Organizing the trip yourself:
Please follow this
link for an explanation of the author's traffic ratings.
Distance and Time: 300 kilometers plus 60
optional kilometers for the round trip to Schaffhausen; 4 to 8 days. By
skipping certain arms of the lake, or by using lake steamers, the trip
may be shortened considerably.
The Bodensee Circuit can be linked to itineraries to the west or to
the east. To the west, from Schlaffhausen, in a day or two via Basel,
you can continue into Alsace,
or to the Black Forest, or to other German or Swiss biking areas not covered
on this site. Via Basel one can also continue north on the signed "Rhine
Route" for several weeks, as far as the North Sea. (See the Esterbauer
guide books or Cycling the Rhine Route by John Powell, which
details the route from Holland to Basel.)
In the east, from Lindau, one may ride in to the Königssee either by the Königsee-Bodensee bike route in the plains or the extremely
challengin German Alps Road through the Mountains. See details at
the end of this Itinerary.
Starting and ending points: Since the bike
route encircles the lake, there is no one starting or ending point. Train
connections serve a number of towns on the itineraries. Munich to Zurich
line trains stop at Lindau** and Bregenz**. Freidrichshafen has a direct
train connection with Ulm, Germany. Konstanz and Schaffhausen** have excellent
connections with Basel, Zurich, Strasbourg, and Stuttgart. Certain trains
do not carry assembled bicycles, and others require a reservation. See
the section of this site on Trains
Alternative transportation: There is rail
service along both the north, German, side of the lake and the south,
Swiss side. A train line follows the Rhine. Additionally, steamers join
most towns on both sides of the lake. While quite pleasant, the steamers
are not nearly as fast as the trains. All local trains and steamers carry
Rentals: It is possible to rent a typical German hybrid bike with a rear rack.
Baggage Transport: From May through September, for a charge of 11 Euro (2016) for the first four bags per stop (less for large groups) a local company will transport your baggage. Contact: http://Bodensee-Radweg.com. (They also provide self-guiding tours with pre-reserved hotel space.).
Tips: Hotels become full during the midsummer
season, so reserve in advance. Many restaurants are tourist oriented,
and serve average food. If you are looking for excellent food, ask your hotel for help, or consult
a reliable guidebook or the Internet.
Itinerary: Because there are so many towns
around the lake, all with tourist resources, you can vary as you wish
the length of each day's ride. Also, the lake is divided into three arms,
and all arms join together at or near Konstanz. You can cross the two
western arms at Konstanz either by bridge, or by a short ferry ride.
The character of the bike route varies in each of the three nations bordering
the lake. In Germany the bike route follows on or alongside minor lanes,
sometimes closed to traffic, close by the lake. In Austria, except for
the town of Bergenz**, a bike path runs through the delta where the upper
Rhine flows into the lake, zigzagging from the shore, in order to cross
several river branches, and passing through woodlands on levies. In Switzerland,
the route generally runs farther away from the lake, often alongside a
rail line in agricultural lands, but with the lake visible in the distance
at lower elevation.
To plan your self-guided itinerary, by all means obtain the book, Bodensee-Radweg from Verlag Esterbauer, which provides, for German-speaking areas (Germany, Austria and part of Switzerland),
very complete route-booklets. The URL is http://www.esterbauer.com,
and for a complete list of their bicycling tour books, click on
"Radtourenbücher".. The maps and hotel lists in these booklets are most
helpful, and with the help of a German-speaking friend or a dictionary,
you may pick up some useful tips as well. The books are sold in Britain and the USA, though at high prices. You can get them locally, or through Amazon.de if you can take delivery in Europe. Although the guides are in German, the many detailed maps will show you your
choice of routes, and help keep you from getting lost. The Esterbauer
book, Rhein Radweg - Teil I (Rhine bike route, Part I) is helpful
for the continuation to Schaffhausen and the Rhinefalls. Bookstores in
the larger towns, and especially in Konstanz, contain a good selection
of maps and guides, including the above.
For the Switzerland portion of the Bodensee route and the continuation along the Rhine, see http://veloland.myswitzerland.com/en/routes/etappe-0923.html for maps and useful advice.
You could undertake, but I do not recommend doing so, the Bodensee Circuit
without maps. The signs in Switzerland and Germany are generally clear
and close together, but not always; however, in Austria the signs can
Austria: In Bregenz you need to watch carefully,
and wind among pedestrian paths, always staying on the route as close
to the lake as possible. Do plan to walk your bike through the gates of
the colliseum-like structure to see the theater and the stage. There are
three rivers to cross, the Bregenzer, the New Rhine, and the Old Rhine.
Many of the cycling signs point to side routes, and lead to towns and
villages. Some important turns are not clearly marked. If you are in a
hurry, riding the busy main highway would save significant time spent
in circuitous but scenic detours through the delta.
