiday spot. But I’d argue it can be equally as beautiful in the off-season, and certainly less crowded!
Regardless of when you visit, you’re likely to be charmed by this beautiful little island on the Bodensee.