On the eastern side of the Lake Constance lies the beautiful city Lindau, right on an island on the lake. With a population of 25,132 it is fairly small, but a tourist spot nevertheless – probably THE tourist spot in the south of Germany. The historic town on the 0.68 square kilometre island can be reached either via a road-traffic bridge or a railway dam. The city is not only known for its architecture but also for various outdoor activities such as cycling, sailing, and swimming. Or one could also book an airship to fly over the city.
As it’s become a yearly summer tradition for me to travel to Austria’s West, a daytrip to our neighbour Germany was a great idea to do some exploring in a part that I haven’t been to yet. As Lindau is located next to the Austrian border in the West, my friend Julia and I decided to take an s-train from Bregenz and explore the beautiful island Lindau.
Brief historical overview
The city dates back to the year 882, so it’s over 1,000 years old. In former times Lindau translated into ‘island on which limetrees grow’, which is also the reason for the limetree as the city’s coat of arms. First there was a nunnery on the island, and only in the 11th century a market was established there, which also lead to Lindau becoming an Imperial Free City. Lindau was conquered by Napoleon and subsequently handed over to Austria. Already 3 years later it was given back to Bavaria. It has been growing ever since and became the tourist spot that it is now.
The Lake Constance – the third-largest freshwater lake of Europe with 540 square kilometres – is situated in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. 73 kilometres of the lake’s shores are located in Germany, 28 in Austria, and 72 in Switzerland. At its broadest point the lake measures 14 kilometres, and at places it’s up to 254 deep. The lake and its surrounding are important for the local tourist infrastructure, and cities located there are big hubs for the boating tourism. Many tourists decide to take one of the many tourists boat connecting one city to the other. The island of Lindau lies on the eastern shore of the Lake Constance (or Bodensee in German).
Probably the most colourful building of the town is the Old Town Hall on Maximilianstrasse. The impressive Gothic building was erected in the 15th century and used to be the location for many historic moments. Even now the Old Town Hall is used for meetings of the town council and receptions of various kinds.
Built in 1508 on the wester point of the island and mainly used as a defence tower, the Powder Tower was turned into a storage for gunpowder towards the end of the 18th century. In the late 19th century the tower was then converted into a ‘place of lively convivality’, with a lounge area for guests, and can now be hired for meetings and celebrations.
Another impressive building located on the harbour promenade is the Mangturm Tower, standing 20 metres tall. Built in the 12th century as part of the city’s medieval fortifications, the name of the tower derives from the English word ‘mangle’ and refers to pressing machines used by cloth dyers. The tower lost its job as a lookout when the lighthouse was built in the 19th century.
The harbour entrance with its lion and the lighthouse are among the most famous landmarks on the Lake Constance. The New lighthouse in Lindau is the southernmost lighthouse in Germany. It is 33m tall and has a perimeter of 24 metres and was built from 1853 to 1856. It’s possible to climb the 139 steps to reach the top of the lighthouse for only €1.80, and inside the lighthouse there are all sorts of wall paintings and historical stories about the lighthouse. On the viewing platform one has a beautiful panoramic view over the harbour, the lake, and the city. The impressive statue of the Bavarian lion, standing 6 metres tall, was erected in 1856. Made out of sandstone and weighing 50 tonnes, the lion is watching over the lake, and rumour has it – the lion sometimes stands up to have a stretch ;)
A place that we more or less stumbled upon which we ended up really liking was the 37° Kaffeebar Ladengeschäft. Not only is this a place where you can get coffee, decent vegetarian and vegan food and cool drinks, but also a place that sells interior pieces, books, and other peculiar things. The place is held in a retro-shabby chic atmosphere with fussy furnishing. They serve all sorts of refreshing lemonades and their tarte flambée is really delicious! It’s also possible to sit outside on a colourful arrangement of chairs and tables and enjoy the harbour view. It’s open Tuesday-Sunday from 10:00 – 23:00.
The bottom line
Lindau might not be the biggest or most spectacular city, but it kinda cast a spell over me. I felt very comfortable in the city despite all the tourists strolling around. It is such a cute, small island with great architecture and a picturesque view over the Lake Constance. What I especially liked about the island were the many opportunities one has to actually go ‘into’ the lake to take a swim or to just put a toe or the feet into the water. I’ve encountered many lakes where it has almost been impossible to actually come close to them without paying or be encountered by private beaches, but not Lindau!