Bodensee - One lake, three countries, countless treasures

Prices from £2,825


27 Sep 2020 - 3 Oct 2020
Duration: 6 nights
Ref: 20BODE
With: Thomas Abbott


Prices from £2,825
Single Supplement: from £295
Deposit: £200

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With Shores in three Countries – Germany, Switzerland and Austria – Lake Constance (in German 'Bodensee') occupies an enchanted spot in the heart of Western Europe with charming mediaeval towns such as Lindau, Überlingen and Meersburg. Beyond the southern shore, the Swiss Alps rise to glacial heights, while gentle slopes with rich vineyards and luscious orchards fringe the German northern side. The combination of outstanding natural beauty and fertile agricultural lands have given this area, inhabited since the Bronze Age, the epithet 'God's Garden'. Moreover, the lake's gateway position has led to the development of august abbeys and flourishing towns along the shoreline, which offer a fascinating heritage ranging from pre-historic times to the present. This Art Pursuits Abroad study tour invites you to discover the region by coach and boat, from the millennium-old monastery island of Reichenau, one of the leading cultural centres of the Carolingian Empire, to the dazzling Rococo pilgrimage church of the Birnau, from Bronze Age lake dwellings to the busy merchant towns of Konstanz, Lindau and Bregenz.


“The shores of Bodensee are the only place in the world where you can experience the cultural and scenic beauty of three great European countries in a single day.”

Tom Abbott is an independent art and architectural historian. He graduated in Psychology and Art History at Carleton College, Minnesota, and studied at the Louvre School of Art History in Paris. He is a specialist in architectural history from the Baroque to the 20th. In 1987 he moved to Berlin leading tours mainly in Germany, specialising in the German capital.


Morning flight from London Heathrow to Zurich. Transfer by private coach to Stein am Rhein. Right by the river bank lies the Monastery of St George with beautiful interiors from the eve of the Reformation. From there continue to our five star hotel in Konstanz, a tiny German enclave on the otherwise Swiss side of the lake.


During the High Middle Ages Konstanz was the capital of a prince-bishopric whose rulers were frequently at loggerheads with a burgeoning town council. Visit the minster whose construction continued for 600 years, the Rosgartenmuseum occupying the town’s former guildhall, and the Church of the Trinity, an ensemble of Gothic mendicant order architecture. Across the lake, Meersburg replaced Konstanz as bishop’s seat after the religious conflicts of the mid-16th century, with two castles — one ruggedly mediaeval, the other restrained Baroque — dominating the skyline.


Überlingen’s prosperity during the late Middle Ages was founded on the town's role as southern Germany's largest grain market. The huge minster manifests Überlingen's might: while the architecture exudes Gothic solemnity, the altars are ostentatious demonstrations of wealth. Our walk through the town includes the municipal museum and the simple Chapel of St Jodok (James) with primitive but moving wall paintings. After lunch, continue to the pilgrimage church of the Birnau, one of the last and most glittering manifestations of Rococo art.


Excursion by Catamaran to the island of Reichenau. Three monasteries were in place by the end of the 9th century, but monastic life reached its zenith one hundred years later, when 700 monks contributed to the island's fame for its scholarship, literature and painting. The walls of St Georg are covered with a wonderful set of Ottonian frescoes. The church of Sts Peter and Paul presents itself today in Baroque disguise, but an apse fresco of the Last Judgement betrays the building’s mediaeval origins. At St Maria und Markus, the treasury includes a 5th century ivory goblet and some priceless 1000-year-old stained glass. We return from Friedrichshafen to Meersburg by private boat with a light lunch included before a free afternoon.


Lindau’s shoreline is flanked by expensive villas, while the harbour is dominated by two lighthouses and a statue of a gigantic Lion, clearly stating Bavarian rule. Located on a major north-south trading route, Lindau has many handsome merchant mansions and the ancient church of St Peter is decorated with a Christological mural cycle. In the afternoon, return to Konstanz by coach and car ferry via the church at Eriskirch.


Transfer by coach to Austrian Bregenz, famous for its large floating stage behind the concert hall, used for spectacular operas in the annual summer festival. The capital of Voralberg has a wide range of attractions, from the foundations of Roman warehouses to contemporary art in the ultra-modern light-reflecting cube of the Kunsthaus.


A coach excursion along the Swiss shore will take you to Landschlacht and Arbon, both with churches that house rare 14th century wall paintings. A few kilometres south of Arbon, the monastery town of St Gallen is best known for the richly decorated library. From there we continue to Zurich airport for our return flight back to London Heathrow.


Specific fitness requirements for this Study Tour:

Please note that this tour involves a fair amount of walking across uneven ground. You must be fit and surefooted to make the most of this tour. If you would like to find out more about the physical ‘difficulty level’ of the tour, please ring or email us.


Twin/double share: £12825 per person
Actual single room supplement: £295
Double room for sole use supplement: £495
'No flights' price: £2625
Deposit: £300


  • Return flights with British Airways from London Heathrow to Zurich
  • Private coach transfers and excursions in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and private or public boat transfers
  • Six nights’ bed and breakfast in the 5* Steinberger Inselhotel in Konstanz
  • Three dinners and one lunch
  • Guided visits to sights and museums listed in the programme
  • Services of the Lecturer and Tour Manager
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • All entrance fees, taxes & gratuities for coach drivers & waiters

Steinberger Inselhotel, Konstanz *****

This five star hotel is situated in a former Dominican monastery, located directly by the lake on a small private island of Constance and within easy walking distance of Konstanz city centre. The rooms are fully equipped and feature a safe, TV, minibar, air-conditioning, Wi-Fi.