Nicknamed the schwäbische Meer (Swabian Sea), Lake Constance is Central Europe’s third largest lake and it straddles three countries: Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Formed by the Rhine Glacier during the last ice age and fed and drained by that same sprightly river today, this whopper of a lake measures 63km long, 14km wide and up to 250m deep. Vital statistics aside, there is definite novelty effect in the fact that this is the only place in the world where you can wake up in Germany, cycle across to Switzerland for lunch and make it to Austria in time for afternoon tea, strudel and snapshots of the Alps.
Taking in meadows and vineyards, orchards and wetlands, beaches and Alpine foothills, the lake’s landscapes are like a ‘greatest hits’ of European scenery. Culture? It’s all here: from baroque churches to Benedictine abbeys, Stone Age dwellings to Roman forts, medieval castles to zeppelins.
Come in spring for blossom and autumn for new wine, fewer crowds and top visibility when the warm föhn blows. Summers are crowded, but best for swimming and camping. Almost everything shuts from November to February, when fog descends and the first snowflakes dust the Alps.