Laura Fröhlich and her son Jonathan check out some fun ideas for a family holiday on Lake Constance. In German, this is the Bodensee, but whatever you call it, this lake is one of Europe’s most beautiful, with a Mediterranean-like climate and lots to do – for children and grown-ups!
The first stop on our investigative tour is Immenstaad. In this small town on the north shore of the lake, the question is: “Where to start?” The obvious answer is: “Ice cream!” After that, we stroll around the marina and look over the lake as it glitters in the sunshine. But my four-year-old son, Jonathan, is eager for action and the tourist office’s recommendation is just the thing: the Pirate Adventure (Piratenabenteuer).
The adventure begins with a horse-drawn carriage ride to the vineyards, where we take part in a geo-caching tour. Each child is handed a small backpack with a treasure map and a GPS device. Then off we go. Working with other families, we solve question after question, clue after clue. We move through the forest, to the foot of a hill, where we climb stairs to a viewing platform. The panorama demands our attention, but then it’s back to the treasure hunt! The children solve the final puzzle and find the ‘”hidden treasure”. The prize? A certificate and a small pirate present. Jonathan is proud to be an official “Immenstaad Treasure Hunter". But this is only Part One of the adventure. For Part Two, we head back to the harbour.
At anchor is the "Lädine", a historic sailing ship that will take us on a 90-minute pirate-themed cruise on Lake Constance. We are welcomed aboard by pirates, who look scarily real. At first, Jonathan is a little sceptical, but soon enjoys it all. As a new “crew member”, he dons a red bandana and black eye patch and joins in with the other children. They sing pirate songs, scrub the deck and, as we set off, help to hoist the sails. As a reward, the new pirates get to spray the captain with water pistols! Although the sun goes behind the clouds and the rain pours down, we all have a great time. Just before we sail back into harbour, we salute the Jolly Roger with a fizzy pirate drink.
Back on dry land, we head for the family-run Hotel Seerose, where we are staying in a comfy apartment. Jonathan checks out everything that is on offer for children, from toys and games, slides and swings to rabbits waiting to be petted. Dinner is a barbecue in the garden for all the guests. Afterwards, those with energy head to the nearby "Käpt'n Golf" course for some pirate mini golf. We finish off with an enthusiastic table football match and then are ready for bed. It has been a fun evening!
The next morning, a yummy breakfast sets us up for a day out. We take the bus to Kressbronn and the ULTRAMARIN marina. Families that know how to sail can rent a boat and go off on their own adventure. Since we are landlubbers, a professional sailor is going to take us out on the lake. As we set off, the weather is glorious. The boat sleeps six, with comfy-looking bunks. Most of the time, Jonathan is down in the cabin; he doesn't seem to mind the rocking. Me? I prefer to stay on deck in the fresh air, with the breeze blowing in my hair. The skipper lets us help with steering and tells us stories about sailing on Lake Constance.
Back in Kressbronn, we have lunch at the Blue Marina restaurant on the harbour, before travelling on to Friedrichshafen-Ailingen. Here, we meet up with Erika Katzenmaier. She and her family offer farm holidays at their Ferienhof Katzenmaier. In the garden, we enjoy her homemade cake, pet the goats and donkeys and look round the cheerful holiday apartments: all well-furnished and spotlessly clean. Erika’s husband, Bernhard grows apples, which are a speciality of this region. We walk with him through his orchard and up to Horach hill, with its spectacular views over the lake to the snow-tipped Alps beyond. Jonathan is delighted that the goats and donkeys have come along on the walk, too. Bernhard tells us that there is also a Fairy Tale Trail here, but that is for another day. His bright red tractor and trailer are ready to take us back. The Katzenmaiers say goodbye, presenting us with home-made schnapps and apples. “I would love to stay at the Katzenmaierhof," Jonathan tells me, and we decide right there and then to book in for our next trip.
Tonight, we are staying at the Naturresort Gerbehof, another family-run hotel that is perfect for holidays with children. This eco-friendly resort has its own horses and riding school, with acres of space. While children take riding lessons, parents can sit and watch, or go off to the wellness area. From a massage to a “hay bath” treatment, the idea is to relax and switch off. We end the day in a rustic hut with a platter of typical local snacks. The log fire flickers; grown-ups munch smoked ham and sip cold beer; children play outdoors. Another day of our family holiday on Lake Constance is coming to an end. But tomorrow, yet another highlight awaits!
In the morning, we head for the Ravensburger Spieleland, the theme park that brings to life Ravensburger’s internationally-popular board games and television series with 70 attractions in eight themed worlds. There is so much to do, we don't know where to begin. For a treat, we start by making our own chocolate at the Ritter Sport chocolate workshop. Then it’s on to the cinema (Mauskino) to watch a cartoon, before whizzing across the lake in a speedboat. We romp in the playgrounds, join the intergalactic space race, do some puzzles and ride the carousel 10 times! The hours hurtle past and, suddenly, we have to say goodbye.
Testing the possibilities for a family holiday on Lake Constance was way more successful than we expected. This was a German family holiday at its best! Our only problem? Deciding where to base ourselves for our next holiday: on a farm or learning to ride? Taking sailing lessons or staying at the Ravensburger holiday village? It’s a decision we’ll enjoy making!