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Medieval Meersburg

Meersburg is the walled medieval village you dream about, with the added bonus that it's on a lake. The older, upper town clutches a bluff over the lake, and has the medieval Old Castle as well as the "new" castle, a 17th-century Baroque delight. The sunny, Mediterranean lower town, with palm trees and lakeside promenade is a place of relaxation, shopping and culinary delights.

Upper and lower towns are connected by a steep road and footpaths that lead under the castle drawbridge past many half-timber homes. Each turn reveals a new set of paths, alleys, passageways and plazas. In the evening, life moves to the lower town.

From Kölnstanz, Meersburg is a 20-minute bus ride (#1) to the ferry station outside of town, connecting there to the 30-minute boat ride.

Landing in Lindau

With the Alps on one side and castles and villages on the other, the 3.5-hour, storybook boat ride from Kölnstanz to Lindau passes quickly.

Prosperity came early to Lindau, thanks to its position on a medieval trade route. The island town is still decidedly upscale with Baroque buildings, gabled burghers' houses, half-timbered houses, and onion-dome churches. Today's affluence takes the form of galleries and studios ' and a mostly underground casino. The island's circumference is just 3.5 km (2 miles) and walks along its promenades feature ancient fortifications, a 13th-century lighthouse, turquoise waters, blue skies, and, of course, the Alps. Despite a concentration of historic sights, the town does not overpower. Its size and self-containment make it easy for mind and senses to digest.