Lake Constance

Lake Locations:

Austria - Vorarlberg - Germany - Baden-Wurttemberg - Switzerland - St. Gallen - Thurgau -

Also known as:  Lake of Constance, Lake Bodensee

Lake Constance is a 132,448-acre lake situated in the northern foothills of the Alps between Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. The third-largest lake in central Europe in terms of total area, the scenery around Lake Constance is of striking beauty, with its sloping banks, green orchards and vineyards, and its border of old lakeside towns and attractive historic villages. Various areas of the lake have been declared nature reserves and offer the outdoor enthusiast miles of unspoiled wilderness to hike, bike and just enjoy. A trail, which encircles the entire lake, caters to walkers and bikers and allows you to experience the cultural differences that define each country on this lake.

160 miles of shoreline make water recreation a main attraction of Lake Constance. The lake has a number of beautiful harbors which encourage fishing, camping, swimming and sunbathing along the shore. Ports around the lake offer boat rentals and sailing schools. Although the wind usually blows steadily from east or west it is often gusty near the shore. Sailing on the lake is not for novices. Storms can blow up suddenly and attention should be paid to storm warning lights on the shore. Other water activities include kayaking, windsurfing, speed boating, water skiing and scuba diving.

Boat services on Lake Constance run from the middle of April to the middle of October. There are ferry services (passengers and cars) which run year round between many of the larger cities and islands on the lake. During the summer, resorts and large towns offer boat excursions of all kinds to include whole-day, half-day, shorter breakfast and lunch cruises as well as evening parties and special themed events.

Sections of Lake Constance shoreline have been declared landscape or nature reserves in order to maintain them in their relatively unspoiled condition. The Wollmatinger Ried Nature Reserve located where the Rhine flows from the lake into the Untersee is a 1,074-acre protected area that is a popular nesting area for many species of rare birds.

Fishing is a favorite pastime of locals and tourists and there are plenty of trout and salmon in Lake Constance. The lake is home to an extremely rare species called the Lake Constance Trout or Salmo tutra. Whitefish, zander, pikeperch and perch are also in the lake. As you might expect, fresh fish is the favored dish in most restaurants with a glass of local wine.

Walkers, horseback riders and bikers will enjoy the Lake Constance Trail which encircles the lake at varying distances from its shores and at varying heights for a total distance of 169 miles. There are several stables on the lake that rent horses.

Lake Constance is the home of three islands: Mainau, Reichenau and Lindau. The flower paradise of Mainau lies near the German town of Konstanz. This island is the property of Count Bernadotte of Sweden. This island features beautifully landscaped flower gardens and panoramic views of the lake. There is also a greenhouse with thousands of butterflies and a tropical climate. The Monastic Island of Reichenau lies between Untersee and Gradensee in southern Germany. It was classed as a World Heritage Site because of its ancient monastery, Reichenau Abbey. The island has also received recognition for its vineyards and vegetable farms. There is a large nature reserve next to the island that is home to many endangered birds. The island of Lindau in the eastern part of the lake has many attractions and ancient landmarks including a large promenade, a beautiful harbor marked by a stone lion and a lighthouse, a medieval old quarter, golf courses and an elegant casino.

There are hundreds of small towns on and around Lake Constance which offer all sorts of lodging, fine dining and tourist attractions. Notable towns on the Austrian side of the lake include Hard, Bregenz and Lochau. Bregenz is located on a plateau extending to the foot of Pfander Mountain. The city hosts a famous music festival each summer, the Bregenzer Festspiele. This area was first settled around 1500 BC. Attractions include St. Gallus Church, the Post Office Building, Martins Tower, the Art House and the Lake Promenade. Martins Tower houses the Military History Museum and has the biggest Baroque-style steeple in Central Europe.

Popular destinations on the German side of Lake Constance include the towns of Meersburg, Daisendorf, Unteruhldingen and Konstanz. Meersburg is famous for its ancient castle located on the lake. Daisendorf is also located in this area. It has an ancient chapel dating from 1508, which holds unique Renaissance frescoes. It also has many excellent restaurants and a popular wine festival, held in August of each year. Unteruhldingen is a hamlet popular for its open-air Museum of Archaeology. It showcases models of Neolithic and Bronze Age stilt houses. Konstanz is a university town with a population of around 80,000. It lies on the Rhine and is the perfect starting point for a tour of Reichenau and Mainau islands. The Munster cathedral dominates the town. Another attraction is a theatre built in 1610, the oldest theatre in the country still holding regular performances.

Notable towns on the Swiss side of Lake Constance include Rorschach, Horn, Steinach, Frasnacht and Arbon. Attractions in Rorschach include the Aviation Museum, Mariaberg monastery, the lakeside promenade and several historical castles. Miniature golf, swimming pools, and playgrounds can offer visitors a relaxing break from the area’s history.

Visitors have several options when exploring Lake Constance – by scenic car ride, on a relaxing cruise, or to truly experience the area’s personality – ride the bicycle trail and be sure stopping at every village on the route of three beautiful countries. Whatever mode of transportation you prefer, you will be enchanted by the atmosphere, the history, and the breathtaking views of the snow-capped Alps.

Things to do at Lake Constance

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Swimming Pool
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Scuba Diving
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Birding
  • Museum
  • Playground
  • Miniature Golf
  • Casino Gambling

Fish species found at Lake Constance

  • Perch
  • Pike Perch
  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Whitefish
  • Zander

Lake Constance Photo Gallery

Lake Constance Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 132,448 acres

Shoreline Length: 160 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,296 feet

Average Depth: 295 feet

Maximum Depth: 833 feet

Water Volume: 44,589,225 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 4.3 years

Drainage Area: 4,440 sq. miles

Trophic State: Meso-eutrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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