Konstanz: Studying where others go on holiday

When a fresh breeze blows over Lake Constance, you soon feel like you're on holiday. The town centre is best explored on foot. Cycling along the banks of the lake is always an enjoyable pastime, or hop on one of the many boats to Meersburg or the island of Mainau.

by Sophie Nagel

Bodenseewoche © Nagel/DAAD
Bodenseewoche . © Nagel/DAAD

Facts & Figures

Monthly rent:
352 €
Spend a hot summer’s day at Horn bathing beach and enjoy a good barbecue!

Welcome to Konstanz

Konstanz is situated in southern Germany and is one of the country's most popular holiday destinations. Located right on the border to Switzerland, the neighbouring Swiss town of Kreuzlingen has "merged" with Konstanz so that the national boundary runs directly between houses and streets. On a clear day, you can see as far as the Alps.

The town dates back to Roman times. The old part of Konstanz is better preserved than those in many other German towns because it suffered virtually no damage during the two wars. There are still many interesting sights to see, especially from the medieval period. The "Konzilgebäude" on the banks of the lake dates back to the 14th century. During the council of Konstanz, an ecclesiastical meeting, the papal election of Pope Martin V took place in the building in 1417.

Old Town © Nagel/DAAD
Old Town . © Nagel/DAAD

The nine-metre high statue of Imperia on the harbour also recalls the time of the council. However, the figure of the courtesan should be seen satirically. The same is true of the Kaiserbrunnen fountain on Marktstätte. The many figures, such as the water-spouting lumpfish or three-headed peacock with papal crowns are a humorous reference to the council and the town's history. You can find out about the origins of the satire in Konstanz.

Konstanz's cathedral is one of the biggest Romanesque churches in the region and a prominent landmark in the town. The town hall with its historic frescoes and the Schnetztor, a town gate from the 14th century, are especially magnificent buildings.

Kaiserbrunnen fountain on Marktstätte © Nagel/DAAD
Kaiserbrunnen fountain on Marktstätte . © Nagel/DAAD

In addition to its unique architecture, Konstanz benefits from its beautiful scenic location on the lake. Lake Constance is one of the biggest lakes in Germany. During the "Bodenseewoche" in May, Konstanz's attractive harbour promenade turns into a meeting place for everyone interested in watersports. Life takes place outside in the summer months, and several festivals are celebrated in this green town on Lake Constance.

More photos

Living in Konstanz

Konstanz doesn't have what is referred to in other towns as a "scene", life here is more low-key. Students live in Fürstenberg and Wollmatingen north of the river Rhine. These districts are close to the campus but also conveniently located for the town centre. Within the town, it never takes you long to walk anywhere. To get to the university, it's best to buy a second-hand bike.

At the harbour © Nagel/DAAD
At the harbour . © Nagel/DAAD

At the "Strandbar" on the Rhine, you can relax and meet friends at any time of day. If you can't find a free deckchair, just buy yourself a drink and sit on the banks of the river. Near the harbour, "Steg 4" or the Kiosk am Stadtgarten are worth visiting.

In the old part of town, you can buy great ice-cream, coffee and snacks at "Pano". "Café Zeitlos" is a popular meeting place for students who want to avoid the tourists. A cosy and original café for lunch is "Das Voglhaus" in the old town, which has a small shop next door. You should call in there if only to take a look at the amusing toilets! If you fancy a traditional café, head straight for "Wessenberg" next to the cathedral.

My tip

Get on the Möwe boat to Hörnle and take a barbecue with you. This is a great way of spending a warm summer evening next to the lake. But please don't leave behind any rubbish!

In the evenings, the beer garden "Seekuh" is a great place to sit. For affordable cocktails and friendly service go to "Die schwarze Katz". Dance venues can be found only in the industrial area. Concerts sometimes take place at the cooperatively run "Kantine" and "Kula". Kula focuses more on rock music, and is also a good place for ska, while "Contrast" has an edgier reputation. Here, you can listen to metal, gothic and punk. The town magazine "Akzent" suggests other good places to go.

If you're feeling too weary to walk, you can call the night taxi "Seeteufel", which will drive you home for a very reasonable rate. But it's sometimes hard to get hold of the taxi, so it's definitely a good idea to invest in a bike!

If you fancy a swim, look for a nice spot along Seestrasse, on Seerhein or Schänzle. You can also walk to the beach at Horn, also known as Hörnle, or go aboard the "Möwe". The ship departs from the harbour, to the left of Imperia. The Schänzle is Konstanz's biggest sports arena and sports grounds. Many students learn to sail in Konstanz or try out the university's climbing wall.

Interview with Erik from the USA

Erik Lamb is 34 and in the fourth semester of his Master's degree in International Administration and Conflict Management at the University of Konstanz.

Picture of Erik from the USA © Erik Lamb
Erik from the USA . © Erik Lamb

Why did you decide to study in Konstanz?

I'm a qualified teacher. I decided I wanted to continue my education because it's becoming increasingly difficult to survive as a teacher in the US. I was also keen to travel and can imagine working in education in the field of development cooperation abroad in future! I spent the first year of my double degree programme studying peace and conflict at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Konstanz is a partner university of the University of North Carolina for this programme.

Have the expectations you had of Konstanz been fulfilled?

My expectations have been exceeded! There are so many recreational activities and there is an amazing cultural diversity among students, the local population and tourists. There's just not enough time to experience and enjoy all the things Konstanz and the surrounding area have to offer.

At "Hörnle" . © Nagel/DAAD

What was most difficult for you when you first arrived in Germany? And how did you cope?

The most difficult thing for me was coping with the bureaucracy of the town and university. I was well prepared, but I'd advise future students to make friends with other, more experienced students. Don't try and satisfy all requirements on the first or last day!

What most surprised you about life in Konstanz?

I never thought I'd like life in Konstanz so much. Studies train your brain, the lake and the mountains train your body, and friends and acquaintances train your soul!

What's the best way to get to know other students?

By taking classes and courses together. Living in student residences also opens doors. You can also make lots of interesting contacts through the university's sports programme.

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