There’s no shortage of beauty on the Isle of Mainau in southern Germany. To your left, you might find a sea of vibrant tulips; to your right, gigantic trees. All around you, the sweet scent of fresh flowers perfumes the air.
The Isle of Mainau is nestled on Lake Constance in southernmost Germany. The lake borders Switzerland and Austria.
The island has something for everyone -- interesting history, ethereal foliage, and establishments that serve traditional German food. That the Swiss Alps are nearby is a plus, but they pale in comparison to this island -- a botanical garden that seems straight out of a daydream.
The History Behind The Beauty
The recorded history of the Isle of Mainau dates back to as early as 15 B.C., when historians believe the island operated as a naval base for the Romans.
Gardens began sprouting up in the early 19th century when Hungarian Prince Esterhazy brought in trees and exotic plants. In the mid-1800s, Grand Duke Fredrick I of Baden commenced the long process of transforming the island into a flower paradise.
The island has been a work in progress since then. Countess Bettina Bernadotte and Count Bjorn Bernadotte -- descendants of the grand duke -- maintain Mainau today.
A Day At The Island
Whether it’s June or January, something almost otherworldly is in full bloom on the island.
Mainau has dozens of flower gardens with dahlias, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, roses, peonies, lilies, and more. The gardeners go all out to create kaleidoscopes of flowers -- in April, one million flowers of every color imaginable are in bloom. Can you smell the flowers, or is it just us?
The collection of trees on Mainau is as impressive as its varieties of flowers. The arboretum on the island has 250 types of trees, including 50 sequoias and redwoods. After exploring the gardens, stroll through the second-largest butterfly house in Germany, where you can spot 120 species from around the world.
When you’re ready for a nice meal, there are a handful of options to choose from. Restaurant Comturey is known for food native to southern Germany. Schwedenschenke, as the name implies, serves Swedish-style cuisine. If you’re looking to soak in the best views of the lake, look no further than Rothaus-Seeterrassen. If none of those are making your taste buds tingle, don’t worry -- there are cafes, bistros, bakeries, and even a beer garden where you can refuel before you continue your adventure through the botanical garden.
The flowers are certainly something to behold, and the events and festivals are, too! The island hosts a variety of unique events every year. For example, you can attend a traditional Swedish Midsummer Festival with music, dance, and food every June. Before you go, make sure to scope out the list of events for more information.
Know Before You Go
The flower island is open year-round from sunrise to sunset, and visitors have several options when it comes to accessing the island. Mainau is connected to the mainland by a pedestrian bridge. If you want to drive, you can park your car, walk over the bridge, and end up right on the island. You can also access Mainau by bus or boat.
There are two tourist seasons on the island: spring to fall and fall to spring. March to October is the busy season with admission priced at 21.50 euros for adults. From October to March, tickets are 10.50 euros for adults. If you don’t mind the crowds and price, spring to fall is arguably the best time to visit. Fall to spring is inexpensive, but you might miss some of the most exquisite flowers.
There’s enough to explore on the flower island to fill up a day, but if you prefer to spend part of your day exploring the rest of Lake Constance, consider going on a group tour of the Isle of Mainau. You’ll learn about the rich history of the island in under two hours. After, make the most out of your day at the lake by visiting Meersburg Castle, the Stilthouse Museum, and Lindau Harbor.
Since the ever-so-lovely Lake Constance borders Switzerland and Austria, it’s a great stepping stone if you’re traveling south. If you plan to visit Switzerland, don’t miss our insider tips on how to spend a day in Bern.