Lindau has its own train station, right on the island in the Old Town. Lindau is a major station on the Munich-Zurich line, with even the "fastest" trains stopping here. If you're coming from Munich, however, you'll save a lot of money and not lose a lot of time by taking slower trains and using a "Bayern-Ticket." For example, if you take the "ALEX" or "RE" trains (sometimes with a change in Buchloe or Kempten), up to 5 people can get to Lindau in just over 3 hours. Cost of the Bayern-Ticket ranges from EUR 22 for a single traveler to EUR 38 for 5 people traveling together (not valid weekdays before 9AM). You can shorten your trip by 40 minutes or so by taking the direct EuroCity, but you'll have to pay EUR 40 per person for the time savings.
In addition, you have good connections between Lindau and Friedrichshafen Flughafen (Airport), usually with a change in Friedrichshafen Stadt. Travel time is 30-45 minutes and ticket cost is EUR 5.50.
By far the nicest way to explore Bodensee (Lake Constance) is by ferry. There is an extensive network of ferry routes crisscrossing the lake, which services a limited number of towns on the Swiss side as well as many more towns on the German side.
Konstanz is the hub of BSB's network, and other larger towns such as Meersburg and Friedrichshafen have frequent ferry services, whereas smaller towns and those at the extremities of the lake are not serviced as often.
However, bear in mind that it is a large lake, and travelling by ferry is much slower than making the same journey by road - for example, Konstanz to Lindau (which is pretty well end to end) will take you about 3.5 hours.
The weblink below is the BSB timetable for summer 2010 - unfortunately this is currently only available in German, but much of it should be pretty self explanatory. The website promises that it will be available in English in 'a few months', but I have no idea if and when this promise will be delivered on.
The same website also gives fares: return tickets cost double the single fare. If you are going to be in the Bodensee area for some time and plan to take a number of ferry rides, it's worth enquiring about passes - when we visited in 2005, we bought a week pass, which saved us quite a lot.
On our first visit to Lindau, we parked on the mainland and walked over to the island (not far at all) – primarily because it was in the middle of school vacations and there were so many people that day. We easily found a parking lot following the blue parking signs and then followed the many people headed to the island.
On the second visit, while I took the train, Hubby and other family members drove and easily found parking on the island. There is a rather large lot on the west side of the island that worked very nicely. I can see how on holidays, this lot would fill up quickly, but for the time we were visiting on our second trip, there was ample available parking.
As you enter the parking lot, take a ticket from the machine, then be sure to take this ticket to the Kasse at the end of your stay to pay for your parking. Slip the ticket into the slot and the machine will tell you how much you owe. After feeding the machine the correct amount, it will give you the ticket back, which you will then put into the slot by the exit. No hard at all!
While we drove on my first visit to Lindau, on my second visit I took the train (although Hubby and others in our party drove). I was traveling with a toddler and we thought it would be more fun to take the train for the trip rather than put him in the car seat for the distance.
Our connection to Lindau was in Ulm and from that point it was supposed to be a direct train into Lindau Hauptbahnhof (central train station). Knowing that Lindau was an island and I had seen the train station on our previous visit, I knew it was the last station on the line (otherwise we’d be in the water!). It was supposed to take about two hours from Ulm with no changes. Our train was on time and we left Ulm as expected. However, as we got very close to Lindau, the train ended its line earlier than our ticket stated and the announcement was to get off and board another train which will take us into Lindau. I verified this with another passenger and he was kind enough to point out the train we needed. This was not a problem for us since we were not on a strict time schedule, but the second train made at least four stops at small villages bringing schoolchildren to school after lunch and this made our train almost 45 minutes late. We were meeting us with the rest of our party that drove and fortunately we just kept in touch via cell phone as we neared the station.
Once at the station, it was easy enough to find our family. The station is next to the harbor and very easy to find. While the final train change and delay did not really affect us, it could have an impact on someone that had a tighter schedule than us (although there are no train changes in Lindau since it is the end of the train tracks).
I would still take the train again to Lindau – it is so central and really quite easy. In fact, I think it was easier to take the train than to drive into the town.
On our first visit to Lindau, we drove to the area. It was August and it was crowded. We didn’t even attempt to drive across the bridge onto the island to find parking – we saw too many people parking on the mainland and walking across the bridge. So we did that – we simply followed the signs for parking and found a good spot not far from the island. Then we simply followed the crowd!
Driving towards Lindau was just as crowded. We were coming in from the west having left Triberg (in the Schwartzwald) that morning. Once we reached the lake, the two lane road was very full of cars and it took a lot longer to drive to Lindau than originally planned. So our time in Lindau was shorter than originally planned.
However, it was a good time nonetheless. After parking and walking over to the island, we had a great time exploring and enjoying the area. Parking was inexpensive, just a couple euros for the afternoon. As you drive into Lindau, simply look for the blue parking signs (they have a large white “P” on them) and park your car. While we followed the other people over to the island, there were plenty of signs directing us on how to get there.
Frequent boats depart Lindau for various destinations along the lake during the summer. While service is less frequent off-season, there are still regular boats to destinations such as Friedrichshafen. For our part, we took the boat across the lake from Lindau to Rorschach, Switzerland.
As of 2008, one-way fares between Lindau and Friedrichshafen are EUR 12, and EUR 9.40 between Lindau and Rorschach. For boats to Rorschach, a Swisspass will give you a 50% discount, but note you must first validate your pass at a Swiss rail station. Fortunately for us, our boat crew allowed us the discount with our unvalidated pass, even though they were under no obligation to do so.
Ryanair fly to Friedrichshafen from London Stansted airport. It's a 20 minute train ride to Lindau from Friedrichshafen.
Lindau station is on the edge of the island. It is a 2-3 hour journey from Munich and easy to reach from Bregenz and Friedrichshafen.