See Lake Constance by Bike and Visit Historic Towns in Three Countries
During the ice age, the Rhine Glacier in the northern Alps dug a notch into the earth, leaving behind a hollow that later filled in with fresh water. Today, that hollow basin is the third-largest lake in Europe, a vast lake that’s bordered by three countries: Austria, Switzerland and Germany. And one of our favorite cycling tours takes travelers through all three countries over 11 days, you’ll drink in views of the clear turquoise waters of this stunning lake encircled by the snow-capped peaks of the Alps.
The trip starts in Bregenz, a charming historic Austrian city that’s as charming as it is beautiful. You can stroll through the cobblestone streets or explore the old part of the city, which dates back to the 14th Century. The first day of cycling takes you along the southern shore of the lake to the Swiss city of Arbon. While there, you’ll have plenty of time to explore, including the chance to visit the 8th Century Benedictine Abbey’s UNESCO world heritage site library.
One of the things we really love about this trip is how flexible it is. After you leave Arbon, you can save yourself some cycling miles if you’d like to take a train, or if you’d rather you can ride through idyllic waterfront villages until you reach Stein am Rhein. It’s a charming town with an 11th Century monastery and a perfectly preserved medieval town center, and you’ll also have the option of biking to Schloss Laufen, a tiny castle that’s perched above the largest waterfall in Europe.
Next, you’ll venture into Germany and visit the first populated part of Lake Constance, even having the opportunity to see an 8th Century Benedictine Abbey. The last leg of the trip includes pedals through oak forests, cherry orchards, historic castles, and Riesling vineyards as you make your way back to Bregenz.
If you have time at the end of your trip, you can also take the cable car from Bregenz up to the summit of the mountain Pfänder—on a clear day, you’ll be able to see most of your cycling route.