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Meersburg am Bodensee

Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Meersburg am Bodensee, Germany aerial photo

ABOVE: This aerial view of Meersburg shows the Upper Town, the Lower Town, and the harbor on the Bodensee.

Meersburg (in English, "sea castle")  is one of the prettiest resorts on the shores of Lake Constance. The Burg above the lake is said to be Germany's oldest residential castle, dating back to the 7th Century A.D. (Meersburg also has a Baroque "New Castle" where the prince-bishops of Konstanz lived and ruled in the 18th Century.)

Meersburg, Germany vineyardsThe word "picturesque" has become a travel cliché, but in the case of Meersburg, it's a legitimate adjective.  Meersburg is a split-level resort: The lakeside Lower Town is home to the boat and ferry landings, a lakefront promenade, hotels, restaurants, bars, and sporting activities; and the Upper Town is a hillside cluster of historic buildings, museums, galleries, cafés, shops, and vineyards.

Both sections of town have remnants of medieval walls (including two ancient gates), and you can go back and forth between the two by stairway or road.

Meersburg is easily the kind of resort where you can spend several days without getting bored. Museums include the Old Castle (with guided tours year-round), the New Castle (with Baroque rooms, art exhibits, and the Dornier Aviation Museum), the Bible Gallery, a Town Museum, and the local Wine Museum.

When you've had your fill of looking at museum displays, you can play miniature golf, go hiking, rent a rowboat or pedalo, cycle or skate along the lake, or sample Meersburg's swimming pools and thermal spa.

Meersburg passenger ferry boat at pierMeersburg also makes a pleasant hub for excursions around the Bodensee, using lake steamers and car ferries. The "flower island" of Mainau is a quick trip by boat, and Friedrichshafen (the largest town on the lake's northern shore) is just a couple of boat stops or an easy bus ride away.

For more information about Meersburg, including hotels and restaurants, visit the city's multilingual Web site at

Personal recommendations:

  • The four-star Romantik Hotel Residenz am See is directly opposite the Thermal Spa, a few minutes on foot from the center of the lower town. Rooms at the back face hillside vineyards, and most rooms have private balconies.

    This is a convenient hotel if you're touring by car, because it has a parking lot and is on the lakeside road. (Nice touches: The minibar is free, and the management provides basket-weave totes for swimming or shopping.)

Meersburg photos:

Meersburg, Germany - Burg or Old Castle

The Old Castle, or Burg, was begun in the 7th Century A.D.

Neues Schloss or New Castle, Meersburg, Germany

The Neues Schloss or New Castle (the rose-colored building in the background) was the residence of the prince-bishops who ruled the Konstanz region in the 18th Century.

Gate to Upper Town, Meersburg, Germany

Meersburg's Upper Town has a pleasantly disorganized street layout, with one street or square leading into another.

Dagoberts Turm or Dagobert's Tower, Meersburg, Germany

This view of the Upper Town shows the oldest part of the Burg, Dagobert's Tower, peeking over the main structure of the fortress. (The Burg, a.k.a. the Old Castle, is open for visits year-round.)

Bodensee and Upper town, Meersburg, Germany

From high on the hillside, you can see the Upper Town (including Dagobert's Tower) and Lake Constance.

Meersburg Upper Town with Zeppelin

Zeppelin NT airship

These photos of a Zeppelin NT were taken from the viewing terrace in front of the Neues Schloss (New Castle) in Meersburg's Upper Town.

Tourists can book flights of 30 to 120 minutes on the Zeppelin NT, which departs from the airship hangar in nearby  Friedrichshafen.

Meersburg staircase from Upper Town to Understadt or Lower Town

From the Upper Town, steps descend to the Unterstadt or Lower Town. (If you're pushing a stroller or wheelchair, you can avoid the stairs by following the road.)

Meersburg half-timbered buildings, Germany

Both the Upper Town and the Upper Town have shops, restaurants, cafés, and bars in abundance.

Hotel Seehof, Meersburg, Germany

The family-owned Hotel Seehof is one of several hotels on the Lower Town's waterfront.

Meersburg Lower Town on Bodensee or Lake Constance

The Lower Town stretches along the Bodensee's shore, with a lakeside promenade leading toward the Thermal Baths, swimming pools, and mini-golf course (beyond the right edge of this photo).

Meersburg excursion boat, Lake Constance or Bodensee

The Lower Town has piers for excursion boats (including this boat to the garden island of Mainau), a marina, and a customs house. You can also hire a rowboat or pedalo if you prefer to captain your own boat.

Meersburg, Germany thermal spa

The Thermal Spa is designed for all ages, with amenities such as a sand playground and beach volleyball.

Meersburg, Germany indoor thermal pool

The spa's indoor thermal pool is open year-round. It has water jets, "whirl recliners," and other features. The water temperature is 34° C or 93° F.

Professional massages are available, and you can get an "Arabian Nights" Hammam foam-massage treatment that's followed by a cup of tea.

Meersburg, Germany outdoor pool

The outdoor public pool area is open from mid-May to mid-September.

You can choose between a shallow "fun pool" with a current channel plus fountains and slides, a "sport pool" with lanes and starting blocks, and two "kiddies' pools" for small children.

Pfahlbausauna at Sauna World in Meersburg, Germany

The Thermal Spa's "Sauna World" includes a "Pfahlbausauna" with saunas housed in replicas of prehistoric lake dwellings.

Romantik Hotel Residenz, Meersburg, Germany

Across the road, the four-star Romantik Hotel Residenz am See offers pleasant rooms, many of which have balconies. Rooms face the lake or the hillside; if your room faces the lake, ask for a top-floor room so you'll enjoy a view.

The Residenz am See serves a first-rate breakfast in its gourmet restaurant. If the weather is nice, choose a table on the small terrace.

Related articles:
Bodensee (Lake Constance) boats and ferries
Mainau, the flower island
Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen

About the author:

Durant Imboden photo.Durant Imboden is a professional travel writer, book author, and editor who focuses on European cities and transportation.

After 4-1/2 years of covering European travel topics for, Durant and Cheryl Imboden co-founded Europe for Visitors (now including Germany for Visitors) in 2001. The site has earned "Best of the Web" honors from Forbes and The Washington Post.

For more information, see About Europe for Visitors, press clippings, and reader testimonials.

Photos 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19 copyright © Meersburg Tourismus. Used by permission.