Radolfzell am Bodensee is a paradise for lovers of nature and the finer things in life
Lakeside views, nature conservation areas abundant with woods and reeds – and, at the heart of it all, a vibrant town with a long history. Radolfzell am Bodensee effortlessly combines the tranquillity of the countryside with the buzz of an urban centre.
Radolfzell has long been held up as a particularly leafy destination. Back in 1989, the third-largest town on Lake Constance was dubbed Germany’s “secret green capital” by weekly magazine Der Spiegel. Mettnau peninsula, just a few minutes’ walk from the buzzing old quarter, is one of Germany’s oldest nature conservation areas and an oasis of calm. The far end of the headland is very peaceful, with little besides the odd duck call, the flapping of swans’ wings and – in spring and summer – the chirping of great crested grebe chicks breaking the silence. Mettnau is also home to a movement therapy centre of the same name that offers rehabilitation and preventative approaches under the banner Movement is Life. A visit to the bora-Sauna on the shores of the lake is the perfect accompaniment, offering outdoor wellness facilities the whole year round.
Separated from the lakeside promenade and moorings only by the railway tracks, the charming old quarter radiates out from the Gothic cathedral and is home to numerous independent shops. On market days (Wednesdays and Saturdays), in particular, the town and the square next to the cathedral are full of the hustle and bustle of locals visiting the market. There are stalls selling vegetables and herbs from farms on the nearby Höri peninsula, meat from local butchers and fresh regional fruit and cider. There’s even a stall that sells Italian bread – salted or, as per tradition, unsalted. It’s a popular place for locals and visitors to stop for a cappuccino and watch the world go by. And in the early morning, the market traders meet at Marktcafé for a break. Not to be missed is Radolfzeller Abendmarkt, an evening market that is open on Thursdays between 4pm and 9pm during the summer months. As well as doing their shopping here, visitors can tuck into the full range of regional specialities, including local fish and the pizza-like dünnele, with a glass of cider or wine – all rounded off with a little musical entertainment.
The home of ribbed fabric
In recent years, the centre of Radolfzell has been transformed into a spacious pedestrian area, and cyclists are welcome as long as they are considerate while passing through. The former factory of underwear manufacturer Schiesser, built in 1900, has been transformed into a thriving business hub called Jahr100bau. This long building was once home to the first mechanical production line for woven fabrics. Today, it provides one of the boundaries of the new pedestrian walk between the old quarter and the seemaxx outlet centre. This shopping oasis houses more than 40 brand-name stores over two floors and features an extensive range of products using the famous ribbed fabric. Right next door to it is the largest climbing centre in the Lake Constance region, offering 2,500 square metres of all-action climbing, bouldering and slacklining.
Trips on the water
The futuristic solar ferry Helio moves almost silently across the water. It makes its way from the harbour mooring to Mettnau peninsula powered only by the sun and is perfect for enjoying views across the lake and to the nearby Alps. Reichenau Island and the Swiss shores of Lake Constance are easily reached on one of the scheduled ferries. Cyclists are also welcome on board, making it easy to combine a boat tour and a cycle tour. Visitors who prefer to remain on terra firma can take a regional train that whisks them to Constance, Singen or Überlingen in only a few minutes.
Lakes galore in the suburbs
There are six villages grouped around the town centre, each with their own character and surrounded by nature. They are ideal starting points for walking tours, for example to the small lakes that lie within the boundaries of Radolfzell. In Markelfingen, for example, visitors can choose between Lake Constance and Lake Mindel. The three Buchen Lakes can be found in Güttingen, while Lake Böhringen in the village of Böhringen was formed by a glacier. The village itself is home to more than 20 breeding pairs of storks, which are the subject of research at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in nearby Möggingen. Visitors to the institute’s ‘Hennhouse’ will be amazed by the 360-degree projections that present fascinating facts about bird migration. Stahringen lies at the foot of the medieval castle ruins of Homburg, and Liggeringen with its scenic views attracts fans of the dünnele.
Festivals in Radolfzell
The biggest festival in the calendar is the Hausherrenfest, which is held in honour for the town’s patron saints, Theopont, Senesius and Zeno. It is held every year from the Saturday of the third weekend in July to the following Monday, when the Moos boat procession attracts many visitors to the harbour pier in the early morning.
The Alemannic Fasnacht carnival is cause for great celebrations in Radolfzell. It really gets going on the eve of ‘Schmotziger Donnerstag’, the last Thursday before Lent, when the ‘Hemdglonker’ procession invites people to don a nightgown and nightcap and join in the fun. Typical to Radolfzell are the klepperle, small pieces of wood that are used like castanets to make plenty of noise.
For many years, the International Summer Academy has attracted music students from around the world to Radolfzell, where they hone their talents on the violin, cello and piano in August and in conducting in September. Both locals and visitors to Radolfzell benefit from the fruits of the students’ labour as the courses are accompanied by a number of concerts that make the town come alive with music.
Further information is available from Tourismus- und Stadtmarketing Radolfzell GmbH, Bahnhofplatz 2, 78315 Radolfzell, Germany, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: +49 (0)7732 81500,