In Harmony with Nature

Sustainable Holidays at Lake Contance

Die MS Insel Mainau ist der erste vollelektrisch angetriebene Katamaran der Bodensee-Schiffsbetriebe.
Travel with a Green Conscience

BW-Story - Hirsch & Greif

Travel with a Green Conscience

Moving towards respectful tourism: We visited businesses and attractions operating under the ‘ECHT nachhaltig’ sustainability brand and travelled on the new electric ferry. 

Das Elektroschiff MS Insel Mainau fährt CO2-neutral von Uhldingen über Meersburg zur Insel Mainau.
The electric ship 'MS Insel Mainau' travels CO2-neutral from Uhldingen via Meersburg to Mainau Island. | © TMBW, Foto: Gregor Lengler

There is still a gentle haze over Lake Constance. But despite the thin veil of mist, the sun is already shining, bathing the water landscape in a warm morning glow over. We boarded in Uhldingen and are now waiting for departure. And we are off on time, with no juddering or diesel fumes. The MS Insel Mainau sets off quietly, gently turning onto its course and carving its way through this morning’s turquoise waters of Lake Constance towards Mainau, the flower island. Since 2022, this electric ship of the Bodensee-Schiffsbetriebe (Lake Constance cruise company) has been operating between Uhldingen, Mainau Island and Meersburg. The catamaran also collects sunlight along the way with the solar panels on its roof. We are out and about on Lake Constance to explore the region from the water and visit a few partners of the ‘ECHT nachhaltig’ sustainability brand.

‘ECHT nachhaltig’ – Lake Constance’s Sustainability Brand

‘ECHT nachhaltig’ – Lake Constance’s Sustainability Brand

Meersburg bezaubert auf dem Wasserweg mit dem Blick über die Weinberge auf das prächtige Schloss.
An enchanting view of the vineyards and Meersburg Castle awaits those arriving in Meersburg by boat. | © TMBW, Foto: Gregor Lengler

Under the supervision of Deutsche Bodensee Tourismus GmbH (DBT), the Lake Constance Tourist Board, an association of companies and projects has been formed, that is particularly committed to preserving this unique cultural region. The aim of the ‘ECHT nachhaltig’ cooperation which means ‘genuinely sustainable’, is to network and preserve the lake both as a home for the locals and as an unspoilt holiday region for visitors in the long term. More than 60 accommodation options, restaurants, cafés, manufacturers, and attractions have already joined the cooperation. The MS Insel Mainau electric does not yet visit (most of) them, as it only serves a short route, but the other boats of the Lake Constance cruise company do. It’s best to take a bike with you, so you can be more flexible when you get there. A second electric boat will be put into service soon. The city of Constance has already declared climate emergency back in 2019. As a result, the Bodensee-Schiffsbetriebe’s entire fleet is set to be carbon-neutral by 2035.

Discovering the Überlinger Weltacker Field

Discovering the Überlinger Weltacker Field

Der Überlinger Weltacker entstand in Anlehnung an das Projekt 2000m² in Berlin.
The Überlingen Weltacker Field was inspired by the 2000 square metre project in Berlin. | © TMBW, Foto: Gegor Lengler
Der Überlinger Weltacker zeigt auf einer Fläche von 2000 m², was derzeit auf den Ackerflächen der Welt wächst.
Covering an area of 2000 square metres, the Überlingen Weltacker Field shows what is currently being grown on the world's farmland. | © TMBW, Foto: Christiane Würtenberger
Die Bepflanzung des Überlinger Weltackers orientiert sich an der aktuellen weltweiten Anbausituation - hier wird z.B. Gerste angebaut.
The Überlingen Weltacker's cultivation is based on the current global cultivation situation - for example, barley is grown here. | © TMBW, Foto: Gregor Lengler
Anette Wilkening erntet Erbsen auf dem Überlinger Weltacker.
Anette Wilkening harvests peas on the Überlingen Weltacker Field. | © TMBW, Foto: Gregor Lengler

We decided to visit three completely different ‘ECHT nachhaltig’ partners, starting with the Überlingen Weltacker, which means ‘world field’. The wheat will be ready soon. Anette Wilkening kneels down in one of the beds and plucks out a weed here and there. It is very peaceful here, a little organic idyll not far from Lake Constance. But the Überlingen Weltacker is about much more than that, it is about international relations in agriculture, about resources and about water, power and fairness. The idea, which at first glance seems complicated, originated in Berlin and was implemented a few years ago for the State Horticultural Show in Überlingen. Purely arithmetically, there is 2,000 square metres of fertile land available for every person on earth. So in Überlingen, they measured out a plot of exactly that size.