Switzerland: The Bike Route is numbered 2
all the way along the lake and the Rhine, and the signs are marked with
the 2. When the route passes through large towns, it may not be marked,
but is evident, none the less. The only confusion arises near Konstanz,
where the side routes to the city center in Germany are not clearly indicated.
On the extension to the Schaffhausen, the way west out of Stein-am-Rhein**
towards Germany, along the north side of the river, is not well marked.
Simply walk your bike to the western gate of Stein, and then ride straight
along the main road. Eventually you will bear left. Though the northern
side of the Rhine is mainly in Germany, Switzerland makes incursions,
because of historical religious patterns. Both Stein-am-Rhein and Schaffhausen
are Swiss. Train connections from both towns lead west to Basel, north
towards Stuttgart, and east along the Swiss side of the lake.
The Rhinefalls**, to the author, were the highlight of this trip. These
falls are Europe's largest, 500 feet wide and 80 feet high. You will need
to visit the falls themselves on foot, so either leave your bike at your
hotel in Schaffhausen, or lock it securely near the falls. Buses number
1 or number 6 lead from the city center to the falls. The falls may be
seen from above and below, on both sides of the river, which you can cross
by a long pedestrian bridge. The views from the castle, Schloss Laufen,
both above and under the falls, are worth the small admission fee. You
may wish to take the boat ride to the observation pinnacle amidst the
falls. Several restaurants and snack bars are at the castle and on
the lower riverbank. The 2 mile walk back to town along the Rhine's north
bank is very satisfying. (For more information, see the URL: http://www.rhinefalls.com;
the photo on the site is poor.)
Germany: Several types of signs are clearly
mark the circuit. In case of doubt, stop, and if you are on the route,
riders from both directions will soon pass you. If not, you can expect
most passers by to speak English. Routes in and out of Konstanz* can be
confusing. Ask for help as you approach the town. The Mainau gardens**
are a four mile bike ride from the center of Konstanz. They may also be
reached by bus from the German railway station.
At 75 kilometers (45 miles) per day, four days are sufficient for a complete
tour of the lake. Another day allows for the 70 kilometer round trip to
the Rhinefalls** just beyond Schaffhausen. If you add a day to visit the
sights, and another for rain, you will need a week to complete this tour.
Riders with children, who prefer an easier pace, will perhaps choose an
itinerary that ignores one or both western legs of the lake.
For the overnights, the author's personal preferences are either Lindau**
or Bregenz**, Constanz*, and Schaffhausen*. These have the most interest,
but others may prefer to choose smaller, quieter, less expensive towns,
villages, or campgrounds.
Long Distance Connections: This Bodensee
and Rhinefalls Route can be included as part of longer itineraries
taking several weeks or months. You should buy a biking map covering your
itenerary in a local bookstore.
TheKonigsee-Bodensee Itinerary and the German Alps Road Itinerary,
both , both connect at Lindau. From the Konigsee-Bodensee
route, it would be possible to join the Danube river Bike Route, by taking
the Isar river valley bike route through Munich to the Danube.
The German portion of the Danube River
(Donau) Bike Route can be reached from the Bodensee by three different, signposted, German
bike routes. The first is the Schwäbichhe-Alb-Radweg,which starts
at Ludwigshafen, on the westernmost tip of the Bodensee. It passes near
Stockach, and through Messkirch to join the Danube at Sigmaringen in 77
The second bikepath connecting the Bodensee and the Donau is appropriately
named the Donau-Bodensee Radweg. In about 160 kilometers, it runs from
Kressbrun near Friedrichshafen, on the Bodensee's north shore, via Langnau,
Neukirsch, Wangen, Kisslegg, Wolfegg, Bergatreute, Bad Waldsee,north of
Bad Wurzach, Ochsenhausen, Laupheim, and Arhstetten, to the Danube near
Ulm. There are also eastern and western variants of this route.
The third bikepath is the Eurovelo 6 Route, which goes Radolfzell to Tuttlingen.
You can bike down the Rhine to Alsace for the Alsace Tour on this site in two or three days (or continue north along the Rhine to Holland).
From Schaffhausen, stay on the North side of the Rhine, joining the Rheintag-Radweg
(or take a shortcut shown on your detailed map or book) through Germany
until you reach the Swiss border, then continue on bike routes into central
Basel, staying on the north of and along the Rhine. In Basel, you will
ride on a street mainly closed to traffic, with the river on your left.
Follow the signposted Eurovelo 6 route over the 3 countries bike and pedestrian bridge, and hen follow the canal north. Once in Hunningen, France, follow the canal or
D468 north to Balgau, and then follow D13 to Colmar.
If going towards Holland, follow the Rhine Route north from Hunnigen,
as detailed in the Esterbauer guides or (in reverse) John Powell's "Cycling
the Rhine Route" (North sea to Basel). It is also possible to stay on the Eurovelo 6 route through the French Jura, Burgundy, and eventually to the Atlantic Ocean at the Loire Estuary. See my pages on Eurovelo 6, which assume you are coming from the Atlantic.
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