Lake Constance is a fine place to plan a long vacation. A tour of Mainau island, even as late as October, features a lush bloom of Dahlias (over 20,000 plants!) and nice weather to see the summer palace. If it's a bit nippy you can duck in to see the butterflies that fly freely in tropical comfort of the butterfly sanctuary. You just buy a ticket and head out to the island via causeway--and then you have the whole island to explore.
Mainau Island is near the town of Konstanz in the state of Baden-Württemberg near the border with Switzerland. The island is one of the premier places to visit on Lake Constance (or the Bodensee). You'll see vast flower gardens (an estimated 20,000 dahlia plants were in full bloom when we were there in October), you can visit a butterfly sanctuary with tropical temperatures, and you can see the palace, built in 1853 by Grand Duke Frederick I of Baden. There are animals and a children's playground on the island.
The best time to visit in the first half of the year. Flowers bloom from January to April, but continue past summer, as we found from our October visit, from which the pictures below were drawn; in autumn fields of dahlia with approximately 20,000 dahlia bushes and 250 varieties show off from September until October. You can see the times of blooming on the What's in bloom page.
Besides flowers, you can visit the Summer Palace and see the butterfly house. It's Germany’s second largest butterfly house, hosting moths and tropical butterflies from Africa, Asia, Central and South America. Mainau's Arboretum shows off 500 different types of rare and valuable broad-leaved trees and conifers. It was was created in 1856 by grand duke Friedrich I.
A visit is a bit pricey; you'll pay over 22 Euro for a ticket that allows you to wander the island freely. (although families of three or more get a fairly large reduction per person). However, you can easily spend the better part of a day here. There are restaurants and cafes on the island.
You can't stay on the island, but you can stay near the departure point within a couple of miles. See Featured Hotels Near Schloss Mainau
The entire shoreline Lake Constance is studded with interesting towns and villages for a longer vacation. Meersburg, a top medieval village, is worth a day or two, and can be done as an easy daytrip from Constance, a larger town, also in Germany.
The pile-dwelling museum in Unteruhldingen, Germany is a good stop for those interested in archaeology and ancient cultures.
Richenau, a monastic island with a devotion to the vegetables grown in its fertile soil is well worth a visit as well.
Take a look at our Lake Constance Map below to see the location of Mainau Island and for more vacation-worthy destinations nearby.
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