Global Agriculture on a Small Scale

However, it is not cultivation that takes place there; instead, the field reflects what is being grown around the world and in what quantities. It is an educational project now supported by ‘BiNELa gUG’ (a foundation for education, sustainability, nutrition and agriculture) raises many important questions: What is fairness? What is solidarity? Is it right that protein-rich soya is the fourth most cultivated crop, but 90% of the harvest is fed to animal? Or, more simply: What would I grow on 2,000 square metres? Could I live off it? 'It’s easy enough,' reports Anette Wilkening with a smile, 'if you do it right.'

Anyone Can Make a Difference

She goes on to explain how she is always fascinated by how big a field is when you are standing in the middle of it. Wilkening worked as a teacher before going on to study organic farming, something she had an interest in. The Weltacker project is very close to her heart. Her mission and the mission of the Weltacker is actually quite simple: “I want our visitors to leave the field full of confidence and joy. We really need people to care more, to feel that in everything they do, at every moment of their lives, they are carrying an attitude into the world. That doesn’t mean you have to get everything right all the time. But it does mean that everyone can make a difference.” As she finishes speaking, she is off again to harvest some peas before the rain comes.

Wind Force 10 to 12 on Lake Constance

Wind Force 10 to 12 on Lake Constance

Auf dem barrierefreien Elektroschiff MS Insel Mainau finden bis zu 300 Fahrgäste Platz.
The barrier-free electric ship 'MS Insel Mainau' can accommodate up to 300 passengers. | © TMBW, Foto: Gregor Lengler

Today of all days, a cleansing summer storm is brewing as we head back to Friedrichshafen on the boat. A moment ago, the sky was blue, but suddenly a rough wind is blowing over the water, dark clouds are gathering threateningly on the horizon, and the orange storm warning lights are flashing on the shore. We are mesmerised by this dramatic spectacle, but are still a little relieved when the boat docks safely in Friedrichshafen before things really kick off.

Lake Constance Gin from the Organic Distillery

Lake Constance Gin from the Organic Distillery

In der kleinen Familienbrennerei Organic Distillery am Bodensee verbindet Christine Brugger ihr sensorisches Wissen mit Brennereihandwerk.
In the 'Organic Distillery', a small family-run distillery at Lake Constance, Christine Brugger combines her sensory knowledge with the craft of distilling. | © TMBW, Foto: Frank Bauer
Der Garten von Christine Brugger bietet wunderbare Zutaten für das Experimentieren mit ihren feinen Bränden.
Christine Brugger's garden provides wonderful ingredients for experimenting with her fine brandies. | © TMBW, Foto: Frank Bauer
Christine Brugger lebt die Partnerschaft mit "ECHT nachhaltig" aus tiefer Überzeugung.
Christine Brugger lives the   'ECHT nachhaltig' partnership out of deep conviction. | © TMBW, Frank Bauer
Für ihre Gin-Destillate verwendet Christine Brugger ausschließlich Früchte, Pflanzen und Kräuter aus kontrolliert biologischem und nachhaltigem Anbau.
Christine Brugger uses only organically and sustainably grown fruits, plants and herbs for her gin distillates. | © TMBW, Foto: Frank Bauer

Our next destination is the Organic Distillery in Friedrichshafen, run by Christine Brugger from the Brugger Fruit Farm. The sensory scientist produces fine Lake Constance Gin from local herbs. She grew up with the scent of apples, pears and spicy herbs all around her. At the age of 30, she wanted to become a perfumer, but then she decided to produce gin and fine essences at the family-run Demeter-accredited farm and she named her manufactory ‘Organic Distillery’. “No other speciality alcohol is as versatile as gin,” explains the sensory scientist. Only juniper and water are fixed ingredients, the rest has become a wonderful field of experimentation for Brugger: Beech wormwood, lemon verbena and wild bergamot from the farm are used in her fine brandies, as well as yarrow from the flower strips in the surrounding fields. “My distillates are unfiltered to preserve the valuable aromas,” continues Christine Brugger.

A Long Tradition of Organic Farming

Using only organic ingredients is a tradition on the farm. Bruggers parents started organic farming in 1973 and the farm has been Demeter-certified since 1983. Like the ‘ECHT nachhaltig’ partnership, organic farming is a matter of deep conviction. The two gin specialities are called ‘Ginn’ and ‘Ginnie’ and are not just about different flavours. Ginn is woody and resiny to pamper those with picky palates, while Ginnie is flowery and spicy to appeal to those who are led by the nose. As a scientist, Christine Brugger knows that men often perceive aromas more intensely through the palate and women through the nose. She takes both into consideration in her gin distillates. We buy a ‘masculine’ and a ‘feminine’ gin and pedal on – we’re getting pretty hungry by now. 

