Konstanz Train Station
The main train station in Konstanz is along the lake, so you'll have to walk a bit to get to inland destinations. Services are somewhat limited at the train station, though there is a ticket office. If you are traveling here from elsewhere in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, be sure to check your local train options and see if a Baden-Württemberg ticket might be worthwhile. We were coming from Freiburg, so we used this ticket to get the whole family to Konstanz with a local train to Neustadt (Schwarzwald), then a Regional Express train to Donaueschingen, then an Inter Regio Express (or IRE, covered by the Baden-Württemberg ticket) to Konstanz.
Another unusual feature of the Konstanz train station is that it has a full-service Swiss Rail (SBB/CFF/FFS) ticket office, which you can use to validate your Swisspass, if you have one. Your pass is also valid starting in Konstanz, so no worries about getting a ticket for the brief trip across the border.
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Explore Bodensee by boat
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.
With the receipt that comes with the form you fill in upon arrival at your hotel you can use the city buses for free during your stay. This proves to be extremely helpful for excursions to island Mainau, the ride to the university or the new thermal bath but hardly useful for getting into the city.
The reason is the never ending traffic jam, especially at rush hour but also during most other hours (except for late in the evenings). The old town is definitely not built for buses (most of it is pedestrian zone anyway) and the streets that go around it are constantly filled with cars going to the shopping malls near the Swiss border or where ever.
Pictures update: As I did not take a photo of a bus (quite inexcusable!) - only found out when I built the page - VT member Kathrin_E volunteered to take some for me when returning to Konstanz. Which she did as promised on a Fasnacht weekend (LOL) - and here we see the results! Thank you, Kathrin :-)
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The most effective and enjoyable way of transportation - beside walking - in Konstanz is cycling. Cycling trails are well marked, maintained, mostly separated from the roads and they go anywhere - into the old town, to the residential areas, around the lake ... you name it.
I probably have never seen so many people cycling before. It is actually hard to take a photo without a bicycle in it! (Ok, exaggerating here, but only slightly!)
If you don't bring your own bike you can easily rent one. I did. Only 200 m from my hotel was a bike shop where I rented a nice touring bike for dirt cheap 8 Euro a day. The dealer even agreed I could bring it back after the shop closed "Just put it in the shack in the back of the shop." The weather turned out to be ugly (rainy) so I didn't take him up on it, but it was nice anyway.
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Trains are the way to get to Konstanz. Connections to both the rest of Germany and Switzerland are pretty good although there are no high-speed trains to the city. Konstanz has a "two-in-one" railway station: It hosts services (like ticket counters) for both Deutsche Bahn (DB) and Swiss Federal Railways (SBB).
I had to change trains on my journey from Dresden quite some times. In the end, coming from north/northeast from Konstanz one has to go through the station Radolfzell (which is west of Konstanz) and change there as the trains must go around the lake - quite time consuming but also a scenic ride.
Very frequent and quite fast are the trains to Switzerland. Konstanz is right on the border and the Swiss trains start/end there. I boarded the direct train to Zürich which ran via Winterthur and Zürich Airport in Konstanz after I had bought the ticket at the SBB counter and paid in Swiss Francs. Felt a bit odd, though, being in Germany ...
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Boat Cruises on the Lakes
The most pleasant way of travelling round the lake (weather permitting) are boat cruises. Several boat companies cooperate under the one roof of Bodenseeschifffahrt. The boats run on regular timetables so you can independently plan your day and half-day trips according to the schedules, either round trip by boat or one way by boat and one way by train. There is no ned for prebooking or reservations.
The longest cruises run from Konstanz over to Bregenz on the Austrian side and far end of the lake. These take several hours, so not everyone will enjoy them. Depends if you like being on a boat and watching the landscape passing by or if you find this boring.
- Family Travel
The Seehas Train
Getting around the lakes is really easy. Local trains run along all river banks and stop in every village. There is no need to bother with a car. These trains are a joint venute of SBB and DB and are named "Seehas" (Lake Bunny) after the nickname for the people who live around the lake.
These trains stop everywhere with a tiny exception... The railway, for whatever reason, does a detour inland and does not hit Meersburg and the nearby places. So one of the tourist hotspots on the lake cannot be reached by train. Buses do the transport but they are less convenient than a train.
Train Station Building
When arriving at the train station you'll notice the elegant slender clock tower of the station building. It reminds me of Italian, especially Tuscan architecture, like the city halls in Siena and Florence, but it is much younger. The station building was designed by Heinrich Leonhard in significant neo-renaissance style and erected around 1860.
- Historical Travel
Panorama route to Konstanz
Go there by train, the route goes mostly right along the water's edge. Beautiful views! And take a trip with the boats of the "White Fleet", relaxing, sitting on the deck, enjoying the breeze and watching picturesque small villages passing by. And you can try to get a trip with a Zeppelin - but this is really expensive (~300Euro). This summer I was lucky to be invited to a fly with it - just can say WOW! For some pics of the flight, you can visit my Bodensee-page.
From Zurich to Konstanz
Train runs every hour from Zurich HB to Konstanz with only one transfer at Weinfelden. The whole journey is fairly short which takes only 1 hour 26 minutes.
I found that there are trains go to Konstanz from the Zurich Airport as well. So anyone who wants to see Konstanz can fly to Zurich instead of Friedrichshafen, the neareast Airport to Konstanz in Germany.
My company flew me from HK to Frankfurt to Friedrichshafen by plane then I have to hop on the train to Konstanz - which I do not recommend.
- Business Travel
Tour the Bay
Take the ferry from the dock for a pleasant drive around the bay. Kind of touristy, but a good break from walking.
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