Our next stop is the nearby slow food restaurant ‘Die Speiserei’ at Hotel Maier in Friedrichshafen.

'Die Speiserei' – Slow Food at its Finest

'Die Speiserei' – Slow Food at its Finest

Küchenchef Philipp Heid von der Speiserei im Hotel Maier verwendet für seine Gerichte regionale Zutaten, wie z.B. frischen Bodenseefisch.
Philipp Heid, head chef of 'Die Speiserei' at Hotel Maier, uses regional ingredients such as fresh Lake Constance fish for his dishes. | © TMBW, Foto: Gregor Lengler
Das Restaurant "Die Speiserei" im Hotel Maier lebt ganz nach Saison, Natur und Verfügbarkeit.
The restaurant 'Die Speiserei' at the Maier Hotel changes its menu according to the season, nature and availability. | © TMBW, Foto: Gregor Lengler
Im Sommer bezieht "Die Speiserei" im Hotel Maier fast ausschließlich Zutaten aus einem Umkreis von 30 Kilometern.
In summer, Die Speiserei at Hotel Maier gets its ingredients almost exclusively from within a 30-kilometre radius. | © TMBW, Foto: Gregor Lengler
Gaumenschmaus aus der Speiserei im Hotel Maier: Ceviche vom Bodensee-Rotauge mit vier verschiedenen Tomatensorten aus der Region und frischen Kräutern aus dem Garten.
A culinary delight from 'Die Speiserei' at Hotel Maier: ceviche of Lake Constance roach with four different types of local tomatoes and fresh herbs from the garden. | © TMBW: Foto: Gregor Lengler

At the Maier Hotel, Philipp Heid is just preparing his ceviche with roach from the lake. He serves it with four different regional tomato varieties and fresh herbs from the garden. His credo: “Here, it is all about nature, the season and availability.” That’s why you won’t always find fresh fish on the menu, because Lake Constance is so low in nutrients that the catches are getting smaller all the time. It is also why you are more likely to see ‘with local vegetables’ on the menu than ‘with broccoli’. Heid goes on, “I cook what the local producers supply. If one of them doesn’t have it, I ask another. If they don’t have it either, I cook something else.” Heid was influenced by his grandmother’s large garden full of so many edible produce that young Philipp also learned the skills of canning and preserving from her. His passion is still very much with local food. In the summer, ‘Die Speiserei’ at Hotel Maier is almost exclusively supplied with ingredients from within a 30-kilometre radius.

Sustainable also Means Social

Hendrik Fennel, who runs the Maier Hotel in Friedrichshafen-Fischbach with his wife, believes this is the right approach. He came to Lake Constance from the Rhineland 10 years ago. Even back then, the couple focused on slow food and sustainability, and for them, that does not just mean serving sustainably produced food, but also treating their own environment with respect. “Whether it is employees or credits,” explains Fennel, “we have always tried to act with a social conscience.” It is no surprise that he is also part of the ‘ECHT nachhaltig’ cooperation at Lake Constance.

Closure

After a delicious meal, we head back to Uhldingen. From Meersburg, hopefully on the super-quiet MS Insel Mainau again. We will be happy to change for that. And the weather? A bright, warm summer’s day, with just a light breeze. As if there had never Been a storm. Only the colours are a little fresher and more intense than this morning.

Sustainable Holidays at Lake Constance

Overview

Sustainable Holidays at Lake Constance

Extra Tip: Drinking Water from Lake Constance

Lake Constance supplies millions of people in Baden-Württemberg with drinking water. Here you can find more information – and a map of drinking fountains and refill stations in the lakedside communities. Very handy and refreshing, not only when cycling or hiking:

www.echt-bodensee.de/der-bodensee/bodenseewasser

Gästekarte Echt Bodensee Card

ECHT BODENSEE CARD (EBC)

The guest card offers inclusive services, exclusive gifts, discounts and free use of public transport in participating communities on the German side of Lake Constance. For more information please visit: echt-bodensee.de/card.

Direct Link

'ECHT nachhaltig' Cooperation

Direct Link

The German Shore of Lake Constance

Panoramasicht über den Bodensee mit Weinbergen und Häusern.

Region

Lake Constance

Das Elektroschiff MS Insel Mainau fährt CO2-neutral von Uhldingen über Meersburg zur Insel Mainau.

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